We wanted to sleep north-south. That’s campervan jargon for not having to climb over your partner for your nightly pee. Sleeping east-west means your feet and head are touching the side walls, and one of you needs to climb over the other to get in or out of bed. North-south sleeping means you can both get in from the foot-end (or in our case from the pillow side as of course we do things slightly differently).
It was a critical point in our design and it dictated pretty much everything else as a bed takes up a lot of space inside a small campervan.
As the bed takes up so much space we wanted to be able to move it out of the way when not in use. We discussed an electric bed that raises up when not in use, but in the end we decided on the slide out bed. Effectively it looks like a single bed when it is ‘in’ and once pulled out it is almost as big as a king sized bed.
We decided to make the bed reasonably high so we could use the space underneath for storage and seating. We struggled a bit to find the right material for the slats, in the end (with the help of Roland) we settled on pine, learning about the way the grain in the wood runs that influences strength along the way. Guy helped us cut all the slats very early on and they sat in the corner for a long time, until we had finally build up all the cabinets underneath it and we could get started with the bed.
We used aluminium square tubes again as the base. We screwed the slats into them and glued one to the front wall. The other fixed one sits on top of the cupboards and then there are 2 that slide backwards and forwards to extend the bed into sleeping mode. The screws go into rivnuts that are added to the aluminium bars to ensure they have plenty of grip. It’s another thing we learned about on this building journey and we had to buy a new tool for it as Roland only had a tool for adding much bigger rivnuts to metal.
We were a little worried about the free span we had to cover between the walls. Not only did it have to support the slats, but of course it also needs to support both of us on it. We decided to use the cupboard on one side as the support for the pulled out aluminium bar. On the other side we needed to make a bracket. We looked at lots of options and Roland helped us make the bracket as it is today and it works perfectly.
In the early days when we were still designing the walls on paper, we had already anticipated the fact we needed to support the bed and we had added a steel plate in the wall behind the fiberglass. That meant that once Roland has made the bracket, we could tap into the steel plate and attach it securely to the wall. It was still quite nerve-wracking as we sat on the bed for the first time, hoping it wouldn’t break!
And luckily for us it didn’t.
Now we had a bed frame, we also had some space to the side of the bed. We made some cut outs in the large slat on the sides so we could access that space too. You never know what it might be used for, at the moment we don’t know yet.
Time to start working out what we were going to use as a mattress. We headed to Clark Rubber as we couldn’t just buy a mattress of the shelf as our bed is not a standard queen or king. We had to cut it to our exact measurements and were going to use foam for that. We bought the whole sheet and stuffed it into the car. At home we used an electric knife to cut it to size. Weeks later we finally decided on what topper to put on it and then Jude could finally make the covers for the mattresses.
We were going to use velcro to stick them together so they can’t separate when we’re in bed (technically they can’t anyway, but we felt better for adding another way to keep them together), but we had a lot of trouble finding velcro that doesn’t have a sticky backing. Everybody nowadays seems to go for the sticky back, but when you want to sew it on you can’t use it as it makes the needle skip (and everything clogs up with the glue too which is not a great job to clean). Let’s just say we found out the hard way….
Eventually we found some on a roll of 25m and bought the lot. Now we definitely have enough. Sewing complete we could admire our handiwork. And sleep in comfort.
We have tested it already and it is extremely comfortable. We’re looking forward to spending many nights in this bed!