Admit it, you’ve wanted to get into bed with us for a while now. Obviously you didn’t want to awkwardly invite yourself in, so we’re making it easy on you and opening up our bedroom doors. We are giving you a full look at how we designed and built the comfiest bed ever put in a van.
We had two major goals when it came to the design and layout of our van. Number one was to make it feel like a home. Living on the road was going to put us in really uncomfortable situations at times and making the van super homey would help when the going got rough. Our second priority was storage, storage and more storage.
Organization would play a major role in making the van comfortable and if we were going to survive in 80 square feet shit needed to be organized and stored out of the way. Tripping over each other is a given in a van but there’s no need to be tripping over our gear too. With those two criterias in mind we let our imaginations run wild. We aimed to build a completely custom camper van that reflected our style and was 100% different than all of the cookie cutter sprinter conversions popping up everywhere.
Now is the time to reveal our secret weapon, the true mastermind behind our van build, Megan’s dad Dennis. Dennis helped us take the empty shell of a van and turn it into a home. Without the dedication, skill and the pure excitement he brought to the project, our van would probably still be covered in purple shag and cheap cabinets.
The build started with the back bedroom and living area. We wanted the bed to be able to convert into a table and sitting area with storage underneath.
We designed a 3 section frame that had the ability to fold into different positions. The back piece folds into a backrest that can be used as a couch for watching movies or back support while eating or working at the table.
The middle piece folds up in the opposite direction, creating another couch space with views out the back doors so we can enjoy the scenery. The front section of the bed consists of two sides that fold up to access storage underneath the bed and the middle piece is where the table top is stored while not in use.
No bedroom is complete without side tables for small bedside storage. We had the idea of creating custom shelving units that went up in the back corners. Two small shelves seemed simple enough until we realized there was not a single straight wall in the entire van. This meant that every single piece of wood had to be custom cut, recut and most likely recut due to the ever changing angles. This required crawling in and out of the van every ten seconds to make the smallest adjustment to the angle so that it fit perfectly.
A full weekend later we had the bases of the two shelves done but the original plan for the tops would no longer work, so we had to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to tastefully finish the units off. The corner shelves were the first roadblock of the van build and at this point we thought our talented team leader was resigning. Frustrated and mentally drained, the corner cabinets soon became Dennis’s arch nemesis and ended up the last pieces finished in the van. They were eventually topped with copper sconces and are now one our favorite features.
The walls of the original van were in bad shape. Covered in terrible factory vinyl wallpaper and had some major water damage in places. We decided to upholster over the two side walls with duck canvas to create a sense of being in an old canvas tent. This allowed for us to easily cover the original wood panels without replacing them and also put some padding up to soften the bed area. The headliner foam and duck canvas are attached using super 77 spray adhesive and it worked like a charm..
The back wall is done in tongue and groove wood paneling in a herringbone design and secured using staples and our new best friend PL400, a glue used for laying sub flooring. The wood paneling needed to be solid with all of the bumps and shaking it was going to be exposed to on the roads.
Above the bed are two storage cabinets on each side made out of cedar ply, they serve as our closets and we can fit a surprising amount of clothes inside. Megan’s side is bigger of course, and she will still probably only wear about half of what she managed to stuff into it.
The ceiling now has 4 low energy led lights and we replaced the old A/C unit with a Maxx Air fan that saves us from melting in the summer heat. No doubt it was most expensive fan we will ever purchase but definitely worth every penny. The ceiling is covered in Duck Canvas as well and finished off with some custom beams as trim accents.
We were stoked to find out that the now completed van bed, although a little misshapen, is wider than a queen mattress. Our cushions are made out of 3” regular foam and topped with 2” memory foam that we cut using an electric carving knife and glued together with the same spray adhesive used on the walls. We attempted to upholster them ourselves with a sewing machine from the 1920s but after a full day of working at it and only getting one pillow case looking cover done we were forced to call in some experts.
Once the bedroom and living area was finished we couldn’t wait to tackle the front half of the van! The only problem was now that we had a bed in the back it was hard to stay motivated when it started calling our names!