From modern live-work spaces to family-oriented dwellings, we're seeing a number of beautifully renovated interiors inside buses that have been converted into tiny homes. But what's great too is that each vehicle has its own fascinating story behind it. Take Denver, Colorado's Charles Kern of Art Builders Guild, a professional bus homebuilder who first built his own home on wheels a few years ago, using a bus that has quite a history. We get a tour inside via Zillow:
Charles tells us that he converted a bus for a simple reason: he needed a place to live as a cash-strapped 20-year-old philosophy student, and as someone who was knowledgeable about buses for over a decade, it seemed like the best solution. Charles relates the story behind the bus that he calls The Queen -- a 1982 Bluebird Bus on an International Harvester chassis -- and her special powers:
She had been a school bus in a rural district before becoming a youth group bus for the Queen of Peace Catholic Parish here in Denver. I found a lot of great relics while gutting it, including the usual bits of candy and gum and a sweet “Queen of Peace Youth Group” keychain. It’s always ran great and it’s the only bus I’ve known that doesn’t leak. I think it still has the holy spirit in it.
The Queen is pretty special: for starters, she has a raised roof that gives more interior headspace. As soon as one enters, the warm wood panelling and big windows seem to give off a down-to-earth, homey feeling. A good portion of the wood for the cabinets and bathroom was rescued from demolition sites around Denver, while the ceiling's wood comes from trees cut by fire mitigation crews fighting the pine beetle infestation in Colorado's forests.
The bus is designed to be energy-efficient and is capable of going off-grid. Its robust solar power system includes a 1875-watt solar array, which is more than enough for daily needs, water heater and even occasionally power air conditioning in the summer. To cook, Charles uses a small propane stove, and the bus is also equipped with a 46-gallon freshwater tank.
The bathroom has a small shower, and a composting toilet which only needs to be emptied every 6 to 8 weeks. Since Charles only uses biodegradable soaps, his greywater needs only light treatment and eliminates the need to visit RV waste stations. At the very back is the sleeping space, which has a Murphy-style bed that can be folded up during the day.
Charles learned so much from building The Queen that he was able to parlay that into a full-time business with two other friends, converting buses into homes for other people, starting even before his own home was finished. So far, he has completed six conversions, with several more in the works. The ironic thing is that though he lives on wheels, his commitment to creating beautiful homes for others has meant he hasn't traveled as much as he initially imagined, so The Queen is now parked on a friend's farm just outside of nearby Boulder.
But what began as a thrifty compromise for a broke student has since blossomed into a fulfilling way of life for the professional bus homebuilder. Since completing The Queen and moving in two years ago, Charles is now branching out, having taught a college course on tiny living last year, and will be soon hosting a new special on HGTV about bus conversions called Bus Life Ever. To see more of Charles Kerns' work, visit Art Builders Guild and Instagram.