We haven’t shown this area much, throughout the conversion. This is the bunk room, affectionately called Americana (you will see why, in a while). Each of the bunks are 6’2″ long and accommodate 30″ wide mattresses I purchased a couple of years ago. I originally wanted to use all of the space under the bottom bunks for storage, but when we were evaluating where to put the furnaces, this ended up being the perfect stop for the back furnace (I am sure we will be happy to have heaters in both our bedroom and the bunk room. The idea, is to run one of the vents to come out under this bunk and the other one to go through the wall and out through the bottom of the closet in the Master Suite.

I would have finished the bunks up last summer, but the fact that we had a window that wouldn’t go up without falling apart made me nervous. It leaked water through there sometimes and I didn’t want to get all of the beds in, just to have to rip them all out at some point. I purchased some new windows, only to find that they didn’t fit. And the Blue Bird dealer that is near us, didn’t carry any that would. I was feeling really discouraged. Aaron came to my rescue last fall, when I told him why I was procrastinating on putting the bunks together. We bought some silicone and he cut out the old stuff and replaced it with the new stuff. He even took the window across the way out and repaired it, as well. Made me feel so loved!

I loved the way the bead board had turned out in the dining area. And since I had decided to go with the stained wood look throughout most of the bus, instead of whitewashing it all (which had been my original plan back in 2010), I decided to whitewash Americana. I cut some bead board to go over the covered/sealed windows and to cover the wall.

As you can see, it had quite a few holes in it….I tried to cut around these, where I could and filled in what I couldn’t. Hey, couldn’t beat spending $2 for a sheet of bead board that would normally cost around $30!

I installed the bead board with some liquid nails  and a nail gun, then used the clamps to hold in place in areas where it was pulling away.

After both sides were done, I began building the frame for the bottom bunk, using mostly 2x2s, with some 2x4s.

I had Ethan help me with this part.

Then we attached some pieces of oak (the ones I found online for free) on both ends, both sides.

(I know, a lot of pictures, but for those who are visual learners, like myself, you will appreciate it).

I painted the wood and began on the walls. I had been toying with the idea of doing some sort of map on the ceiling, since the beginning of the conversion, but I wanted it to be where the kids could look at it frequently and still not have it get ruined. I love collages, maps, and color. So, I decided to create some sort of art work on each of the walls, that would incorporate each of those elements. We had decided which kids would be sleeping where and I asked each of them where they wanted to visit in the USA over the next few years.

Jamin said California (despite the fact that we have been there many times already). Ethan wants to go by New York (to see the statue of liberty) and Virginia (Mt Vernon for Washington’s home and Monticello for Jefferson’s home).  Luken said he wanted to visit the Alamo. And since the other bunk is technically for Alex, I thought it would be fun to see the area that was the inspiration for The Wizard of Oz (her first name is Dorothy). I divided the four bunks into four regions of the USA (West, Midwest, South, East). I used the maps out of a 2 year old auto atlas and another that was from who knows when.

I added the front-side pieces on, using screws, glue, and braces. Then I used some more of the FREE oak to create the supports across the front.

And added the fronts for the top bunks (1×6 boards), attaching them with L brackets and screws.

All the while, working on the collages. I used Modge Podge to attach the maps and scrap paper. Then applied 6 coats over the top of each collage. I think they are pretty safe from damage.

I attached the bottom fronts to both sides, using some nice ply wood scraps I had left over from walls in other parts of the bus.

I taped off the collages and prepared to paint the wood white.

I was going to use the wood directly under the mattresses, to have access underneath, but when I saw these small doors at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for $1 each, I figured they would work so much better (I made sure to make the frame, so that it would work with the doors).

(One of the many gifts from my little Nature Girl….it dried out beautifully in the warm bus, as I was working on the bunks.)

I know, random.

I measured out and traced the area where I needed to cut for the doors, drilled some starter holes….

and cut….

both holes, for the under bunk storage area. Then, I sanded the dickens out of the wood!

I found a can of flat white paint for $5 and applied 2 coats of paint to all of the remaining wood and the doors.

I distressed the wood and used the antiquing gel (still have half of a can to use on all of my other projects around the house).


Here is a close up of MY favorite collage, the one where both Aaron and I have our places of birth, right next to each other.

We tried to get as many locations of our relatives as we could. Walla Walla, Washington is especially special to us. It is one of the stops in our first trip around the USA as a family. We are excited to finally get a chance to visit Aaron’s brother and family in their hometown. Can’t wait!

And we couldn’t forget Laguna Beach, our family’s beach. Miss that place so much, especially this time of year!

We have family in Ohio and plan on visiting them in a few years.

Here is a close-up of the brackets we used for the fronts of the face of the top bunks. I used screws, nails, liquid nails, and brackets. I think it is safe to say, the supports aren’t moving (I did make it so that we could take it all apart with a screw driver and rubber mallet, in the event of an emergency or if someone wanted to use this area for something entirely different).

Did I mention that I LOVE the way the wash turned out?

The bead board, before and after antiquing.

It adds so much depth and character to an otherwise plain and bland area. I do love plain white, but with kids using this area, I knew it would never stay completely white. Antiquing and distressing is my way of taking away a lot of anxiety.

I had a small piece of laminate left over from the piece I purchased for the bathroom floor. I cut it up to place in the under bed storage (which is where we are storing all of the kids’ shoes, by the way).

Americana step 48

I let Liahona (the name of our bus, for those of you who didn’t already know) sit for a year, because I promised myself I would focus on our home and yard this Summer. Once it began getting cold, I finally went out, to see what we could do to finish up the area. I had Aaron cut the base boards for each of the bunks. It was pretty tricky, getting them in with the frame already in place, but I wanted to be able to remove part of the frame, if we ever had a leak in the wall, without removing the entire thing. I know, it is strange. But Aaron was a good sport and didn’t give me too much grief over my crazy ideas.

Americana step 39

I found these leftover pieces of oak, painted them, and attached them under the base on the window sides. I screwed them into the frames in between the windows and used the nail gun and liquid nails in the area on top of the bead board (because there is still glass behind there). Then I used a couple of L brackets, for reinforcement.

Americana step 40

Voila! And you can see that we took this time to load all of the materials for the rest of the conversion. There is some foam board for the bottom window of the back door, wood for a wall, and a couple of boxes of the hard wood flooring….oh, I am hoping to get to all of it next summer. I am in the process of figuring out a way to finance it right now.

Americana step 41

I still need to clean off the numbers that the previous driver made for marking seating. But that can wait.

Americana step 47

Here is a close up of the electrical splendor in each bunk. I designed it so that everyone could be in their own space and still have access to a light for reading and outlets for charging their devices. We were so grateful to have Rich and his wonderful family stay with us last Summer, while he worked on the electric for us. So thankful to have found all of the new lights for pennies on the dollar. What a blessing!

Americana step 42

You can see that we drilled holes in the bottom bunk bases, to be able to lift them up, should we need to repair the furnace (and for when I run the vents) or get into this area for any other reason. Even though I am done for this season, I have plans to paint a beautiful waving flag on one of the top bunk boards and an eagle on the other…. this is Americana, after all.

Americana step 43

Here is another view of the brackets for the top bunk. Most of the hardware will be hidden by mattresses, when they are put in.

Americana from front of bus

And here is the view from the front of the bus. We cleared all of the tools out and into the garage, vacuumed, and gave her a little wipe down. And Liahona is hibernating….until next Spring.

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