We've got a special treat for you today.
Claire Flint from Three Seed Design wanted to share her dad's bus conversion with us.
Greg Flint, "a.k.a 'Papa Smurf' as locals refer to him," Claire told us, is a retired 70-year-old "lifelong artist, stonemason, and builder."
"I've always loved small homes on wheels," Greg says. Once his four daughters grew up, he sold his "10 acres and big log dream home. I wanted simplicity, economy, less stuff." That's when Greg met Buster the bus, and our story begins. A couple of friends asked him to live in Buster and fix it before taking it to Mexico. "Those friends broke up...in the meantime, 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! I've lived in Buster for almost 15 years now, and I love it! Everything is simple and handy, cozy and comfortable!"
Currently, Greg lives in a friend's yard in Sandpoint, Idaho. As part of his rent, he takes care of the yard and orchard. "Without Buster and this trade arrangement, I would have a very hard time living on my small fixed income."
You might understand Papa Smurf's nickname once we start touring his wheeled abode. So let's not beat around the bush, and get straight to it!
(By the way, all pictures are courtesy of Claire Flint - you'll find more of these on her Flickr album.)
Here's the man of the hour and his rustic conversion. In a way, this mobile dwelling's elevated roof and earthy exteriors make it look like a modernized hut.
"Buster is a 30-foot '65 Chevy bus with the upper section of two VW vans on top (back to back) with an upper windshield at each end. Someone else added those features. 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," Greg says.
He adds that Buster had already been a motor home, but looked quite different. "I used 2-inch rigid foam insulation on the vertical walls and two layers of Reflectix in the curved parts and the ceiling. I redid the whole interior to create an organic curving and flowing light-filled room using cedar trees bent by time and weather conditions. The countertops 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 potted plant by the front entrance is a nice homely touch, too.
Buster the bus is ready for its close-up. The yellow drapes you're seeing on the windows kinda foreshadow what awaits us inside.
How cool are those interiors? It's almost like we've stepped into a magical tree house, isn't it?
The nooks and crannies that went into crafting this conversion deserve our undivided attention. From this custom-made table and its accompanying tree stump-like chairs...
...To the fireplace that makes us feel like we're nestling into a fantasy world. But the fireplace serves a pragmatic purpose as well. "North Idaho winters are COLD," Greg says. "To winterize Buster, 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 to."
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."
Regarding Buster's kitchen space, "Buster has large built-in water and propane tanks and a generator, but I don't use them. I bring in dishwater in buckets which fit in the sink. Dishes dry on the rack over the sink. I empty the used dishwater wherever it is needed on the property to water plants and trees," Greg says. "I use a 5-gallon propane tank which is easier to fill for the 3-burner stove. The copper lid covers the stove top when not in use. Copper sheeting is used behind and above kitchen area and a brass hood helps ventilate the stove out the window."
Suffice to say, these open-plan interiors are also packed with interesting wooden touches all around.
And there's plenty of space efficiency hidden in plain sight - if you need a bit of extra room for eating, the gas stove can be covered up to suit.
You'd probably forget the stove is even there, unless you needed to use it.
There's always a place to dangle your everyday vintage utensils and personal effects in this home.
Bookworms, rejoice: shelves fitted along the ceiling nicely bring Greg's reading catalog to the fore.
Right at the end of the bus, a cozy sleeping space gives our Papa Smurf some much-needed privacy and rest. "There's lots of storage space here, but I still tend to let things get too cluttered. My cat climbs all over inside, and if I get to pacing up and down (like when I'm writing) she'll often reach down and snag the hat off my head," Greg told us.
So, what do you think? Greg Flint's bus conversion is quite remarkable, right? Timber touches, tree trunk motifs and a myriad of interesting trinkets make this mobile abode that much more memorable.