Jennifer Lorton is a fine artist, and for the past year she has been living and working on her converted 1992 Ward school bus wherever it may take her. It’s cozy at 89 square feet, a term that Jennifer was often using while it was being converted to reassure herself that she could make such a small space work. The name fit, and her bus is now lovingly referred to as “Cozy.” What Cozy may lack in extra space she makes up for with ease of parking and maneuvering, being efficient, and even having a “French door,” as Jennifer refers to the former ramp door. Jennifer loved the idea of having a “skoolie,” which is what they call converted school busses, and she especially wanted it to come with “eyelashes” (the headlights that have shields on them), because why not?
When Jennifer began converting the bus, it had an all-pink interior which had to be painted white per Jennifer’s inspiration of Hygge style. The seats and lift were removed, insulation was added, and it took another four months for Cozy to be ready for full-time living. “I wanted the space to be as open, airy, comfortable, and as functional as possible. To achieve this I kept the colors light, and kept sight-lines unobstructed. I incorporated a lot of texture, repurposed materials (palette wood, vintage doors, etc.), and natural materials (birch wood branches) to keep the space comfortable and not at all sterile.” Amazingly, Jennifer said that most of the work she did was during the Las Vegas summer: “I’ve never sweated so much in my life! It was also really rewarding and I’m so happy with my tiny home. I would like to give a shout-out to friends and family members that pitched in, and helped me to make it happen!”
The process of creating a home out of the bus thankfully lent itself well to Jennifer’s talents. “I’m a fine artist currently working with mixed media painting. For many years I worked with interior designers, painting murals and doing color consulting, primarily on large residential and commercial projects. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed dabbling with almost every type of art and craft. Teaching art is another one of my passions. I love watching my students gain the confidence to express themselves through creativity, and like my students, this bus project offered me this same opportunity. It was a real learning process, but I loved the creative expression that it offered me. I look forward to doing another bus someday soon.”
Jennifer truly wanted to be able to have a live/work space that was mobile. That meant that storage and supplies all had to be able to withstand the jostling of life on the road. As you’ll read, Jennifer has lots of tips for small-space living and creating storage was key. One of the most important storage areas of the bus is under Jennifer’s bed; she can also conveniently access this space from the back door.
Jennifer says that people are typically pretty shocked when they hear that she lives on a school bus, and even more so when they step inside and realize how cozy her home is! It’s been a year and the only update left is possibly adding a tiny wood stove (she currently has a propane one) down the line, but Jennifer and her rescue cat Furgus couldn’t be happier! —Rebekah
Image above: “Cozy the skoolie in the forest. The freedom to relocate, on a whim, or with the seasons, is one of the biggest advantages to living in a bus. To illustrate that, I painted a dandelion on the bus to symbolize breezing from place to place, and making wishes come true,” Jennifer explains.