Converting Bunks into a Usable Desk and Storage Space in Our Forest River Wildwood
Posted in Customization on September 29, 2013 Last Updated on August 12, 2017
While the Wildwood has a great layout it, like many other campers, does not have much usable space for an office. Our plan to accomodate the need for a workspace was the removal of the triple bunk bed setup in the rear of the RV, converting it into a desk and shelf area.
The process of removing the bunks started off fairly easy. After removing the mattress pads, we removed the caps covering the trim screws. This allowed the needed access to remove the two screws in each of the carpeted trim pieces and remove them from the bunks. With the trim removed, we were able to use a simple flathead screwdriver to begin prying the thin wood top and bottom off of the top bunk. Following the prying with a long crowbar allowed the boards to easily pop off of the bed’s 2×2 frame.
We quickly discovered the beds were mounted with screws from the other side of the wall. It took a small amount of force to remove the strip on the outer wall from the back corner and one strip still remains on the cabinet.
We initially planned to use as much of the original bunk mounting points as possible. With the amount of trouble involved in the top bunk’s removal, and the sturdy construction Forest River has on the bunk frames, we decided to keep the middle bunk partially intact and utilize it as the desk support. A section of the frame was removed with a hand saw to make a seating area and storage entrance.
The intention was to remove the final, lower bunk. It, however, was constructed differently than the rest. The lowest bunk was a 1/4″ piece of plywood on a simple four side 2×4 frame. Underneath, were water pipes and electrical wires – not the types of things we are ready to begin relocating. For now, the bottom bunk stays and is the “floor”.
With the removals done, its time for additions. With the frame measured, it was off to cut the desktop out of plywood. I cannot cut a straight line to save my life, luckily my father usually can. The cuts were made, the board was test fit, minor adjustments were made to allow a more loose fit, and the rough desktop was done.
Back to the parts pile, a hand saw was taken to the top bunks structure. After making two cuts, we had the square that would be remounted, using the original hardware, and become the support for our inventory shelf. A piece of luan was placed on the square and a shelf was made. The shelf also provides a sturdy, out of the way place to store our tension rods until moving day.
With all the boards in place, it was time to start using the space. We are not “finishing” it at the moment, until we know fully how the surfaces will best be utilized. Plans are already in the works for modifications to a newly cut desktop. Please excuse the mess.
Alan finally had enough of a break from Southside Studios to finally have a chance to do get back to work on his desk.
To keep everything compact, Alan had been experimenting with different ways the surface could be used, in hopes of not having to cut a new piece of plywood. Sitting in the area on a lowered stool, made this work.
First up, after removing all of the equipment and office supplies, was to pull the plywood and add the half-round. The half-round was cut to fit the desk lengths, nail holes were pre-drilled, and the nails were all hammered approximately 98% of the way in. Once all of the nails were in place, a finishing nail punch was used to set the nails below the wood level.
With the nails set, we were ready to putty the holes. It seems we did not use quite the right kind of putty… As the color did not match well in the finished product. We’re happy with it though.
Once the putty was in place, it was time to sand and stain. We used a basic palm sander to get the job done. And, it was time for staining and adding the polyurethane.
Between stain and poly coats, we also stained and added a coat of polyurethane to the original wall mounted 2 x 2’s from the original bunks. These are what our desk and shelf will be supported by, and they need to match. After both sides of the desk were complete, the desk was returned to its home, desk cord caps were added, and everything was reconnected.
Excuse the mess, but we did just finish the desk.
From here on out, it’s little touch-ups as we have time and first up was the trim. As you can see in the photo, the corner trim had gaps where bunks used to be mounted to the walls.
We removed this trim, saving it in case it is ever needed later.
We picked up a piece a on-sale piece of corner trim from a large Pleasant’s Hardware in Richmond. After measuring several times, we used a hack saw to cut the trim to the correct length. Since the lower bunk is still in place and is the “floor” of the office area, we had to use a box cutter to tool the bottom strip of the trim for perfect fit.
With the trim cut, we were ready to stick it to the wall and re-mount the carpeted front floor cover.