Whimsical, Off-Grid Tiny Home Skoolie for a Family of 5

Have you ever considered getting rid of, or selling everything for a simple life full of adventure and outdoors? Us too. We’ve done it twice actually. Our first time, a few years ago, we sold everything to live in a new country each month with our three little kids, ages 0, 3, and 5 at the time. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer unexpectedly and chose an unconventional method to healing. Still working on it.

And now?

Now we live in a renovated school bus. We sold our suburban home of almost 3000 sq. feet and traded it for less than 300 square feet and the ability to follow warm weather and make the great outdoors our backyard playground.

We recently shared a video tour of our new tiny home, or skoolie, (link below), and often receive questions about where we purchased different items in the bus and what essentials we use in day-to-day bus life.

Here’s a visual home tour for you! You’ll find links for many of the things we deemed essential to our tiny life!

Our Bus Kitchen

Our kitchen features custom-built, white shaker-style cabinets and drawers with a handmade butcher block counter, tile backsplash, a skylight, and 2 floating shelves. We have a propane range and oven and a 22" farmhouse, under-mounted sink. We opted not to have a dishwasher or microwave.

Around the corner, you would discover a pantry and refrigerator before the bathroom, complete with a composting toilet and shower, as well as the bunk area with 3 bunks for the kids, a washer and dryer, ample storage, and a cozy bedroom for mom and dad.

Here’s a little bit more about the things we picked.

We picked our 21" gas range and stove because we liked the way it looked and it was highly rated. I was a little nervous about it being small (especially after having a cookie and cake decorating business @tangledwithtinkering) but we’ve had no problem having 3 burners and a smaller oven.

RV Stove Gas Range https://amzn.to/3gXLaay

We went through THREE brass kitchen sink faucets before we landed on this one and it’s a winner! Much higher quality than the slightly cheaper brass faucets we purchased first.

Kitchen Sink Faucet https://amzn.to/3gNesbD

I love the design of these floating shelf brackets. I love the little lip of brass that’s exposed and I love that you can mount the brackets with the mount going up the wall or down. We chose to mount them up so they’re more hidden by the things on the shelf.

Brass Floating Shelf Brackets https://amzn.to/2WoA84p

We love love love these glass bottles for storing juice on our open shelves and in our fridge. (Pictured on the floating shelves)

Glass Juice Bottles: https://amzn.to/3p08uXW

Several years ago I recommitted to my health and healing and discovered Medical Medium (maybe you’ve heard about the celery juice movement). I love the inspired information and recipes shared in his books! Life-changing!

Medical Medium Books:

Liver Rescue https://amzn.to/2WnYHyA

Life-Changing Foods https://amzn.to/2KuT7Ys

Thyroid Healing https://amzn.to/2Wkpz2v

We juice fresh fruits and vegetables regularly and we have gone through FOUR juicers before we finally decided to invest in this high-quality one. It juices everything like a champ! See the glass bottles we use to store our juice above.

Slowstar Juicer https://amzn.to/34kuvZx

Kangen Water Filter We use a Kangen water filter to filter our drinking water and have for a few years now. It is amazing and is used as a medical device in Japan because it’s so powerful. You can choose the pH level of your hydrogen-rich water and filter out all the junk. Cool story — when we finally decided to make the investment in ours I had been trying to get pregnant with Marley, our toddler, for over a year and a half. Within a month of getting our water filter, I got pregnant. Coincidence? You decide. I don’t have a link for it, but if you are interested I can refer you to a friend who can teach you all about them and who will help you get the best price on one.

Speaking of water, when our tanks are full and we’re off-grid, we have 150 gallons of freshwater and the capacity for 75 gallons of gray water. Our tanks are mounted under the bus. Check them out below.

75 Gallon Water tanks https://amzn.to/3qYIONb

This ceiling skylight is one of my favorite features in our bus! I love seeing leaves above when we’re parked under a tree, or seeing a bird fly by. Best of all, I love the light that comes in and the blue sky that’s seen.

Ceiling Skylight https://amzn.to/2WpqpuF

These cupboard magnets are ESSENTIAL for life on the road. They keep drawers and cupboards tightly closed during transit (we know because initially we didn’t install them on the drawers and we had drawers fly out a few times!) We also use them in the cupboards in our bedroom, as well as our bedroom door.

Cupboard Magnets Jiayi 12 Pack Latches: https://amzn.to/387GpXW

I knew I wanted brass hardware for our cabinets but I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg, so when I found these totally reasonable, cute hexagon brass pulls the decision was simple! We love them.

Brass Hexagon Cabinet Pulls https://amzn.to/3mqzYEf

I can’t imagine not having our Vitamix blender in our bus — we use it regularly for smoothies and sauces and salsa and soups! All the good, fresh s-foods. I’m so grateful we have the solar-powered energy to run it off-grid!

Vitamix Blender: https://amzn.to/2WlTPtN

Our pantry shelves are quite deep so I wanted metal baskets I could easily pull out and slide back to organize and store food. I generally put the longer-term food storage extras in the baskets at the back and the snacks and things we use regularly at the front and then I rotate them out. These really help the cupboard stay more organized.

Wire Pantry Baskets https://amzn.to/3oTwSdu

These storage containers are brilliant for storing loose ingredients and snacks. They come in a huge set with chalkboard labels that are just a fraction of the cost of some of the big brands.

Pantry Storage Containers https://amzn.to/2Ku2gRc

Home & Living

If you’re a parent you know how endless laundry for a family can feel. How awesome would it be to put your laundry in the washer {in the middle of the mountains or desert} and NEVER forget to switch it to the dryer? Well, you can! With this washer/dryer combo you literally start the wash AND dry cycles at the same time and you pull the clothes out warm and dry!! Huge mom (& dad) win! After figuring out the cycles (thanks to a Youtube video) we’ve loved it! Keep in mind it is a small unit so it can’t do huge loads of laundry. It’s perfect for tiny living.

Washer/Dryer Combo https://amzn.to/3alKGtk

If I had to pick ONE item we couldn’t live without in our bus the Dyson handheld vacuum might be it. I never could have predicted just how quickly our bus would get dirty. I guess it’s really no surprise. We live in a TINY space with kids and they’re constantly in and out of the house and our backyard is 99% dirt. We borrowed a family member's handheld shark vacuum and considered getting one for the bus, but we had an upright Dyson in our home for 11 years and loved it, so we decided to spend a little more for the Dyson handheld and we’re so glad we did. It has multiple attachments perfect for vacuuming the floor, the counter, the couches, the car, the rugs, and beds… basically any surface we need, and the best part is it's small and portable so our kids have never been more involved in vacuuming than they are now!

Dyson V7 Car & Boat Handheld Vacuum: https://amzn.to/38q9lur

How grateful we are for our diesel fuel heater! A few weeks ago we spent a few weeks in beautiful Moab, UT. While we were there a huge blizzard rolled through and the 80 degree temps suddenly plummetted to the teens. It was FREEZING! Colby hadn’t had a chance to install the diesel heater yet and we learned our lesson to prepare better when our pipes all froze. Once he got that thing installed we’ve stayed toasty warm ever since and no frozen pipes despite freezing temps! This particular unit comes at a mere fraction of the cost of the US versions, but just a note that it doesn’t come with super clear English instructions so YouTube and a hefty dose of determination and fearlessness will be your best buddies during installation. Ours is stored under the couch.

Diesel Heater https://amzn.to/37TuWfn

I’m so glad I found these blinds! The option I was originally considering was going to take 2 MONTHS to arrive from blinds.com. These are cordless and allow lots of filtered natural light into our home, but give us privacy. Plus they’re SO simple to cut and come ready to install with an adhesive strip on the top. We’ve added a few screws for extra adhesion during jostling drives.

Cordless Blind Window Shade fits windows 31"-48" wide https://amzn.to/2KBtDIP

Cordless Blind Window Shade fits windows 19"-36" wide https://amzn.to/3nrZ5bc

Our bus speaker system got disabled so we knew we wanted a portable way to blast music for dance parties and to refresh the vibe in our home. This wireless speaker that we can take outside or to the lake with us is awesome.

Wireless Speaker https://amzn.to/2WoPaY5

Bedroom & Decor:

Fitting a queen-sized mattress in a bus can be a bit of a conundrum! Plus, we needed a thin 8-inch mattress to have enough head clearance in our loft master “suite”. This memory foam mattress was the perfect solution and it’s really comfy!! It came tightly rolled up, so we just laid it in the bunk space and unrolled it right in the bed.

Queen Size 8-inch memory foam mattress https://amzn.to/3gWvVP1

These super cute rainbow wall stickers are darling and so affordable to brighten up a bedroom or play space.

Rainbow Wall Stickers https://amzn.to/3mogJMA

This curtain track is a lifesaver for our toddler’s nap in a bus

Sliding Curtain Track & Clips https://amzn.to/37ngIDk

I fell in love with these animal wall stickers as soon as I saw them! Crew loves them on his wall too.

Animal Wall Stickers https://amzn.to/2HTaJw8

I love the look of a brick wall in a house, so for less than $10 this was a no-brainer. (Be sure not to install it upside down like I did (shadow up), oops!)

Brick Wallpaper https://amzn.to/33IStNP

When I saw these baskets they screamed “book baskets” at me. I wasn’t sure if they would fit books, but they do! They would be darling for fruit or toys too.

Wall Hanging Fruit or Book Baskets https://amzn.to/37ql4tG

These darling stockings were a little shorter than most and fit perfectly in our bus! I could totally swallow the price for a set of 6 too!

14" Ivory Knit Stockings https://amzn.to/3nuwge4

Can you see those magnetic hooks holding up the stockings and garlands? If you live in a space with metal YOU’VE GOT TO GET THEM! The bus actually came with three of them randomly attached to a wall somewhere and it took us months to discover them. Once we did, we realized just how genius they were. They’re perfect for hanging our kids' helmets on, or sticking to the outside of the bus to hang wet beach towels or decor. They were the perfect solution for hanging the stockings and garlands too. We even use them to help secure the shower curtain over our bathroom emergency exit. These ones can hold 100 LBS too so they’re awesome for helping secure heavy things.

Magnetic Hooks https://amzn.to/34jxamc

This wooden bead garland and 2 felt ball garlands come in a set and were just the touch I was looking for to add a fun, festive, whimsical feel to our home for the holidays. Who knows, good chance they’ll stay up past the holidays too.

Wooden Beads & Felt Ball Garland https://amzn.to/2WonhiE

Our bus has small RV windows in each of the kids' bunks. These cupboard tension rods fit between 15"-28" wide windows so they were perfect for simple curtains in small spaces.

Kids Window Tension Rods https://amzn.to/34l6YHV

Bathroom

Separett Bathroom Toilet — After some research into composting toilet options we are SO glad we chose the Separett composting toilet! We are always amazed it doesn’t smell and so glad to not have a “black tank.” Message us @lostbells for a discount code!

This toilet paper holder matches the rest of our bathroom and was super affordable and requires no hardware or tools for installation!

Self Adhesive Toilet Paper Holder https://amzn.to/3gV1IzK

This cute giraffe holder can be used for paper towels OR spare toilet paper rolls.

Giraffe Toilet Paper/Paper Towel Holder https://amzn.to/2IWvEPr

Nebia Shower Head — We chose the Nebia shower head because it was highly rated for low water usage. We love that the head is so adjustable in height making it perfect for adults AND kids. It’s a very “misty” shower experience. Another cool thing about us is that the wand attachment is magnetic and can stick to our emergency door and makes it easy for an OUTDOOR shower after a swim at the lake. Message us for a discount code!

This sink in the bathroom was an afterthought, but it was the perfect addition for the corner of our shower. It could also go in the corner above the toilet, or any other small space.

Bathroom Corner Sink: https://amzn.to/3p540zn

This faucet matches all the rest and functions great!

Black Bathroom Sink Faucet https://amzn.to/2WorvXQ

These towel hooks are so easy to install and hold heavy towels or wet swimsuits with no problem! We don't know how we lived without them.

Adhesive Towel Hooks/Bathroom Hooks https://amzn.to/3nsNBnE

We love this shower faucet that matches the black Nebia shower head.

Black Shower Faucet https://amzn.to/2WlxyMz

This is an alternative to traditional pee traps that takes up less space AND prevents any odors from seeping back up despite movement.

Sanitary Waste Valve https://amzn.to/3nqLaCf

Outdoor

We love having a Jeep to be able to leave our ‘home’ stationary when we’re parked and head to the store or national parks or anywhere our hearts fancy. When we’re on the road sometimes we tag-team and caravan and sometimes we tow the jeep behind the bus. Here’s the tow package we have.

Jeep Towing Package: https://amzn.to/2KAXAbZ

Having a backup camera behind a 36-foot-long bus is a necessity! Here’s what we got:

Backup Camera https://amzn.to/3r4wOJV

This cord is essential for plugging into power at someone’s home or at an RV park.

RV 50 amp Extension Cord https://amzn.to/34kS3xz

Exercise

We love paddleboarding on the lake! Here’s one that’s similar to ours.

Paddle Board https://amzn.to/34kUWhC

These adjustable dumbbells bring the gym to you!

Adjustable Dumbbells: https://amzn.to/2IUFvoW

Bouncing on a rebounder is awesome for your health and especially good for the lymphatic system! We take one from place to place with us. It makes a fun outdoor toy for the kids too.

Rebounder https://amzn.to/3r3K0P8

Thanks for joining us for this visual tour!

Here’s the video if you’d like an actual walk-through!

Come find us @lostbells and tell us about what you’re building or what adventures you’re up to! Can’t find the link you’re looking for?

Just send us a message!

Colby, Emily, Zoe, Crew & Marley

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