How to Decorate a Hippie Van


Nearly everyone can conjure up an outrageous image of a highly painted and colorful Volkswagen bus when they hear the words "hippie van." These vans were an iconic part of the 1970s counter culture, serving as modes of transportation and even living quarters for many "hippies" and self-proclaimed bohemians. While the 1970s may have faded, people's fascination with it hasn't. Some even decorate their own original hippie vans. Creating a "hippie van" takes time and some artistic talent.

Things You'll Need

  • Chalk
  • Automobile airbrush and car paint
  • 1970's-style stencils (daisies, peace signs, band logos, etc)
  • Painter's tape
  • Magnets
  • Indian print pillows
  • Neon-colored throw rugs
  • Wall tapestries
  • 1970s bands posters
  • Decorate the outside of your van first. Plan a design with chalk by drawing rough sketches of the things you want on your van. Designs may include portraits of famous classic rock artists, logos from your favorite counter-culture bands and brightly colored paisley.

  • Airbrush color onto your designs. Use stencils where you can, taping them onto the van's surface and pressing down the inner edges as you paint. Where you can't use stencils, tape off your designs and paint inside the tape.

  • Lay down one layer of airbrushed color and go back later to add shading. For the first layer, hold the airbrush about six inches from the van and move the airbrush slowly back and forth. For shading, use a narrower stream of paint and hold the brush a little closer to the van for better control.

  • Decorate the inside of the van when the outside is finished. Toss brightly colored throw rugs over the existing rug in the van's open area. Tape band posters to the inner walls and use small magnets to tack wall tapestries over the windows. Throw some Indian- print floor pillows down for seating and the van is done.

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  • Photo Credit happy hippie image by Ingrid Walter from
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