This Old School Bus Was Given a New Life as a Tiny House on Wheels

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(Image credit: Elizabeth Spencer)

Name: Elizabeth Spencer, husband, 1-year-old daughter, and Vizsla
Location: North Carolina
Size: 280 square feet
Years lived in: 5 months, owned

We are a family of four: myself, my husband, our little girl, and our very needy but energetic Vizsla named Ginger. We live part time in Africa and part time in our converted bus in America. My husband is a co-founder of a clean energy business based in East Africa but we still spend a few months every year in America with friends and family. We had talked about having a space of our own for when we came to America but we have family spread across the country so it was hard to decide where to build this home.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Spencer)

Eventually, after my husband talked my ear off about buses for months, we landed on buying an old school bus and converting it into a tiny home on wheels. We bought a bus from a school district in Oregon then found a tiny home builder in Tennessee called Wind River Tiny Homes that was willing to take on building our bus conversion. They finished the bus build in November 2018 and we have been living in it ever since. For that past two months we have been parked in North Carolina on family land but before that we did a two-month cross country road with our bus from North Carolina to San Diego and back. We love having the comforts of home while on the road.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Spencer)

The overall design is shiplap and subway tile with a splash of color and decor we love from our travels. We replaced all the bus windows with regular windows to help with insulation. The bus is divided into thirds. The first part of the bus is a living and kitchen area. The bus opens into a L couch. The couch can turn into a bed for guests or we have a table we set up for meals. Across from the couch is a big window for us to enjoy the views wherever we go. There is a breakfast bar behind the back of the couch that we can use for meals when we don’t want to get the table out or I work from the bar most afternoons during nap time. The kitchen has butcher-block counters, black cabinets, antiqued brass fixtures, subway tile, and floating shelves. It is a full kitchen with a mini fridge, stove, oven but a full size sink! My favorite park of this room is the red sliding door leading to the rest of the bus.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Spencer)

The second third of the bus has bunk beds on one side and a bathroom on the other size. The bottom bunk has a place to put our Guava Family Portable crib for our toddler and a washer dryer hook up. The bathroom has a Separett composting toilet and a shower with an instant hot water heater, subway tile, and a rain showerhead. The sink is pretty small but works great for washing your face and brushing teeth.

The final third of the bus is the bedroom that doubles as an office. There is a sliding door separating the bunk room from our bedroom. There are open closets on the side as you enter and the bed to the back. There are three windows plus the back bus window, which brings in tons of light during the day.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Spencer)

What is your favorite room and why? Every square inch of this home is unique but our bedroom is cozy and functional. The bedroom was built in the last third of the converted bus. There is a queen bed set high with storage underneath. There is a bedside space that we can put our doc-a-tot for an infant or books when there is no infant. There are steps up to the bed that also double as a reading the bench. The three open closets have more than enough space for all our clothes. And finally, the fold down standing desk converts the bedroom into an office space during the day where my husband does international conference calls from our little bus.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Spencer)

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? We would want a rooftop deck to magically appear on the top of the bus. I envision us sitting up there watching a sunset overlooking the ocean while sipping on handcrafted Moscow Mules. This will happen one day! I asked my husband this question and he said he would want solar panels on the roof the length of the bus and the bus engine to be replaced with a long range electric engine big enough for a beast like our bus. Sounds expensive!

(Image credit: Elizabeth Spencer)

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? Rugs. During the winter you can feel the cold coming through the floor in the bus. Even though we love our hardwood floors, we needed rugs to help insulate this winter. nuLOOM has an awesome selection of affordable rugs in all styles and designs—oriental to geometric, natural fibers to shag.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Spencer)

Any advice for creating a home you love? In a small space you are more free to design the space you like and spare no expense. Building small is a way to have exactly the home you want inside your budget. If we had built a bigger home we would have had to cut back on the quality, the design, as well as not have all the features we wanted in order to accommodate the extra square footage. It is also way less expensive to furnish and decorate 280 square feet verses 2,800 square feet.

Thanks, Elizabeth!

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