I WAS ABOUT THREE-QUARTERS FINISHED building out my van when I decided I wanted some type of shelf or cupboard above the bed to augment the storage under the bed and in the two cabinets I already had. And I didn’t want to be smacking my head on it whenever I got in and out of bed. Overhead storage, not into-the-head storage.

I hoped I wouldn’t need to build something from scratch, because my cabinet building skills were rudimentary, and because I couldn’t think of a good way to securely mount whatever I might construct. Smacking my head on a cupboard would be unpleasant, but not as bad as having the cupboard fall and bonk me in the head — while sleeping.

I didn’t have a lot of time left before my self-imposed launch date, but deadlines tend to ignite my out-of-the-box thinking. Hmmmm… what sort of pre-made shelf/box/rack out there might suit my purposes?

The answer came to me while walking through Home Depot — for the hundredth time in three months. (Projects always require more supplies.) I turned into one of the aisles and… Mailboxes! Lightweight, already assembled, painted. Yeah, mailboxes. Specifically these.

They’re tapered toward the bottom (and away from my head) and have a large opening. The wall was long enough for five of them. One for socks, one for underwear, one for more underwear, one for medications, one as a junk drawer.

To mount them, all I needed to do was screw a 1×2 board to the channel where the roof and wall join, then screw the mailboxes to the board. To keep the mailboxes from bouncing from their slotted holes I added third screws through an ordinary round hole.

Rough dirt roads made the lids rattle, so I added self-adhesive weather stripping to the inside of the lids.

Since the mailboxes are steel, I can stick magnetic things to them, like this battery powered light.

After ten-plus years the mailboxes are still doing their job. My socks and boxers are happy and so am I. And there have been no incidents of forceful contact with my head.