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Converted school bus houses family of 6 in 250 square feet

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A “skoolie” in black, white, and gray

The Mayes family moved from a 5,000-square-foot house into a 250-square-foot school bus.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team

From shipping containers to tiny homes, there are a lot of ways to downsize and start living small. But one medium you don’t hear about often is the school bus conversion, otherwise known as a skoolie.

Skoolies offer a large, blank slate for an intrepid DIY adventurer looking to hit the road on a limited budget. They can also be expensive to fuel, hard to park in cities, and sometimes seem more appealing as an idea than in reality. But one of the prettiest conversions we’ve seen is this 2000 Thomas High Top school bus.

Designed and built by the Mayes family, the school bus has become a full-time home for their traveling crew of four children and two adults. The family moved into the skoolie in August 2017 before hitting the road and landing on the west coast in Northern California.

Previously the Mayes family lived in a 5,000-square-foot house, so the transition to a 250-square-foot school bus required a lot of space-saving planning. According to the family’s blog, the skoolie’s design needed to include a private master bedroom, a bed for each child, as much storage as possible, an open-plan kitchen, and a living space that could fit all six of them.

Using a black, white, and gray palette, the entrance to the bus houses a living room area with storage under the base of the couches and a shoe shelf by the door. There are also small touches that make the bus feel more like home, including a letter box, comfy pillows, and throw blankets.

The living room opens into a rather spacious kitchen that features birch-wrapped plywood counters, peel-and-stick white subway tiles, and lots of overhead storage. A deep 23-inch Vigo sink, under-counter fridge/freezer, knife magnet, and a small oven round out the amenities in the front half of the bus.

In the rear, you’ll find a small bathroom with a mini bathtub and shower and the sleeping quarters for the family. That includes a master bedroom with a full bed—and a door for privacy—and four bunk beds that fit the kiddos. Because the living room couches also turn into beds, the skoolie can sleep a total of eight people—a rare feat in the tiny living world.

You can follow the Mayes family’s adventures over here, but tell us: What do you think of this school bus turned mobile tiny home?

The interior of a camper van. The walls and ceiling are white. There are cushioned couches. There is a kitchenette with a sink and stove. There is art hanging on the walls.
White ceilings and walls help make the bus feel larger while the wooden countertops add a splash of nature in the neutral color palette.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team
The interior of a bus that has been converted into a living space. There is a kitchen with a counter, mini fridge, and cabinets. There is a couch, and chair.
The front of the bus is used as the family living room.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team
Courtesy of The Mayes Team
Instead of using breakable ceramics, the kitchen features peel-and-stick tiles.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team
The rear of the bus boasts a private master and four bunks for the kids.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team
The interior of a school bus with the seats removed.
Stripping out the center aisle and seats left the Mayes family with a lot to work with.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team
The interior of a school bus. A new kitchen area is being constructed with a sink and cabinets.
A kitchen emerges from the construction in 2017.
Courtesy of The Mayes Team