We recently did our fifth tiny house festival where we spent three days letting thousands (literally) of people walk through our home all weekend. To the average person that sounds like a nightmare: Letting that many people into your home?! Are you crazy?! Meh… a little. But to be honest, we love it. We love getting to show people what we’ve made, what we live for, how we as a family of four with a dog make it work and more importantly, how THEY can make it work too. We got to spend the entire weekend talking to folks who plan to, aspire to, or already live tiny and nomadic. We meet a lot of couples and even families that feel called to this way of life but are on the fence about it. Being at the festival to encourage them face-to-face was fun and sort of rewarding when you feel you’ve brought new hope to something that was merely a dream. After the weekend was over, it had me inspired, especially Alex’s documentary “Reuse! Because you can’t recycle the planet”, which was projected onto the side of his tinyhouse box truck but that’s a topic for another blog! My energy and excitement from the festival left me wanting to help others make the transition to tiny or nomadic easier and less daunting. So of course I turned to social media and asked our Instagram followers what they wanted to know about our experience with tiny and nomadic living as a family! We received lots of great responses and ideas. As a result this will be the first of a handful of posts explaining more in depth how we make bus life work as a family!
Once we got our bus and gutted it we spent hours days trying to figure out the absolute best layout. We tried kitchen in the front, kitchen in the middle, all on one side, half on one side half on the other, bathroom or toilet room across from shower room, or maybe a wet bath. Should we have the couch right when you walk in? Can we fit a co-pilot seat? How high should our bed be lofted? Do we need two bunks even though we only have one child at the moment? We tried so many layouts until we finally settled on the perfect one! Then we changed it on a whim while we were building it. 😂🙈One of our most intentional design features was the open space we have across from our couch. We didn’t want the “hallway effect” where every inch of space was taken up on both sides and you only had a hallway to live in. So we left empty wall space, low cabinets that don’t go all the way to the ceiling and a table that folds flat against the wall for when we really want to open the floor plan. All these things combined were the Best. Decision. EVER. One of the most important (and hardest) things when going tiny is being intentional with your space and we feel like we achieved that. People often ask if we would change anything about our layout and honestly the answer is no, we love it!
If you already live tiny you know how important this is! People always ask where we keep this and where we keep that; usually our clothes are the biggest wonder, and that took some trial and error. Behind our wood burning stove we have a 2’x2’ cabinet with shelves that we fold about 90% of our clothing in. We then have a hanger closet next to our bed/above Charlotte’s bed, that’s another 5%. Then under the couch we have large shallow Rubbermaid containers that have our underwear/socks, 2.5%, and the last bit of clothing is our bulky sweatshirts and coats, which are in containers under the stairs that lead to our bed.
The stairs are a fantastic multifunction feature; we are able to stowaway a lot of stuff in there. I briefly mentioned above that we also have storage underneath of our couch. The contents that are under there have changed a few times over the last two years but at the moment it is a container of our clothes, a container of Charlotte’s clothes, and then a few games and puzzles. Next to our couch is an 18” gap between it and the side of the kitchen cabinet. After moving in we quickly realized that it stinks not having an end table to put your coffee or water on when you’re sitting there! So we added a small “end table” that hinges on the cabinet to open up for storage space below in order to make it another multifunction feature. Another storage goldmine believe it or not, is Charlotte’s nook. It actually has quite a bit of storage in it! Her bed is about 18’’ off the ground giving us a pretty good chunk of space to house storage baskets containing clothing, toys, and books. I also kept my sewing machine and sewing box under there for a while. Across from Charlotte’s bed (next to our stair case), she has three pull out drawers, which have now been dedicated to baby Abraham’s clothing. Now, when it comes to outside storage we don’t have as much as we’d like. Our bus came with two underbody storage boxes that we devoted to our batteries and solar setup. On the back of the bus we have a small “garage” as we like to call it. When we were traveling it housed a lot, I mean A LOT! Luke’s rolling tool chest, bag chairs, our mini grill, a tricycle, leveling blocks, paint, more tools and then some more tools. We have it cleared out quite a bit now that we are stationary and have a shop space. What you should take away from this is that storage + multifunctioning + intentional design go far when designing a home in a bus (or any sort of THOW).
After people tour our bus and look around another common question is “what’s your favorite part?!” or “what would you do different!?” What we love is pretty simple since we designed and built it ourselves: We love the openness, that we have great big RV windows to let the natural light in, all of our secret little storage nooks and crannies that have helped us make the most of our space and definitely our roof raise!!! Worth every penny and every minute spent on it. What would we change… hmmm… well after living in it for two summers and two winters I think we both agree that we would 1. have a bigger and better a/c unit (either a mini split or a roof top RV air conditioner) and 2. in-floor heat! While our potbelly stove keeps the bus PLENTY warm in the winter, the floors still have a drastic temperature difference because of the freezing air moving underneath the bus. And that’s even with spray foam insulation! We built our bus to be able to handle every season but it wasn’t built to withstand constant below-freezing temps or weeks upon weeks of triple digits (Yes Utah we’re referring to you!) Lucky for us, our house has wheels and we are able to relocate if the weather gets too extreme!
Stay tuned for more posts explaining how we live off grid and boondock, how to start the “going tiny” process and more! Thanks for all your input!