Mechanical Engineer's $1,000 Van Conversion Has a Quick-Folding Bed (Video)

A man sitting in a converted van

Nate Murphy / Youtube

Like their tiny house cousins, van conversions come in all shapes and sizes. The stories behind them are often fascinating too, whether it's mid-life professionals retiring to travel full-time, outdoor enthusiasts using their vehicular homes to find the perfect climbing or diving spot, or a family man building the most awesome family camper ever.

Looking to create a more comfortable place to inhabit while on his nine-month climbing trip across North America, British mechanical engineer Mark converted this nondescript white cargo van into an inexpensive home on wheels, using a combination of off-the-shelf and reclaimed materials and some engineering ingenuity. Watch the tour of his simple van home and how it was done, via fellow rock-climber, entrepreneur and YouTuber Nate Murphy:


Kitchen area in the converted van
Nate Murphy / Youtube 

Mark's van has the kitchen to one side of the van's middle. It features a propane-fuelled camping stove, a simple sink made with a metal bowl, faucet and water pump, and lots of storage. Since this is the most visible part of the van's interior, Mark spent a little more money to buy cherry wood for the cabinet frame.


Mark sitting on the bed when it's fully extended
Nate Murphy / Youtube

The bed is quite clever: it's a three-part folding design that Mark came up with himself. One lifts up the panels using a looped handle in order to transform it into a sofa. Its sliding mechanism uses hinges, bolts, latches and plywood to create something that can serve as a bed, and as a comfy sofa when it's locked in with the latch.

Lighting and Storage

Storage drawer in the back of the van
Nate Murphy / Youtube 

To keep costs down, Mark chose to forego installing solar power; instead, he uses battery-powered LED lights. Storage has been put into all the irregular spaces, and a refillable water tank has been placed at the back of the van, where there's also more storage space and a drawer for outdoor gear.


Curtains behind the front seats
Nate Murphy / Youtube

To maintain privacy when parked in urban places, Mark has installed some thick curtains at the front of the van, which are hung on adjustable shower curtain rods.

In total, Mark spent only USD $1,000 on materials and renovations for the van, taking about a week and using borrowed tools at his friend's home in Utah to complete the build. It's a good design that maintains a nice balance between functionality and space to stretch out your feet or sleep -- no doubt helped by that clever folding bed concept.