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Discussion Starter #1
I'd like to hear pro and con opinions on both options.

There have been quite a few threads where floorplans incorporating elevated beds have come up in order to save space, but I don't recall too much discussion of floorplans designed with primary sleeping area on floor (or even secondary).

Granted, beds at normal level are best, but if you MUST have more space, what are advantages and disadvantages of going "up" versus "down".

A picture got me thinking that climbing up on a loft is probably as difficult as getting off floor; but there is so much more to consider than that. Thoughts?
 

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Our last camper was a pop-up truck camper and had a bed over the cab. Climbing up (and down once in the night) was fine for me but the Ms. with arthritis just had too much pain. I built our camper with the bed at about 30+ inches for storage underneath. She faired better but needed a step stool to get in. After a year I lowered it to 22+ inches about “normal” for a bed. Getting up from the floor would have been an issue too. Knees, hips, fingers just get old. If you are approaching 70 it will get worse. When we bought the pop-up we were 58 and it was no problem. Plan.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
I was looking at picture below when I realized how difficult elevated beds must be when a couple sleeps together; and yes, particularly as they get older. Not only is it high, but if lengthwise you have to crawl from foot or head end, and if bed is transverse the outside person has it a little easier, but inside person is fighting both height and climbing over another person.

My first RV was a small Class C with only a dinette bed, jackknife couch, and over-the-cab bed. The overcab bed was only one large enough to sleep together comfortably, but getting in and out was so inconvenient we often slept on separate beds.

There must be a better design compromise when space is very limited.
 

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Because we use our beds as couches, I wanted to make 'em standard seating height, which is 17-18" including the 4" foam cushions we use. They convert to 30" wide beds and are the perfect height for us.



Plenty of storage underneath, but we don't carry bikes, etc as some campers do... Lots of room for my wife's shopping adventures!

Our beds could easily (in the original design but not implemented) become a king size across the aisle setup but we haven't wanted that as a trade-off for the convenience of an 11" aisle at night.

If we needed more sleeping space, I have thought about an across-the-front-seats bed and another in the back over our toilet and fridge.... that would allow us 2 more beds. We have only camped as 2 and would only add grandnephews as an additional 2.

159 floorplan:

 

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Discussion Starter #5
.....cut.....

Plenty of storage underneath, but we don't carry bikes, etc as some campers do...

.....cut.....
Nice!

Your point is key though. I'd like to figure out a way to carry a tandem plus two single bikes and still have comfortable living space. And I'd really prefer bikes to stay inside 100% of time, even at night.

Dedicating half the van's floor space for "bedroom" area just doesn't work unless you go to loft/platform, or some other sleeping arrangement.

Just wondering why we don't see more full-size beds on floor? Whether air or foam matresseses, they are storable during day and could fit between wheelwells or by side door at night. Granted, making a bed on floor every night could get old fast.
 

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...And I'd really prefer bikes to stay inside 100% of time, even at night.
We could keep bikes in the aisle while traveling (but would restrict access to fridge and toilet). The "bikes inside at night" makes it hard to deal with.
On my plan, I'd probably give up the kitchen cabinet and put the bikes across the front behind the front seats, but I don't have bikes at home, so I don't need 'em on the road. (probably should think about that as a New Years resolution! A little exercise for us wouldn't hurt!) ;)
 

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A primary consideration is purely psychological. I personally would not feel comfortable tucking myself into a cubbyhole on the floor. One of the huge advantages of the van is that we don't have to sleep on the floor. We sleep in a "bed", not "on a mattress on the floor". I'm sure you are not the first to have contemplated the option, and this may actually be the main reason you don't see it done.

Assuming head room would be limited either way, head bumping would be much more of an issue with getting up and down on a bottom bed. To avoid head bumping, you'd have to either scoot your butt on the floor or crawl on your knees on the floor, which could be hard and cold and dirty. In our 70's, we both can still get up and down on the floor in our tent with relative ease, but I promised my orthopedist I wouldn't kneel on hard surfaces, so I doubt I could maneuver the bottom bed with limited headroom without hurting myself. Many folks our age and younger can't do what we can do. As RD said, this should be another major consideration. At least mock it up and try it before committing.

Warm air rises, so consider the climates in which you might sleep. The floor could be advantageous in hot summer unless the air stagnates down there and the breezes are above you. Top is going to be warmest in winter. Middle usually has the best temperature control.

You say, "Granted, beds at normal level are best, but if you MUST have more space, what are advantages and disadvantages of going "up" versus "down". How would "going up" or "going down" yield more space than having the bed at a normal height in the middle with storage above and below?

EDIT: Your last post made some of my post irrelevant. Now I see you aren't contemplating a floor-level cubbyhole, but I cringe just thinking of the time you'd spend setting up/taking down. There must be a better way. Have you shown us your floorplan yet?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
On my present Ford extended van I can haul the tandem and two bikes just inside the side door, but it restricts movement considerably, and doesn't allow for sleeping at all. At campgrounds we take them out and secure them outside, but that's not practical if stopping in a rest area or similar. For this reason we don't travel with bikes unless it's a cycling destination.


One thing I keep fighting while trying to come up with a floorplan that does everything we want is that I don't want to block rear door access, which effectively eliminates a (single large) rear platform.


I have thought of two semi-elevated twin beds like yours at rear (like split platforms over wheelwells) so that tandem fits under one and two single bikes under other side. It's only concept that I've thought of that has chance of working.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
.....cut....

EDIT: Your last post made some of my post irrelevant. Now I see you aren't contemplating a floor-level cubbyhole, but I cringe just thinking of the time you'd spend setting up/taking down. There must be a better way. Have you shown us your floorplan yet?
Correct. I'm talking about on the floor like Japanese style. Did that in Japan decades ago and was great.

In a van it would seem that having a bed on floor would make ceiling appear so far away that the van would seem more spacious than crawling up on a loft/platform where the ceiling is right above you.

Edit: No, I don't have a viable plan yet, which makes me keep looking for a larger and larger van to fit everything in, although that too creates too many compromises. A 21-foot limit seems best for how we travel and park in cities, etc.
 

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If you go ground level...look into the Decked system. You can at least have some storage below easy to get to and sleep on top of it. I do this on a lot of vans, works very well, and you have two nice drawers. Mostly people do this if they need "bunk" set up...not ideal because it's not enough storage and you still have to move all your gear to sleep, but its a nice alternative. You can also build something like this, but the Decked system is really nice and easily removes if you sell the van.
DSC_0170.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I'm trying to see if it's possible to somewhat replicate a slightly smaller version of a Hymer Class A that is just under 22-feet long. Maybe it can be done with an extended PM at 20'-10" -- not sure.

With care I may be able to create twin beds in rear that can also serve as (elevated) lounge, and at same time high enough to allow bikes to stand under beds (split platform). Someone posted a picture of their van with elevated dinette at rear (was about 18" off floor), which is pretty close to what should work. Wish I could find that picture. In case of this Hymer there are steps between twin beds to make it easy to get in and out of bed. Beds can also be converted to King if desired.

Roughly speaking, I'd have two platforms about 36" tall on either side as beds (bikes under those), with center between beds about 18" off floor. This would still allow exiting the van through rear doors in an emergency, and also to lounge/eat with rear doors open on nice days.

If needed I'd be willing to remove bike back wheels to make them easier to store. Anyone else traveling with us would have to sleep on floor or folding cot at front of van (Hymer Class A has front drop-down bed).

A major problem is that if I use all that space under beds for bikes (assuming they'd fit), there is little left for equipment, batteries, tanks, storage, etc.



Thanks again for feedback.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
.....cut..... The tandem will require some creativity.

...... the ability to carry 4 bikes without rearranging anything, ever, was one of our main design goals

this might be of use: ....cut....
Thanks, and yes, our goals are similar. I'm going to study your design in more detail to see how you found room for everything else required to make a cargo van into a camper. Regarding bikes, I agree, if you can take them with you all the time just in case an opportunity for a ride comes up, that's the way to go -- provided they don't have to be moved around or get in the way at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Chance, you might want to look at this guy's ideas.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=62210

I'm not a bicyclist, so I'm not calibrated as to how much space they need, but with our wider body, I wonder whether the bikes could be under/behind the seat backs.
Thanks for link. The elevated dinette in that drawing is functionally exactly what I was thinking should work. From a construction standpoint I wouldn't go to trouble of a clear span, but otherwise it should work really well for me provided I can find room for batteries, tanks, storage, etc...

Figuring ProMaster is wider than Sprinter, with 74" of interior width and 54" between wheelwells, the twin beds can be "up to" 30" wide with 14" aisle between them. Since wheelwells only stick in 10" from wall, it suggests there should be plenty of room to roll a tandem back past wheelwells. I still need to check clearance against rear doors, but it's starting to look promising. :)
 

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Yeah, that tandem is going to have to roll up the middle.

Our core design elements are : 2 road bikes must load with no effort. 2 MTB must load with minimal effort. 4 bikes must load with modest effort. I'm working on a 4 foot long pull out drawer design. It will be sturdy enough to walk one when parked. I should have something to show in a week or two.

One of the things we noticed is that bikes can go in sideways with some planning. Not the tandem of course.

Given that you need space for the bikes, sleeping over the garage is a natural use of the space. The big question then becomes one of how permanent the bed space is. Fixed bed? Murphy bed (maybe a split design)? Rise up to the ceiling?
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Yeah, that tandem is going to have to roll up the middle.

.....cut.....

Given that you need space for the bikes, sleeping over the garage is a natural use of the space. The big question then becomes one of how permanent the bed space is. Fixed bed? Murphy bed (maybe a split design)? Rise up to the ceiling?

I believe we're not quite on the same page; unless you mean rolling down the middle of each side platform.

With essentially two separate platforms (one on each side of van roughly 28~30 inches wide by roughly 36" tall and about 6'-4" long), it should be possible to roll a tandem backwards with rear wheel and stoker bars going past wheelwell. Rear bars will be at much higher elevation, so widest part of bike down low will be pedals. A little over a foot of clearance next to wheelwell should be plenty to clear bike pedals.

Attached is copy of picture from thread that MsNomer linked from Sprinter forum. Note that it's a dinette, twin/king bed, and storage below somewhat similar to a platform bed.
 

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Sitting up head-room is really important if your partner automatically screams and hits something (e.g., me) when she bumps her head in the middle of the night.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Sitting up head-room is really important if your partner automatically screams and hits something (e.g., me) when she bumps her head in the middle of the night.

Steve, diminished headroom is a great point. While we gain storage/mini-garage under beds, it does preclude having upper cabinets above the bed. That's a compromise I'll accept since most upper cabinets are small anyway. Most European motorhomes with elevated rear beds over a "garage" have similar issue. Hymers have upper cabinets over bed, but they are low-profile. If used for sitting as a dinette then cabinets must be eliminated.

We're not that tall, so a high roof ProMaster should allow plenty of height for bikes below bed cushions (I'm guessing around 36" high) and still plenty of room to sit in bed (close to 36" also).

As mentioned before, if dimensions are too tight, I'm willing to modify bikes to make them lower while driving.
 

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Attached is copy of picture from thread that MsNomer linked from Sprinter forum. Note that it's a dinette, twin/king bed, and storage below somewhat similar to a platform bed.
If you are thinking you can back the bike under the seats, inboard of the wheel well and outboard of the seat bases, that might work. Front wheel off would keep the height down. MTB handle bars might be a challenge.

It is good that I've decided that everything on the van is a prototype because this is giving me some ideas on layout.
 
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