If you are like us you are always looking to maximize storage spaces on your RV.
In our 1987 32S Avion we have a gaucho style sofa. This pulls forward and then down to create essentially a double sized bed for guests. It is original to the trailer, but was fully reupholstered by the previous owner in about 2018. As you can see from the photo above, we do keep a quilted sofa cover on it not only to protect from our dog (sadly Reddy died in Dec 2020) but also, grandkids and us spilling something since the fabric is a similar color to the grey throw and plain so it will show any and all stains, etc. I don’t know if it was scotch guarded and do not want to take the chance it was not! This was a cover we already had from our other 73 Avion. Our 87 sofa is a bit longer.
In early Spring 2021 Kevin had the brainstorm that we could expand the under sofa storage by elevating the frame of the sofa. We would also gain the benefit of the sofa being a little higher so as we age, it would be easier to get up from sitting on it. Not that it was super low but any little bit helps once arthritis sets in!
Another reason for this project was that I found it very hard, and downright uncomfortable to try to have to kneel on or straddle that flip down solid upholstered sofa skirt panel when trying to get things out from under the sofa. It was so in the way! The skirt panel had the hinges and sat off the floor by at least nearly 2″ so that also reduced the height of what I could fit under there—and get out! See next photo below if we have you totally confused on what we are talking about here!
EASY STEPS to our Project:
(1) Unscrew the flip down front padded sofa skirt panel and remove floor mounted hinges, hardware. We decided not reuse this after completing our project. You could, I suppose opt to make either (a.) a new flip down panel out of wood then upholster with sofa material and reinstall the flip down hinges or (b.) add an extension board to the top of the existing flip down panel somehow and support it and then recover it all so it looks like one piece. We opted to make a fabric pleated sofa skirt that simply velcro’s across the front of the sofa and hangs to the floor. Since the fabric skirt weighs less than that original panel it’s another win!
(2) Unbolt and get sofa out of the way. TIP- we recommend NOT trying to get the sofa completely out of the rig due to narrowness of the entry door. This thing is heavy and bulky AND honestly the project went so fast, it would have probably taken us longer to maneuver the sofa out of the door than the entire project took! So leave it just tipped forward and out of the way. NOTE- we left the panel nearest refrig in place on the side of the sofa end. See more on this later.
NOTE we have carpet tile flooring done by previous owner. The brownish linoleum you see is original to the trailer when manufactured.
(3) Use this time to clean up, check water and waste connections and apply steel wool around pipe openings to ward of mice and other crawling critters from entering your living space! Note– we still have the original grey water piping for our fresh water to kitchen sink. As of this post, we have purchased all materials to change everything out to PEX plastic piping and that is on the to do list for Spring 2022- ha ha so the sofa will have to come out again to the middle of the living room!
(4) Cut 6 blocks of 2×4 wood (2 for each mounting- laying on their side for a total elevated height of 3″) to a size sufficient to carry the floor mount sofa hardware to be rebolted back in. Kevin fastened the 1st wood block layer in by itself using the old holes left in the floor as guides so they would be in the correct position. He used 2 1/4″, #10 heavy duty wood screws. He predrilled all holes in 2x4s to avoid any possible splitting. He then mounted the second layer of the blocks directly on top of the first layer, and used 3 1/4″ #10 wood screws to mount it to the lower layer. Be sure you know where those first screws are so you don’t try to screw down on top of them!
NOTE- we had LEFT the panel (bottom right corner of photo below it can be seen) at the tongue side of the original sofa in place since we hoped it would still work to hide that open end of the sofa. And it did!
***This is also a good time to put some small, low wood “stops” mounted into the floor just in front of your water pipes to prevent anything stored under the sofa to get hooked on or that could push back the water tubing. We held off doing this until we install our PEX system and will know exactly where the tubes will lie.
(5) Put the sofa back in place and re-screw it down in all locations. NOTE- since now the crossmember support arm no longer hit the wood box along back, we put a 4×4 in underneath it, clamped it to the 4×4 with a “U” and secured the 4×4 to the wood box by toenailing (screwing) it in with more wood screws. We did not want to put holes into the sidewall of the trailer. It is very secure. Considering when we unbolted the sofa to begin with, this cross member had never been secured- we figure its more secure now!
(6) Load in the totes! I tried various combinations of totes to find just the right mix for what we store under here. Your needs may be different but I store the following under our sofa: our Dyson Vacuum, totes with table cloths, Set of Sheets for sofa bed, multiple exterior solar light strands, swim floaty rafts, our cuckoo clock for traveling time, citronella table candles, and our Avion spare parts tote. It a lot of stuff but its all in various totes that fit like a puzzle. With the extension height of an additional 3″ I was able to now lay two totes on top of each other. I prefer totes because it is far easier to pull out a tote than to have to reach under to pull out each separate item. Also being in totes there is less concern over something hooking onto and tugging at or pushing against the water piping that lays along the bottom of the sidewall.
In the photo below where you can see I now have a blue lidded and white lidded tote—I could only fit ONE of them before this project. Essentially we have doubled our storage space under our sofa!
Additional Comments & Notes:
- As much as we would have preferred that the previous owner had carpeted completely under the sofa, actually we have found that even that little 1/4″ lip transition from the linoleum to the carpet aids in keeping the tote bottoms very well in place even during travel. If you do not have that carpet lip, you may want to install a 1/8″ or 1/4″ strip of molding flush to the floor in between the sofa support blocks. This will help keep totes in place during travel.
- I did find after a few trips that attaching an elastic bungy cord from one leg support (behind the sofa skirt) to the other was necessary to keep the higher tier of my totes from sliding out during travel. This has solved that issue completely.
- We found that the sticky back velcro we tried first to hold the new fabric skirt on did not hold up well enough during travel or “leg traffic” from us using the couch. I will have to secure the velcro either by sewing it on or by using a glue to adhere, letting it dry with clamps to ensure a good seal. In the meantime, what I did was extended the length of the quilted sofa cover we use making it longer in the front and that covers 90% of the opening and really is working fine for now.
- Kevin and I are not tall, we have pant inseams of 30″ (a.k.a short legs) and we have found that the raised height of our sofa is extremely comfortable for us. Our feet just touch the floor now and it feels more relaxing on our legs. If you are a taller person you may find raising your sofa could make your muscles relax even more! We also find that as we age getting up and down from the sofa will be even easier as arthritis no doubt will kick in.
- BEST TIP OF THE DAY! I should mention that at some point one of the owners of our trailer put a full shelf behind our sofa. It is simply attached with 4 angle braces screwed into the sidewall and it about 4″ wide. We would be lost without this shelf and store all sorts of things there. I have found wire framed fabric bins at Bed, Bath and Beyond that fit there perfectly and keep things organized. We also have one magazine storage holder (sits mostly behind our curtain) there for travel books, brochures and maps when currently on a trip, then the bins hold things like our battery lantern, binoculars, a plant, a container for our TV remote and other small misc items. One bin is open for me to set a mug or cup in while reclining on the sofa! The change in height of our sofa had no impact on the usefulness of this shelf and we highly recommend you install one during this project while the sofa is out! It runs the entire length of the sofa back.
- Sorry I do not have a photo of the sofa back in form with the pleated skirt attached. I will try to get that done in spring when our RV is out of winter storage and update this post when available.
Hope you enjoyed this project article. If you decide to undertake this project we would LOVE to hear from you and see your photos! Please feel free to leave us any comments on this project- we love to hear from our subscribers!
Until next time…safe travels and please visit our Avion merchandise store at www.MyAvionMarketplace.com and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and this blog to get notified of future posts and videos!
Sincerely- Kevin and Luise Sherman