Thursday, July 5, 2012

Repurposed Upholstery for 1979 VW Bus 'Honu Li'u"

Honu Li'u (Hawaiian for tardy turtle), our green 1979 VW bus, in my estimation, was long overdue for the spa treatment. I wanted to keep the original vibe in this bus, so I decided to re-purpose the Harvest Gold and Avocado Green plaid fabric. First order of business was to wash the stuff and press it flat, then to pass it on to Juan, our masterful upholsterer, with hand rendered plans for the new design.

Durable automotive vinyl selections were made, pulling the green and gold colors directly from the original plaid. Since these backseats see so much use from car seats, kids & kitchen spills I thought it best not to continue the plaid fabric panel down onto the backseat bottom. The piping would surely end up gnarled within one year, and then I'd be grieved at the loss... so no plaid or piping for Honu's backseat bottom ;(

It truly is a wonder to see how well this plaid upholstery fabric has held up for the 33 year haul. After being washed it's sparkling and doesn't show any wear whatsoever!

I've added a touch of fabric and piping to the door panels as well; in doing so the design is reinforced throughout the interior.

Next steps are to install the remaining door panels, visors, & upper berth cushions. Then a trip to the Garment District to source some fabric that will coordinate with this cheeky plaid so I can put a new spin on the window coverings and add a toss cushion or two. Eventually the flooring will be replaced with a hard surface material, the smaller interior panels will be recovered with an embossed vinyl wallpaper and the laminate will be refreshed, although it's held up quite well in this bus and doesn't need immediate attention.

New updates will follow as I progress through this happy hippy bus project!

Cheers from Diane at Diane Grace Interiors


  1. Looks great! What an awesome idea!

  2. Hi Diane and Bill,we're happy to see Honu Li'u is getting a spa treatment :) She's looking very good (still) in her age!

    Maybe you're interested to know that we bought a VW Bus('72) after our trip and now try to take care of him :)
    It's Winter here, so Xaver is in his beauty sleep and waits for us till we can enjoy his company again next year.

    We miss you (and Honu Li'u) and send all the best to you!
    Take care,
    Matt & Kata