ISSUE 105  |  Editors' Picks: 2013

On the Road: A Makeover for a Maine Bus

January 03, 2014 6:00 PM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

An instant guest bedroom on wheels? That’s what Portland, ME-based architect Will Winkelman of Winkelman Architecture was asked to create from a 1959 Chevrolet Viking short bus.

Winkelman’s client was looking for maximum flexibility: transportation for group outings, a camper for family forays into the wilderness, and of course the invaluable extra guest bedroom. The finished design comes complete with plumbing, power, and a funky interior; being a guest was never more fun.

Above: The exterior of the 1959 Chevrolet Viking bus required extensive restoration, and a makeover from brown and white to mint green.

Above: A peek at the bus’s sleeping quarters.

Above: “The client envisioned a funky, hippy, Moroccan vibe,” says Winkelman. “To that end, it’s like we inserted an alternate life into the bus, a road not yet traveled. We took it back to the 1960s and rooted it there with beads, dangles, and paisleys.”

Above: A mixture of animal prints, paisleys, and Moroccan prints selected by Vince Moulton Interiors of Boston give the furnishings a funky sixties vibe.

Above: “For the interior millwork, we translated the design vision into an arts and crafts aesthetic,” Winkelman says. “Quarter-sawn white oak felt like the right fit: not exotic, not trying too hard. It wants to be finely crafted and is evocative of the era.”

Above: “The floor is salvaged heart pine to maximize durability, installed using the original surface of the resawn boards exposed to look like it has been there for half a century,” says Winkelman.

Above: A swing arm reading lamp.

Above: Table seating provides becomes passenger seating when the bus is used for group transportation.

Above: The single beds can be put together to make a queen-sized bed.

Above: “To transform the vehicle into a camper, we turned to the custom boat-building trade–an obvious source for beautifully crafted, uniquely shaped, and highly fitted work that is accustomed to utilizing every inch,” says Winkelman.

Above: “The mechanical aspect of the vehicular restoration was huge: rebuilding the frame and mechanicals from the chassis up, tailoring the components to the bus’s body, and keeping the feel, function, and features consistent with a vintage vehicle,” says Winkelman. “The bodyshop lifted the body off and tenderly restored it to its original self, sometimes fabricating replacement parts, sometimes sourcing salvaged parts on the web.”

Above: The bus in its original condition prior to its makeover.

Above: All aboard!

Looking for another creative guest bedroom idea? See An Instant Guest Bedroom–Made from Canvas. And for another eye-opening bus conversion, don’t miss Hank Bought a Bus.

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on October 4, 2012 as part of our North by Northwest issue.