Our DIY off-grid rolling home is a self-converted 1989 Chevy prison bus. It has about 165 square feet of living space and custom woodworking throughout. Our design style is creative craftsman with industrial accents. We love pops of color, lived-in character and vintage elements. We fully restored the bus ourselves, inside and out for full-time living & travel. We maintained an open-concept throughout. We have a simple kitchen and dining area, plenty of storage, a cozy living room with a tiny wood burning stove and a raised queen sized bed sleeping area. Our bathroom elements (composting toilet & reclaimed southern yellow pine tub/shower) double as nightstands. Functionality, intention and simplicity were key drivers in our bus conversion build. --> You can read more about us on thewilddrive.com and @wilddrivelife on Instagram.
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The exterior. You can see our wood stove flue and solar panels on the roof. When we bought our bus it was faded black, chipping and forgotten; I'll admit even a bit scary looking. We spent weeks prepping the body and painted the bus ourselves. It was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding steps of building this tiny home.
View from the driver's area looking back. Our floor is reclaimed factory maple from a textile mill in MA. It's rustic, worn, entirely imperfect and we love it. We used every board foot of it on the face frames, wall trim, etc.
Details. We look around the bus and see a bit of ourselves in every inch. It's important to be surrounded by things that mean something to you in a tiny space.
Our dining table is a real reclaimed butcher block, refinished simply with tung oil. We made the director's chairs ourselves with leftover hickory & strong outdoor fabric. Our spice rack has birch tree segments on each corner. We tried to be as resourceful & frugal with the build as possible.
Our tiny wood stove is the centerpiece of our bus home and the first thing people comment on! The hearth base is granite we sourced from a yard sale kitchen kart. The brick surround is actually tile reinforced inside with steel square tubing and cement board inside. It's incredibly sturdy! The blue bead board paneling is reclaimed from an old mill building in southern Maine.
Our bedroom area is simple and cozy. The two built ins you see on either end of the bed to the left house our bathroom elements, one is our composting toilet the other is our tub base/shower. The wooden tops flip up when in use.
The view from the bed looking forward. We kept two of the locking prison cage doors, one at the very front and one in the far back of the bus. They're great to hang hooks & magnets on and do provide additional security.
As much as we've completely reinvented this old bus, subtle elements of it's original character remain. The simple dashboard, controls and enormous steering wheel are signs of its age.
The entryway, refreshed but mainly original. You can see the black co-pilot seat we installed to the left, bolted to the front cage.
Our family. Ben (the driver, builder & designer), Meag (me! I write and do all things social, design & online) and our rescue dog Moose (avid hiker and lover of peanut butter).
Moose has his own special area in the bus. Over the past eight months the bus has really become a source of comfort and home for him. Wherever we travel, the bus remains a source of comfort for him (and for us!).
Our shower/tub. This photo was taken just before we completed the final touches to our reclaimed southern yellow pine tub basin. It now has a drain & shower head/wand. Southern yellow pine is a naturally sappy wood, this is why we chose it. After sealing seams and glazing with a few coats of a two-part mirror coat, it's perfect! We love that it's a little different, custom, it's us.
Our cozy living room area featuring hand sewn cushion covers and curtains. We bought that East/West sign at a flea market right around the time we first bought the bus two years ago, knowing that it would find a place in the finished home. The black iron pipe lighting fixtures were Ben's idea, paired with an antique plumbing valve fashioned into a dimmer switch.
The bus kitchen. Our favorite part is the reclaimed barn board countertop. We scored the rustic original boards at a farm yard sale and refinished them ourselves. Our water pump and fridge run off of our solar battery bank. We kept things really simple in that you don't see a permanent stove/oven. We do use a toaster oven when we're plugged in to shore power (special occasions!) but mainly cook all of our delicious meals on a butane portable stove. It works wonderfully!
- Ben & Meag Poirier @wilddrivelife
- Ben Poirier
- Meag Poirier
- Rachel Halsey Photography