Storie'z from the Build: The Bed

January 6, 2021

 

Had we bought the foam for our mattress brand-new, it would have easily tacked $500 or more onto the cost of our bed build but, by using something that we already had, we were able to build our entire bed area for just the cost of some angle iron and paint!

 

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The Sink

November 18, 2020

The bed is the biggest part of almost any van build. It takes up the most space and therefore must be multifunctional, playing the role of not only sleeping area but also seating area, work area, hangout/general living area and sometimes even dining area.

 

We started our bed build with the same four essential questions that we always ask ourselves once we decide to incorporate a new element into our van:

#1: Is this the most efficent use of space?

#2: How much weight is this adding to the build?

#3: Is it possible to incorporate repurposed materials in this part of the build?

#4: Is this the most cost-effective way to get the job done (well)?

We started our bed build with the same four essential questions that we always ask ourselves 

The first big decision you have to make about your bed is whether it will run front to back or left to right. At 5’11”, a left-to-right build was a tight squeeze for Arturo. However, we ultimately DID decide to go in that direction (no pun intended) because of how much space it saved inside the van. When you’re working with a small area, every inch you save counts and a front-to-back bed would have encroached considerably on our already tiny living space.

 

After installing wood paneling to cover the insulation on the walls, the bed space was quite snug for the two of us. It took us a while to perfect our cuddle game but, once we got situated in our diagonal sleeping spots, it was workable…ish. For a solo Van Lifer, going  with a left-to-right bed in a 3rd gen e150 like ours should be no biggie but, for a couple, you definitely both need to be on the shorter side to make it work.

When you’re working with a small area, every inch you save counts!

The next big decision was whether to make the bed convertible or stationary. Although the allure of maximizing space by having a day-mode (converting the bed into a couch or dining/work area) was temping, we ultimately decided that converting our bed back and forth twice a day was a hassle that we didn’t want to deal with, especially because it would compromise our under-bed storage options.

 

Our first trip with our completed bed was a two-week jaunt down Mexico’s Baja peninsula. Having the bed up off of the floor FINALLY allowed for the space to take a few surfboards along and we were so stoked we weren’t really bothered by the boards encroaching on our floor space.

 

Not unlike our sink build, we had not yet imagined we’d be incorporating a bubble top into our build when we put our bed in. Had we accounted for the extra headspace, we might have entertained some different options in terms of storage (specifically surfboard storage) and bed style/height but, by the time we got our new top, we were in too deep to turn back.

 

Fast-forward to the fall of 2020, add a large cooler and a full kitchen counter and suddenly coexisting with three boards including a 9’0’ longboard started feeling like a much bigger inconvenience. Thankfully, full-time van living in Ensenada only lasted a few weeks before we found a little place to rent.  Once our van transitioned back into our daily driver/surf van, this was no longer a big deal but, if your van is your full-time home, I don’t suggest this system of board storage unless you enjoy hurdling over obstacles constantly as you perform daily tasks such as making food and opening your front door.

We eschewed the traditional 2x4 van build style in favor of something more lightweight

Also like our sink build, we eschewed the traditional 2x4 van build style in favor of something more lightweight for our bed build. Arturo busted out his welding skills once again to fashion a bed frame made from 1” angle iron which our pieces of 3/8 inch repurposed ply could easily slip onto.

 

In addition to using up-cycled plywood in our bed build, we were also able to use the mattress from our old apartment in San Diego. What we were using at the time was actually a queen-sized piece of 6” polyurethane foam; a remnant from Arturo’s days as an upholsterer.

 

We shoved it into the new bed frame just before our spring break 2019 trip to Mexico but the extra material made the bed a little lumpy and we ended up doing some emergency modifications with a fishing knife on the beach in Puertecitos.

Fall 2020

Spring 2019

The next big decision was whether to make the bed convertible or stationary. Although the allure of maximizing space by having a day-mode (converting the bed into a couch or dining/work area) was temping, we ultimately decided that converting our bed back and forth twice a day was a hassle that we didn’t want to deal with, especially because it would compromise our under-bed storage options.

 

Our first trip with our completed bed was a two-week jaunt down Mexico’s Baja peninsula. Having the bed up off of the floor FINALLY allowed for the space to take a few surfboards along and we were so stoked we weren’t really bothered by the boards encroaching on our floor space.

 

Not unlike our sink build, we had not yet imagined we’d be incorporating a bubble top into our build when we put our bed in. Had we accounted for the extra headspace, we might have entertained some different options in terms of storage (specifically surfboard storage) and bed style/height but, by the time we got our new top, we were in too deep to turn back.

 

Fast-forward to the fall of 2020, add a large cooler and a full kitchen counter and suddenly coexisting with three boards including a 9’0’ longboard started feeling like a much bigger inconvenience. Thankfully, full-time van living in Ensenada only lasted a few weeks before we found a little place to rent.  Once our van transitioned back into our daily driver/surf van, this was no longer a big deal but, if your van is your full-time home, I don’t suggest this system of board storage unless you enjoy hurdling over obstacles constantly as you perform daily tasks such as making food and opening your front door.