When it comes to a van or school bus conversion, analysis paralysis can be a very real thing! There are so many decisions to be made throughout the build. These decisions range from small to large; yet for some reason, they all feel huge! Then on top of that, there are so many options to choose between. All those constant choices can lead to decision fatigue. So while certain design decisions are a personal preference, I thought I would share what we used in each part of our build! I hope that this skoolie design guide helps you to simplify the decision-making aspect of your school bus conversion!
We get so many requests asking where we got different things for our school bus conversion. So to keep it simple and easy, I’ve compiled a list of the items we have purchased and where they are from. Every item that is on this list is something we have bought and love. If an item hasn’t made the list and you’ve seen it in our build, it’s probably because it didn’t hold up to our standards 🙂 But feel free to post any questions in the comments below for clarification just in case!
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Exterior Paint: colors are Tantalizing Teal, Urbane Bronze & raucous orange from Sherwin Williams
Interior Primer: PPG Seal Grip Gripper- interior/exterior
Interior Paint: Sherwin Williams Emerald semi-gloss
Accent wall and kitchen cabinets: Naval
Wall color: Modern Grey
Wood stain color: Varathane Special Walnut
Polyurathane: Home Depot
Recessed lights: Amazon
Flooring: Home Depot
We decided to keep the original school bus door and upgrade it in order to keep with the tradional look of a school bus, but with more functionality. Added steel panels on the exterior and cedar wood on the interior together create a front door we love! The large, oversized door handle is both functional and gorgeous! It is the perfect finishing touch for a skoolie front door! Small hooks screwed into the cedar interior provide mudroom storage to keep your items organized and off the floor!
The entryway is the most multi-functional area of our bus. In this single space, we have a mudroom with shoe, coat and backpack storage, a hidden litter box, driving area, a large multi-purpose table surface, overhead storage, and more. This area of the bus receives constant use and provides a practical solution to home necessities; but in tiny style:)
Curtains: Joanns Fabric (The exact pattern is no longer available)
Countertop: Home Depot
Metal trash bin: Ikea
Baskets: Hobby Lobby
Phone/Ipad stand: The exact one we purchased was a walnut stand from Etsy and is unfortunately not available anymore. However, I’ve linked a similar one below from a maker that we’ve purchased a headphone holder and a laptop stand from: and we love the look and quality!
The living room is the perfect combination of functionality and comfort. Pine-faced drawers provide ample storage and make perfect use of the under-couch space. Walnut wood stripping is the perfect solution to cover imperfections in the wood or change the style with a simple iron-on wood strip, while our DIY couch cushion covers provide comfort, yet are easy to clean. Throw pillow covers from Amazon are a great comfy addition, yet are removable for easy cleaning. Finally, little details found throughout this space are what make it feel like home.
Our cushions are custom-made. Each cushion is made with a high-quality foam meant to be not only comfortable for relaxing, but also for long drive days or sleeping. Our goal for these cushions is that the foam was high enough quality that it would hold its shape, last a long time, and stand up to heavy use.
I loved working with UCSolutions for the foam because of the ease of purchase as well as high quality of the product. Their chat feature allows you to speak to an actual person directly. This allowed me to simply let them know what I was making, as well as what the final couch dimensions would be. They were then able to tell me exactly which foam I would want for the seat cushions and which were best for the back of the couch! Did you know you want to use different density foams for what you are actually sitting on vs the back that you lean against in order to achieve maximum comfort? I certainly didn’t! But this specific help they provide allowed me to purchase the right product without question as to whether it would be what I was looking for!
The fabric we used for the cushion covers is another item we spent tons of time going back and forth on. We were looking for a product that would clean up easily, “hide” dirt without being too dark of a color, would wash well, but that would also be comfortable to lay on. This fabric is by no means a suade soft fabric. However, it has gone through the wringer in terms of hard use, washes and still looks as great as the day we bought it! So we get the extra softness through comfy throw pillows and blankets and have a couch that can withstand the heavy use of tiny living with a family and pets yet is still a comfortable fabric to lay on!
Cushion covers: DIY project
Our roll-up curtains are also custom-made. We were looking for a fabric that would be light enough to not make the space feel smaller when they were all down, but also wouldn’t show every little spec of dirt. This fabric has held up great through lots of use and washes.
Front fabric: Joanns Fabric
Back fabric: Home Depot
Faux Plants: Lowes
The true heart of the home; our skoolie kitchen is small, yet extremely functional. Multiple DIY drawers and a large pull-out pantry provide ample storage for everything our family of six would need in a kitchen. Our DIY epoxy countertop left us with a durable, yet gorgeous counter at a fraction of the weight or cost of other options. Final touches provide a mix of homey decor and functional storage and organization.
Dish towels: Target
Espresso machine: Amazon
Decorative tray: Target
Faux plants: Lowes + TJMaxx
White ceramic canisters: World Market
Salt + Pepper shakers: Target (The exact model I purchased is no longer available but this one is very similar)
Basket: Hobby Lobby
Floating shelf: DIY project using special walnut stain
Floating shelf brackets: Hobby Lobby
Backsplash: Home Depot
Countertop: DIY epoxy project from Stonecoat Epoxy
Fridge: Home Depot
Wall organizational storage: Ikea
Our office space is intertwined with our living room and kitchen area. The computer fits perfectly under the butcher block table, while a monitor on an adjustable arm allows us to easily maneuver the screen to adjust for lighting or use. The moveable arm also allows this monitor to be used as a tv for movie nights when we don’t want to pull out the projector.
Tabletop: Home Depot
So much functionality is in this small but organized space. The greenery wallpaper adds a fun pop of color to the bus while the inside allows easy access and storage for both cleaning and school items. Our cordless vacuum mounts perfectly on a wall while small, metal baskets provide storage for the vacuum attachments and Swiffer dusters. Opposite of the vacuum mount is a 3M mount to hold our Swiffer. More baskets below provide great storage for notebooks and paper for the kid’s school stuff, while the bottom lip provides the perfect place for our foldable broom for those quick pickups.
This bathroom is small yet functional. The lighter colored tile combined with the overhead cedar and plexiglass skylight make the space feel bigger than it is. Wall cavity storage provides the space for storage of our toilet paper, quick-drying towels and a medicine cabinet. A tankless water heater allows for almost unlimited hot showers, while a light/fan combo helps to pull the moisture out of the bathroom during showers. Our wall-mounted shampoo, conditioner and body wash containers mean that there are no more bottles flying around every time the bus moves. Our DIY composting toilet saved us over $1k, a ton of space and in my opinion looks way better than the other options out there! A tiny sink is the final functional touch in this tiny bathroom.
Composting toilet: DIY project
Towels: Sand Cloud
Shower curtain: Target
Medicine cabinet/mirror: DIY project
We built the wooden frame for the mirror door, and took it to a local glass shop for them to customize a mirror to size! An inexpensive option that is functional and looks great!
Floor tile: Home Depot
Shower tile: Home Depot
Peat moss bucket: Ikea
Shower ceiling: Home Depot
These four, full-length bunk beds allow comfortable sleeping for all four of our kids. Individual bunk curtains give each kid a little bit of privacy, while the zippered bedding makes bed-making each morning simple and argument free!
Zippered bedding: DIY Project
Outer fabric: Wayfair
The back fabric of top blanket: Joanns
Kids sheets: Target
(The exact sheets I got from Target for the kids bedding is no longer available. However these are very similar)
Decorative pillows: DIY Project
Front yellow fabric: Joanns
Back gray fabric: Online
Bunk bed curtain rods: Home Depot-DIY
Bunk bed curtains:
In addition to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom; we have a second medicine cabinet that provides excess storage for toiletries and more. While a door magnet keeps the door from flying open, these little plastic bins keep everything in the right place and from spilling while the bus moves.
Cabinet door magnets: Target
As with any small space, functionality is key! Once again, zippered bedding is the saving grace for quickly and easily making our bed every morning! These throw pillows not only make the master bedroom feel more inviting; but they also are perfect for when kids want to pile back here to watch movies, or for extra comfort and support when one of us works here. Small baskets hold our personal items and keep them in place while moving.
A heavy duty slide set allowed us to make a multi-functional step into the bed as well as a seat for our second workspace. On the wall in front of the seat is a wall-mounted monitor with a moving arm that again acts as a TV for movie nights or as a second screen for working. Google Chrome allows us to cast shows, movies, etc from our phones or computer to either this monitor or the living room monitor easily.
Bedding: DIY zippered bedding
Outer fabric: Wayfair
The back fabric of the top blanket: Online
Inner fabric: Wayfair
Baskets: Hobby Lobby
With 26 drawers throughout the bus, we have plenty of storage. But within that storage we needed systems of storage to keep things organized; especially when the bus moved. Here are some of our favorites for doing just that!
A tiny home has similar cleaning needs as a house; however, there is substantially less room for storing excess cleaning tools or products. These are some of our favorites that we use regularly and help us keep the bus clean!
While the interior of the bus needs to be practical, comfortable, and functional; there are also items that make enjoying all these locations we visit even better! A huge aspect of bus life is making the most of the outdoors. The incredible views, destinations or simply taking a moment to be outside and relish in it are what make bus life magical in my opinion. These are some of the items that help us to make our time outside and memories even more enjoyable!
I hope these links help to give you ideas or at least a place to start when making design decisions for your school bus conversion. Please keep in mind, that this post and these items are my personal suggestions as a consumer. In certain aspects of our build we went all out and got the ideal item; and often with that came a higher price tag. But in general, every purchase was a combination of affordability as well as quality.
Our goal with each item was to find products that were good quality and would last a long time. The last thing we wanted was to purchase items and constantly be replacing something. However, at the same time, our budget meant that the top of the line on everything wasn’t an option either 🙂 A ton of research later, along with some trial and error, has lead us to the items you see on this list!
Best of luck on your conversion and make sure to check out the links below to get more ways to simplify and make the most of your skoolie life or to get a sneak peak into more of what our skoolie life looks like!