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Stephanie Gray Renovated a School Bus into a Tiny Home

Have you ever heard of the van life movement? There is a wave of young citizens choosing to ditch their rented apartments in favor of mobile living on the road - in new and renovated vans or even school busses. In most cases, the young people choose to renovate and build their homes on wheels themselves, usually without professional help.
People choose mobile living for many reasons, but recently, there has been a massive growth in this community due to the global pandemic leaving many homeless or jobless. Here is the story of Stephanie Gray, who paved her way to self-sustained bus living.

This is the interior of Her Dandy Bus:

Stephanie's new home is the result of an inspiring and brave mother-daughter project. It took them 3 months to fully renovate the bus she bought used for just $350. The decision to transition to tiny mobile living came unplanned when Stephanie found out that she was going to lose her apartment AND job at the end of the month.
At first, she wanted to buy and renovate an RV, but since prices fluctuated due to the pandemic, she continued her search and found that she can do the same with a school bus. One of the main advantages of the bus is that it is small enough for a normal parking space. On the difficulties of the transition, she says: "I decided I wasn't going to be controlled by fear. I was going to make my own way for peace." Truly inspiring! 

She even has two cute bunny companions!

When she began her journey, she received a valuable piece of advice - decide your values and priorities before building a home. Hospitality was one of them, and it is apparent in every section of her tiny home. 

She didn't skip interior and exterior design to make her tiny house feel like a real home:

The total cost of the entire operation was about $8,000. Stephanie was very frugal, and she made a lot of economical and ecological choices: the ladder you see below, which was originally priced at $200, was eventually purchased for only $44 because of a slightly damaged box! The flooring was second-hand, the ceiling and much of the wood were salvaged material from construction sites that would have been thrown away otherwise. 

She even has a small sunbathing deck on the top

In her kitchen, Stephanie has got some interesting gadgets and solutions for storage and travel safety. The countertop is salvaged 100-year-old heart pine. Below are sliding doors for maximum space efficiency, and behind them are a pull-out cooler, water containers for both fresh and recycled water, and plastic drawers for plastic utensils - for minimal noise when driving around. 

The countertop is very spacious

This is a stovetop fan that distributes heat for wintertime:

Spices are in jars, the lids are screwed to the bottom of the shelf:

The pull-out cooler:

On the other side of the bus is the living area, which is also meant to function as a guest room. This is also where her bunnies live - there's a small stack of hay for them under the couch. The backrest of the couch can be pulled out and become an extension for the couch, turning it into a bed. 
This entire structure was built from recycled wood that used to be a desk. Stephanie says that "in tiny living, everything has to have as many purposes as possible," and that is why even the hand rest comes out to function as a coffee table. All her curtains are insulated to also serve as a blackout for the bus windows. 
When Stephanie stands up in the middle of her bus home, the ceiling is just above her, and in the corners, it curves even lower, so people taller than Stephanie cant stand upright in the bus. She knew from the start she wanted the entire space to feel open. That is why she decided to keep the original bus windows and install open shelves. 

Her bed is a full-sized mattress

The sleeping area is in the back of the bus. Under her bed is more storage, where she keeps her toiletries and tools. Next to it, she has a tiny hanging closet where she keeps her solar generator. Closet doors are held closed when driving with magnets. Her bed is surrounded by windows with some more insulated curtains.
Stephanie says it feels secure sleeping in a bus, and that she feels so lucky and blessed to wake up every day to landscape views and panoramas. She even has a hanging foldable nightstand on each side (in case she needs to switch sides when the bus leans). 
Stephanie comes from a long line of woodworkers. Her mom is a craftswoman, and Stephanie grew up around building custom projects all her life. But they've never done anything of this magnitude before. Their resources were mainly Google and YouTube, and the tiny home community she met online and on the road. She learned a lot on the go. Her mother has a workshop, and she taught her how to carve spoons, which is how Stephanie makes a living on the road!
Whether the tiny home was the right choice for Stephanie or not is a good question, but it was her only choice. But she sums the experience with a truly inspiring tone I think we can all embrace: "I have everything I need, and that's a really good feeling to have." She is content with what she has, and that's all that really matters!
Watch a full tour video:
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