The Mayes family transformed a Thomas High Top into a well-organized and airy humble abode, using thoughtful storage and a minimalist color palette.

When Gabriel and Debbie Mayes decided to embrace the tiny house movement, they knew the transition would be anything but easy. For starters, they—along with their four children—were used to calling 5,000 square feet home. But they were intrigued with the idea of living in a much smaller space, so when they found “Skoolie,” an old school bus, they knew the time had come to take the plunge and downsize.

Yet, before they could kickstart their adventure on the road, they had to conduct a major DIY renovation. Finally, after months of hard work, the Mayes Team were able to transform the 250-square-foot bus into a comfortable home for their family. 

Keep scrolling for all the fascinating “before” and “after” images.

Before

Looking toward the driver's seat, with all of the bus seats still intact.

When the Mayes Team found “Skoolie,” it still had the bus seats intact.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

Looking towards the back of the bus, with the seats removed.

Here is what the bus looked like once the seats were removed.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

The layout is taped on the floor and the wall framework is in.

The team taped the layout on the floor and carefully installed the framework for the home.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

The bus got a new coat of paint.

They opted for a clean, crisp shade of white for the exterior of the bus.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

In the redesign, the couple eschewed a common center aisle layout, as they did not want people walking into the bus and having a sightline to the sleeping area. Therefore, they decided to cluster the kitchen and bathroom together about midway through the bus’s length. 

By positioning the children’s bunks and master bedroom toward the back, they were able to keep the social areas—such as the kitchen and living space—separated from the private sleeping quarters.

For finishes, they opted for a predominantly black, white, and gray palette, while also incorporating wood accents for warmth.  

After

Now, looking towards the front of the bus, two couches face each other. The couches can seat the whole family and also be converted into a full-sized bed, if needed. There is storage in the couch bases and a shoe shelf by the front door. The Mayes Team writes on their blog: "This has been such a blessing and has helped us to keep the bus organized."

Above is a look at the living area. The couches can seat the entire family, and can also be converted into a full bed, if needed. There is storage in the bases of the couch and a shoe shelf by the front door. “This has been such a blessing and has helped us to keep the bus organized,” the Mayes Team explains.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

A close-up of the entry. Note the organization tricks for a small space, such as the tray, wall hooks and message board, and paper catchall.

Here is a close-up view of the entry. Note the organization tricks for a small space, such as the tray, wall hooks, message board, and paper catchall.



Courtesy of the Mayes Team

The couple maximized storage in every inch of space on the bus.

Due to limited space, the couple maximized storage in every inch possible on the bus.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

For the L-shaped kitchen, the Mayes' chose an under-counter fridge/freezer unit so as to have more counter space. The 23-inch Vigo sink is deep enough to bathe a baby or hide dirty dishes.

For the L-shaped kitchen, the family chose an under-counter fridge/freezer unit in order to have more counter space. The 23-inch Vigo sink is deep enough to bathe a baby, or hide dirty dishes.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

The countertops are birch-wrapped plywood. The matte black hardware and faucet punctuate white cabinets and peel-and-stick tile. The floating shelf holds dishes. There is one set for each member of the family so dirty dishes can't pile up. A magnetic knife strip and mounted paper towel holder saves counter space. The dish rack is folded and stored under the sink when not in use.

The countertops are birch-wrapped plywood. The matte black hardware and faucet punctuate white cabinets and peel-and-stick tile. A magnetic knife strip and mounted paper towel holder is another way they can save space. The dish rack is folded and stored under the sink when not in use.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

The Mayes did not want to separate the fixtures in the bathroom, so this one hosts the sink, toilet, and a shower. The brass mirror bounces light in the small space.

The Mayes did not want to separate the fixtures in the bathroom, so this one hosts the sink, toilet, and a shower. The brass mirror bounces light in the small space.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

The matte black hardware and shower fixture is consistent with the kitchen finishes.

The matte black hardware and shower fixture is consistent with the kitchen finishes.

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

There are four bunks for the kids' sleeping area, fitted over the wheel wells, and a door separates the parents' bedroom at the back of the bus. The mattress is positioned over the engine, so it is high, and there is clothing storage below it, on either side of the bed, and in wall cabinets above. The couple writes on their blog:

There are four bunks for the kids’ sleeping area, fitted over the wheel wells, and a door that separates the parents’ bedroom at the back of the bus. Because the mattress is positioned over the engine, it sits high enough so there can be clothing storage below it. The couple writes on their blog: “Our bedroom has so much storage we haven’t even used all of it!”

Courtesy of the Mayes Team

To learn more about this renovation, or to follow along with the family’s travels, check out their website and Instagram.

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