First, let me say that Bob is 6'4" and I knew I would have to make it comfortable enough for him if this would work. I tried, by myself, a one night jaunt with friends just sleeping on the floor with a couple of mattress pads. Yikes! Lesson learned, I won't be doing that again. Besides the fact that the floor was uncomfortable, I also wanted the bed up off the floor so there would be storage space and some ease getting in and out of the bed.
I looked online for ideas but everything was built from scratch. I just didn't want to bother spending a bunch of money and building a bunch of stuff if the thing wouldn't be comfortable for both of us. The idea of modifying a futon struck me and I started researching the sizes.
Our Honda Odyssey can hold a 4'x8' piece of plywood (sans mid-row passenger seats) so that is the space I was working with. Just behind the drivers seat there is a wider space due to the doors. I hope that this space will give us room to be comfortable. We'll put the head of our bed right behind the front seats.
When I found a futon on Facebook marketplace for $60, I convinced Bob to drive over and pick it up with me. The futon was perfect because of its wooden, arm-less frame. The mattress was typical futon style and I knew I'd have to add some kind of pad to make it more comfortable.
We had to take the frame apart to get it into the van and get it home. Once there I pulled it out and put it back together before cutting it down.
The top, or head, of the futon fit perfectly in the space behind the driver's seat. The other two portions though would need to be cut down to 48". Situating the top (head) of the bed just behind the front seat will allow me to raise the frame up to create a lounge effect. It makes for a comfy option!
Here are our simple steps for modifying the futon frame and mattress:
1. I began by drilling and screwing the slats that were going to be cut. Some of the slats were only held in place by the end pieces I was cutting off. Photos 3 & 4
2. The futon was 60" wide and I needed to bring it down to 48". After I measured and marked cut lines I used a saber saw to remove 6" on each side of the foot and middle of the frame. Photos 5 & 6
3. Next it was time to work on the mattress. It too was 60" and needed to be pared down. One side was zippered, but the other was sewn closed, so I had to open the seam. Scissors were not enough to cut through the many layers of padding so I got out the electric knife! Photos 7-12
4. After trimming away about 6" on each side, I used a very long needle and waxed rug thread to sew the slimmer sides up. It was neat but not fancy sewing. After sewing up the seams I zipped the mattress into its original cover. Photos 13 - 16
5. The Odyssey floor is slightly higher in the back, so I propped the middle and head end with boards to try and level it out. This was probably my largest problem as the pieces I used did not create a level bed.
Final cost: $86
$60 for the futon.
Window Socks $15
Solar lights $11
After taking it on a 3 day women's camping trip I determined that two 3" memory pads were not enough to improve the futon mattress. We will likely purchase a deeper memory foam mattress top soon. I'll report back.
For the front side windows I purchased window socks. These are soft mesh screens that slip over the open door. With the window down, you can have fresh air and no bugs.
On the back of the vehicle I draped a mosquito netting (meant for a double bed) over the open lift-gate. While the netting did a nice job of allowing air to move on a warm night, I'm not sure how much it would keep out serious mosquitoes and would definitely not work for "no see-ums" which you may find in the northeast. I'll be sewing magnets into the netting to keep it more secure--and tight to the vehicle—for my next trip out.
All in all I am very pleased with our tricked out mini-van. There are lots of improvements to come and I'll post it here on "My Crazy Ideas".