Mazda Bongo interior renovations: making our Bongo a little more ‘us’
August 5, 2020
When we first bought our Mazda Bongo camper from eBay back in July 2020, it came with a interior side conversion (which is the layout we wanted) and a big black flame down the side. Mechanically the Bongo needed very little doing to it, but our Mazda Bongo interior was a bit bland and the decals… well they weren’t quite ‘us’ and some Bongo renovations were required!
I’m no designer and we didn’t really want to spend much money (we had just forked out £7k+ on a camper after all), but I was sure I could do something a little different to put our personal stamp on our new home.
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Removing the decals
I’ll be honest, the decals grew on us and we did think twice about removing them. So I asked people’s thoughts on our Instagram stories. Hundreds of you voted and look how close the results were!
The decals did make our Bongo look a bit ‘different’, and I’d much prefer to be different than blend in. But, I had plans for a Moroccan tile theme inside, and the decals just didn’t work with that.
We watched YouTube videos of people removing the decals using a hairdryer. These of course made it look easier than drying your hair, but we really didn’t trust ourselves to do a good job.
So when we took the Bongo in for its first service at Bongo Spares, I asked them about the cost of removing decals. They called in a pro to remove them, who then also cleaned it up afterwards, and all it cost was £140! We were amazed with the result. You can’t see any residue from the decals at all! Money well spent, I reckon.
Mazda Bongo interior renovations
The interior layout was exactly what we wanted. The only problem was that the cupboards were a little tired and bland for our liking.
I found these sticky vinyl tiles on Amazon and absolutely loved the contrasting patterns. They are slightly thicker than normal sticky-back plastic, so were easier to work with. Seeing that I had to cut almost every single tile to fit, this was a very good thing.
For £8.99 you get 10 tiles, all different (there are lots of different patterns to chose here on Amazon). I used almost four packs to do the front of the fridge, two back cupboard doors, and two side panels. I’ve got a few spare in case I need replacements further down the line.
I thought that covering all the cupboards in tiles would be a bit much, so the rest I covered in different shades of chalk paint. I bought five different tester pots from B&Q (£4 each) in soft shades that complimented the tiles, although I also used a striking blue for a couple of cupboards. The colours I chose were:
To prepare the cupboard doors, I first had to unscrew each one, pull off the plastic edging, and take out the knob. I then peeled off the wood-effect paper covering that was stuck on the cupboards as much as I could; this was already peeling and bubbling in places. I then gave the cupboards a good sand before applying the chalk paint with a roller. Each cupboard took three coats.
For the main cupboard sections, I also peeled off the wood-effect paper as much as I could and sanded them down. I also removed any edging where I could. I then applied the chalk paint with a brush. These sections took two coats (as I was using the brush), but took much longer as it was quite tricky getting it all neat along edges.
I did the painting and tile application across three days whilst Jay looked after the boys. But you could easily get it all done in a full day if you’re organised.
Here’s the finished result. I hope you like our Mazda Bongo interior as much as us!
Future design plans
Our first big trip in our Bongo was to France (click here to read about that trip). This gave us the chance to see how the Bongo works for us for longer term travel. From this trip, we’ve realised a few little things we want to change and add.
We’re planning to change the seat covers at the front (I haven’t found the right ones yet). I also want to change the black seat cushions at the back; they’re a bit flimsy and the material seems to attract so much fluff. We also want to install solar panels on the roof so we can be off grid, as well as a roof rack with a roof box for more storage (was really annoying having the awning in the main area when driving). And I really should get some TraveLynn Family stickers made for the back window!
But what I love about our Mazda Bongo is that this is more than just a car, it’s our second home on wheels and we will be making lots of little tweaks to it for many years to come.
Were you an intrepid backpacker in your previous life? Exploring distant and exotic lands on a budget, getting off the beaten track and feeling like you were doing something different? Now that young kids are in the picture, travel priorities may have changed. But you don’t have to get sucked into the package holiday bubble. Adventure travel with young kids is possible! Jenny x