How to Build an Integrated Bunk in an RV
When we were looking at RVs for our family of four, including two growing teenagers, we considered many differentpotential floor plans. One important priority for us in particular was separation between parents and teens, for …a number of reasons, so a bunkhouse arrangement, which is typically too close for our comfort, was out.
While we’d have loved to have found a Class A motorhome with a bunk setup that worked for us in our price range, we were unsuccessful, so we sought a custom solution that would meet our needs and that would look fully integrated in our RV. Once again, the renovation crew at the Foretravel Factory in Nacogdoches, TX put together a top-notch solution that looks like it came that way from the factory, because…it does.
Here’s the area of the living room before any construction began where we installed the overhead loft bed for our daughter. As you can see, the typical side table/liquor cabinet and lounge chair sit underneath a wide window and there are standard walnut storage lockers overhead. This is the space we designated as the “bedroom” for our daughter.
Because she had always had a loft and/or bunk bed, an overhead bed solution was the obvious choice. Putting the bed up high also allowed us to incorporate a good sized desk with space to accommodate the needs of her furry feline friends on board – a hidden litterbox accessed through a mousehole-type tunnel alongside the wall, as well as storage for her art and craft supplies and a pull-out keyboard tray.
Adding an overhead bunk to our rig created a second sleeping area to allow two teenagers to share living quarters in the front end of a Class A motorhome and increased our quality of life tenfold. Not too shabby!
With our ideas in mind, we worked with Larry at Foretravel (shoutout to Larry!) to custom design, engineer and build the bunk so that it folds away and can still be used as storage should we or a future owner so desire. Alternatively, we can fold the foam mattress in half and stow it and the ladder inside the closed cabinet, if we could ever get our daughter out of it!
How To Build an Integrated Bunk in an RV
First, the space was measured and the precise placement of the bunk was identified. The adjacent cabinets that were being affected were refit with (reused) cabinet doors that matched the smaller openings and new 1″ thick solid walnut sidewalls were screwed through and into the existing cabinets and toenailed into the roof structure. A 3/4″ x 4″ piece of solid wood was secured to the ceiling and provides a stop for the cabinet when upright. This peice and the inside of the bunk area were lined with
The frame and panel bottom of the bunk is screwed to the end panels, bolted to the sidewall of the bus and the fold-down portion is additionally supported by safety chains which are through-bolted to the steel framing in the roof of the rig; through-bolting was an easy precaution with all the original schematics for the rig available through Foretravel. This is where having the factory doing the work pays off: this bunk is over-engineered to the nth degree!
Within the bunk space itself, we spec’d an electrical receptacle for our daughter’s devices and the bottom of the bunk contains two puck lights which provide lighting for the desk below. There is also an available 12V line if we should choose to tap into that for additional needs in the future.
Step-by-Step: Opening the Overhead Bunk
As you can see, other than the obvious oversized cabinetry, when the bunk is closed it completely blends into the rest of the living room lockers. The front of the cabinets that you see now will become the outer half of the bottom of the bunk (plus a 6″ vertical safety rail) when it is unfolded.
First step to opening the bunk is to open each cabinet door and release the slide locks on either end of the bunk; the slide locks hold the front in the upright position when the bunk is closed.
Close the cabinet doors again, then lower the entire front of the cabinet to the 90° position where it is supported by chains.
The safety rail, which is a hinged portion of the cabinet front, is then raised and locked in place with a pin through the eyehook, securing the side rail in the upright position.
The panels which fit over the cabinet openings are slid into position, covering the cabinet door openings and creating a solid base for the bunk.
Then the mattress, in our case a 4″ thick piece of memory foam, can be placed into the bunk and our DIY copper-tubing ladder installed.
Voila! An overhead bunkbed in a Class A motorhome.