With the current travel restrictions and people seeking self-contained transportation options while comfortably maintaining their social distancing boundaries, it’s no surprise that RV and camper rentals have surged to a 650% increase in the US. Simply put, the last several months of quarantine have led vacationers to completely rethink how they travel. Of course, given our love for intersecting high-quality audio with timeless design, we'd be remiss if we didn't ask: what’s the fun in utilitarian function without great style to go along with it? Enter Chris Ellis of Peachwood Co. in Melbourne, Australia.
Chris has been a carpenter since 2008, beginning his career in high-end domestic construction. While working his day job, he purchased a van and soon found that he loved spending time fitting it out and turning it into a fully customized home on wheels. This new work van quickly became home base for weekend trips to the beaches of Australia, and around a year later, a friend asked him to create something similar in a larger Sprinter van. Chris was eager to take on the new challenge, and just like that, Peachwood Co. was born.
“I fell in love with the idea of building camper vans full-time and the endless creativity that came with it. My passion is being able to use modern aesthetic and bring it into camper vans to create a sophisticated home on wheels. When I started working for myself, I knew I wanted to reach a further level of creativity than domestic carpentry brought.”
We caught up with Chris to talk more about his work and came up with the 5 best reasons for ditching the one-size-fits-all, drive thru ceiling scraping RV, for a beautifully customized Peachwood Co. van...
Reason #1. It’s customized to meet your specific needs.
The vans that I build for customers are all completely bespoke pieces – never templated or cookie-cutter style design. My most recent van build was a Sprinter where the clients had an extensive list of must-haves. Specifically, they wanted a dinette area that could be used as a workspace and communal area by day, with an easily collapsible table that created a large double bed area by night. I customized this feature so the cushions from the seating area form a comfortable mattress base.
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Reason #2. It’s your home away from home.
Certain projects have completely unique concepts and I really try to push the boundaries of what can be done. In a recent build of a Coaster bus, there were many unique features including curved panels for the couch area, and a stylish sage green and birch ply color kitchen. It also featured a hardwood timber screen that zoned the bed area from the kitchen/dining area. Elements from this build were inspired by the Melbourne architectural cafe style trend. I love to include little elements like small shelving units or a nice area to read a book. This is why using the PAL BT and the Model One BT fit so well in these builds, as it is such a stylish analog style unit that fits the aesthetic I am trying to create perfectly. It brings a homely touch to the vans I build.
Functionality wise they work perfectly being able to plug into 12vDC and the ability to take it from the van base and use on the go while out and about. There's nothing better than being able to jump in the back of the van, open up the doors, and flick on your favorite tunes with total ease.
Reason #3. Feed the beast (ie. your Instagram feed) with post-worthy material.
Most of my customers have big plans to travel this great continent. They put many hours into planning out every inch of space, from battery storage to hot water units, air cons, skylights, and unique storage spaces, and I am always very grateful they put their faith in me to create their dream vehicle.
One couple I have been working with are in Melbourne on work visas. With their work visas ending soon, they are going to travel around Australia on tourist visas for as long as possible. They purchased an ex-ambulance, stripped it out, and brought it to me with a plan to repurpose it as a camper. We created something unique and completely customized it to their needs. It’s a very fulfilling job being able to create something for someone and watch the excitement build as we get closer to their finished product.
Reason #4. The power.
As well as building stylish camper vans, they are also powerful in terms of the battery. All the vans I build use solar panels to replenish the battery use from fridges, fans, lighting, water pumps, etc. All vans are also fitted with dual battery power equipped with USB and/or inverters to provide 240V for kitchen appliances. There has been a range of different entertainment units I have put together, from speaker setups to 12v TVs, and even mounting positions for movie projectors. The Tivoli Audio range, however, I feel is the perfect addition to any van conversion to be able to create mood and style on the road. They are simple to use but also versatile. Using the Bluetooth function, you can connect your laptop for movies in bed or play your favorite playlist while sitting by a creek, having a cup of coffee. I have been using Tivoli Audio products for years and love not only the sound quality but also their physical build quality.
Reason #5. It’s a work of art.
I like to view the vans I build as not only purpose-built products but also as works of art. I like to add elements that take extra time to complete just because it looks great aesthetically. A similarity between Peachwood Co. and Tivoli Audio.
Come on, just look at these beauties...