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Couple Transform American School Bus Into Luxury New Home, But Wait Till You See It Inside


Couple Transform American School Bus Into Luxury New Home, But Wait Till You See It Inside

Someone looking for excitement found an old American bus on eBay right at the start of the first lockdown. It would literally change the way they lived.

After nine months, the old, broken-down 70-seater bus is now stopped in the woods in west Wales. It has been completely turned into a tiny house that looks like it came from a glossy home magazine.

It looks less like a converted bus and more like a tiny house on the beach in the faraway. It has a full-sized bathroom, a cozy bed, and even a small, shiny coffee maker sitting on one of the polished wooden counters.

People who own the bus, which they affectionately call “Bluebird,” Talib Saleh and Chloe Massey, have worked hard on it out of love. They know a lot about the world because they are skilled photographers who love to travel. But they wouldn’t trade this one for anything in the world.

The couple, Talib (28), and Chloe (26), can live in a fancy house without a mortgage because they are both photographers and running their own camper van convert business.

Their motivation is easy: “We are inspired by the romantic but utterly achievable goal of living a sustainable and creative lifestyle whilst nurturing the different projects we are passionate about,” they state.

The best thing is that they can just start Bluebird’s engines and drive off when they’re ready for their next trip. That and the tiny but perfect wood stove that keeps them warm in the winter.

The bright orange bus is now a more muted off-white color, but for now it is staying put on a rented piece of land near the River Cleddau and farmland. This is just outside the small town of Lawrenny.

Due to the rainy weather in Wales, they had to figure out how to make enough solar power. Building their tiny house has also tested their patience.

Chloe said, “We’ve learnt the true meaning of hard work,” but they have turned “the carcass of a giant whale” into a cozy and beautiful tiny home. They met while they were both photography students at Middlesex University.

The photography class didn’t inspire either Talib, who is from Norfolk, or Chloe, who is from Somerset. They both quit and went their different ways. They fell in love when Talib went to London to see Chloe’s graduation show at the University of West England, which was only a few years later.

The couple started living a mobile life by traveling around Australia in a van that had been modified. They quickly realized that this was a way for them to live. Chloe said they were sold on the idea that they could “live and get lost in nature” by living in a camping van.

“Just three and a half years ago myself and Talib where working in Sri Lanka, driven by photographic story telling and an ambition to travel [and] to learn,” she said. “As professional photographers on the road we supplemented our living with exchanges, photographing for hotels, work-aways, cafes. We lived simply on a small budget.

“We made portraits of the people and landscapes we came across, especially in our travels in India and the Himalayas. When we arrived in Australia we made a little camper to live in. Even then we didn’t know how this concept and way of life would become such a huge part of our story.”

The couple has a great story. Their Instagram is full of pictures of beautiful, empty beaches, lush, green jungles, and the worn-out faces of people they met along the way. At this point, you might be thinking why they chose a Welsh forest when they have been to so many other beautiful places.

“We really did fall in love with Australia [and] we think about trying to settle there one day,” says Chloe. “I think mostly we came back because of this relentless curiosity we both share for the rest of the world and as photographers travelling and making projects will always be a big part of our life.

“We’ve always had dreams and ambitions but retrospect has revealed how we had to come back to create a successful business – our camper van conversion company, Indigo and Olive, which will now support us in so many ways.

“When we started our school bus conversion at the beginning of lockdown we knew that whilst we are in the UK we would love to be by the sea and Pembrokeshire has such a beautiful coast. We’re so grateful to have been welcomed so warmly here and can’t imagine living anywhere else in the UK now.”

The end on their tiny house is truly beautiful, and it’s amazing that they learned how to do everything on their own. The style isn’t cheap, though. “We knew we wanted to make a tiny home so we saved and paused the build to work at times,” explains Chloe.

“Our build was fairly expensive because we wanted to have it for a long time and we invested in good materials and appliances. Saying that, we probably spent what we would have done on a deposit for a house and we don’t have a huge mortgage to pay off.

“I think if you have access to certain resources you could build a tiny home cheaply- for example land, reclaimed or free materials and time to figure it all out.”

They are so good at what they do that they now make a living by turning tiny homes into homes through Indigo and Olive. Chloe said, “We are actually completely self-taught, each project has brought new challenges and required new skills, especially the bus.

“We learnt by watching videos, a lot of practising and my dad Mike has been so helpful as he’s a very handy chap. Luckily we’ve really taken to it and know these skills will enable us to do so many things we could have never dreamt of before.”

To work on different kinds of small home jobs all over the world. They will get back to the photography when they have time.

“We’ve definitely dedicated the last few years to our conversions- so this is our job at the moment,” adds Chloe.

“We still create work for fun and select clients but we really can’t wait to have some time for personal photographic work, it’s such a huge part of us both and we strive to find this balance soon.”

So is living off the grid, without a salary or a place to live, really as good as it sounds and looks? Chloe clarifies that it’s still a work in progress: “I think the truest thing to say is that we are living ‘our’ dreams whilst manifesting even bigger ones, to be able to say we had this huge goal and achieved it will be something we’re forever proud of.

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