How To Transform A Bed Into A Work Desk & More

Going from bed to family room with TV and picture and finally to work desk, may be the ultimate task, that I set for myself, yet it may be the perfect solution for comfortable living in a small space, such as a converted cargo van.

In finding the best layout for the new cargo van conversion, I have been tinkering with a large, elevated bed in the rear with storage space below for bikes.

concept-03Today I expanded on one of my previous sketches, that was based on a smaller rear storage area, separated from the main living area. Large enough to store one or two bikes with room to spare.

This allows me to put in a rear kitchen with adjoining toilet/shower room. Two lower cabinets next to the shower, extend to sliding side door. A fold-down table could be attached to the side of cabinet, where you can sit, work or just look out the sliding door window on colder days.

On the drivers side, between the fridge and the front seat, is enough room for a murphy bed. I plan for only a single bed, but it is simple to incorporate a double bunkbed, if necessary.

To add to the versatility needed to get the most out of such a small space, I would add a small TV and a special picture frame to the bottom of the bed.

The TV and picture would be available during the day and out-of-sight when the bed was down. The TV is well located, close to the passenger swivel chair.

lwb-concept-03The picture frame hides a small fold-out workdesk/dining table. The bottom of the picture frame is approx. 30 inches from the floor and the frame transforms into the desk and two front legs. Easy to work on during the day or quickly folded up for extra room in the van when you have some visitors.

A few shallow cabinets below the bed can be used for storage of the blankets and pillows, while similar cabinets above the bed would complete the setup.

A low bench seat can be used in combination with the desk, the fold-up table at the sliding door or as a comfortable;e footrest in front of the passenger swivel seat.

This is just one concept sketch out of many that I plan to create before making the decision for final cargo van layout. Most, if not all furniture and decorations will be made in my woodworking shop. View more concept sketches here.

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    1. Hi Jeff,
      Simple questions, but once I start thinking about it, I might have an elaborate answer for you:)
      First, good choice of words: “Awesome”. I still think that a Murphy bed is one of the best choices for vanlife, either for singles OR couples. The only good alternative is a raised bed, usually in the rear of the van, by which you stand to loose a lot of walking/living space; having a larger living area was one of the conditions had. It also allowed me to create a rear kitchen, where nobody stands in the way, during mealtimes.
      Yes, happy with it now, but remember that the overall design isn’t finished yet. A year ago, I added a piece of art (if you want to call my Mondriaan copy, a piece of art); those colors just brighten the whole living area and the oil painting still stands the test of time.
      And I already started working on a fold up desk, that incorporates another piece of “Art”, that is revealed whenever the desk is folded up against the bed. To me these additions are all part of the original design of the bed; they create a spacious, yet homey feeling with bright colors, that should be great to live in during those extended, gloomy periods when it’s raining or cold outside.

      Any changes I would make to the design?
      It wouldn’t be me, if I didn’t have some things that bother me, but surprisingly few. A less heavy design; I tend to over-build things; the sides of the bed, where the mattress fits in, should have been one or two inches lower. That would also mean a substantial reduction in weight. It is still fairly easy to achieve, but it’s also easy to live with. And that’s really all.

      Van Williams

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