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The Bus Conversion (way more challenging than I thought!)

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The Hyde and Chic MKE bus officially launched and I'm just now getting around to blogging about the conversion. If I had kept up with writing throughout the process you would have felt like you were on a roller coaster ride... because I was! On one day I would be doubtful, the next day I would be hopeful, the next day discouraged, the next day excited ... you get it.

I bought the bus in October 2017 in Michigan just a couple weeks before I was due to have Bridger. It's a 1999 Blue Bird bus that had been converted from an airport tarmac shuttle bus, to a motor home, to a motorcycle race bus. It had about 180,000 miles on the Cummins Diesel engine and Alison transmission. Then I thought I was going to have the conversion done by the time I was healed from my C-Section. Hah! What a joke!

This was the inside of the bus when I brought it home. I removed the TV, the metal storage bin, microwave, couches and table leaving it cleared out and ready for the transformation.

Let me start off by telling you about the steps in the process. I pretty much did everything back-assward as I like to call it. I had the inside of the bus painted first! (palm to the face) Why? Well, because I thought painting before the floors were put in was the best idea. And maybe it would have been had we not uncovered a MESS of issues under the original flooring.

Okay. So now the inside of the bus has a new, pretty,  bright white paint job which I would like to add, cost me an arm and a leg because the place that did the work completely screwed me over and they didn't even finish painting. I had to! 

Anyway, so then it was time to shop for flooring and have it installed, I found the perfect flooring. I have a vision board on Pinterest - a board of ... what I want my mobile to boutique to look like - and this flooring was it to a -T-! I was SUPER excited again.

To try and save some money because the paint job ended up being way more than I was quoted and had budgeted, I hired a handyman to rip out the old, original floors. That poor guy! He had such a hard time ripping up the vinyl floors. I'm not sure what glue Blue Bird used but I could have easily made a commercial for it. He got it all out and then started cutting out the old, original plywood, and ... we could see the tires of the bus from the inside. :'( That was a bad, bad day!

 

I took the bus into the shop and there were basically 2 options. The first was to just patch the floor and worry about it in a few years when it would need to be completely redone, or just suck it up and pay to have the flooring completely replaced. The estimate for this made me cringe but my hubby said, "do it right the first time or you'll regret it in the long run."

 

The metal subfloor is now pretty much brand new and will last for years and years because all the metal has a coating which will prevent it from rusting which caused all this trouble in the first place. I also bought the most expensive plywood there is. It's called Marine Board and basically it is a high grade plywood that is so durable it is what's used on ships.

Isn't it beautiful?? I LOVE how it turned out and the floor is super durable so I don't have to worry about snow, salt, rain, or mud ruining it.

So hindsight, the order of all that work should have been done differently but in my defense, I didn't know the metal and plywood subfloors were a train wreck so then this order would have been fine.

Now, the fun part but also the trickiest! The LAYOUT! I remember feeling like ... where do I even begin? How do I know how much space I need for clothing? And accessories? I have a sheet of paper somewhere that now looks like chicken scratch because it is covered with questions, dimensions, my vision. One thing I knew 100% with the layout, I didn't want it to feel cramped inside while shopping. No claustrophobic feelings. And it didn't want so much inventory that it felt cluttered. Open, airy, clean. Luckily, my hubby is artistic and began drawing out the vision blending what we both had in mind.

Once we had the layout, it was time to shop around to see what the options were. I first went to The Container Store because I love their high end custom closets. But as soon as I told the designer that it was a bus, NOPE! We won't install in something that moves. Okayyy. Next?

OH! And I took the bus back to The Container Store to organize all my extra inventory and the cashier casually says, "Did you know we NOW install in RV's?" A little late for me but I'm happy they changed their policy.

Next stop, California Closets.

Next!

I loved the idea of having the woodwork done by a carpenter but the word "custom" scared me because of how much I was worried it would cost. I lucked out and was referred to a guy who owns a woodworking business, hadn't been doing too much side work, and wanted to pick it up again. He had never done work on a bus before but he was willing to give it a shot.

The work was supposed to be done on February 1st but it didn't end up being completely finished until 2 days before the ribbon cutting and grand opening which was on March 1st. No bad feelings towards the carpenter because he did the work right! Besides, it was a constant learning process. There were countless times that we would realize something wasn't going to work so he would have to go back and figure out a solution. I told him a few times. "you're going to hate me but.." when I realized something I asked for wasn't going to work.

Isn't it BEAUTIFUL? There were other things being done this whole time too. The lighting was done in between the carpenter working on it. I also had a lighted vanity mirror installed in the fitting room. The seat is an old bus seat that I re-upholstered myself. I also covered all the windows on the driver's side with white film. And I purchased a cash-wrap that had to be put together.

The next part was by far the most fun for me! I got to go shopping for decor. I bought a fiddle leaf fig tree, cowhide rug, some pillows for the bus seat, a side table, and a curtain for the fitting room. I also picked up a few little knick-knack things to decorate the shelves with. I spent about a week shopping online and in stores and every single day that week I just felt like everything was beautifully falling into place. 

Then it was time to merch out the bus which hubby and I did after a couple glasses of wine one night because, ya know, wine gets the creativeness flowing. ;-)

Finally, ribbon cutting and grand opening time!!

When a customer steps onto the bus, I want her to feel like she's shopping in her friend's closet and I think we nailed it!

I LOVE how it looks. These are pictures from the grand opening celebration. Silly me thought I would have time to take pictures for this post but I had an average of 20 customers checking out per hour! (Yes, we popped a bottle of champagne when I got home!) So needless to say, I didn't have any time. Luckily there was a photographer who is doing a write up on Hyde and Chic MKE and these are some of her photos.

And I should add that the bus isn't 100% finished but it's no different than a house. It probably truly never will be because as soon as I finish one project, I'm sure I will find a new one to start. :-)

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