News Home & Design Woodworker Builds Her Own Dream Bus Home With Her Woodworker Mom Suddenly jobless and experiencing homelessness because of the pandemic, she found herself building a tiny bus home instead. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated August 27, 2021 12:32AM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Tiny Home Tours Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive The global pandemic has upended lives: countless livelihoods and lives lost, as well as many other disruptions and setbacks. Many around the world lost their jobs and their homes due to the crisis, and many have had to adjust, or even find the courage to do something they might have never imagined themselves doing before. American woodworker Stephanie Gray is one of those people who have had to radically readapt her lifestyle. As the situation unfolded during the early days, she suddenly found out she was about to lose both her job and her apartment by the end of the month. Gray confronted her fear of becoming jobless and experiencing homelessness by actively looking for solutions. Eventually, Gray took a route that she didn't imagine herself journeying down—that of building her own tiny house bus, with the help of her mother, an expert woodworker. In the three-month-long construction process, Gray created a home for herself (and a couple of adorable pet bunnies!), one that held fast to her most cherished values of hospitality and resourcefulness. We get a tour of Gray's charming tiny home on wheels via Tiny Home Tours: Nicknamed The Dandy Bus, Gray's skoolie is built off a short bus model, a 2005 GMC Savannah 3500. As Gray explains, she initially planned to renovate a trailer but found that the pandemic's fluctuating price increases for trailers and materials made it impossible for her to pursue that avenue. Instead, she did more research and discovered bus conversions, which she found to be more within her budget. Tiny Home Tours The exterior of the bus has been painted white, and it is overlaid with decorative wood trim that has been laser-cut with custom motifs of dandelions. The bus also has a simple roof deck, accessible via a telescoping ladder (one in perfect condition which Gray bought for only $44 as it was sold in a damaged box), as well as a pair of solar panels. Tiny Home Tours Inside, the bus feels warm, open, and homey, thanks to Gray's deliberate use of reclaimed wood paneling, and her decision to install open shelving on both sides, rather than closed cabinets overhead, and her choice to keep all the original windows. Tiny Home Tours Gray's kitchen occupies one side of the bus, and it includes a two-burner propane stovetop, reclaimed 100-year-old heart pine wood counters, an IKEA-hacked sink, and slide-out plastic storage bins under the counter, as well as an RV-style cooler that can be pulled out. Tiny Home Tours To store spices, Gray has nailed some Mason jars to the underside of the kitchen shelf, which reduces countertop clutter, while also keeping things organized. Tiny Home Tours For heating, Gray has this interesting contraption that she bought used for $20, a type of stovetop fan which fits on top of one propane stove burner, and helps distribute heat throughout the interior during cold weather. Tiny Home Tours On the other side of the bus is the couch. Tiny Home Tours The custom-made couch can be transformed into a twin-sized guest bed by removing a slatted component from the back of the sofa. This is then inserted into the sofa seat to create a cot. Tiny Home Tours No space is wasted here, and half of the sofa's underside serves as the nook for Gray's pet bunnies to burrow in. Tiny Home Tours One interesting piece of multifunctional furniture is this living room side table, which transforms into a coffee table when it's pulled out. Tiny Home Tours Past the kitchen and living room, we have two large storage cabinets: one for clothes and the other for storing food. Tiny Home Tours At the rear of the bus, we have a full-sized bed, which sits on top of a storage platform. Gray chose to keep the air conditioning unit, which is hooked up to the motor, to use during intense heatwaves in Florida, where she is currently based. Tiny Home Tours Gray has installed a couple of retractable bedside tables on either side of the bed, perfect for holding her tablet or a book. Tiny Home Tours In total, Gray says that she spent only $8,000 on her bus build—including the bus! As Gray recounts, her experience with designing and building the bus with her mom, and her introduction into the broader bus life community, has been overwhelmingly positive and empowering. She says that the beginning of the pandemic was a chaotic time of deep uncertainty: "I totally panicked, and had to think really fast of what to do. [I]t was my mom who asked, 'You know how do you get out from under the fear?' I decided that I needed to go tiny in order to get out from all the fearful 'what if's' of what could happen during this pandemic. I decided I wasn't going to be controlled by fear, and I wasn't going to be controlled by what else the world was going on, that I was going to make my own way for peace, and that's what this bus is about, and what it came to be for me." Gray's self-built bus was ultimately a game-changer. Gray says she is now living a freer life that is more in line with her passions and values. To see more, visit Stephanie Gray's Instagram, and her woodcarving store, Holdfast Carving.