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Van Shelving Construction Process

  • By Kate Moore
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Things we worried about when building the van shelving and bed: Durability, weight, price, aesthetics and materials.

Things we should have worried about: Right angles.

Assembling Ikea Bed
Kate assembling one of the Ikea slatted frames so that we could start visualizing the bed placement. We went with these frames because they add some level of springiness compared to making our own and were self contained so we didn’t have to deal with messy floating slats that inevitably shift and break.
Bed base test fit
Now we know that worst case scenario the van fit a single mattress and a beer.
Odd angles of bed frame
The structure was made out of 2×4’s and plywood. On their own, I was worried about being able to confidently support our weight. Once we screwed the posts to the walls, I realize how much I underestimated the wood.  Also, without proper measuring tools and using an eyeball-engineering approach, some of the bed had a little Dr. Seuss inspiration.
Elevated mattress test fit
Once the build starts materializing, we were getting more excited about the end product. We were worried about the height of the mattress because we wanted to fit bikes underneath, so being able to fit in it comfortably was a relief.
Plywood covers for shelving
Skinned the 2×4 frame with plywood. For the base floor we splurged on maple laminate from Lowes and it installed so quickly and easily that we didn’t grab any pictures.
Van Shelving Storage
The bed support folds out so that we can slide the bike boxes out. I suspect the 2×4 would easily have been enough, but this was already designed and installed so we’re leaving it.

Kate is the lead content creator for and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.

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