Because of a lot of research and effort, we found a bus that exactly met our criteria – completely liveable from Day 1 that we could potentially remodel as we went to make it our own. And remodeling, little by little, we have done.
It seems at almost every major stop in our journey, we’re making a little tweak here and there.
And this stop, has been no different.
This stop’s remodeling effort has been on some re-upholstery improvements.
First: The Valences
The fabric on the cushions and valences from the original conversion back in 1989 are actually in pretty phenomenal shape – like much of our bus. The coloring is obviously a bit faded, and not exactly our palettes of light blues and pinks. Our goal has been to morph the colors in the bus to something more us – which we’ve done by replacing the floors and countertops.
But the fabric remained.
We started playing around with colors by attaching sarrongs and scarfs to the valences, to see what worked for us.
It also gave the bus a bit of a gypsy feel inside – which was fun, for a while.
It was actually after taking this exact picture last January that we realized we had lived with the thrown together look for long enough.
That very afternoon we went to our nearest fabric store and bought some fabric to do a temporary recovering of the valences to get a more finished look.
I’m not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination – so I did my best to chop up the fabric into long strips, and attach them via straight pins on top of the existing fabric. It created a pretty nice look. And we really dug the funky circle pattern.
- The fabric was just a cotton quilting fabric, and it quickly started reminding us it was not the right material for the job.
- It was definitely an amateur install job. Strings from my scissor hacking would hang down and straight pins would pop out
- Somehow the section above the passenger chair had a bunch of pinhole size pricks in it. (Cat?? Nah, she’d never do such a thing.)
We have visited several fabric stores over the past months trying to find something as groovy looking however, and always came up short.
While we were parked in Melbourne, my mom has a talented crafty friend who said she would be happy to help us spiff up the interior a bit and do the valences correctly. So the hunt for the right fabric intensified.
My mother actually found something that showed some promise, and after having a large sample of it hanging up for a couple weeks – we were ready to commit.
Marie went to work measuring and sewing up nice edges.
And she spent a morning over with me getting it nicely stretched and stapled.
Thankfully, with the way the door angles at the top – we were able to slip the ~16′ long valence in through the ‘V’ when the door is open.
And I present you – our newly finished valences:
While we had the valences off, we also re-started our project of replacing the indirect lighting behind them. They’re currently three 48″ T12 flourscent fixtures, and the ballasts are going out. So we’ll be deteriming which is a better solution for us long term – installing LED lighting, or replacing the ballasts with more power efficient T8 flourscents.
Couch Wedgy Pillow Thing
Another project we engaged Marie’s help with was coming up with a solution for our couch.
Our couch is basically a sheet of plywood with a cushion on it, and a back wedge. The couch is on a drawer mechanism that slides out to be a usable single bed for an occasional guest. Or more often for us, as a snuggle area while watching movies across the way on the 27″ monitor, or a nap nook.
It’s fairly functional, but not as entirely comfortable as we’d like it.
We’ve contemplated everything from totally replacing the couch with a more traditional RV couch (problem being the wheel well underneath to work around) or re-covering it to be more stylish, while possibly adding another layer of cushion to it.
One of things that makes it uncomfortable is that there’s nothing to lean up against at the edge of the couch – leaving a pretty big gap between it and the driver’s seat. This always left us craving a big cushy ‘something’ to snuggle up against for reading a book, taking a snooze, surfing the iPad or watching a flick.
I found this bean bag cube dealie bopper on clearance earlier this year that fit pretty well into the space. For $12, it’s been a decent solution – but it definitely did not match the decor. It was also slightly too tall and lacked a bit of the ideal body-cradling shape we had in mind.
So, we did a lot of noodling around to come up with the measurements of our ideal shape – and Marie made us a custom pillow to fill the space.
It’s a huge improvement in both the comfort and look of the living space. It feels really good to have some finishing touches coming together. While the projects were kinda minor, like any project in a small space – they make huge impacts.
We’ll tackle the whole couch thing at a later date and decide if we recover it or replace it. Another project is replacing the passenger seat (and maybe the driver’s seat), as the fabric is just about to fall off it and it has a couple broken mechanisms. So we’ll start seeking out a RV surplus resource and look for something comfy, and maybe a couch will come our way too.
Want a re-cap of all our past bus projects? Here’s a link to the Bus Project Log.