Dan Alonso and Candice Sheriff didn’t set out to start a van conversion business. They just needed a van for themselves. But the space they crafted was so charming that it wasn’t long before others were clamouring for more.
“We spend a lot of time living on the road gathering materials as well as inspiration for our pieces. A converted van was exactly what we needed. Or as we prefer to think of it, a cabin on wheels,” Dan explains.
The artistic couple are the creative force behind Live Edge Forest. They design and handcraft one-of-a-kind functional art pieces and furniture from fallen and water-reclaimed timbers. In the summers they show their work at Treeo, their storefront on the upper deck of Duke’s in Port Carling.
The idea of living in a van surfaced while they were filming a Muskoka episode of the Netflix program Restaurants on the Edge. The camera operator lived in his van, and it served as an ideal vessel for life/work/adventure balance. Dan and Candice were sold.
They realized a tiny home on wheels would be just what they needed to travel this beautiful country during their off season. They purchased a large van and set to work.
It was artistically crafted with intentionality in every way, designed to make the most of the 100 square-foot space, and before long people began asking if they accepted commissions. They sold their first van, and a new branch of business was born: Van Living Muskoka.
“Our mantra is ‘We Design. We Create. We Share.’ and helping others to experience van life is a natural extension of that,” says Candice.
Each van build is completely customizable from top to bottom, equipped with solar panels for true off-grid living – for the weekend warrior to the full time van-lifer. They have even sourced a mini wood stove from a company in Quebec (the couple uses Canadian-made products where possible).
Their vans feature cozy, Muskoka-inspired interiors and fine design, with elegant touches that can include river features, stone detailing and – of course – lots of beautiful live edges.
The artistic duo is now offering custom van conversions that get you on the road and off the grid. It takes two or three months to convert a van, and the couple is now accepting orders for this coming winter.
“Van life is a magical way to explore,” says Dan. “No matter where you roam, just close the door and you’re always home!”
TEXT A. WAGNER-CHAZALON | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN & JOEL JONES