For most people, retirement is a stage in life meant for rest and relaxation. No more dealing with the daily grind of a 9-5 job, no more long and arduous commutes, and a lot more free time.
The question these freedom-struck individuals are left with is what to do with all this newfound downtime?
For the 70-year-old retiree, Greg Flint, the answer was obvious: Sell the house and build a new one out of an old bus!
He tells the folks over at SmallerLiving,
I’ve always loved small homes on wheels. I wanted simplicity, economy, less stuff.
The skilled artisan and stonemason had been intending to rebuild the bus, lovingly known as “Buster”, for a couple he was friends with.
They wanted the master builder to repair the bus and get it travel-ready so they could drive it to Mexico but alas, as life would have it, the pair split up before ever reaching their destination.
Recognizing the sound of opportunity knocking, Greg made a bid for the bus. To his elated surprise, the former couple wouldn’t take the money. Greg recalls,
I had fallen in love with Buster and had a vision for its transformation. I asked to buy it, and they gave it to me!
With the blessing of his pals, Greg began his awe-inspiring bus conversion.
When you get on the bus, you immediately understand where Greg’s nickname “Papa Smurf”, comes from.
Upon stepping inside the 30 foot long 1965 Chevy bus, you’re whisked away into a world that looks as if it were constructed by the Smurfs themselves.
While he had his work cut out for him, Greg wasn’t the only person to dream dreams for this beastly bus.
Buster already came with some serious modifications.
A prior owner had welded the top section of 2 VW vans to the top of the bus, including windshields at each end. Greg considers this an ultimate score, stating that,
The upper windows made it possible to cover many lower windows allowing for more buildable wall space. The front section has a VW “pop top” giving access to the rear deck on top which provides wonderfully cooling airflow in the summer
It seems the elderly gentleman thought of everything, including a fully functional kitchen with a sink, dishwasher, and oven/stove-top.
A serious fan of simple living, however, Greg rarely resorts to using these items. Instead, he prefers to carry in his dishwater using two buckets that fit side-by-side in the sink.
A pragmatic man, he then uses the dirty dishwater to water the shrubs and trees on the Orchard he takes care of, in trade for a yard space to park his little bohemian paradise.
Without Buster and this trade arrangement, I would have a very hard time living on my small fixed income.
Bringing the flow of nature into every detail of the bus, Greg used old and twisted cedar logs for the construction of his cabinetry.
I redid the whole interior to create an organic curving and flowing light-filled room using cedar trees bent by time and weather conditions.
He included logs for structural support throughout the bus, making the area feel more like a dream home than a deteriorating vehicle.
Though it looks costly, he didn’t have to spend a fortune to build the masterpiece either.
The counter tops and kitchen table and bench backs were all made from an old cedar chest that was a gift from my daughter. The floor is redone with salvaged tongue and groove planks.”
The artisan decided he could maximize the utilitarian potential of the space by creating a copper cover for his stove-top.
When not in use, the cover allows the stove to become an extension of his table-space so he can work on whatever project he has going at the time.
Keeping with the flow of interior decor, he hammered a copper hood to fit in place over his stove to direct cooking fumes out of the window.
The size and curve of the usually unsightly “hood” serve more than one purpose, as it totally complements and flows with the entire interior of the revamped bus.
The eye has endless interests to ponder, as the curved wooden poles along the bus make the perfect space to hang trinkets and various cooking utensils.
Knowing the winter months in Idaho, where Greg has settled his humble abode, can be long and freezing, he also knew he’d have to have a cozy space to partake in more leisurely activities.
Being the architect he is, Greg built that space right into the fairytale-like bus.
Throughout the bus, you can find shelves and poles paired with netting to keep in books and odd and end items. Due to the curvaceous nature of the ceiling, these items sit in a tilted fashion, bringing to mind the Mad Hatter’s house from Alice In Wonderland.
To ward off those freezing winter temperatures, the forward-thinking gent rebuilt the fireplace.
Buster once had an iron woodstove, but it overheated the small space when burning and left me freezing when the fire went out. I built a soapstone fireplace stove. It does not overheat the space plus, after two or three hours of burning, I can let the fire go out, shut everything down, and the soapstone continues to radiate heat all night.
For someone who’s retired, the man sure does work hard!
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In addition to the fireplace, Greg takes extra measures to keep the tiny bus-house nice and comfy throughout the colder parts of the year:
All window glass plus entrance area get thickly covered with bubble wrap. I use huge burrito bags full of fall leaves tucked under the bus the insulate the underside, etc. If that doesn’t cover it, I can switch on a small super-efficient electric radiant space heater if I need too.
Greg’s fantasy tiny home just goes to show that much can be done with little.
With a solid understanding of natural materials, energy transference, and a LOT of elbow grease, you can build your tiny dream home on a budget without sacrificing style or function.
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