In 2019, Kels Cuddy and Jay Percival finished renovating a 202-square-foot school bus named Bessy.
In 2020, they moved into the skoolie. But when problems piled up, they renovated it again.
The transformation included everything from fresh paint to new counters. Here’s how the bus changed.
In January, Jay Percival, 25, and Kels Cuddy, 26, hit a milestone: The couple reached the one-year mark of living in their 202-square-foot school bus named Bessy.
Their skoolie adventure started in 2019 when the couple purchased, gutted, and renovated a 2001 retired school bus.
Kels and Jay told Insider that their experience has been filled with adventure, but it’s not without challenges.
“We learned so much about ourselves, how to work together, and all these skills,” Jay told Insider.
They’ve also learned that the smallest of problems can become major annoyances when a home is so tiny.
After spending less than a year on the bus, they recognized some major changes the bus needed – fresh paint, comfortable furniture, and more storage.
So they decided to completely renovate their school bus to make it more livable. Here are the biggest regrets they fixed.
After just 11 months living on the skoolie, Kels Cuddy and Jay Percival decided the bus needed a renovation.
Jay told Insider he always dreamed of living and traveling in a renovated school bus, and Kels was easy to convince.
So in 2019, they purchased a 2001 retired school bus and completely gutted and renovated the vehicle themselves.
In January, the couple set out on their journey.
By November, the couple decided it was time to re-renovate. They spent five days completely transforming Bessy.
The couple had a handful of reasons why they wanted to do a mini-renovation so early into their skoolie adventure.
First, Jay was itching for a project.
“I just love building. Give me a project and I’m like the happiest guy alive,” Jay said
Second, a list quickly formed of things the couple wanted and needed to fix. Whether it was an uncomfortable couch or missing storage baskets, the couple told Insider that small issues became major annoyances in their tiny space.
“I think when you’re living in such a small space, every square foot is so valuable,” Kels told Insider. “We really just reevaluated.”
They took a pit stop in California and decided to make some major and minor changes to their bus Bessy.
They estimate they spent $800 on the renovation.
“It was such a drastic change for such a low budget,” Kels said. “I think it’s more ‘us’ than it originally was. It feels more comforting and more like home now.”
BEFORE: The bus featured bright white paint.
When Kels and Jay did their original school bus renovation, Bessy featured a bright white coat of paint.
Quickly, the couple noticed how dirty the walls were getting.
“The white did not stay white for long,” Kels said in the couple’s YouTube video about the renovation.
Any bit of dirt would leave a lasting mark, so the couple was ready for a change.
So they gave the interior an entirely new color scheme.
AFTER: Kels and Jay decided to go with a darker color that would hide any blemishes.
The couple discussed paint colors and decided on black, which would hide any blemishes on the walls.
Kels said they were initially hesitant to use such a dark color, but that they’re thrilled with the final look.
Now, the bus features dark cabinets and dark paneling. Jay said he loves the contrast of the bright, colorful outside with the darker, cozy interior.
“Even just a slap of paint makes a huge difference,” Jay said. “It feels like a completely new space.”
BEFORE: The couple opted for an L-shaped couch.
In the first renovation, the skoolie featured an L-shaped couch. Quickly after moving in, the couple noticed that the couch just didn’t work for them.
They said there wasn’t enough space for both of them to fit, and as a result, they rarely used the living room of their bus.
The couple decided it was silly for a huge area of their home to go unused, so they opted for an upgrade.
AFTER: They replaced the couch with one that transforms into a bed.
Jay and Kels opted for an affordable Ikea couch that was comfier and larger.
A massive bonus of the new couch is that it can fold down into a bed. This design gives them room to spread out, and now guests can stay on their skoolie overnight.
“We made the whole area more livable,” Kels said. “It’s just more comfortable now, and it really makes a huge difference.”
BEFORE: A Pinterest-inspired cork board quickly became a hassle.
A Pinterest-inspired cork board said near the sink in the kitchen of the bus.
Kels said she loved the look, but every time the couple moved locations, they had to take everything off the cork board so it wouldn’t fall while driving.
“It was such a nuisance,” Kels said.
While it looked cute, the couple ultimately didn’t think it was worth keeping.
AFTER: Functionality overruled design, and spice racks were added.
Kels said it can be easy to get distracted by beautiful and trendy things, but, ultimately, those things need to have a purpose.
“Sometimes you have to find a happy medium between Pinterest-worthy and functional,” Kels said.
So they replaced the annoying cork board with shelving that fits their spices perfectly. Now, there’s nothing they have to move when prepping to drive.
“It’s just one less thing you have to worry about,” Kels said.
BEFORE: They had a mini fridge that sucked up a lot of energy.
In their kitchen area, the couple initially added a mini fridge that sucked up a lot of power.
They said the old fridge drained their batteries and couldn’t fit all the food they needed for their household.
When looking for a different option, they found a fridge and freezer combo that would add seating to their living area.
AFTER: They added a new fridge that conserves energy and functions as extra seating.
The couple decided to replace their old fridge with a fridge that had more storage and better energy usage.
This design now serves a dual purpose. Iit keeps their food cool, uses less energy, and they can also use it as a bench for seating.
This small addition to their living room has helped the area become more livable.
BEFORE: See-through curtains were their only privacy from the outside world.
A bus has tons of windows, and Jay and Kels initially added sheer curtains to their home.
After living on the road for a bit, they realized they wanted more privacy and the curtains weren’t cutting it.
So they purchased blinds.
AFTER: The couple found affordable, opaque blinds.
The $6 blinds from Ikea made a huge difference, Kels said.
“It’s just nice to have more privacy if you want,” she said.
BEFORE: Food would move inside the cabinets and come tumbling out after a drive.
Previously, the couple didn’t have a way to keep their upper cabinet doors open.
Additionally, there weren’t storage containers, so when they’d travel, food would move around.
Kels said this often resulted in food flying out of the cabinets.
“When you’re building a bus or a house that moves, you don’t really think about those things until you start living in it and realizing how annoying it is to deal with,” Kels said.
AFTER: An affordable hinge can make all the difference.
In their recent renovation, the couple added simple storage containers and cheap hinges to solve the problem. These simple solutions became Kels’ favorite part of the entire renovation.
While they recognize it isn’t a huge change, they both stressed how huge small changes can feel.
The hinge helps keep the cabinet open, and now the storage prevents everything from moving during a drive.
BEFORE: A heavy countertop added unnecessary weight to the bus.
Jay explained how he initially had an idea of having a countertop that seamlessly connected with the couch.
But the wood countertop he landed on “just didn’t work,” he said.
It cracked down the middle and weighed a lot, so when the couple was discussing changes, they decided a new countertop was a must.
AFTER: They replaced it was an easy-to-clean laminate countertop.
The new countertop looks like stone, but in reality, it’s laminate and light.
Kels also added that the new countertop is much easier to clean.
With the fixes, the couple said the bus feels more like a home.
The couple told Insider they’re thrilled with the new look and feel of their skoolie.
“Everyone’s different. You kind of just have to feel it out and see what works for you,” Kels said.
Read the original article on Insider