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Life in a Fabulously Converted Van Keeps Photographer Kayleigh Ann Archbold Moving

It’s no wonder that storytelling is woven into Kayleigh Ann’s photographs. Her own journey intertwines creativity, lifestyle, and imagery on the daily. With her revamped live-in van serving as a backdrop and launchpad for her photography career, she’s fully immersed in uniquely styled beauty, and never far from nature. 

Her work captures artists, brands, products, and entrepreneurs, and even some wildlife + travel photography. With no shortage of talent, she also designed her swoon-worthy van that’s packed with tasteful and inviting details in every corner. 

Get an inside look at life as a creative on the road:

Tell us about your current journey! 

My husband, Jason, and I are roaming North America in our self-built Ford Transit. We’re looking for a new place to call home.

What is the best part about what you do?

I love that I’m always learning. Whether it’s trying new techniques, alternate programs, or ways to improve and develop my photography.

How do you stay inspired?

By continually exploring new places and being out in nature. 

Favorite song(s) for boosting creativity?

This is a tough question, but I really love the playlist “We, the Wild” by @christianschaffer on Spotify.

How does creativity bring goodness to your life?

Photography allows me to capture all the beauty this world has to offer. Even in my darkest moments, as long as I surround myself in nature and photograph flowers, lakes, or waterfalls, I can find the peace and light I need. 

What do people NOT know about what you do?

Despite loving what I do, it’s not financially stable. I’m working towards making that a reality.

What made you decide to purchase a van and hit the road?

Besides being a lifelong dream, it was a way for Jason and I to take control of our lives. Although we love New Jersey, we were tired of just getting by. With the love and support of Jason’s Nana, Nadine, we were able to see this dream become reality. 

Let’s be real, what’s the hardest/most frustrating thing about what you do?

Getting clients to pay for your work. Unfortunately, Instagram has created a mentality of working for “exposure” a.k.a free. Many companies, and even friends and colleagues, take advantage of that.

Have you ever considered throwing in the towel? What stopped you?

Absolutely. I struggle deeply with mental illness, which affects all aspects of my life, especially my creativity. With the support of my husband and my own stubbornness, I’ve been able to push forward. 

Favorite part about your space? 

Definitely the bison my Mother-in-law painted on our side door. 

If this van were a song, what would it be?

“Runnin’ Down A Dream” by Tom Petty.

Where did you draw design inspiration?

Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. More specifically: @nikkibigger and @wellnesswithcourtnie.

What is one thing we wouldn’t know about your space from just looking at it? 

How much work goes into the actual build. Behind all the beautiful woodwork and walls is framing, wiring, insulation, a subfloor, and many other details.

Best way to enjoy your space? 

With all the doors open, bug nets up if needed, staring at a beautiful view (preferably the ocean).

If you had to pick one, what design element stands out as your favorite?

Our kitchen. I love the contrast of the copper faucet and black sink against the oak countertop and ash cabinets.

Give it to us straight, what’s still “in-progress” about your space?

The under-the-bed storage area. Although we organized most of it into bins, we brought too much stuff, so it’s a bit chaotic. 

What was the biggest decorating struggle? 

A mix between styling the bed and lack of wall space for art. It’s something I’d like to focus on in the future. 

In your book, what makes life beautiful? 

Honestly, the simple things. Sunrises, sunsets, the smell of the ocean, summer rain, or a fresh snowfall.

What makes this space feel like home to you?

To me, home has always been a person. As long as I’m with Jason, I’m home. 

Your top tips for anyone planning to convert a van into a living space?

  • RESEARCH. Van life is not new, and there are so many blogs, videos, tips on how to do almost anything.
  • Try living in a smaller space before buying a van. While many people jump from a large house to a small camper van, we’ve heard that’s a difficult adjustment. For us, going from 350 square feet to 55 square feet was not difficult at all, but it may be for others.
  • Converting a van isn’t easy and if you do it with a partner, there will be fights and disagreements. Remember to take breaks, communicate, and remind yourself that the reward is worth the struggle. 

Is Kayleigh not the coolest ever? Keep up with her journey on Instagram at @kayleighinavan and check out her website, kayleighannarchbold.com.

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