News Home & Design This Converted Ambulance Is Home Base for North American Baking Tour Small details make a big difference in this gorgeous ambulance conversion. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast on June 21, 2021 LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process on June 21, 2021 02:33PM EDT Amanda Lemay Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices There are serendipitous moments where the course of your life can change completely, thanks to someone you might meet, or something you hear or read by chance. These moments can lead to new opportunities for growth, or even for greater transformation. Based out of Canada, marketing and communications veteran Amanda Lemay is one of those whose life changed dramatically when she happened to hear the story about a van-dwelling baker and her husband who were traveling around the United States, learning from expert bakers. A passionate baker herself, Lemay wanted to do something similar, so she got rid of most of her possessions, sold her condo, and converted an old ambulance with her dad into a lovely home on wheels. While the COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly put Lemay's plans on hold for now, she is still traveling locally and working on projects she believes in. There are a lot of beautiful space-saving ideas and details in this home on wheels, but it's Lemay's story that is the most compelling. Here's the full tour of the van, via our friends Danielle and Mat over at Exploring Alternatives: Lemay's ambulance is actually a former emergency response vehicle for the US Navy, built on a 2006 Ford E350 Cutaway. Lemay bought it from a plumber in Calgary for approximately $8,100—with the DIY renovations done by her and her dad also costing about $8,000. The dark blue vehicle has a lot of built-in cabinets on all sides, offering a lot of storage space for utilitarian things like batteries, tanks, and other gear, while the rooftop has 400-watts of solar power panels and a small roof deck where Lemay practices yoga. Exploring Alternatives The interior is tastefully done to suit Lemay's work and hobbies. The layout features an elevated bed platform at one end, placed right up against the double doors at the rear. Underneath the bed, there is a pull-out table made of reclaimed wood and more storage for the Dometic refrigerator. Exploring Alternatives There is a small bench at the foot of the bed, which also holds storage underneath. Above, there is a shelf that holds Lemay's baking books, yoga mat, and even a plant. Amanda Lemay For some extra privacy protection, Lemay has some custom-made insulation baffles that have been covered with a pretty fabric. Amanda Lemay As Lemay mentions, not only did her father help with the build, but so did the rest of her family. In this case, Lemay's mother helped sew the upholstery on the removable cushions, and her sister crafted the leather pulls we see throughout the project. It was truly a family affair. Thanks to Lemay's interest in baking, there is a full oven in the well-appointed kitchen, as well as a two-burner propane stove. There are mason jars conveniently mounted to the space above the stove, and there are plenty of push-latch cabinets to store things, as well as in the wallpaper-covered cabinets overhead. There was a lot of effort to reuse and to recycle materials and items in the project, as Lemay says: "These cupboards were actually part of the original ambulance. We tried to reuse as much of the hardware and different pieces as much as possible." Amanda Lemay Even the wood for the counters is reclaimed; it was donated from a "lovely gentlemen that my dad curls with," says Lemay. The sink here is relatively large and has a custom-fitted wood cover to extend counter space. For water, Lemay uses a Berkey water filter—simple, but it works, and it reminds her to be more conscious of her water use. Amanda Lemay At the end of the counter, there is the Cubic Mini woodstove, which is perfect for keeping this cozy space warm and dry. Exploring Alternatives As a safety-conscious solo female traveler, Lemay also has a couple of doors here that act as a pass-through to the driver's seat in the front, in case of emergencies that would require her to drive away immediately. Exploring Alternatives We love this idea of using bungee cord as a clothesline! Exploring Alternatives While Lemay had originally planned to travel extensively around North America to perfect her baking skills by learning from experts, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns has compelled her to leverage other skills she's familiar with: broadcasting and writing. Her current nomadic lifestyle fits well with doing audiobooks, voiceovers, and publishing work—all done with a mobile sound booth and laptop. As much as possible, Lemay focuses on projects and clients with social impact and sustainability in mind. Exploring Alternatives In the end, this unexpected path has Lemay rethinking what it means to be truly sustainable, now that van life has gotten her to become minutely aware of the water, electricity, and other daily resources that she uses. But all these day-to-day concerns are balanced with a greater sense of freedom: "It's almost mind-blowing, it feels like a completely different life because I'm doing the work online, and I can do [things] on my own schedule. Pretty much most of my days are mine -- so by living in the van, I can be where I want to be, and do the things I want to do, and spend time outside." To see more, visit Amanda Lemay's website, and Instagram.