After using the van with the simple platform for a bed, table and place to hang out for a year, we decided it was time to go to the next level: Build an all-in-one bed-table-benches-storage! Our goal was to add more storage to the livable space in the van, to create a space where 4-5 people could easily eat together (after a day of skiing, mountain biking, or hiking around in the mountains, it is nice to have a place for a well deserved beer and some snacks!), and to have a large super comfy bed (which can fit 3 comfortably, and surely 4).
We came up with the idea of this u-shape bench with a table in the middle. This table then comes down at night to complete the surface for the bed. In the next instructables, we will show how we also made the cushions to fit both in bed and in bench modes.
In total, it took us about 4 days to make and varnish the benches and table and to install them in the van (with 2 people). Materials were around 450$ for the plywood, the hinges, the varnish, and the leg for the table.
DISCLAIMER: This is the first van conversion we are doing, so this is certainly a process of trial and error! We tried to describe at every step the reasons why we made the choices we made, so hopefully you can see that we used common sense to design this process. I am an industrial designer and design researcher and my boyfriend is a landscape architect with some knowledge in wood working. We see this project as an experiment and as a wonderful place to try out some ideas about design, materials and fabrication.
For an overview of the work we did, take a look at our timelapse videos!