Building a bed for a camper van

What’s a camper van without a bed? In this post I’ll describe how I fit a nice comfy queen size bed with tons of storage underneath into my Sprinter Camper van.

There are basically two different ways to create a place to sleep in the van (if you don’t count hanging a hammock or sleeping on the floor): Foldable benches or fixed bed bases. For the first one you can either install a nice sofa that turns into a bed or use a factory rear bench that you can unfold to a flat area. I’ve went with a fixed bed since I not only get a super comfortable bed with this solution but a lot of storage space underneath which means I don’t  have to install any additional cabinets.

You can build the bed frame and slatted bet base from scratch but I’ve opted for a cheap bed frame from Ikea that I’ve modified to fit into the van.

Ikea Tarva Bed frame - before modification
Ikea Tarva Bed frame – before modification

To mount it on a new base that will become your storage space, you’ll need to cut of the four legs. You also don’t really need the headboard. After that you’re left with a simple bed frame and the slatted bed base to put the mattress on.

The next step is to build the base to put the bed on. Go to your local home improvement store and buy a couple of  framing studs and start building your base. The width of the base is given by the interior width of your van and the length is defined by the length of your bed. The height however depends on what you want to store under the bed. You should also take into consideration that you want to sit upright in your bed once its done – without hitting your head on the ceiling. I’ve basically measured from the ceiling and how much space I need to sit comfortably. What’s left was my bed height.

Here’s one picture of the nearly finished base frame:

Bed base frame
Bed base frame

The studs next to the rear wheel wells are to separate the storage space. I don’t want to have everything stored in the back pushed forward every time I hit the brakes. You don’t need to use the fancy method of connecting the studs together – a simple nail gun should do the job. I just like pocket screws. I’ve also painted the studs and the bed frame with Polyurethane to protect the wood from moisture.

When you’re done with the base you need to mount the bed frame on top of it. I’ve used simple metal L-brackets to bolt the two together. To close off the storage space to the front I’ve built simple sliding doors that move on aluminium U-profiles. That was the easiest solution for my layout since I have seats mounted directly in front of the bed and doors would need to much space to swing open.

Bed base with sliding doors for the storage area
Bed base with sliding doors for the storage area

I still need to build some shelves for the storage space in front and some details on the bed itself, so stay tuned for a final picture.

Parts required:

  • lots of wood: studs and some plywood
  • wood screws or nails
  • bed frame
  • slatted base
  • mattress

Tools needed:

  • Circular Saw
  • Drill and drill bits
  • screwdriver
  • paint to seal the wood
Summary
  • 3/10
    Technical Difficulty - 3/10
  • 4/10
    Time needed - 4/10

One thought on “Building a bed for a camper van


  1. Any more updates on the bed and storage space up front? Curious how you secured the bed frame to the van? Thanks for your time, I really like your approach and documentation regarding your improvements. I bought a 158 2500 about 8 months ago. I stripped it and repaired any rust spots and had it painted. My plan is to use it as a substitute for my enclosed trailer and tow my car with a lighter open trailer behind the Sprinter. We are a family of (4) as well so maximizing space is a premium.

    Cheers, Chip

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