Living In a Van Down By the River: San Francisco Studio Apartment Gets 15 Miles Per Gallon

Joe Eskenazi
Cozy studio -- with a piano! It's the 'Peggy M.'
There's no denying it: Crockett Bodelson and Sandra Wang's studio apartment is as cute as a bug's ear -- albeit not much larger than one. It's well-lit, was almost entirely stocked via freebies on Craigslist (including an upright piano), and is decorated with the couple's own artwork. Just make sure not to park it in a red zone and you're golden.

The couple were sitting on the back of the "Peggy M" -- so christened in honor of the vast amount of peg board used to craft the house-van's interior -- on a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon in Hayes Valley, hawking their artwork to passers by. A number of folks -- including your humble narrator -- were intrigued with the pastel pink Ford Econoline 350-turned-dwelling and Wang invited us inside for the 10-cent tour.

Visitors hop the back flap -- sorry, the Peggy M is not ADA compliant -- and sidestep between a white piano, a Franklin stove and a table with several chairs. A workshop area complete with a tiny library and several paintings is squeezed between the table and the drivers' seats; a pair of mattresses hangs overhead held in place with a pulley system. It's not exactly expansive, but it is roomy enough that the couple -- and their oversize eyewear -- were able to live in it from June through August of last year as they drove down Highway 1 to Los Angeles and back, selling paintings all the way.

Incidentally, Wang and Bodelson don't currently live in the Peggy M -- sleeping in a vehicle is against the law in most cities, and the couple have been hassled about it throughout the state. And in addition to being simply a cool thing to do, the Peggy M is an artistic statement about recycling and green energy (its electric is provided via solar panels). True, the biodiesel van's 15 MPG isn't that impressive. But, then again, that's just about exactly what Mayor Gavin Newsom's hybrid SUV is pulling down -- and the Peggy M has much more character.

Click on the jump for more photos of the Peggy M.   
Joe Eskenazi
In the pink

Joe Eskenazi
And here's the inside

Joe Eskenazi
The couple at home

Joe Eskenazi
The library...

Joe Eskenazi
And the workshop

Joe Eskenazi
Au revoir!

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