One thing we love about converting our bus is that we can afford to spend money on EXACTLY what we want. Our tiny home decor is what we've always envisioned doing in our previous 2,000 sq ft homes. It's more expensive to fill more space. We've learned that little changes here and there make for big differences.
It has been my personal dream to have nice kitchen cabinets. Something as simple as soft close drawers makes me feel fancy, without having to actually be fancy. I don't like being fancy, but sometimes fancy things are nice. I'll admit. So when we found these cabinets at Habitat for Humanity we knew they were the ones.
These cabinets, painted with a warm and cozy Bungalow Blue, are adorned with DIY copper handles. You can find the tutorial on Lowe's Home Improvement website. CLICK HERE
We've customized the cabinets with these drawer pulls as well as the secret toe kick storage underneath. We purchased some copper flashing at our local lumber store. We took three grades of sandpaper to sand them down to more of a rose gold copper look. We then cut the copper to fit the toe kick and used contact cement to attach. A little copper tacks for a finishing touch and viola!
Our goal is to not overwhelm the bus decor with copper and to leave our kitchen cabinets as the centerpiece. They've really been a popular item via our social media profiles. We decided to add more DIY handles in certain spots, like our media cabinet. This will house our electronic TV lift and TV, our electric fireplace, bookshelves, and our desk. We added copper handles to the drawers. They are trimmed out with pallet wood that we cut down and stained with various colors.
It doesn't stop there. Check out the DIY barn door hardware we crafted. We picked up all of the supplies from, guess where, Lowe's Home Improvement store. Surprise. Ha. We used a copper shade of spray paint and those handy-dandy washers and screws. Those came in a yellow-gold color and we ended up liking how they looked against the barn door hardware.
Other additions are the copper roman numerals on the DIY Pottery Barn Clock. I made this as a birthday gift for my wife a couple years ago. It has been a focal point in our house. We couldn't part with it or let it sit in storage so we cut it down to fit in our tiny home and replaced the black numbers with copper ones.
Our pet crate for our Jack Russell is not meant to be a doggy jail, but kind of looks like it with the copper bars, I mean pipes. Ha. We like it. It's cute. Hopefully our dog Zoey doesn't feel like she's trapped. Mainly it's for her when the bus is in motion. We will also work her into sleeping there at night (doors open).
Lastly, we just purchased some kitchen utensils as we get closer to accessorizing the bus. We're not quite done with our conversion, but it's fun to imagine what it will look like as we place these final small items in their designated location. At least for now, they have a designation. We hear that changes in a tiny home.
For now, we're looking forward to our change in lifestyle and our copper themed bus!
To learn more about these items or to find out how we made them, feel free to CONTACT US. We'd love to hear from you.
If there's one thing we've learned about tiny living so far, it's that people have overcome big obstacles and are doing big things.
We've discovered this great, amazing community of tiny home lifers. We are converting a shuttle bus, so most of the exposure we've had to tiny living involves modes of transportation: shuttle buses, school buses aka skoolies, vans, and RVs. We are certainly aware of tiny homes in all forms however, and the type of home in this lifestyle doesn't matter. What matters is that we've come across some stories that not only pull on our heart strings, but that inspire us. It further validates why we, and others, choose this lifestyle.
We want bigger and better things out of life. What was once a heart-breaking story becomes the strongest version of ourselves. We seek to rise above and live life to the fullest. Our story is about our journey as a couple, through depression and anxiety. It has inspired us to change the way society views mental health. We chose tiny living and our bus because it will best help us accomplish our goals; both personal and public.
We've read stories about other people battling various mental illnesses, chronic conditions, and types of physical and emotional abuse. Others share their stories that tell their difficult times through divorce or the loss of a loved one. And then there are others. People experience an injustice and want to do something about it. Or a natural disaster happens and communities are in need of aid. Our tiny homes are used to travel to these places and provide assistance and a helping hand.
Whatever the reason, people are doing big things with their tiny homes. It's a way to concur the ordinary 9-5 life that can suck so much out of us. It may contribute to the unhappiness we already feel. Or maybe the idea of traveling around and making in-person connections with others is invigorating. We want to get outside of our comfort zones. We want to immerse ourselves in cultures and social interactions that help us grow as people. We want to stop wasting our money on a mortgage, reduce our debts, and just generally stop making waste. We let go of material things and realize what really matters: a life worth living.
May your story find you living the best life possible.
If you'd like to share your story with us and others please reach out to us. We have this idea we'd love for you to be a part of. You can find us on Instagram or Facebook by searching The Sol Bus (@thesolbus). You can also use our Contact Form.
We bought our bus on August 13th, 2018. We were fairly confident we could get our bus converted into our new home and be on the road before Christmas. We planned for about 3 months (90 days) and accounted for time off in between.
It's January 20th, 2019 and we are still working on our conversion. We are well passed our initial departure date. This is something you learn to live with, especially when it's your first time converting a bus. I know what you're thinking. "First time? Do people do this more than once?" The answer is yes. Some do. That's another topic for another time. Right now we have one bus.
How do you plan for a conversion? How long it will take? We don't have a definitive timeline for you. The truth is, you can do some research, talk to people who have already done it, but we all have different lives. We have different schedules and different commitments. There are things we can plan for and things we cannot plan for. Sometimes there are financial burdens and people have to stop working on their bus until they save more money. There are a million factors involved in a bus conversion timeline.
Below is the link to view our current timeline. It is VERY rough draft. We have been tracking what we do each day with brief notes. We try to make notes where we have other commitments outside of the bus build. Whether we had family visiting, came down with a cold, or had to stay inside because of the weather, we've learned that you can't totally plan for everything.
The timeline of your bus includes so many other things. You have to account for the responsibilities you still have that existed before you got the bus. If you have jobs that takes time away. All the trips to home improvement stores and gathering other supplies is a huge factor in time. Do you go to the gym (I do every other day)? Do you have dogs to walk? We have 2. The list goes on. So, as much as you want to plan, make sure you account for life outside of the bus build.
We've also come to terms with our varying skill levels, respectively. Sarah is the builder and the brains of our conversion. I mean, I'm smart too, but I'm the artsy one. I'm also kind of afraid of power tools that don't run on batteries. It is a process that you learn to embrace as a couple. We believe we each contribute equally in the roles that we fill, but we also understand that our timeline is going to be longer than let's say, a couple that includes an electrician and a general contractor. Ha.
So where are we now? Well, we set another departure date of Feb.15th, but have realized that is not going to happen either. We think late spring now, but at this point we've learned to be patient. We do not want to rush anything and are carefully thinking through every project. Our thinking includes what we may do in the future with a particular space and how to accommodate for that. We also want to build a high quality bus. It will be our home so slapping things together is not for us.
If you have questions about our timeline or want to ask us a question, feel free to use our Contact Form or find us on Instagram and DM us. We are @thesolbus
Our bus faces out of our driveway which means we can see all of the vehicles coming down our road, including the UPS truck, FedEx, USPS, DHL, and now the new Amazon vans. We can identify which one it is by the sound of the engine. Yep, these are things that happen when converting a bus.
When packages arrive we get super excited. Sometimes we order a bunch of stuff around the same time. It makes it harder to determine what is actually coming off the truck on a particular day. We could opt to receive notifications, but we don't anymore. We like the element of surprise. On the days when we find another leak or cut the wrong wire, the arrival of a package can make everything better.
Funny this post comes two days before the Thanksgiving holiday. Christmas is just around the corner too. Or wait, is it here already?! Don't worry, we LOVE Christmas and started listening to Christmas music like a month ago. I'm usually the holiday spark in the marriage. I'll put up the Christmas lights, convince Sarah to get the tree a few days earlier than the last year, and get the dogs their Christmas sweaters. Deep down though, Sarah enjoys those corny Hallmark movies.
What is a gift these days? What does it mean for all these packages arriving on our doorsteps? I'd be lying if I said I didn't like a gift. I mean, who doesn't like a present? That's like saying a $5 gift card isn't worth anything. And that's not true. They are great. Like I said earlier, it's the element of surprise. Sure, sometimes we don't particularly like the gift, but we look beyond that. What is a gift to you?
Our bus has been a gift to us. It was the huge brown box that showed up on our front porch: we weren't sure if it was going to be really heavy or jump out at us. That's a lie. We knew it was heavy. My point is that our bus wasn't a decision we made five years in advance. Or even a year. It happened to us because it was meant to be. That's what we believe.
It's fun and exciting to get new things, but some of the greatest gifts have been given to us through our conversion. It has changed us for the better. We have learned so much in just 3 months. We have new skills to show off and more importantly, a greater appreciation for each other. Even after 8 years together you still learn something new. With our bus build our love still grows. We are grateful for our love.
There are other precious gifts we've received in our lives. Too many to list, but they're probably similar to yours. Whatever you are grateful for this Thanksgiving, we hope packages of love, kindness, and joy arrive on your doorstep.
Love + Sol, S+S
You can learn more about our story and how we got here by reading our First Blog Post.
Here's a potential conversation you might have with others when you tell them you're converting a bus. Have you experienced this yet? We've heard stories of all kinds about friends and family reacting to the news. It seems as if most people are simply curious. This is new to them. It's not what they're used to. Maybe they want to do it too. We've met some people who wished they could convert a bus. For whatever reason it's not in the cards for them. At least not right now.
Our decision to buy a bus and convert it came at the right time for us. Isn't that what life is? You do what you can, to control what you can, and then you go from there. We all make decisions for various reasons. You have to live your life how you want to. No one can tell you how to do that.
We want to reassure you that it's okay to make the decision to convert a bus. Or a van. If it's what you want to do then go with all your might. You will learn so much. People might disagree with you. That's okay. Let it be and do your thing. Answer their questions, try to calm their nerves. At the end of the day however, you control your happiness. Hopefully, the people you love will be a part of that.
What was the conversation like for you when you told people you were converting a bus?
Us: We are buying a bus and we are going to live in it.
Them: How can you afford to buy a bus?
Us: We bought a house.
Them: What about your house?
Us: We are selling our house.
Them: Why would you sell your house and buy a bus?
Them: C'mon. Don't be ridiculous.
Us: Well, because we had an experience that taught us a lot about what we truly value in life.
Them: You're crazy. This is crazy.
Us: Paying a mortgage is crazy.
Them: Where are you going to live?
Us: We already told you. We are buying a bus.
Them: How do you expect to live on a bus?
Us: Sort of how we live in a house, except there will be no mortgage and less to clean.
Them: What if it breaks down?
Us: What if your HVAC dies? Or your toilet leaks?
Them: We'll get it fixed.
Us: Well, we'll get our bus fixed.
Them: How will you afford that?
Us: Why do you keep asking us how we'll afford things? Isn't that our business? We will sell our house and all that shit we have that sits and collects dust. That's how.
Them: We just don't want you to end up homeless or in a bad situation. We care about you.
Us: We care about you too. We won't end up homeless. We have thought this through and are prepared for the good and the bad. We'll deal with things as they come.
Them: So, you're just going to live on a bus forever?
Them: What happens when you don't want to live on a bus anymore?
Us: Then we'll live somewhere else. Get another house. Or another bus.
Them: How do you expect to buy a house after living on a bus?
Us: We are not living on a bus. We are living IN a bus.
Them: Well whatever. You know what I mean.
Us: We've purchased a house before, two actually. We know how it works.
Them: How are you going to afford that? Are you going to work? How will you make money?
Us: Selling drugs. Producing porn films. Something like that.
Them: Knock it off. Grow up.
Us: Seriously though, we've got it figured out. It's not really any of your business. Can't you just be happy for us and support us?
Them: Life isn't just about having fun. You have bills to pay. You have responsibilities.
Us: Actually, we will have less bills to pay = less responsibilities = more fun.
Them: Oh. Well, if that's what you want to do. Not sure it's the best decision.
Us: Well, it's our decision, not yours. You don't have to agree with us. Just love us.
Them: We do love you. We just don't understand this. It's ridiculous.
Us: We want to live life. Make a difference. Meet people. Discover new places. Learn about the world. Explore diversity. Grow as a person. We don't expect it to always be easy, but it's what we want to do.
Them: Okay. Do what you want.
Us: We are. Thank you for your advice.
Exposure doesn't really come with positive vibes these days. As we head into week 14 of our bus conversion a lot has been exposed.
What comes to mind? Rust? Mold? Leaks? Critters? Electrical wires? These are all things that have the potential to become exposed during a bus conversion. Luckily, we did not find mold. Phew. We did however find rust, leaks, ants, and lots of wires.
In week 1 of our conversion we completely tore our bus apart. We ripped things off walls. We tugged and pulled. We cut things and threw them off the bus. We kicked stuff too. It felt good. Not to kick things, but to strip the bus down. We immediately realized the water damage. The bus was previously owned by a transportation company. The bus probably would've gone years without proper care. It's amazing what can be covered up. We spent an entire week treating the rust, which come to find out, wasn't that big of a deal. Seems pretty normal for buses these days, especially older ones. It was a tedious job, but fairly easy. Goodbye rust. In addition, we had some ants, but nothing major.
So at this point, week 14, we are learning more about the electrical system. That's what gave me the idea for this post. We traced wires and figured out which one went where and why. We'll be doing that for the next few weeks along with other things.
As we exposed the bones of the bus we started feeling good. It feels like we are making it better. Getting rid of all the nasty. Along the way, we're even making our best attempt at recycling the materials we aren't going to reuse.
In the process we also felt something else. Looking at those wires made us feel like we were learning so much. Mostly me (Stephanie) because my wife Sarah knows so much. She is the brains of this operation. As a former teacher it's really neat for me to see how differently we learn. Working together can have it's frustrations, but you learn to work better together. Or at least you hope so. This conversion has exposed the best of us.
My point is that the conversion process is about so much more than the build itself. It builds you. You learn new skills. You gain more confidence. You learn to trust the process of trial and error (if there is such a thing). You worry less. At least I do. It has exposed a lot of my true character.
If you look at our website in depth you'll find some info about my personal blog. Or you can just visit it here: From An Airplane Window. Why does this matter? It matters because my personal story has a lot to do with our decision to convert a bus. And if you read my story than you'll know what I mean about true character. This bus conversion is building me back up, to my true self.
We are excited to discover what else this adventure holds for us. This is the kind of exposure we want in life.
How has your bus conversion exposed the best of you?
Shortly after we decided to do our bus conversion I began wondering why other people do it. We are almost three months into ours and I have come up with a list of reasons in my head. Some people convert because of financial reasons. Buses are incredibly inexpensive compared to purchasing a house and paying a mortgage. Sell your house and goodbye mortgage. In addition, you can eliminate utility bills, energy bills, and cable/internet.
Some convert because they need a change of pace. They're unhappy in their career or they feel life is monotonous and dull. People want something exciting. Life is short so why not make the best of it. Is this your mindset?
Others have a complex story behind their conversion. Things can get really personal in terms of what motivated someone to take on a bus conversion. Maybe they experienced a loss of some kind. Maybe they were inspired to do something adventurous because of this loss.
Turns out The Sol Bus has a story. Our decision to convert was motivated by a few things, but mostly mental illness. This blog is not meant to do into depth about that particular story, but you can ready more about on another website. It's called From An Airplane Window. Check it out.
We are not done with our conversion yet, but we've connected with a lot of people since we made our decision. It's been incredible. We are supported for doing what we're doing and it feels good. THIS is exactly why we decided to convert. At the end of the day, our mission is to make a difference. To help people heal. To bring people together.
We want to know why you decided to convert a bus. Or a van. Or whatever mode of transportation you chose. Bus converters are great at sharing. We are a unique population. We feel pretty confident in saying that when one bus converter shares their story another conversion takes place. People jump on board. They make changes. They find something positive to do in life. A bus conversion is so much more than rust, tools, and worry. People learn to do things they've never done before. They make some really awesome friends. They are empowered.
So, why did you decide to convert a bus? Let's talk about it.
We hope you find adventure in life that Moves Your Sol! See you on The Sol Bus friends.
It was a dark, eerie night. The bus monster was out in full force. We tried to protect it, but the monsters were just too hairy, scary, and mean. We don't like hairy things. Except for dogs, we like dogs. We definitely do not like mean things. Or mean girls. They were all threatening to take our bus away.
The next morning we slowly awoke from our nightmare. Rubbing our eyes, we realized our bus was back in our driveway. Phew! The bus monsters weren't real. Or are they?
The people we dealt with during our first bus repair ordeal were the bus monsters. That's what we're calling them. We're not saying they're bad people, but we know how business works. It's a tad unsettling for us to pull this card, but let's face it, two females who walk into an auto shop and tell you they need a 14,000 lb shuttle bus looked at are bound to be taken advantage of. We hope it doesn't happen to you, male or female, but it happened to us. Luckily, one of us is super smart and really good at research (my wife). I'm like the little side-kick that will put up her dukes and ask you to, Hold me back, Hold me back!
Our problem: The bus was stalling in reverse. We later noticed a leak. My wife had done a ton of research and we went into the repair shop fairly prepared. We told them our concerns and they stated that a diagnosis fee was $59.99. We dropped it off on a Friday and had to wait until the following Monday for any results.
Monday we received a text message from the Bus Monster:
Bus Monster (Mechanic): We haven't looked at your bus yet, but we will let you know what we find.
Our Thoughts: Okay thanks for calling us to tell us you haven't looked at it when we simply expected the diagnosis. (They were being courteous I guess).
Bus Monster: So far the charges are $150 and we need your approval to move forward.
(Mind you this wasn't long after the first message, which made us wonder if they actually looked at the bus).
After a couple exchanges we decided to just show up at the shop. When we arrived we noticed our bus was still parked in the spot we left it. Gee that's odd.
We begin our 40-minute conversation with the Bus Monster. They tried telling us that we were being charged $150 for a diagnosis. We then ask them what the diagnosis is. They said they looked at the bus and it's either A, B, or C. Gee that's odd. SO WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS WE ARE PAYING FOR? WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR BUS?
My wife is amazing. She is the most intelligent person I know. It's not just what she knows, but the pace at which she can learn it. This 40-minute conversion was her literally telling the Bus Monster what she already knew about the bus. They would tell us one thing and she'd come back with information proving them wrong. Needless to say, they were a tad unprepared for two women knowing so much about auto repair.
The Bus Monster ended up saying there was a miscommunication on their part and were going to waive all charges at this point. They still had to run some tests to further diagnose the problem. Gee that's odd. Knowing full well what they were talking about, we declined one of the tests. They ended up doing it anyways.
The final diagnosis was that we needed a new transmission. We had already discussed that as a worst case scenario so not really surprised. Their final quote was $7,466. HOLY BUS BALLS! Um, no.
We started doing more research. They were trying to sell us something we didn't need. That's obvious though; it's a business. They want to suggest the most expensive route for you to take hoping you'll not ask any questions. The sticker shock was enough for us to say hell no, but we were not going to leave it at that. We wanted to make sure they knew what we were talking about. It was our hope that they'd think twice about screwing people over.
We called around. Every other place quoted a third of their price! They were also pleasant to talk with. We finished our business with the bus monsters and went to someone else. The point of the story is to do your research and get a second, third, or fourth opinion. Take the time to save money and create better relationships with genuine people.
Feel free to share your stories with us! Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Dear Hurricane Florence,
You sure do know how to mess things up. You are a very messy girl. Bad girl! We sure hope you don't come once a month. Please stay away forever. Have you seen the destruction you've caused? There are no products on the market to soak up the mess you've made. People just have to let it flow. You are disliked by many. Go away.
We thought we'd add a little silliness to all of this tragedy folks. Yes, it is a serious and devastating situation, but we've learned that people most affected by such a disaster are looking for something positive, a light at the end of the tunnel. They need people like us, like you, to bring smiles to their faces. We hope we've brought that at the least.
We spent some time in New Bern, North Carolina helping people clean up the mess that Hurricane Florence left. We cried. We cried a lot. Everyday we went back into the same communities and we cried even more. The streets are lined with trash. No one has a mailbox anymore because they're all covered up. The smell. The smell is telling a story, one that will never be forgotten. And to imagine what people are feeling that have been directly affected by this storm--our sadness doesn't even compare.
Our bus conversion had no say in our decision to spend time in New Bern. The Sol Bus was put on hold.
To all of the people affected by Hurricane Florence, please know that we care. People do care. People are there to help. We know you've lost everything, but look up. Keep your hearts warm. Everything will be okay.
The Sol Bus loves you. We are sending strength your way! #NewBernStrong #NoMoFlo
Guess what? We are converting a bus!
Many of you know we moved to North Carolina last summer, 2017. Well, it has been a very interesting year for us. There's more to it on Stephanie's Personal Blog.
We have taken our challenges from this past year and turned them into greatness! We took a lot of time to think about what matters to us in life. Our list looks something like this:
#1 Our happiness comes first. We cannot contribute to anyone else's happiness unless we are there first. (Put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.)
In addition, these things are important as well:
At the end of the day there are very few things we actually need. That will be a part of this process for us--things that matter.
Starting now, you will be able to join us on our journey to living full-time in our new bus. We will live, work, and play on our bus. It won't be easy, but it will be fulfilling.
We will post regularly to include our weekly progress in the building and remodeling of the bus. You can watch our videos and follow us on social media. It's going to be awesome and we want you to be a part of it!
Take a look around and you'll find our story, photos and videos of the conversion process, and much more. As this develops so will the website.
So without further ado, meet The Sol Bus! Born on August 13, 2018, Weighing approximately 19,000 lbs and 26 feet in length. It is healthy and we are all happy!
So glad you're here to join us!
Stephanie & Sarah Ryckman
The Sol Bus