Fi Shailes
Guest writer
Posted 5 months ago

Step into my office #4: A peek into one freelancer’s workspace

In this regular feature, we meet a self-employed business owner and ask them to let us have a peek at their workspace.

We’ve covered three examples of shed-working over the past few months, and we thought it was time to mix it up a little bit…

This time, we speak to Fran Sivers of WildHOWL. Fran is a self-employed graphic designer based near Rhayader in Wales, and uses a caravan as her workspace.

So, let’s cut straight to the chase. How did you end up working from a caravan?

My family (husband and two kids) and I lived in the caravan initially. We sold our house and travelled around the UK, during which time we were ‘woofing’ (where you do some voluntary work on farms and small holdings, and you get a place to stay in return – in our case, a place to park the caravan).

A year later, we bought a two-bedroom bungalow in Wales. It made sense to start using the caravan as an office space, as our house is now quite small (although it feels massive after living in the caravan). This space became my design studio.

Fran Sivers and caravan  Interior of caravan office  Kitchenette

How much did you spend to convert it into a suitable workspace?

It’s was already set up with electricity, Wi-Fi and heating – so there were no extra costs involved in turning it into an office space.

I have a long list of possible future conversions! For example, I’d love to repaint it (inside and out) and add a black chalk board inside to write on. Maybe a wood stove too. But at the moment, it’s very much ‘function’ before style. There are just so many other things that need my attention, and everything in the caravan does its job just fine right now – it’s just a bit ‘beige’.

One of my clients is a local vehicle wrapper company, and eventually I’d love to brand the whole outside of my caravan in that way, but I live in the middle of nowhere – so it’d be for my own ego more than anything else! It’s not a priority right now, but one day…

Any drawbacks of working at home, full-time?

I live in quite a remote location, so if I do meet clients it’s easier to meet in a coffee shop in town – it’s usually easier for people to find…

I think that would become draining if I had a lot of local clients, and I would then want to do the caravan up to have a trendier / ‘designery’ meeting area – but for now, a lot of my work is conducted online, so it’s not been necessary.

What’s attractive about working in the caravan?

My youngest is only two years old, so I find I really have to be out of the house to get anything productive done!  My husband is also self-employed, and so we’re able to share childcare pretty equally between us. It’s just much easier to be out of the house when I want to focus on work – otherwise I get sucked into ‘small children’ activities!

The caravan is great to escape to now it’s a dedicated workspace (rather than acting as both our home and an office), and it’s very spacious.  I like working there, as it has windows on all sides and a skylight, so I have total control over the light that comes in. It’s a nice space to draw and create in.

I find the sound of the birds really inspiring for my creativity, and in the caravan, I feel much more a part of the outside.  I get to see birds out of the window whilst working, which is not something I could say about any other office environment I’ve ever worked in.

A huge thanks to Fran for giving us a tour of her workplace. To get a flavour of the kind of work she creates in her caravan office, take a look at her website.

Catch up with the previous article in the series.

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