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Chevrolet Astro Van Conversion: Construction Update 2

Here is our second update to our Astro Van small camper conversion with the details of the bed construction and underneath storage.

First published 2013.

Completed bed in DIY Astro Van Conversion

The last update showed the ‘first look’ of what it was going to look now – the framework is now almost complete and we have a proper mattress!

From this view you can really see the huge amount of space between the bed and the front seats……it’s an area a little bit smaller than the bed itself!

This means the bed is completely self-contained to the back of the van, leaving us way more space for living than our Europe road trip car did.

Astro Van Conversion Update 2 - Building a bed

This is the back framework while still in construction, just so you can get an idea of the storage space at the back.

bed frame structure astro can conversion back of bed

Back panel of Van Bed

The entire back panel is on two hinges, so can be lifted up from the back. This gives us a massive storage space, which we intend to use for larger and less used items, such as our snowboards, winter coats, canoe equipment etc.

The panel can be held up quite easily using a hook from the car roof. One of the struts providing support to the centre of the bed frame is on a hinge too, so that items like the snowboards can be taken out easier

The back wooden panel can also be lifted up from inside! I will have to ask Jean Robert when he gets home to find out exactly how it works, but it’s pretty awesome! This is a feature I’m really happy with, I love that most of our storage will be accessible from both inside and outside the car.

astro van conversion bed construction
astro can conversion under bed storage
astro van conversion bed structure

DIY Van Conversion Mattress

Our mattress is made up of six differently sized rectangles of 3 and a half inch firm foam. Jean Robert covered the foam with this awesome material from FabricWorld, it’s the thickness of denim but feels much softer.

You may ask why we haven’t just got one big piece of foam…..well, one good reason is that the middle rectangle (closest to the front seats) and its framework below can be entirely lifted out, creating an eating area for us.

Jean Robert is going to build a small high table to fit in the space where the middle rectangle is (when sleeping). This will be a huge improvement from our last vehicle since we didn’t really have anywhere really comfortable to eat inside last time.

astro van conversion mattress cover

Future plans for our Astro Van conversion

So that’s the September update! We’ve used the van in this state a few times recently and it works really really well. There is SO much space underneath the bed and it’s very easy to access.

Due to the bed’s position, we have so much space to move and change within the van; it’s crazy how much a slightly bigger car and a re-design can do for a car conversion!

Jean Robert is next going to work on the cabinet I think, which is going to house our fridge (well, cooler really), food storage, and indoor food preparation area. It’s going to be built behind the drivers’ seat, away from the side door.

Meanwhile, it’s my priority to work on curtains…..luckily the van has really dark windows as it is, but we definitely need to get some ASAP!

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Sunday 1st of November 2015

Hey guys, inspiring reading. Looking in to a van to take my girlfriend and I around BC and more. Was super psyched on the Astro Van for its AWD option, but worried about room for two people. I see you two managed! Which type of Astro Van is yours exactly? Year, drivetrain and those types of things. Thanks!


Wednesday 4th of November 2015

Hi Travis, thanks for your comment! We certainly did manage though a clever layout is needed and little 'stuff.' We're planning a potentially very long road trip (1/2 years +) and are wondering whether to rework the van's design or get a slightly larger vehicle.

Our Astro is a 1995 mid-range model with AWD.

Chevrolet Astro Van Conversion (our homemade camper): May 2013 update | Off Track Travel

Saturday 26th of October 2013

[…] have not been any major changes since my last update in September, but two pretty good upgrades! The bed is completed but we have not started on the other elements […]

Angela Ang

Friday 19th of July 2013

I really like your van conversion, especially the removable middle section for a table. Ingenious! I'm curious what kind of cabinet configuration you ended up doing. Would you have any pics or info? Thanks! :)


Friday 19th of July 2013

Hi Angela, thanks for the comment and interest! We don't actually have a cabinet at this point yet - the big road trip we were planning for was put off for a year, so we haven't really been in a rush to do it. Camping for short periods during the summer doesn't really require us to have one, so it'll probably be built this autumn/winter. Keep an eye out for an update then!

- Gemma


Thursday 11th of July 2013

I just came across your blog when searching for Chevy Astro Van conversions. We have a Chevy Astro Van as well. We have done a bit of short term camping in it by simply throwing a mattress into the back of it, but now we want to do more of a proper conversion for longer term travel. By the way we currently live in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and our plan is to go across Canada as well.

I like how you have put the bed in the back across the width of the van. What I am trying to figure out is if our van is the same length as yours. It is hard to compare because ours is a cargo van with no side or back windows. It is possible to know what the length of your interior space is from the back of the driver/passenger seats to the back doors?

Thanks so much:)


Thursday 18th of July 2013

Hi Audrey, thanks for your comment! Nice to hear from someone so close too!

Just measured the van, it's 230cm from the drivers seat to the back.

We love having the bed right at the back, but this layout can really only work in the Astro if you are 5"9 and under (and that's at a bit of a squeeze for the 5"9er!). Jean Robert had to take out all the plastic wall moulding in the back to allow for more space. By doing that, he then had to re-insulate the walls and re-finish. Just for reference, the width of the bed is 130cm, and the length is 176cm (if you are 176cm tall you will not fit comfortably, and would have to sleep on an angle or curled up). It is wider nearer the sliding door. All those measurements are taken at 45cm off the floor, the height of the bed. You might be able to gain a little more width if you have a thinner mattress - we have a 3.5 inch (8.90cm) mattress, which takes away space due to the curve of the wall. Didn't think about that until we installed the mattress!

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Been checking out your blog by the way, it's pretty extensive! Will be having a good read.

- Gemma