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A Bus That From the 50s With 60s Style

It seems that when a brilliant idea comes a long it quickly becomes emulated by others thereby starting an obvious trend. Or perhaps lately the conversion, restoration, modification, or refurbishing of buses is like “the yellow sports car effect.” For weeks you keep seeing red sports cars. You can hardly stand it. By circumstance you are shopping for a new car and when it comes time to purchase you decisively choose the yellow model because the red model is everywhere you look. As you leave the dealership you have to wait for an oncoming car. Turns out the oncoming car is the yellow model just like you purchased. You are dumbfounded but quickly realize that perhaps the yellow model was all around you before. You just never could quite obsessing over the red long enough to see the yellow. Right now the red sports car is the restored bus and it is a mild obsession of the tiny house world.

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Winkelman Architecture is known for being stylistically diverse while creating unconventional yet highly functional designs for their clients. Whether a New England home, a bark-on-log structure, a post and beam, or a boathouse, their portfolio varies widely from the substantial to the modest. They are also committed to the integration of renewable energy sources and the use of sustainable materials. So when Will Winkelman – a Tennessee born architect of 29 years – was approached by clients and challenged to Comprehensive restoration of a 1959 Chevrolet Viking short bus, he must certainly have been up for the challenge.

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Turns out the client was looking for more than just a shiny, like-new bus. The client was looking for maximum flexibility: transportation for group outings, a camper for his family, and the ability to use it as a guest bedroom.

Originally designed to safely transport 12 passengers and a driver on the road, the skoolie converts to guest quarters for two as two single beds or joined in the center for queen accommodations.

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As the Winkelman Architecture website shows the bus conversion initially began as a sketch on paper outlining what visually could be accomplished.

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From the earlier photo it is easy to see that the bus was in an unspeakable condition and that a frame-off restoration would be needed. Turns out almost the entire bus had to be rebuilt in order to bring to life the “funky, hippy, Moroccan vibe” Winkelman’s client had in mind for the project. The mechanical aspects needed to be reworked. The body needed new parts and replacement parts had to be fabricated. This sort of attention to detail and integrity is evident in touches such as the multi-colored beads, tassel lamps, and Moroccan prints and fibers.

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The interior has a beautiful, warm glow to it which is as much a natural part of the quarter-sawn white oak as anything else. The millwork gives that late-1960s “dad’s den” vibe without being too kitschy. The floor however is of durable, salvaged heart pine, installed with the original surface of the resawn boards up giving off the weathered, aged look the original floor had give way to through the years.

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The finished skoolie comes complete with plumbing and electricity all gift-wrapped in a sort of mint green meets faded Army green. A nights stay is a present any one would want to open immediately.

Your Turn!

  • Is a skoolie conversion too small to even camp in?
  • Should restoration projects be returned to their factory coloring?

 

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City Bus Re-routes As Hotel

Not since the Spice Bus with Baby Spice’s swing set, Posh’s catwalk, Scary’s fish tank, Sporty’s fitness center, and the ever-impressive fire pole, has a British double-decker bus seemed so very cool. But with the conversion of an original 1982 west midlands metro bus into a three-room hotel by carpenter Adam Collier-Woods things are starting to change!

GreenBus6As part of what can only be viewed as one very large recycling project The Big Green Bus was purchased on eBay for £4,500 (or roughly $7217.69 at time of publication). Collier-Woods has been quoted as saying in a recent interview, “I quite simply wanted to give people the experience of staying in something like this, and I think people are interested because it’s the type of bus they may have taken to school.” The nostalgia involved is very similar to that of other bus projects. In order to maintain its vintage look Collier-Woods spent over $16,000 USD in materials as well as some furnishings and the now brand-recognized green paint.

GreenBus1The project took some six months to complete and converted the bus from a 72-passenger rig (at 2 people per bench) to a lower occupancy but increased comfort of two double bedrooms, a kitchen and a log-burning stove.  The Big Green Bus accommodates up to six people comfortably and is a great hotel alternative for those looking to explore the English countryside of anyone looking to visit the English countryside.


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The Big Green Bus even boasts a commode and wet room. Perhaps most appealing though is that at the topfront of the bus is a relaxing space, ideal to sit with a glass of wine and enjoy the pastoral setting.

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Impressively enough the top of the bus also features a full kitchen with sink, full size oven, and running water. Set on a butcher block counter space with green, high gloss lacquer cabinets, the kitchen continues the theme and sets up the seating platform in the aft of the caravan. It truly is a unique tiny house which may not be the Queen’s cup of tea but is certain to bring about interest in those looking for a bit less stuffy and whole lot less fussy!

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Your Turn!

  • Is The Big Green Bus somewhere you would spend your holiday?
  • What vehicle would you convert into an unconventional hotel?

 

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Simple Is As Simple Does at Ermitage cabin

The idea of how minimal is too minimal is one that can only be answered by the inhabitant of the space. Conversationally speaking there seem to be two major camps to emerge in the tiny house community. The first camp believe in the tiny house as comfy, cozy, cabin comparable to a bird’s nest in that everything is bundled and within arms’ reach. The second camp is the more minimalist of the two holding fast to the notion that way less is way more and a home should have little more than a mat to sleep on and a fuel source to heat and cook with. While the conversation rarely finds itself into polite company it will certainly come to light with the observation of the project “Ermitage” –  a wooden cabin in the woods of Trossö, near the west coast of Sweden.

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This black-painted tiny house was designed for a couple by Paris-based architecture firm Septembre and is a study in bare necessities. Described by Septembre as, “Two large windows frame the windswept and poetic landscape: the ocean on one side, pines on the other, with a large sliding door effectively doubling the living area when open.” And nothing more. Upon discover though it actually reveals a number of building principles that align with the modern tiny house movement.

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Framed and finished, the interior seems to be little more than 4’x8′ yellow pine with exposed seems. The window casing follow suit with very basic exposed framing. The oversized windows are single pane allowing for an unobstructed view of the outdoors as well as a significant amount of natural (or ambient) light on each side of the house. The window treatment(s) is likely a type of canvas, muslin, or burlap purposely rolled to remain “hidden” to some extent while remaining perfectly functional. The lack of personal touches and photos forces the inhabitant to recognize the natural world around him as art rather than background.

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The bed is the focal point of the room as it sits on a risen platform with direct view of the side window and in symmetry with the window across the room. From this vantage point the shape and size ratio of the tiny house is obvious and even allows for a very snug and cozy fit for the bed area. Without large bedding the mattress even allows for a presumed yoga or meditation area without arranging and rearranging. It is what is under the bed that is most interesting about Septembre’s design though.

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Rolling storage (drawers assembled of yellow pine with simple casters) divides the space under the bed into three keeping the overall space free from closets and/or clutter. The floor matches the rest of the interior save its tongue and groove assembly as opposed to lumber sheeting. Ermitage also has extra room on the bed platform making a great space for a journal or book or perhaps a midnight snack!

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The door to the tiny house is as understated as any door could be. Looking from the inside like a section of the wall and from the outside like part of the exterior line, the sliding opening serves to keep the house weather tight but also to double the living space allowing a fluidity from inside to out. Also obvious is what may be the primary lighting fixture in the tiny house as well as two, utilitarian coat hooks tucked away under the door casing; functional yet not distracting.

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The Ermitage is simple. The Ermitage is sparse. And similar to the Sneaky Cabin, the Ermitage is brilliant in that it immerses the inhabitant in the landscape assuring they never forget the human position in the world.

Your Turn!

  • Is the Ermitage too simple?

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Beach Paradiso in San Diego

There is nothing quite as relaxing as the sound of the ebb and flow of the ocean lapping in and out under the glow of a waxing gibbous. There is nothing more freeing than having a chai in the early morning while sitting on an old rattan and watching the sun illuminate the world around you. Such is the life in a quaint beach getaway and more specifically in the small house on the San Diego beach created by Robin and Mac.

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The two maintain that despite the time, effort, and resources involved, it has been a personal labor of love.

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The overt nautical theme of the home is appropriate for the area where it is located as San Diego is full of sun, sand, and gorgeous rises and sets (both by the sun and by the swells). With a number of homes resting on manageable cliffs and overlooking what seems like a year-round summer. With the average temperature hovering around 69º without humidity there are ample attractions for all interests including Seaport Village, Balboa Park, the Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town, and, of course, the beach! That sort of relaxed and tranquil yet stimulating lifestyle is reflected in the soft greens and pared back blues that emanate from the larger furniture pieces of the home including the gingham print couch and the rolling bar back.

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In fact, the choice of furniture and accent pillows/pieces the owners picked helps to create the vintage look that makes this place one of a kind. Throw in a vintage white insulated rolling cooler, a long board suspended on the wall, and a few live palms and potted perennials to lighten up and liven up the house and one can only feel like they are living the cover of a Coastal Living magazine!

Structurally speaking several items jump out that are surely considered unconventional but help give a certain Beach Blanket Bingo casual flair to the small house.

The floors look to be flat lacquered OSB. The walls have exposed (yet painted) studs and the electrical work runs through exposed metal conduit. In addition to those subdued elements the windows to the small pool are flip-up rather than traditional sash and glazed pieces.

 

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Perhaps though the real flare is introduced with the most subtle of choices: the seashell wrapped candles, the mosaic frames on the walls, the ‘Aloha’ pillow, and the stainless steel hanging light shades. All give the feeling that you have taken up residence for the summer on the beach, in a friend’s poolhouse! It is both inviting and nostalgic with just a shot of tropical.

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While it may look like only a pool house this small house could offer a more permanent opportunity to live a peaceful and comfortable life in el paradiso of San Diego!

Your Turn!

  • Could you live in a tiny house that carries a central theme?
  • Does this small house make you long for next summer?

 

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All Wood. All Bus. All Beauty. All Genius.

There is something admittedly magical about living in a school bus. Whether it be the sense of security developed as a young student or the idea of taking something so “un-homey” and making it so personal, conversions are inviting nonetheless. Maybe it is the simple nostalgia of a conversion? They represent the young and carefree afternoons of the school year when you could catch up on the days gossip, scribble down homework answers in your best “no this bus isn’t moving” manuscript, or flirt with the “quiet girl in the corner.” They are large, yellow, and overtly obvious. As with all things though they have their lifespan and most buses reach a time when they are either too old or to outdated to be safe forms of transportation. So what happens with these old rides?

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Some get parked in a field to be taken over by English Ivy and Kudzu. Some become a funky guest room behind your weird uncle’s house. Others become fixtures on the food truck scene. Yet other decommissioned school buses leave the United States to countries like Guatemala, where they are repaired, repainted, and resurrected as brightly-colored work transports as recently seen in the film La Camioneta.

Perhaps the coolest use of an old “big cheese” though is when they are elevated to a new plateua such as the one above built by Sean and Lindsay, designers, artists, and tiny home creators!

The conversion has such a warm, comfortable feeling. Perhaps it is the intimacy of the wood or the warmth of the tones. Whatever it is it exudes nomadic adventure and longs for more stories to be added to its 34-year history.

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Like most motor homes the bus has a kitchen, ample storage, and comfortable living space including a futon for sitting/sleeping, a desk and shelves with lips (to prevent bumpy road accidents). The only obvious area missing is an on-board bathroom.

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In terms of raw and natural materials the conversion features bamboo flooring, oak, maple and pine. The rood also has a fixed platform (sanded fir wood) for both travel storage and observation!

One of the most striking parts of this tiny house though is the wood burning stove. A prominent feature toward the rear of the bus, the stove keeps the bus warm in the winter and seemingly vents directly through the roof.

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The bus certainly looks normal on the outside but as with all great conversions the inside is quite different. It mixes tiny house with cabin with yurt with hibernation den.

Mechanically speaking the 1978 International, gasoline powered, 35′ bus is in good shape even getting a sign-off from a mechanic. Sean does caution that it needs a new power steering box as the original one is starting to show some wear. Otherwise it is ready for its next adventure wherever that may lead.

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Your Turn!

  • Would you live in a school bus conversion?
  • If you lived in a bus would you drive it around or leave it parked?

 

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