A couple of weeks ago we featured the Victoria, British Columbia home of Marco Khalil and Caroline West, and the couple mentioned that they had transformed a school bus into a camper – and we just had to see inside. The couple bought the bus in 2012 after returning from an Oregon buying trip with their VW bus. Marco was disappointed that he could not fit a large vintage railroad sign within, so they decided to hunt for a larger vehicle. A quick search on Craigslist Vancouver turned up a vintage school bus for a bargain price. Because they wanted the bus to be a multipurpose truck, pop-up shop venue for their company Eight Inch Rule and an open-plan mobile cabin, they removed nearly everything in the bus – the seats, stanchions, heaters. They first recovered the floor in an utilitarian vinyl tile. Then they added a timber daybed and a cubby unit comprised of vintage wood crates – both of which are easily removable when the bus needs to fulfill its cargo-carrying role as a truck. The full renovation took ten days. Now the bus, which they call Riley, serves as the backyard cabin on their property. Marco and Caroline regularly use the bus as a mobile cabin and, whenever they can, they book their favorite seaside site at a local RV park that provides everything they need – a firepit, BBQ, coastal beach walks and a modern bath facility. This summer they plan to take the bus a little further afield to the American San Juan Islands for a little summer retreat. –Amy
Photography: Caroline West
Image above: “Our 1979 GMC / BlueBird school bus, 36 passenger shortbus version. We named it Riley, as in ‘The Life of Riley,’ which pretty well sums up the contented quality of life aboard.”
Image above: “A wide angle view of the interior and a view of our favourite seaside campsite.”
See more of the school bus after the jump!
Image above: “The handmade cushions were made by Caroline using graphic vintage cereal sacking as appliqué. The handmade canvas window blinds feature magnets to secure them to the bus’s steel shell.”
Image above: “Vintage American boys’ adventure story books set in a Libby’s roast beef packing crate with a metal fire engine toy.”
Image above: “Wood toggles and canvas are components of the handmade cushions by Caroline using vintage boat signaling flags as appliqués.”
Image above: “A 1950s cautionary street sign was a San Francisco vintage shop find. An industrial design classic by American Seating Co., the streamlined school chair dates back to the 1940s. The window blind was made from a portion of an Adelaide, Australia tram destination blind from the 1930s. A real ‘barn find,’ these were discovered in a hayloft in the Australian countryside and purchased for a trifle.”
Image above: “Caroline’s handmade cushions are made with vintage grain sacking.”
Image above: “A vintage school house chemistry lab stool used as a side table.”
Image above: “A simplified globe by Denoyer-Geppert, c.1950s is favoured for its two-tone palate
– a numerical transit bus number identifier sits in the background.”
Image above: “We have a vintage collection of mugs from the Boy Scouts of America (1970s); they have vibrant graphics and are virtually indestructible at the campsite.”
Image above: “An old canvas yacht club pennant acts as our ‘house flag’ as well as a handy window prop.”
Image above: “I built the timber daybed with convertibility in mind; quick release for complete removal or left in place without upholstery as a product display deck when Riley is in pop-up shop mode. The vintage suitcases tuck neatly beneath for stowage of our camping kitchenalia.”
Image above: “The antique shipping trunk in an unusual cube format sports a construct of leather, cane, canvas and brass, all with a wonderful patina and makers mark from Croydon, London. The C. M. initials are original and a happy coincidence. Placed alongside the settee, it acts as end table and blanket box. The vintage lamp has been wired into the bus’s 12 volt power system.”
Image above: The original bi-fold door actuator.
Image above: The magnetically secured window blinds made by Caroline have labels made by the same company that made her school uniform labels when she was a schoolgirl.