“What Do A Bed, Desk And Picture Frame Have In Common?”


For a converted cargo van to work optimally, multiple-use furniture and a clever use of accessories, is needed to make living in a van comfortable.

The Details

Getting the general design and color scheme right, is one thing; implementing all the details, is an other matter. Before I can build the Murphy bed, every little detail has to be thought out and drawn up. I could buy the bed mechanism, but that would set me back another $300-$400. pivot pointI prefer some home-made solutions, that require a smaller investment. Starting with the main axle, I could buy some off-the-shelf bearings, couplings and bolts and create my own pivoting points.
But there is more to it: I chose for a limited torsion box as the base of the bed, a single handle at the top, that matches up with the cabinet handles above the bed. The legs will be removable and I might use parts of a standard door lock/handle, to keep the bed secured to the wall, while driving.

Then there are the decisions of how to integrate the bed into the wall: will you make it flush or close it on top of the wall. I opted for a flush installation, but with a relatively wide (approx. ¾ inch) space around the frame. This avoids problems, if the bed frame would happen to deform over time, and with a dark-gray color, it would frame the bed appropriately within the wall.

With the wrap-around windows in the van, the bed cleverly uses the window as an added nighttime feature, covered up during the day, for more protection against the sun’s rays. Access to the wall when the Murphy bed is in use, means that insulation must be applied and covered with a real wall surface. I consider a frame around the window to function as an offset to the wall board.

tv armThe wall supports the bed and a few cabinets above and below. The bed, when deployed, will be elevated from the floor, to accommodate transporting a kayak during some of my trips. Because of that, the top cabinets will not be tall enough to store a TV and to view some television or work on my computer, while seated in my passenger swivel seat, I need to find an alternate solution for the computer screen.

Then I still have to determine the width of the cabinet doors and the hardware needed and whether to include a 4 inch toe-kick at floor level.


foldup deskWith most of the bed details covered, I’ve been thinking about the desk/picture frame; it works out to be quite thick and heavy. At least ¾ inch thickness for the legs/frame and another ¾ inch for the background/desk surface. Then there are the hinges and locking mechanisms and possibly a few sturdy magnets.
Size and location of the picture frame is crucial, as it determines the height and proportions of the desk’s work surface.

During the last couple of days, I have been able to figure out most details and construction methods, but still have to do some research about where I can buy the appropriate hardware. After that it’s a waiting game till the arrival of the van and installation of the other mods, before I can take the exact measurements and go out and acquire the required materials, followed by construction and installation of the Murphy bed.

lightsteak flooringA few other matters remain, such as some innovative lighting solutions and the installation of a wood floor.
The floor covering would have been applied when the subfloor was installed, if I would have chosen for a vinyl or similar material and would have been laid wall-to-wall. To limit weight issues when applying a wood floor, I decided to install the cabinets first and apply the floor material only where it is used to walk on.
The teak boat flooring is the inspiration for my floor, with a white rubber joint in between. Choice of wood may be a dark walnut or lighter mahogany.

Many challenges still remain and final drawings can only be made as soon as I have the vehicle in my hands, slowing the progress of the conversion, yet avoiding any unexpected mistakes.

Build the perfect conversion

Creative ideas & new skills. Free Van Conversion guides, hands-on projects and videos, delivered straight to your inbox.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *