On the picturesque banks of the Key Peninsula in Washington sits a unique, yet humble abode with enough charm to stop even the most well-traveled wanderer in their tracks. Modest in size but extraordinary in design, the small home is seamlessly integrated with a common yellow school bus. A school bus home — a notion as bizarre and intriguing as it sounds — offers an off-the-beaten-path lifestyle with a simple kind of magic that has at least one family positively entranced.
Mira and Jeremy Thompson occupy the lakeside home with their daughter Carys, who's nearly 2. The school bus sits adjacent to a vacation home, giving the family access to laundry, internet and guest space. The Thompsons consider their deep love for family, travel and intentional living as the primary motivation behind building the school bus home.
"After living the typical, fast-paced Western lifestyle, the idea of living simply ... intentionally began to appeal to Jeremy and (me) more," Mira said. "We wanted more time to set aside for family, travel and to live in the moment. So after eight years together, we got married and hit the road, living nomadically for a couple of years. ... We fell in love with our new lives and the freedom we had found and decided not to go back. But we did find ourselves wanting a home base ... close to our families."
The home was constructed solely by the Thompsons themselves and took approximately two years to fully complete. "Jeremy's unique experience with 9 years of auto body and decades of carpentry gave him the interesting expertise required to alter the body of a school bus structure and marry it with the structure of a little cedar cottage," the Thompsons explained. "Mira designed the floor plan, decorated and gave her artistic two cents in every step of the build. No one else was hired to build the bus."
A slice of the beautiful view from the Thompsons' front door reveals a gleaming lake sidling up to a grassy bank.
Mira described the importance of capturing both "nostalgia" and "whimsy" in crafting their custom home. The cottage-like structure serves as the Thompsons' primary living space, providing them with intimate, yet open quarters to fortify their familial bond and live mortgage-free while maintaining the ability to go mobile when necessary.
This large circular window is the first thing guests see when they enter the house.
"The bus stays put most of the time. It is a home we have the flexibility to move as we find our dream property, but it is not a motor-home, travel vehicle. We also have a 19-foot school bus that we use for travel," Jeremy said.
The school bus home presents a way for the Thompsons to escape the grind of a high mortgage or to be disconnected dwellers in an excessively large home. "We also believe that creativity is essential to stay young at heart and in body. It seems like such a common thing in our culture for the years to slip by as we are consumed by the daily tasks of working to live ... in homes way bigger than we can even appreciate or afford. We decided instead to work pretty hard for a couple of years, expanding our minds in creativity, to give us a place that meets all our needs beautifully, while still nudging us to get off the couch, out of the house and out to live our lives."
Two octagonal windows frame the bed, providing light and openness for the family.
The bedroom nook is complete with a queen-size bed that Mira and Jeremy describe as "perfect" for co-sleeping with Carys.
The spacious loft is situated above the bedroom nook and is big enough to fit a California King mattress. The Thompsons currently use the area to relax, read and unwind.
The cozy home is strategically structured with airiness and functionality in mind. Not a single ounce of space is unplanned.
The modest kitchen is fully equipped and features an antique, restored Frigidaire refrigerator.
The family's shower is not pictured, but it's situated across from the toilet.
As Mira described in her aspirations for the house, the structure fuses the rustic and timeless, the nostalgic and whimsical.