Building a bed and desk

Technically, you don’t need to make a bed in a campervan conversion. You don’t even need a bed. If you have a rollaway bed, an inflatable mattress, or something harder than me, you can sleep on the floor of the van. I wanted something a little more comfortable. After all, I built this van as an alternative to a tent. If I wanted to use an air mattress and sleep on the hard floor, I could have done that in my Miata (And I have)

From the beginning I designed a kind of „day mode” and „night mode” in my head. In day mode I can comfortably sit and work, work well with a desk of sorts, and then turn it into a bed for sleeping. With Transit Connect’s limited size and my still limited skills, I had my work cut out for me.

Follow my travels My YouTube channel And check out my book on budget travel Budget travel for dummies. Also, check out the previous installments of this series:

  1. How to Create a Campervan Introduction: What is a Campervan?
  2. How to Build a Campervan Part 1: The Perfect Van (More video)
  3. How to Build a Campervan Part 2: Adding Solar Power! (More video)
  4. How to Build a Campervan Part 3: Seated, or not two-seater (More video)
  5. How to Build a Campervan Part 4: Wiring Solar and Batteries (More video)

Making a bed with minimal materials and minimal skill

I watch in awe the many YouTubers who design these elaborate and beautiful van interiors. Shelves, fold it and close it softly, it’s very attractive. It’s not an acquired skill. I have a saw (thanks dad!) and I know which end of the hammer is the business bit (the pointed part, right?). I figured I could do something with the passion and willingness to fail disastrously.

All I needed was a bed and a desk, somehow squeezed into the back of a minivan. I had to work around the fridge, batteries and various electrical gear. The point is, I don’t need a bed and a desk At the same time. So what I designed was a movable, multi-piece design. Basically, an OSB sandwich that I can slide, open face if you will, into two different configurations.

The bottom portion of this contraption is a piece of OSB, approximately 2′ by 4′. I went with the OSB despite its weight because I wanted something really tough, as you’ll see. It’s on short 2×4 and 1×4 legs that help it sit above batteries and electrical equipment. When it’s folded, it’s the same height as the rear driver’s side seat. I drilled some 2 inch holes in it to reduce the weight a bit and increase airflow for the batteries and charge controller.

The next layers are two identical pieces of OSB, the same width as the base piece. One of these OSB panels consists of two 2×4 runners that run the length of the board. During „night mode” I fold down the back seat and slide these two pieces up, then the OSB piece without the runners slides forward to rest on top of the fridge. It all slides down nicely and supports my weight, even when sitting in the middle, thanks to the slight overlap between the two pieces.

I started with an air mattress on top of this bed and it worked perfectly, but I upgraded to two layers of 2-inch memory foam. It is more comfortable and does not take up more space than an air mattress. A sleeping bag works great when it’s cold, but on hot days, I just use bedsheets.


Without adjusting the driver’s seat, there is more than 6-feet of space from the back of the seat to the rear hatch. I tend to push against the seat or crib if I move around a lot in my sleep, but it’s roomy enough and better than a tent. To make sliding easier and improve the overall look, I bought some carpet squares with adhesive backing (not shown in the video above, I added them later). The interior of the van is not very nice, but definitely good for my skill level.

I have found some minor issues with this setup. For one thing, the fridge turns on several times during the night, causing a whine and noise to travel through the bed and into my head. It woke me up so much that I started turning off the fridge at night. It’s well insulated, so unless I have something particularly perishable, that’s fine. I will test this at some point and see how much the temperature rises overnight. Fortunately, there is a temperature readout on the front.

When the bed is working, it is very heavy. Maybe try drilling some holes in both pieces like I did with the bottom piece. It’s not like I need to lift it or anything, but if I lose a few pounds (on the bed or myself), I’ll get fractionally better MPG.

Lastly, this isn’t just an issue with my build, but if I’m parked on any kind of incline, it’s really noticeable. One of my first nights in the van I barely noticed it, waking up in the morning to find my neck crushed against the driver’s seat with a crack. After that I was very careful.

As you can guess, it’s a sleeper. I plan to make it so the bed is the full width of the van. You never know when you’ll have house guests. Often it’s the reverse design, with the front half of the bed resting on the folded-down middle row passenger side seat, then the other half has a piece of OSB (over the batteries). It can be supported by a small, loose, piece of 2×4. That way everything can easily slide back together. It is in line for 2024.

day pattern

I also wanted to build a temporary office, with a picnic table and no view, with the expectation of working during the day. That’s why I put the drivers side back seat. During the day, I slide the bed back into its berth and move one final piece to this contraption: a desk.

I made the table with a very thin laminate, which is significantly more expensive than OSB, but much lighter and more pleasant to the touch. I sanded the hell out of the OSB, and while it didn’t give me a crack, I was happy to cover most of it with carpet (see picture above).

I cut out a piece. I added the legs to one of the pre-set pockets on the side of the transit so it would be stable. This gave me a wider surface to place my laptop, mouse, phone etc. All the power is in there so I can plug in and get basically unlimited power. When I drive, the desk sits on top of the bed stack, upside down, and its legs hold the foam bed.

Overall, though, it’s been a huge success. I’ve taken several weeks of trips in the van, worked while I was gone, and even had my first video meeting with the authors of my book.


With all the major features configured and installed, the van was completely usable. Functional though certainly not perfect. So next: accessories and final kitting out. wait

If you want to see this build from the beginning, check out this playlist:

check N Website Or some of my other work Here.

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