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Ashley Mann spent three years living full time in a 38-foot, 5th-wheel RV with her husband Josiah and their cat, Kitty. Her favorite thing about RV life is the challenge of finding the perfect way to organize a space, and she loves seeing all the creative and clever ways people come up with to customize their RVs.
Many RV owners work from their camper or motorhome, making a mobile office space an essential.
Full-time RVer Susie Crabtree works as a remote bookkeeper and needed a designated office space in her 2017 Sportsmen travel trailer.
With the help of her son, she removed the RV bunk beds that were located in the back corner of her camper and converted the space into a wonderful mobile office.
She generously shared the process to inspire other RV owners to make their own mobile office.
The Project Begins
This is what the bunkhouse area looked like before the conversion. Just a typical corner RV bunk with full-sized beds and a weird notch cut out of the mattress.
Removing the Bunks
Demolition is in progress!
The bunks were secured to the walls with long staples and weren’t too difficult to remove with pliers. For removing most furniture in RVs, all you’ll need is a screwdriver and pliers.
An Unexpected Surprise
Susie and her husband purchased this particular model of travel trailer planning to remove the bunkbeds and convert the space into an office.
They knew they would have to account for the water heater and electrical box, but they did not anticipate finding a pipe in the way of their plan.
Solving the Problem
First, a box was built using materials left over from the bunk removal to cover the hot water heater and electrical wiring. Both boxes can be easily disassembled if repairs are needed.
Next, in order to avoid having to reroute the plumbing, a pony wall was built to enclose the pipe using more salvaged materials (including leftover wallpaper strips to cover the seams), along with an added post.
It’s All in the Details
Some cushioning was added to the top of the wall using a faux leather piece which was salvaged from the bunk demolition. This helps the project look like it was original to the RV instead of looking like a DIY project.
The wooden post, painted to match the rest of the wood in the RV, was attached to the ceiling using a disk cut from a piece of salvaged plastic. This was screwed to the top of the post and to the ceiling.
Susie says this post is the sturdiest thing in the whole RV.
Installing a Built-in Desk
The desk was handmade from a sheet of plywood cut to fit the space, finished with paint and varnish, and mounted with metal braces on three sides.
Here’s a view of how it was mounted, including a hole cut for electrical cords:
Powering the Electronics
Since there were no electrical outlets in the bunk area, Susie uses extension cords to power her computer.
Following the advice of her “I.T. guy”, she uses an industrial-grade power strip mounted under the desk.
Since the cord runs under the carpet of the slide on its way to the wall outlet, it has to be unplugged whenever the slides are brought in.
Here is where the extension cord plugs into the outlet.
Susie uses a Progressive Industries RV surge protector to protect her electronics in the event of a power surge. I highly recommend this for every RVer.
I purchased the same type of surge protector for my own RV. A low voltage situation killed our Nespresso machine and caused us to have to replace the motherboard of our washer/dryer.
The Completed Project
Here is Susie’s office after 11 months of almost daily use.
The larger monitor is mounted to the desk with a heavy-duty articulating mount. It can, as Susie says, “withstand the mini-tsunami that occurs inside a towable on moving days.” The laptop connects firmly to a docking station which is attached to the desk using heavy-duty Velcro.
The constant traveling killed Susie’s printer. She replaced it with a lightweight one that is fastened to the desk with Velcro as well.
Below is a photo of the office area after the construction was completed.