Thursday, May 17, 2012

Building a Lofted Bed with Storage Underneath

It took us all day, but we did it!!

When we originally purchased Liberty, we knew we'd be taking out the captain's chairs, but we were kind of excited about the cool bench seat in the back that electronically transformed into a bed with the push of a button. After close examination, we decided that really wouldn't work for us. Not only was it designed more for a bench seat than a bed making the bed lumpy and awkward to sleep on, but it had zero room for storing anything underneath.

So, Jeff came up with a brilliant plan on how to create a lofted bed for Liberty.

Well, a couple plans actually. After some discussion, we decided on one design and spent the entire day yesterday making it a reality.

We started out with a trip to Menards, but the quality of their 4x4s was poor. Plus we were trying to get to my brothers' house before 8am, so we could get into the garage where many of the tools we needed for the project were located.

After getting into the garage, we headed out to Home Depot to get a bit more hardware and, of course, the wood.

Once back at the garage, we realized there were still two seat belts bolted to the inside of the van that needed to be removed. They were in tight and proved to be a real bugger to remove. After loosening them a bit, we decided to saw them off the rest of the way.

We did have access to a reciprocating saw, but no appropriate blades.

Back to Home Depot we went.

Before we headed out, we had this conversation:
Clarinda: You want to go alone, while I stay here and continue to vacuum out the van?
Jeff: Think that through.
Clarinda: thinking ... thinking ... thinking ...
Clarinda: Oh! How I can stay and vacuum when you'll need the van to get to Home Depot!
D'oh! Clarinda was still giggling about this conversation hours later. Well, still this morning a little.

We both went to Home Depot. :-)

Once back from our second trip, we were really able to hunker down and get to work. We got those pesky seat belts removed. Jeff got to measuring the plywood while Clarinda concentrated on vacuuming out the van.

Getting the plywood into the van was a bit challenging and took a LOT of finagling, but we did it with little to no damage to the wood or the van.

Clarinda continued vacuuming while Jeff measured and cut the 4x4 into blocks to use as additional support.

Time to wedge those posts in. Perfect fit!

But will it support our weight?

In an early design, we were going to sleep curled up in this amount of space, but Jeff brilliantly devised a way to extend the length of the bed - using hinges.

Problem: The screws that came with the hinges were a tad too long.
Solution: Filing, sawing, sanding those babies smooth.

We did as much work as possible outside of the van, but there were times when Jeff had to lie on his back under the platform and use a drill very awkwardly. It was a little touch-and-go on how to maneuver all the tools and hardware while on his back with about 12" of clearance!


It was bit a slow going in the beginning, but once we got into a groove, the day really just flew by! It was hard to believe when 6pm rolled around.

Not to say it wasn't physically challenging. It was. And today, we are paying for it.

Overall, despite all the physical pain, it was incredibly satisfying to work on this project together and have it turn out so perfectly!


  1. Very cool! What are you going to use for a mattress?

    1. We're going to try it with layers of blankets. If that doesn't seem to be enough, we'll add some egg foam pads. As a last resort, we may get an air mattress. So, we'll see how it goes.

  2. Impressive! Who knew you were so handy with the tools??? Maybe all those years of watching my dad finally paid off a little??? :)

    1. Well, I've always been handy with tools; I'm just not great with them. I can do any job; it just wouldn't look nearly as good as if your dad did it...

  3. This is great. I'm excited for your adventure.

    1. Thanks man, we're super eager to get going; we're excited about the adventure too :)

  4. Sweet build guys

    1. Appreciate it; we decided to add another storage area above the bed as well, so that begins tomorrow... check back in :)

  5. This sure is clever. BTW Coleman air mattresses are terribly comfortable, and don't take up much space when deflated. Plus you can get a manual air pump to fill it. We do this for camping and sleep SO good.

  6. Love that hinge idea. And the conversation was hilarious :)

    1. Yes, the hinge idea will be very handy. I'm giggling a little at the conversation. ;-)