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Sideboard storage

There's never enough storage space in an RV—even a Lazy Daze. That's doubly true if you're a fulltimer, and especially if your full-time home is a 22' rig like Gertie! And it seems as if most RVs are built more for socializing than living in. Every time I look at a floorplan, I find myself muttering "Too many seats and not enough work space!" Gertie, for example, has seating room for six on her two couches, but the only work space is the tiny dinette table. If you have projects to work on or business to take care of, that's not enough!

Old floorplan

Gertie is a built on what Lazy Daze calls a twin/king ("T/K") floorplan, meaning that the rear couches can be set up as two twin beds or brought together to form a single king-sized bed. Since I sleep in the overcab bed, I never do this, though occasionally when I'm traveling with a guest, they'll sleep in one of the twin beds. In the daytime the beds convert to back a pair of couches facing each other across the dinette table, but I normally just use the streetside one. I mean, how many places can I sit at once?

In short, the curbside couch was rarely used as a couch, and never as a bed. In four years of traveling with Gertie, it spent most of its time piled up with miscellaneous stuff. Eventually it penetrated my thick head that if I was going to use that couch for storage, I could be doing it a lot more effectively...and thus was born Gertie's sideboard. The idea was to use the space occupied by the curbside couch for combined storage and work surface.

Couch drawing

Here's a simplified sketch of how the curbside couch looked before I started making changes. (I've left out the refrigerator, since it would block the view.) It's important to note that recent Lazy Dazes have couches that differ in some details from mine, so what I'm about to describe may not completely apply to your rig, even if it's a twin/king. Still, the basic principles are similar.

In my 1985 rig, the couches are really just big plywood boxes with cushions on top. The interiors of these boxes are accessible as storage both from outside (through long, narrow doors at the rear) and from inside (by lifting up a plywood hatch under the seat cushion).

The cushions consist of a seat joined to a back, with a 6' long, 5" square bolster filling the gap between the two.

No couch

My plan was to replace those cushions with a six-foot wide cluster of drawers that came up almost to the bottom of the side window, and then put a plywood work surface on top.

First I removed the cushions and stored them away. (After all, Gertie's next owner might want to go back to the original twin/king layout!) Here's what the lounge looked like with the cushions removed. Look at all that empty space just waiting to be put to use!

Then I went shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Linens and Things and Staples, and came up with nine drawers made of lightweight but strong plastic. There were two stacks of two large drawers each (the same type I used in the wardrobe), two large file-cabinet-type drawers that held suspended file folders, and three small, shallow drawers that I had been using to hold stationery supplies.

Drawer fronts

I was lucky enough to be able to arrange these so that they perfectly filled the available space in both height and width, though there was an 8" gap between the backs of the drawers and the curbside wall. But I had plans for that space as well.

Sideboard drawing

I laid a scrap of carpet on top of the plywood couch base and set the drawers in place on that. Then I set about making a work surface to cover the top of the whole storage cluster. The area in question was roughly 24" deep x 72" wide, with the drawers occupying about 16" of that depth.

I made a counter top from 3/4" birch-veneer plywood, with one main piece 24" x 72" and three smaller pieces 8" x 24" each. The smaller pieces became hinged lids that allow access to the space behind the drawers, which forms an 8" x 72" x 15" deep storage bin.

I had to shorten the first and third lids a bit so they'd clear items like the storage pockets on the left side and the subwoofer on the right (not shown here, but you can see them in the photos below). A 4' strip of quarter-round trim screwed to the side wall at the same level as the counter top acts as a stop for the three lids, preventing them from sagging into the storage bin.

The three small stationery drawers, which sit on top of the two file drawers, were just a bit too wide to fit the available space. I cut the center drawer down the middle, reduced its width by about 4" and then welded it back together with a hot knife. The results aren't elegant, but it fits the space and is still large enough to be a useful drawer.

Drawer stop

I added wooden partitions to separate the three stationery drawers; these are mounted to the underside of the counter top with 2" angle irons. An additional angle iron acts as a stop for each drawer, preventing it from sliding too far back—and also keeps the drawer from popping out, thanks to matching pieces of 3M Dual Lock on the angle iron and the back of the drawer.

The finished sideboard gives me a total of 15 cubic feet of storage: nine drawers and the bin behind them. The bin holds my sewing machine and other bulky items, while the drawers hold my files, spare clothing and of course my stationery supplies. (The dinette table must be locked in its up position to reach the four large drawers, but I positioned the file drawers and stationery drawers at the left end of the storage cluster so that they'd be readily accessible even with the table in place.)

Table down Table up

The sideboard also adds 12 square feet of work surface where I can spread out papers, or bits and pieces of whatever projects I'm working on. Considering that before this I had only the small dinette table to work on, that's a major increase in useful space!

All in all, this is a big improvement in livability for a 22' rig that I'll be fulltiming in. The tradeoff, of course, is that I won't be having any dinner parties for six, since I only have one couch now...but I think I can live with that!

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