My Main Project: The Bouch? The Coud? The Perfect Bed/Couch for a Van build

I know, I know what you’re probably thinking: This guy is doing a van build and getting school credit; really creative.

But! Let me tell you, this is not going to be like other van builds; this bed/couch will be unique, innovative, aesthetically strong, and one of a kind! Read on, and I guarantee by the end of this blog post, you’ll share my excitement at least a little bit.

I recently found myself in possession of a lifted, 4×4 converted 2001 Chevy Astro Van, and have been teeming with excitement to make it fully adventure-worthy. She is close, but possibly the biggest staple of adventure is the ability to travel to new places, often for several days at a time. Although there are several components of a VAN required to achieve travel on this scale, probably the crown jewel of them all is an excellent place to rest, chill, eat, relax, and, of course, catch some quality Z’s.
Enter: The Coud? The… Bouch? The Couch/Bed thing (working title).

A concept sketch of the Structure; cushions not included

In arriving at this concept, I defined a somewhat exhaustive set of goals and constraints.

My Goals:
– A bed large enough for myself (6′ tall human), and the occasional guest and/or dog.
– Enough seating for at least two people that is both legal while driving and comfortable
– The ability to look out of the back of my van whilst sitting and/or lounging comfortably
– The ability to have a cozy and circular seating arrangement in the van that also allows enough room for a kitchenette and additional storage.
– The ability to sit in a couch/chair configuration without worrying about hitting my head on the roof.

My Constraints:
-The back of a Chevy Astro (it’s not that big!)
– 2 wheel wells that, if built on top of, would cause me to hit my head in a seated position
– a few hundred dollars
– legal sitting regulations requiring the seats to face forwards

After taking all of these into account and looking at every single Astro Van conversion video on YouTube (as well as a few other van conversions, I arrived at my concept that takes the best elements from everything I have seen and builds on them to make an entirely new design (seriously if anyone has ever done this in an Astro before, it’s nowhere to be found on the internet.

Here are a few images of similar builds done in other vans:
The question now is: what makes mine new, unique, and innovative?

Thank you very much for asking. There are a few things that will achieve this:
1) The whole Surface will be on rolling casters for a frictionless transition from bed to couch and back
2) Homemade upholstery designed to achieve a clean and natural finish and add its own aesthetic (TBD)
3) CNC wooden components for a professional and precise finish
4) A pully system that allows you to pull the bed up a couch effortlessly (take a closer look at my concept sketch above for more details)

My couch will be aesthetically and mechanically superior to almost all other examples I’ve seen online, giving me the sweet, sweet satisfaction of feeling better than the average Joe van builder. Stay tuned for more.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi Jon, I’m glad you found such a useful project for yourself! How does one design a bench like this to be legal to ride in? Does this mean you have to account for seatbelts and such? That struck me as an interesting design requirement and I am excited to see how you implement it.

  • Hi Jon. I am obsessed with watching van builds videos, and convertible beds are hands down the most difficult piece of furniture to make comfortable yet space effective. I am so excited to see how your bed/couch concept will come to life. I know you mentioned that you’re doing your own upholstery, but what aesthetics do you have in mind? Does you van already have a certain aesthetic that you can match your bed build to?


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