When we started this project we used to look up cabinets, furniture, and the like at IKEA and similar stores, dreaming of how this whole project would come together. We took measurement of things and matched colours and styles. As the project progressed though and we faced the reality of very limited space and odd dimensions, so we took matters into our own hands. We switched from fitting our space to products and created items instead which fit to our space. Here are a few of the items we are most proud of, created by hand, by Phil and I.
We found the template for building this couch early on and decided it was perfect for the bus. It was free, created on Sketch Up and advertised as a simple build. When it came time to actually build it however, the fact that the creator of the template had never actually built the couch became overly apparent. What a nightmare the whole thing was!! On top of bad instructions, measurements, and a ton of spelling errors, we also changed the dimensions to better suit our space and the math for that alone was hard enough for the two of us. Phil spent a total of 4 days (full days) working on this beauty; building, rebuilding, adjusting, cursing, and kicking, until it all came together, just how we had imagined. Never, will I take for granted a functional piece of furniture again!
Under the couch we have two deep, but low, drawers where we plan to house blankets, sheets and towels.
As well, the couch pulls out into a bed big enough to sleep two! Two people who know each other quite well, but still two. Finally while travelling we have the opportunity to have people over! This was never an option when living in my minivan.
I discussed in a previous post how the kitchen cabinets were put together, but here is a loo at them completed.
We've created ample space for everything we would need to store in the kitchen, plus hopefully extra space for all the things we are forgetting we will need to store, in our little home on the road. I know they don't look perfect or professional, but they are definitely something we can be proud of, having made them entirely with our own two (four) hands.
Who says you can't have a tiny bus house AND a trendy brick wall? We certainly don't! I found these amazing Z-Brick tiles in the garage and HAD to use them. Instead of grout my parents also had in hiding, some mortar repair cement in caulking tubes. Together, they made this wall in our kitchen look like a classic brick chimney rising up through the room.
I love watching tiny house shows, but whenever I do I get so upset that people are forgetting about closet space! Where will they put their food and clothes? Tiny living doesn't mean you stop eating, and so I made sure we utilized the space above the wheel well for a pantry. Never did I imagine though it would look this gorgeous!
We are using three stains in our bus, all meant to mimic old, weather-worn wood. It may be tiny and it may be mobile, but that doesn't mean it can't be trendy. The stains are Coffee and Slate, semi-transparent wood stain by Behr, and a third we are making at home with a layer of tea and then a coat of steel wool + vinegar (the steel wool needs to soak in the vinegar for at least 36 hours). Together, they all give a really beautiful look and offer some depth to our very white look.
Is a room, only made for a toilet which has no plumbing, still considered a bathroom? We definitely can't call it the WC, I know that much, so bathroom is really the only word I have for this room. As I've mentioned previously, we will have a composting toilet BUT with budgetary constraints we currently cannot afford the toilet of our dreams (fingers crossed, in a few months time we will have it) and so this room will be remaining empty for a little -- that doesn't mean it can't look phenomenal though!
This was the first time I tiled anything and I am happy to have started with such a small area. All of these tiles are recycled in a way because they were all leftovers from tiling jobs from my parents' past. I learnt I'm not too good with a tile cutter and so luckily these all fit together pretty nicely.
The pipe shelf and the toilet paper holder are care of Pinterest and really fun projects though I'll let you know, its cheaper to just buy a toilet paper holder and shelf then all this 1/2" piping, haha.
Even the bathroom door needed to be a custom work of art with such strange dimensions. We wanted the barn door look, but couldn't afford the expensive hardware involved ($150 for just the track) so we stained some beautiful pine and pieced together this door. With a little creativity and a garage raid, we came up with a clothes line inspired mechanism we are hoping will provide the same effect.
From the front you should only be able to see the top wheels and it will run a thin piece of metal track just like the expensive store bought version.
The dressers haven't been completed yet, but they will be matching and on either side of the bookcase in the bedroom. They are built to fit on either side and be only a foot deep. This was a piece of furniture I was hoping to be able to purchase, but our of necessity, I had to make it and I'm thinking so far, so good. I'm planning on having the front of the drawers brown as well and the top a light, more natural stain, on pine to match our countertops (coming soon).
I'm really proud of the work we've been doing and so happy to see this project coming along. I'm also incredibly grateful for all the support we've been getting and the general enthusiasm for this project.
Fresh coat of paint
A fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference, and for our little bus, I really believe it did. It made the whole place transform into a house, but also meant we really had finally made it through the big stuff.
We really wanted to keep the bus light and bright to help it feel more open and so decided the majority of the interior would be white. We allowed ourselves a bit more fun with the kitchen cabinets, letting them act like an accent wall would in a larger space. We had originally planned on painting them a very pale blue which would have given the whole space a beachy feel, but changed our mind last minute to this country green, which I think will go nicer with our other aesthetic choices.
My parents and their garage of treasures has really become an inspiration to our project. One tool we were introduced to in there was the rotary saw which allowed us to take bland cabinets and make them look a little more professional. Not so bad for our first attempts I think. Maybe in the future we may get a little more fancy, but for now, a fun edging is a huge accomplishment.
For the upper cabinets, we were able to utilize some cupboard doors we took from an old trailer earlier in the winter. We'd hoped to use more for the lower cupboards but we made ours larger then a standard cupboard would be and there for needed to build them ourselves. You can do a lot with plywood and side by side, you'd hardly guess one was professional and the other was us… hopefully… haha
The bedroom is really white right now, but with the dressers in and the bed made up it'll be a little more lively I think.
All in all I think things are looking pretty good. In one way we're on the home stretch, in others we have a long way to go to certification and licensing!
Dads been working hard and learning a lot with us about the electrical system of an RV. He's done electrical work in houses before, and has owned a couple different trailers and RVs, so, with all of that experience and knowledge, he's installed for us our electrical system. We've decided to model the bus after an RV because it gives us a couple different options for power; we can plug into a 120V receptical or run off our deep cycle 12V batteries when adventuring.
I started talking about electrical in post Eighteen if you're interested in seeing how we ran the wires behind the wall and ceiling.
The way this system works is a little complicated, but I'll do my best to simplify the whole thing!
We have two deep cycle 'Big Red' Marine batteries connected in parallel. This means that the voltage is still 12; positive is connected to positive and negative is connected to negative. We we crossed them it would double the voltage from 12V to 24V. If you are using smaller 6V batteries you would want to cross them. In the above picture you can see the batteries in their custom tightly sealed box. The box is air tight and vented out through the wall because when the batteries are being used they release a gas that we did not want building up under our bed while we slept. Theres also space for a third battery if we find we are spending less time close to a charging source (120V electrical plug-in).
Just above the box, not covered when the lid is on the box, is a fuse to prevent the batteries from overheating and setting fire. If ever we overload them, this fuse will cut power the same way a fuse will do in your house.
This mess of wires is what lines the back wall of our utility closet. The red and black battery cables run to both our inverter (12V to 120V) and our converter/battery charger (120V to 12V). Having both of these gives us the option to plug the bus into a 110V outlet (RV park or parents house for example) or to run all of our 120V electrical outlets off the 12V battery power.
The other two boxes you see in the photos are the fuse panels, the top one for 12V fuses (salvaged from an old RV), and the bottom a standard 120V fuse box you'd find in a house with two 15W fuse switches.
To use an external source of power we plug our thick black RV electrical cord rated for 30W into a power source and connect the other end to the yellow plug you see in the picture above connected to the outlet. Then, we plug the 120V fuse box and the converted (silver box) into the two outlets being now powered by the external source of power.
To run everything off of our battery supply we simply plug the 120V fuse box directly into the inverter.
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I apologize again, because this post is the huge jump from missed blogging time. There is about 10 days of work in this one photo so look closely, as the we really made a big jump. What felt more like the shell of a house, is now finally feeling almost livable.
By the sink, we split the storage space in two, with one section of drawers and one of selves. Everything was made with 3/8" plywood and sanded smooth, currently I'm called the bus the plywood palace, but once its all painted I think it will look a little more professional and a little less DIY/make it up as we go.
I'd never built or installed a drawer before, but seeing how deep the cabinets were and the pantry I knew we needed them for function. I studied the drawers in my parents kitchen and with pride ran to Phil to show him my first functioning drawer which I was calling my prototype for my proposal of a tiny house filled with drawers. Admittedly, I needed to make some measurement adjustments, but soon each drawer fit in place and now we have a pantry full of deep drawers to store all of our food.
The strength of the drawers are being put to the test currently and I'm happy to report they are doing the job, holding up all of our heavy tools and supplies.
On either side of the stove will be a single drawer with a shelf below. To raise the stove up, I've built a platform with some space underneath for a drawer for storing baking tray and baking tins. Phil laughs now, every time I mention adding another drawer somewhere.
The oven/stove we picked got by picking apart another trailer. We gave the owners some cash and took cupboard doors (for the hardware), a double sink, and this four burner propane stove/oven. Looks good as new, just needs a little cleaning up.
This fridge was a great find! We got it from the Salvation Army in town, from their warm-up trailer. We still need to test if the propane on it works but so far the 12V and 120V work so it should be good.
The last storage area we've been working on is in the bedroom, alongside the bed. So far we've built a book shelf, and three overhead cupboards, but haven't figured out fully the plan for the rest of the space. There will be a clothing rod to the left of the overhead cupboards and hopefully the whole area under the windows will be filled with 2 dressers.
To all of you who have been checking the blog and asking me to update it, I'M SORRY! We have just been flying through things here, super busy. I'll try to show all of the progress from the last 10 days or so in the next post or two.
I had a birthday and got the sweetest cake from my parents! I would have never guessed for my 27th birthday I'd be celebrating with a bus themed ice cream cake! The Best!
I had stopped updating the blog the day before Phil returned from Quebec because I wanted to keep these amazing overhead storage cabinets a secret. I was so proud of myself, I wanted to see his reaction myself. I've been doing so many things that surprise me, almost everything is being considered the best thing I've done so far.
We've decided to only put overhead cabinets on one side of the kitchen to help makes things feel more open in the main living area of the bus. They will be over the sink and act as our bathroom cabinets. We think with the lower kitchen cabinets we have planned we will have enough space for pots, pans, plates, etc, to not need extra overhead storage for that.
We looked a lot at store bought cabinets for the kitchen, dreaming of an IKEA makeover for the bus, but in the end, the amount of money needed for cabinets was just not at our disposal. Phil, having built cabinets for work in the past, was more fussy on what materials should be used and how they should be built. Normally I'm the fussy one, but for this he had a more professional vision then myself, so while he was still away, I hurried to build cabinet frames in hopes he would see them and adjust his feelings a little on a more DIY look. Luckily for me, he did just that, and was happy to put our own low-budget, but love-filled, spin on things. I simply used 2x2s and 2x4s to create a really sturdy frame and hopefully enough strength to handle to bumpy logging roads this bus is destined for.