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Many RV owners work from their camper or motorhome, making an office space an essential.
Full-time RVer Susie Crabtree works as a remote bookkeeper and needed a designated office space in her 2017 Sportsmen 291BHLE travel trailer, so with the help of her husband's carpenter 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.
Fortunately, she took photos to document the process and generously shared them to perhaps inspire other RV owners with the idea of doing something similar.
The Project Begins
This is what the bunkhouse area looked like before the conversion: a typical corner RV bunk with full-sized beds and a weird notch cut out of the mattress.
Step 1: Removing the Bunks
Demolition in progress. The bunks were secured to the walls with long staples and weren't too difficult to remove with pliers. Almost any removal of built-in RV furniture involves nothing more complex than removing a lot of screws and/or staples.
An Unexpected Surprise
Susie and her husband purchased this particular model of travel trailer specifically planning to remove the bunkbeds and convert the space into an office, and 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 leftover 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 also salvaged from the bunk demolition. This helps the project look more finished and almost like it was original to the RV instead of looking like a shoddy 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, which was screwed to the top of 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 the underside of the desk showing 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 has to use extension cords to power her computer and other electronics for now until she is able to hire an electrician to add an outlet. 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 make sure her electronics will be protected in the event of a power surge or low voltage situation. (I purchased the same type of surge protector for my own RV after 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 so that 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 (made specifically for her Lenovo laptop) which is attached to the desk using heavy duty Velcro.
Originally, Susie would set printer on the floor on moving days, but after being moved back and forth so many times, the printer finally quit working, so she replaced it with a lighter one which she keeps fastened to the top of the desk with Velcro as well.
Below is a photo of the office area after the construction was completed. By rehanging the original curtain that covered the bunk area, Susie is able to draw it closed when she needs to be able to concentrate on her work without distractions.