Note: In this step we explain how we made our furniture, but it’s definitely not the only way you can do so. There are certainly other ways to assemble your furniture. We preferred this way of assembling furniture, because it seemed the firmest to us.
There are many different options to build a bed in your van. As we told you before you can choose for a fixed bed, a folding bed, a sofa bed and so on. The options are endless.
As there was enough space in our van, we opted for a fixed bed at the back with an extensible table. We will discuss a fixed bed more in detail, but you can make whatever you want. If you want some advice for other options, don’t hesitate to send us your questions and we’ll try our best to help you out.
Before you start making your frame you must know your dimensions. The direction in which you want to and can sleep will determine the depth of your bed. We decided to sleep in the length as our van isn’t wide enough for our body length. To determine the height of our bed, we took into account the height of the windows at the back, the height of the ceiling and we made sure there would still be enough storage space under the bed (don’t forget to include the height of your mattress in your measurements!).
We made a wooden frame out of sturdy beams. It is important that your bed is supported in sufficient places with thick beams so that it certainly does not sag. At the same time, you must also ensure that not too much storage space is lost. In order to use as much space as possible, we have left space in the middle so we could make a closet in front under the bed and some open space in the back.
we made a few changes to our original bedframe. We removed a few support beams for more open space. (Check out the pictures to see the changes).
It is best to first draw the frame with the correct dimensions; take into account the thickness of the beams that are placed against or on top of each other. Both vertically and horizontally you must attach sufficient beams so your frame will be able to carry enough weight. Then saw your beams to the correct length and attach them correctly to each other. To ensure your beams are perpendicular to each other, it is best to use a carpenter’s square and reinforce your corners with angle brackets. Also attach your frame firmly to the floor and preferably also in the walls at the level of the support beams to which your walls are attached.
As soon as your frame is put in place, it is time to cover it with plywood.
The order of attachment depends on how you want to finish the front, back and the space under the bed, so that you can still easily access the space you’re working on.
To the front we’ve attached a thick plywood sheet, a little higher than the frame to make sure our mattress stays in place. In this board we first sawed out the holes for the cabinet and the extensible table and a notch to get in bed more easily. Because our van has sloping walls, we also had to cut the sides of the board to size.
The back of your bed and the garage underneath can be completely finished as you wish. Make sure there’s something in the back that prevents your mattress from shifting. If you choose to close (a part of) the back, you can let the plywood sheets protrude a bit above the frame so that the mattress is fixed between the front and the back. We fully closed the back of our bedframe and made two doors to reach the space under the bed, we call it our garage, where we have tons of storage space.
We finished the inside of our garage with thin triplex sheets. In this way our electricity and water system is tucked away nicely. We have provided doors in the sides so that everything remains accessible.
And than you only need a bed base. Also for this are various options, but do not forget that your mattress must be able to ventilate. This means there must be airflow underneath your mattress. Some of the options are a slatted base, a self-made base with planks, a multiplex board with holes… . We’ve chosen for a slatted base that you can incline to sit upright.
We advise you to wait before crewing the bed base and the back board to the frame until the space under the bed is done. In this way you can still easily reach this space to connect water and electricity or other matters.
The frames of the seats are, just as the bed, made out of wooden beams. Again it is best to first draw out your frame with the correct dimensions, taking into account the thickness of your beams AND the thickness of the boards that you’re going to attach to your frame. After you have assembled the frame and placed it in your van, you can finish the frame with plywood sheets. We have chosen to have the top plate hinged, so we can put things away in the seats. For this too there are many different options.
We made the overhead cabinets slightly different than the rest of our furniture. We have chosen to make two separate frames for our overhead cupboards, because one large was too difficult to hang up in one go. We first made a bottom frame and attached a thin plywood sheet on top of the frame. In this way you have a nicely finished bottom of your cabinet. Then we screwed a support beam into the support beams of the ceiling. On top of the plywood sheet on the bottom frame, we attached wide flat beams to connect the bottom frame to the support beam on the ceiling. To fix the bottom to the wall, we attached angle brackets at the level of the support beams of the walls. To finish the bottom we attached one more thin plywood sheet at the bottom of the frame, underneath the cabinets.
When fixing your wall cabinets, make sure you screw the frame into the support beams of the walls and ceiling with long, sturdy screws.
As front for your cabinets you can choose to make hinged doors or you can leave them open as shelves. You can use hinges that stay open themselves or use gas springs for your cabinet doors so you can leave them open. Just make sure there is always something provided to keep everything in place while driving. Last you can finish the sides again with plywood sheets.
Last but not least of the furniture: the kitchen. We placed a fridge a, cabinet with a gas hob, a sink and one more cabinet at the side. The kitchen cabinet are made slightly different as well. As base for the kitchen cabinets, we used higher beams for the floor base. In this way, the cabinets are a bit higher, so the doors won’t hit your toes when you open them. For the side cabinet we did the same because the outlet of our heating runs below this cabinet.
First you make a square frame out of these higher beams and you attach a plywood sheet on top of this frame as your cabinet bottom. On top of that you make a second frame. We didn’t make a full frame but we attached plywood sheets directly onto the bottom, between which we constructed the rest of the frame. Make sure your frame is sturdy enough and supported with enough beams. Again you can cover your frame with plywood sheets and either make drawers or close the front with doors. On the inside you can make shelves and partitions. On top of these cabinets we placed a worktop of solid wood. With a jigsaw we made holes in the worktop for our gas hob, sink and tab. We have secured our worktop on the frame with screws along the bottom of the worktop.
Plywood sheets (poplar)