LED spot lights, LED light strips and “party lights” all contained in corner-mounted coving panels.
We’ve been trying to reduce the number of seams and visible fasteners on the walls and ceiling. It meant creating 9 foot long fabric covered wall panels and using flanged l-track to hold things together. You still need fasteners where the walls meet the ceiling so we hid those behind some coving strips.
Everything in the van does double duty where possible. For instance the fasteners for the ceiling panels are also single l-track clips. For the coving, we created a mounting system that bolts to the wall and ceiling, simultaneously holding the panels up. The coving itself holds our spotlights, and the gaps between the coving and the wall and ceiling become places for LED light strips to shine through.
The mounting brackets are made from spare pieces of aluminum siding trim that we had left over from our barn. It’s relatively thick commercial grade metal with a durable coat of paint. Of course, the bends were in the wrong places so we had to re-form it. Without a proper metal brake, we just used long strips of plywood clamped to the trim pieces and bent it by hand. That left a couple of kinks, but overall the shapes turned out just how we needed them.
The coving itself is two layers of 1/8″ plywood glued together to create staggered joints. We needed one 9 foot length and one 14 foot length. I would not create a single 14 foot length again. It needed reinforcement at the staggered joints just because of how much it could bend along its length. We cut holes in the coving for our spot lights and then covered it in foam and fabric, just like the walls. We stuck aluminum tape on the back of the boards to reflect more of the LED strip light back out from behind the coving.
We made use of an existing clip-like bend in the aluminum trim pieces to slot the coving on to the top bracket. The bottom bracket holds the coving in place using friction.
There are three sets of lights. The spot lights (actually 60 degree flood lights) provide the most light. They are LEDs and do not produce very much heat. The white LED strips give a really pleasant diffused light. They are the same color temperature as the spot lights. The spot lights are not dimmable, but the strips are. That means we can dial the light up and down as we want it.
We also added an RGB (variable color) LED strip on each side. There are all sorts of controllers for these strips but we chose to use a simple three-dial system which lets you manually choose any color you want and simultaneously teaches you color theory. They promptly got labeled as party lights!
Update: Brianna asked what we did to close off the gap between the cab headliner and the walls/ceiling in the rear of the van. The answer is, we built a funky shaped piece of plywood, covered it in fabric, put spacers behind it where necessary, then stuck it in place with VHB tape. Here’s how it looks…
… not perfect, because the plastic cover on the B pillar extends further out, but good enough for us.
Update 2: Enough people asked, so we made a template of this headliner-to-b-pillar piece so it’s easy for you to trace and make your own.