The Bed

One of the goals of living in a van is to night live in a van.  That is to say, it is important to spend the majority of your time outside of the van.  I will start dwelling in my van in August after my lease expires and I’ll move in for the rest of the school year.  I will be spending  vast majority of my time spent devoted to school work, working as a desk receptionist, and of course, spending time outside.  Since these activities will keep me fairly busy, it’s important that I get a proper night’s rest.

The challenges of living in the van produced some interesting design requirement.  Basically, I determined that my bed needed to be small, comfortably fit me, and to store all my personal items underneath.  Oh, and since I’m a college kid, being cheap is a necessity.

Researching a couple vandwelling sites online gave me some good ideas for a bed.  Seriously, there’s a ton of cool stuff and great resources online that can help you with your van build, you just have to look it up.

Given the bed would run the length of the van I had and idea of what I wanted.  I would build a bench that could pull out into a bed.  Allowing me to sit comfortably and utilize the kitchen/desk and then expand the bed to proper size.  This would allow me to sleep diagonally and fully accommodate my 6’ 2” body.  With this idea I created a 3D model of my concept, allowing me to calculate the lumber that I would have to purchase in order to accommodate my design.


Armed with some measurements and a model, I was ready to start fabricating the bed.  My friend needed to head over to Marquette in order to get his laptop fixed, giving me a good opportunity to purchase the components I needed for the bed.  My shopping list for the bed is shown below:

  • 7 – 8’ x 3” x.75”s
  • 6 – 8’ x 2” x 3”s
  • Hinges (I don’t remember the exact type as I planned on using these for a different purpose)
  • 2” Barrel Bolt
  • Various All Purpose Screws (Mostly 1” and 2 1/4”)

So after returning from Marquette I attended my Student Affairs Kickball Social.  After returning from this there was still enough light to work on the bed so I began.


Heh. Wood

The bed was designed to assemble in two portions, but I changed the design as I was building to have three different portions.  First there is the main bed portion.  I started by building two rectangles out of the 2”x3”s.  The dimensions for these were 24”s by 13”s and would make up the end frame of the bed.

Spanning the two end frames are three 72” beams.  Two span the upper portion of the bed  and one spans the length of the bottom along the side facing the kitchen/desk (which I’ll probably write about in the next post). The beams on the top of the main bed portion are not attached to the ends, rather, the beam along the wall side is attached to hinges.  The hinge beam is then attached to the top beam on the kitchen side via the bed slats.  Twelve 24” slats are positioned along the length of the bed 4”s away from each other.  This design allows for the bed to be hinged and allows for access to the storage underneath.

The second (and subsequently third) portions of the bed are the extendable portions.  Since I would be using two Mad Rock Mad Pads as my mattress system it made sense to allow for two portions of the bed to extend.

The extendable portions were made by creating two 37” by 13” rectangles out of the 2”x3”s.  These rectangles would form the support for the side that would extend out.  After creating these, twelve 24”s slats were attached to the top of the rectangles and placed in between the slats already on the bed.  The slats were then screwed into a 37” 2”x3” underneath each of the portions of the main bed.  This attaches the extendable portions of the bed to the main bed frame.

After constructing the bed I stained everything to match the kitchen.  I learned that you should mix your stain really well since I was using the last little bit of one of the cans of stain.  This caused half of the bed to turn out really dark and the other half to turn out pretty light as I had to head up to Walmart to get more stain.  As a result the bed is kinda funky looking but serves its purpose.



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