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Before the Bus : The Car Bed

The Car Bed Published to Conquering Creatively January 2021

I've been in Portland now for a few weeks. I've hiked. I've been exploring and going on solo adventures. I've been getting comfortable with the area, honestly, a piece of me is falling in love with Portland. However, during one of my insomnia episodes, I started to image building a bed platform for my car. Originally, I just planned on laying out a mattress and sleeping bag. But, it would be so much more enjoyable if I love my space. I want to feel comfortable, safe and cozy. So began the birth of the car bed. I started just as I do every idea, research and reading. I started reading blog after blog on car beds. I watched video after video featuring all different types of cars, wooden frames and overall concepts. I took measurements of my car, multiple times and double checked these against the manufacturers notes. I made a list of my needs and wants. Here's what I started with :

  1. Ability to use all under platform space for storage.

  2. Modular. Must be able to fit into my trunk and pull out into the bed when I'm not using it. I didn't want to create a permanent bed that wouldn't be collapsable. (This solution came later)

  3. Organized.

  4. Long enough for me to lay out fully on. I'm a tall ass bitch.

Okay. Now I know my needs and wants. Now to start sketching out the idea. The initial sketch I made was for a permanent bed that would not be collapsable (at the time, I didn't realize this was even an option). After watching, reading and analyzing dozens of designs, I thought I came up with the perfect one. I made my shopping list and slept on it. The next morning I woke up and jumped right in. However, this time I somehow found the most incredible tutorial online with a collapsable bed that included plenty of storage. It was such a simple design, I couldn't believe I hadn't stumbled upon this sooner. Here's the overall concept : Three pieces that create one long bed.

  1. Piece 1 : The main box. This is the box that sits in the cargo/trunk space and has defined storage space.

  2. Piece 2 : The extension over the backseats. Large storage area that isn't as accessible but still very usable.

  3. Piece 3 : The extension to the front seats creating a 74" full bed when fully extended. This can also be propped up on the front seats to create more of a recliner feel. I made mine about double the size of the design linked above. Again, I'm a tall ass bitch.

Okay. Research done. Sketch drawn. Ready to shop. I headed over to the hardware store, with plenty of time and patience to work on and think through my project. I highly suggest giving yourself plenty of time for this so you can adjust and adapt your idea/design. Interested in building your own using this design? Here's how to get started. This bed is large enough for... 2 adults. 1 adult and a large dog. 1 overly prepared/packed adult. Measure your car. Here's the measurements I used for my 2017 Subaru Forester. Cargo space between wheel wells. (42") Cargo space w/ top of wheel well (47") Right rear seat width ( 24.75") Left rear seat width (16") Length of trunk (30") Length of back seat down (28") Length from front seat (all the way forward and upright) to back seat down (20") Length from front seat (all the way forward and upright) to edge of trunk (79")

Pick up your supplies. 1 Sheet of thick plywood. Cut to : 28"x42", 30"x42", 16"x42" 3 2x6 cut to 26" *Most hardware stores will cut the wood for you! 2 wooden blocks 2"x2"x6" Outdoor Carpet 6'x8' 2 hinges Dowel rod Long screws Staple Gun Power Drill with several various bit sizes Jig Saw Scissors Box Cutter Let's go. The Base. Start with the main box. Take the three pieces of 2"x6"x26" boards and attach them to the 28"x42" board. These measurements are the length of the cargo space in the trunk. Attach your plywood with 3" of space at the top of the boards. This is where your second board will overlay and snap into place with pegs. I attached the middle 2x6 support board in line with my seats so I can have one larger compartment and one smaller. Next, you're going to drill your holes for the pegs for the middle section to snap to. Before doing this, set your middle board on top of where you will be drilling the holes for the pegs. Use a medium sized drill bit and make pilot holes, this way your holes will line up with the pegs seamlessly. Next drill the holes for the pegs. I used a dowel rod and drill bit 1 size larger than the rod for the dowel to sit tightly in. After you've created the holes for the pegs, drill the holes for the middle board to snap into place. Place both pieces in your car. Don't worry if the length isn't perfect - that's what the jig saw is for. You'll notice the middle piece doesn't lay flat. Measure how much space is between the seat and the wood to create a brace/support beam to level out the base - for me, it was 4". To create the support to level out the base I attached 2 2x6 together and additional blocks at either side for extra support. My pieces extended past my trunk space by 2", the corners needed to be rounded to allow the door to close completely. I roughly sketched the outline of the trunk and cut the corners with a jig saw. I eyeballed this piece fits absolutely perfectly right against my back door. Apply carpet to the top of your base. This is for extra insulation, to hold the mattress in place and to protect your car from getting scratched from the wood. I wasn't precise with this and just cut and stapled. Just be thoughtful to keep the carpet as tight as possible. Next is attaching the additional extension that will hinge from the middle piece. I used two t-bar hinges attached at each end of the extension. I placed 2 removable rods under the middle section as well as a brace that sits on the middle console to support the extension. This video shows how the entire bed collapses into the cargo space and folds out when needed. The Mattress. Alright, time to put away the power tools and grab your box cutter with a fresh blade. Next grab your mattress. I wanted a mattress that would fit perfectly to my 42" width platform, which is between a twin and a full. I also wanted a mattress that would fold and sit on top of my trunk space when the bed is collapsed. I opted for this mattress and cut it to the exact size 42" to perfectly fit onto the platform. That's it! Next is making your space into a little home-away-from-home! I'm going to add some warm lighting and blankets to turn this space into a cozy getaway. Take a look later this week for the debut of the fully finished space.

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