National Parks pin and patch freelance artist converts a short school bus into a boho chic skoolie.

~School Bus Conversion By: Heidi Michele

~Photos By: Heather Jackson

~Interview By: Brock Butterfield

You may remember Heidi Miller from the Life In The Bus Lane documentary and her short appearance of when she was in the beginning stages of her short bus conversion. Now with the bus conversion nearly complete Heidi has already shown her bus at the Tiny House Living Festival stop in Portland summer 2017.

Professional photographer Heather Jackson was shooting Heidi's engagement photos and decided to take some of her skoolie as well. Enjoy the photos and be on the lookout for this school bus conversion to possibly show up on AirBnB just outside Eugene, OR.

Bus Specs:

-Make: Chevy

-Model: G30 Van

-Motor: Chevy 350

-Year: 1991

-Interior Square Footage: 80 sq ft

-Current Location: Oakridge, Oregon

-Purchased From/Location: Denver, Colorado

-Does your bus have a name? Valerie

-Cost in materials for the conversion: I'd say around $10k with bus purchase included.


Heidi enjoys tea inside her hippy chic short school bus conversion.

- What was the main goal and idea behind your school bus conversion?

I wanted to buy a house, but wasn't sure where I wanted to live yet, so my mom told me to buy a bus instead.


- What were the top three hardest things to learn with your short bus conversion?

1. Mechanical work (still learning)

2. Electrical (still learning and need to install)

3. Finding the bus in the first place and knowing what to get/ where to buy it from…. I probably bought the wrong one hehe oops! I found your blog on how to find school buses for sale after I had already purchased mine...

Heidi used cabinet "L" angle trim to conceal the wires running to her 12 volt Fantastic fan (above) and her LED Puck Lights (below). 

- What is the most unique part or feature of your skoolie?

Valerie's hippy chic or boho chic style as well as her bucket kitchen sink, the wood stove made from an old ammunition can and the custom boxed wine holder. 

 Kitchen faucet with a bucket sink.

Water foot pump for the kitchen sink. 

T coat hooks for holding mugs when parked and stationary. 

Heidi found this old lamp shade at a thrift store and turned it into a fruit basket. 

Custom built kitchen shelving, license plate utensil holder and a two burner propane Atwood RV stove. 



Folding table bracketsare a good way to conserve space but still have plenty of counter space when needed.

Who doesn't need a boxed wine cabinet in their skoolie? 


Kitchen storage and propane tank access. 


 Yes. That's a cute little wood stove made out of an ammunition case.

Copper piping spacers and license plates to deflect the heat. 

Secret hiding place!

-How do you make a living to support your bus life? 

I’m a graphic designer. I design pins and patches for the National Parks as a freelance contracted designer so it allows me to work from the road as I go and gain inspiration at National Parks year round. I also have my own design and product development business where I create pin maps, artisan trucker hats, earrings, patches, pins, buttons and tapestries of which I sell on Heidi Michele Design


Just some of Heidi's artisan trucker hats that she hand sews.

-When you say "pin maps" do you mean like those corkboard backed maps that people stick pins in?

Not exactly. They're whimsical canvas maps of the US that help you keep track of the pins from National Parks or other places you've visited. The small size has been the favorite of bus life and van life people.

One of Heidi's pin maps that she sells on her website.

-What have you learned about the bus life or skoolie community?

That the bus life community is AWESOME! I’ve definitely found my people. Everyone is so helpful and supportive. I've also noticed that a lot of us are choosing this lifestyle because we have the ability to work remotely or adapt and find work wherever we may end up. 

-What are the plans now for Valerie now that she is all finished?

She’s still not quite all the way done as I still have a little finish work to do. I was going to drive her around the country but being that she still needs mechanical work, she will sit in my backyard for now. I am going to place her on AirBnB this spring to give others in the Oregon area a chance to come and experience short bus life before they take the plunge.

Dining table with room for five. End of table also folds up.


Sheep skin from her parent's honeymoon to New Zealand.


National Park Service wood art from BAN Supply Co. out of Salt Lake City, UT.


 The Nature's Head Composting toilet stows away under the closet and can be slid out for use.


Hooks on the ceiling allows Heidi to hang privacy curtains and blankets.


The Fantastic Fan runs on 12 volts and provides air circulation for cooking in the kitchen as well as for the whole bus. 


 Shower curtain rods repurposed for book shelf.


The couch is also a bed that slides out when needed. 



 Reba sneaking a belly rub in during the photo shoot.

Look out AirBnB. Here comes a dreamy boho chic style short school bus ready for guests in Oregon.

-Where can we find more information on you and Valerie bus?


Instagram: @valeriebus and @heidi_michele_design