Video Source: Bertha TV
By Kimberley Mok | Treehugger
Like their modified van cousins and the adventurous notion of “van life”, modern bus conversions for full-time living are now emerging as a thing. Of course, they’ve already been around for a while, but thanks to the Internet, stylish and affordable DIY bus conversions are now entering mainstream consciousness as yet another tiny-house-on-wheels alternative. Best of all, these modern bus dwellings aren’t just for single individuals or couples, they can also suit families that are looking for a debt-free place to call home.
That’s the case with the Sullivans, a family of five from Washington state that recently moved into a 40-foot-long bus they lovingly call “Big Bertha”. Watch the video above as father Brian, who works in aerospace manufacturing (mother and interior designer Starla is the mastermind behind the layout the house) gives us a tour of the interior.
Brian tells us that before moving into the solar-powered Big Bertha, they were living in a two-bedroom apartment 30 minutes north of Seattle, which was expensive to rent and maintain. The Sullivans were working a lot and yet still “felt trapped in a negative cash flow”; they had one baby at the time and felt they couldn’t spend quality time together as a family.
So when Brian got a job offer a few towns away, they had to think of a plan that wouldn’t involve Brian commuting several hours a day. After watching a bus conversion video, they hatched the idea to transform a bus into a ultra-portable tiny house, as buses are much more mobile than your conventional gable-roofed tiny houses. It took the family about a year of weekends to finish the whole project.
Coming into the front, one finds the mud room where shoes are stored. The space also doubles as a workspace if needed. A big solid door separates this space from the rest of the bus, and helps to maintain a consistent, comfortable temperature in the main interior spaces.
Past the door, one sees that the central corridor has been kept for walking through, while seating and counters are placed off to either side.
The seating area has two benches that have storage hidden underneath. There are extensions that can be pulled out from both benches to form a frame for a full-sized bed for guests.
The kitchen is large and well-appointed as this family loves to make home-cooked meals. The large counters can be used for folding laundry or activities with the kids. The appliances, like the secondhand sub-zero refrigerator and the combo oven-microwave-toaster, are compact and efficient. Portable induction stovetops are stowed away underneath. The wire rack over the sink is dish storage and a drying rack combined (reminds us of those clever Scandinavian dish drying closets). All dry goods and perishables are stored in the large drawers to eliminate visual clutter.
Next up is the bathroom space, which has a composting toilet (compost is used for non-edible plants), a horse-trough shower-bathtub that doubles as storage, and a high-efficiency washing machine. Curtains can close this space off to turn it into a ‘drying room’ for laundry, as there is no dryer. The family uses cloth diapers, so that is a lot of laundry, and as Brian jokingly tells us: “We have learned to hang laundry on pretty much every surface in the bus since we do not have a dryer; everything air-dries.”
Beyond that is the kids’ room. With three small but active toddler boys, safety is paramount, but so is respecting their sense of play, as seen in the bunks that have a little window and ladder, but also a baby gate to ensure no one falls out. A third bed to one side doubles as a “play-bunk”, and toys are stored out of sight under this bed. All beds are full-length single beds (7 feet long) as the bus was built with longevity in mind, to accommodate the children as they grow.
The parents’ room is all the way in the back. The bed is built over the bump that houses the bus’ innards, but there’s still space to add more drawers for clothes.