You can’t sleep in it if it doesn’t have a bed…
In a minivan conversion, you really can’t do anything until you decide on the bed situation. The bed is the dominant use of space. It seems like most folks build something custom, and that’s fine — but it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
My original plan with the build was to buy an off-the-shelf conversion kit. There are several available for the Grand Caravan, and they’re very affordable solutions. Unfortunately, many of the options available that suited my needs weren’t available for shipping to my location. I also kept getting caught up in compromises that weren’t necessarily the ones I would make, and the limited utility of these kits outside of a van build.
Since this project is all about keeping sunk cost low and trying to find stuff that works but isn’t necessarily exclusive to a van build, I decided to go it on my own to build out the inside. And, while I’m capable of building the necessary furniture myself, that doesn’t feel like an efficient use of time. If I can find things off-the-shelf that are affordable, suitable and could be used outside of a van later on that’s preferable to me. That also means if you’re following along you can use many of the same or similar components in your build.
I spent a long time looking at what’s available, crawled around the van and measured things several times. Turns out the width of the 2/3 split in the back row is exactly 29” — conveniently exactly the width of a “narrow twin” or “cot” sized mattress. I then started looking into platforms but they were all listed at 30” wide. Eventually, I decided to give it a go and picked a platform that was at a good height, was lightweight but sturdy and had plenty of open space underneath.
There we go, a super easy bed (Yes, I know there’s a leg hanging off. In fact, the other leg isn’t really stable either. It’s fine, we’ll cover that later.) This sets up the base platform for everything else, although in all honesty that’s a viable comfortable camping platform right there.
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