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


Choice of a comfortable bed and a subtle integration of a workspace, are probably some of the most important features of this van conversion.


As the start of the van conversion comes closer, I have begun buying some materials, as you can read in Why I Order Chinese And Get It Delivered and started making some final design decisions. The first modifications of the van will entail the basics, such as electronics (usb, cameras & sensors), floor installation, ceiling & floor vents and cabin curtain. These are all relatively quick and easy to install and lay the foundation for the rest of the conversion.

Color and Design

Today I got into the details of the sleeping arrangements. After completing the ventilation, the floor and the privacy mods, the first real woodworking project, I wanted to initiate was the proposed Murphy bed, just as a way to optimize the building process.
I foresee a slow transformation of the van over probably a two year period, mainly due to the documenting I will do for the website. That doesn’t mean, that I won’t be able to use the van for its purpose. I will start making short day trips immediately and as the conversion progresses, expand into longer endeavors. In the beginning some overnight trips mostly within a 100-200 miles and slowly taking on longer travels.
I still have the porto-potti from my current van and the only real item needed for now is a bed to sleep in. A mattress would be sufficient, but why not take on the Murphy bed first? It will be located directly behind the driver and I can add on to that until the conversion is completed.

So this morning I dove into my treasure box, full of design ideas, because I have to start with a general vision for the design, colors and materials (see How I Design My RV Layout).

The theme for this design is modern and bright; white will be the dominating color, as it is in many modern plans. Ideal to make a small space look like its much bigger, but I have to avoid its coldness and use contrasting colors to create a warm feeling.
I have always liked the red/white color combination, as shown in this image. But it is a bit dated and by checking the current fashion colors, I found the bright greens, blues and purples, that are popular today.
Being far from adventurous, this time is the moment to shine and a purple/white combination with some added dark-grays, would make it a challenging project.


Color intensity, application and diversity are all factors to think about, when developing a color scheme.
It’s easy to change a boring, cool and sterile room (left) into a vibrant and warm living space (right), simply by changing the amount, intensity and composition of the colors in your color scheme. Application of different materials, could further refine your design.

With mostly colored cabinet doors and predominantly white counters and walls, a brightly colored chair or stool may bind it all together. It’s probably not suitable for most of you, and I still might come to regret it.

Back to the Murphy bed, a complete white finish is undesirable and the solution that I found, was a stripped pattern, in purple, like the image on the right. These are all general ideas, and in this case I would use wider white stripes and narrower purple stripes.

With my woodworking experience, I always tend to use natural hardwoods, enhanced with a variety of finishes. Cherry, walnut and mahogany are some of my favorites. In this project, however, I am choosing for a modern, easy to maintain material: Formica! Somewhat heavy, but sturdy and in glossy and flat finishes. Easy to work with and it comes in a variety of colors, including purple, white and dark-gray.

Integrated Desk

In a multi-purpose environment, a built-in desk makes the ultimate accessory, but looking at the options, there are alternatives. I am installing a twin-sized bed, but the van would also support the larger queen-size and you could replace the desk with a simple sofa (left).

My preference is the desk, which evolved from a simple fold-down desk into a full-featured desk, that could display a picture when folded or serve as a workspace during the day and as a dining table when needed.
Giving the picture frame a dark-gray color, would make it stand out from the white/purple background.


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