Skoolie Floor Plans That Everyone Will Love
What is the most important decision when considering converting a school bus into a skoolie? Many may argue it is the length, make, and model of the school bus itself. Some may want you to believe it is the engine and transmission combination. Others still will tell you it is the price and condition of the bus. Skoolie Floor plans should be at the top of your list here.
For us, our biggest decision was the layout or floor plan of our skoolie. We researched a ton of skoolie floor plans before we decided on our own layout. The greatest feature of doing your own school bus conversion is designing it and making it your own!
We incorporated some really good ideas from some other skoolies we found on YouTube. The thing we loved most about our skoolie is that we designed some unique features of our own!
How Much Room Will You Have?
One common question we hear a lot from those who are wanting to build their own skoolie, is “How much room do I have to work with?”
You have a dedicated amount of space between the entry door and the back panel of the rear door or engine cover. No more, no less.
Depending on the size of the skoolie you purchase, the amount of square footage to build your custom skoolie will vary. As a point of reference, here are the approximate square footage of a few different-sized skoolies.
Bus Size Length Width Square Footage
4 windows 20 ft 7.5 ft 150 Sq. Ft
7 windows 25 ft 7.5 ft 187.5 sq. ft
11 windows 32 ft 7.5 ft 240 sq. ft *
13 windows 40 ft 7.5 ft 300 sq. ft
These figures are taking into account that you have purchased a dog-nosed skoolie. The exception above is the 11 window bus. Those figures are based on a flat-nose skoolie which is what our bus was.
So, as you can see, your area for build-out is indeed tiny! Your tiny house on wheels, however, can be as custom, basic or elaborate as your skills and imagination can build.
Now, let’s briefly discuss some of the areas or items in your skoolie floor plan that are must-haves.
The Must-Haves of a Skoolie Floor Plan
Before you even begin to lay down the subfloor in your new skoolie, you have to do some serious planning. Trust us on this one.
Going into a skoolie build without a detailed plan can make for some very frustrating workdays. Not to mention, it can become costly when you have to “re=do” some of the work.
Whether you are planning on living and traveling full time in your skoolie, or just using it as a weekend or occasional get-a-way camper, having the essential areas or “rooms” in your skoolie is essential for maximum enjoyment.
Here is a shortlist of the non-negotiable must-haves in your skoolie floor plan.
A Place to Sleep
Even if you are only planning on using your skoolie home for weekends or occasional trips, you have to have a place to recharge and get a good night’s sleep.
Depending on your family and relationship dynamics, you can have as many beds as you need. Also, you can have a king or smaller size bed inside your skoolie.
Considering most skoolies are 7.5’ wide, which is 90 inches, and a king-sized mattress is only 76 inches wide, it is possible to accommodate a king-sized mattress in your bus.
We have seen some skoolies that have used the sofa as a bed as well. This can be utilized as the main bed if you are a single traveler, or a spare bed for the occasional guest.
Regardless of how many people are going to be traveling in your skoolie or where you decide to place the bed(s), you need a comfortable and dedicated place to sleep.
A Place to Go To The Bathroom
Sometimes, you don’t know when the urge is going to hit you. You may be driving down the road, miles from the closest exit and there are other travelers all around you.
You can’t simply pull over and hop out of your skoolie and do the deed on the side of the road. Unless, of course, you want to risk getting arrested for indecent exposure.
If you are parked on some BLM and there aren’t other campers anywhere around you, then no worries, pop a squat or whip it out anywhere and go go go.
The thing is, when it’s time to go, you don’t want to hesitate or be stressed about safely and cordially going number 1 or number 2.
Having a dedicated toilet in your skoolie is as important as having a bed, a place to store your food, and a driver’s seat. It is one of the “must-haves” of a skoolie floor plan.
Where and how you build and install the bathroom of course is up to you! There are so many different options for having a toilet/bathroom that there really is no excuse to have one for your own convenience and safety.
Check out this blog post I wrote on the different toilet options. Whether it is in a van, skoolie, or traditional RV, it all applies here.
It really isn’t as complicated as you might think. Don’t ever think it. Just choose a bathroom and build it. If it is built and installed properly, there should be no funky or unpleasant smells, and no one would ever know you have a dedicated toilet in your skoolie.
A Place to Prepare Your Meals
Who gets hungry?
We all do!
Who likes to eat?
We all do!
Now, where are you going to store and prepare all of those yummy skoolie meals?
In the kitchen of course!
Just because you have decided to live in a tiny house on wheels, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice having a gourmet kitchen at your disposal.
Your gourmet kitchen is just maybe a tad bit simpler than that of Wolgang Puck’s kitchen.
Here is what you need for a skoolie kitchen.
A place to store food.
Okay, so, you need a cabinet or a pantry to store some dry goods that do not need to be refrigerated. Make it as big or small as your appetite and dietary needs dictate.
Keep in mind how long between grocery store visits you’d like to take, to determine the amount of storage needed.
Be sure to have a dry, cool place to keep fresh fruits and vegetables. Many people opt for a hanging fruit or vegetable basket or net. It keeps your produce cool and out of the way.
Now, whether you choose or not to have a refrigerator, keeping some foods cold may or may not be a priority to you.
Having a refrigerator in our skoolie was non-negotiable. The3 thing with our refrigerator, we ended up getting one much larger than we actually needed.
Choosing to live tiny is a process. Thinking you need more refrigerators than you actually do is something most nomads come to realize.
A place to prepare the food.
You want to give yourself an ample amount of countertop space to prepare your food for cooking and eating.
This may be a dedicated kitchen counter or it may be an area you plan to use for eating, like a dinette, or work/office space.
The great thing about living tiny in a skoolie is that you can have multi-use areas for different purposes.
Don’t forget that you have an area outside of the skoolie for meal prep as well as cooking if you have a portable propane stove.
Speaking of cooking, how do you prepare to cook your food? Do you plan on using an oven and stovetop that runs on propane?
Perhaps you will use an induction stovetop that runs off 110v electricity.
A very popular choice is a Coleman or Camp Chef stovetop/oven combo. This type of stovetop can be used inside or outside of the skoolie. It is portable and quick to set up.
A Place to Relax
After a long day of reading, swimming, hiking, and doing whatever it is that you are planning on doing while living the skoolie life, you need a place to chill and relax at the end of the day.
To us, one of the greatest things about owning a skoolie and designing your own skoolie floor plan is you can make it any way you like it!
Most people have a sofa to lounge on when they are not out adventuring. The sofa, with a lagun table, can instantly transform your living and lounge space into your office for remote working or a kitchen dinette area.
Just a few feet away is your bed which makes for an ideal lounge in your skoolie. Sit up and work on the laptop, watch tv or read a good book.
Some people prefer to spend most of their time lounging outside of the bus. If you have installed an awning on your skoolie, then some time in the shade in a comfortable lawn chair just might be the ticket.
We built an 8’ x 10’ deck on top of our skoolie and then could anchor a 5’ x 5’ clamshell screen tent to it. Basically, we had a rooftop screened-in porch. It was great for warm days.
*PICTURE OF ROOFTOP CLAMSHELL*
We sat up high to catch a cool breeze and the view was great! No sun in our eyes and no bugs to pester us!
The point is, you need someplace to unwind, relax and ponder on life’s many mysteries. Whether it is somewhere cozy inside of your skoolie or somewhere outside, make it happen!
A Place to Store Things
Yes, living tiny and storing shit from your childhood seems counterproductive! The very idea of living tiny can send some people into an anxiety tailspin of worrying about what to do with all of their stuff.
The thing is, you are going to have “stuff” and you need a place to put your “stuff”. Planning and designing your skoolie floor plan to incorporate those necessary as well as precious items is a big part of your build.
One of the mistakes we made when we designed and built some of the storage in our skoolie was the ease of accessibility. Just because there is an 8” x 8” crevice underneath your bed, doesn’t mean you should use it to store something.
Unless of course, it is easy to get to. Make sure you have easy access to all of your storage areas. Otherwise, you will either forget you have stored the item or just let it sit because it is such a pain to get to it.
Another mistake we made when building storage in our skoolie was allowing and incorporating enough airflow.
Skoolies can build up a good bit of condensation. Depending on how powerful your heating and cooling unit may be, the air outside of the skoolie and the air inside of the skoolie must be within a few degrees. Otherwise, condensation will develop.
If you have not allowed for enough airflow to move throughout your storage areas, be prepared for a mess of mold and mildew. We learned that the hard way.
We can offer this advice from first-hand experience. Only take along what you normally and regularly use. Either sell, give away or store anything you have not used within the last 6 months.
It seems very difficult to do, but trust us, you really aren’t going to miss anything.
The 5 Most Common Skoolie Floor Plans
Today, we are going to discuss five different skoolie floor plans. These floor plans can be modified to fit your specific family’s needs or desires.
- The Traditional Skoolie Floor Plan
- The Off Center Skoolie Floor Plan
- Skoolie Floor Plan with Bunk Beds
- Short Skoolie Floor Plan
- Open Floor Plan vs Closed Floor Plan
Let us know what your favorite skoolie floor plan is by commenting at the end of this post.
Traditional Skoolie Floor Plans
The traditional skoolie floor plan is a very basic and functional floor plan. It incorporates a semi-open floor plan.
As you enter the skoolie from the entry door and steps, you immediately see a sofa, typically behind the driver’s seat. This sofa, depending on the length of your skoolie, would sit around 3-4 people.
Directly across from the sofa would be the kitchen counter. An RV sink with a foot pedal water pump. Underneath the kitchen counter will be drawers and a cabinet for storage as well as a dormitory-style refrigerator.
For meals, look for a Coleman one or two-burner countertop stove. These are very versatile and can be used inside or outside your bus.
The Off-Center Floor Plan
One of our favorite skoolie floor plans is the off-center floor plan. Basically, instead of having a straight aisle down the center of your bus, the aisle or walkway is on the left or right side of the bus.
This floor plan breaks up the flow and has a very home or RV feel to it. We really like this floor plan because it isn’t used as much. It does require a bit more planning when considering weight distribution.
Skoolie Floor Plans with Bunk Beds
If you are planning on traveling with kids, then they are going to need somewhere to sleep. One of the most popular sleeping accommodations for kids is to build bunk beds into your build.
Not only does this save lots of floor sp[ace, but it creates a quiet and personal place for your kids to have as their own.
We have some friends who travel with their adult daughter and father-in-law. The daughter and father-in-law have bunk beds and it works out great for them!
So, even if you are not traveling with kids, but with other adults, bunk beds are a great way to conserve that precious floor space as well as create a quiet and private space as well.
Short Skoolie Floor Plans
When considering living and traveling in a short skoolie bus, your floor plan doesn’t really change all that much. The things you build within that floor plan just become smaller or shorter.
Instead of having a 7’ sofa and a 7’ kitchen countertop with a king-sized bed, you will likely have to settle for a 4-foot sofa and a queen size bed at the most.
Open Floor Plan vs Closed Floor Plan
We designed the floorplan of our bus with the idea of our Starry Starry Night ceiling in mind.
We knew that we wanted to be able to lay in our bed at night and look up at the stars no matter what time of day or what kind of weather we were having.
By eliminating the walls around our bedroom, we made our bus feel so much bigger.
The open floor plan is our favorite just because it made our space seem so much bigger than what it was.
We built our bathroom and refrigerator walls at the front of the bus. This allowed us to add an interior entry door that not only keeps them cool and hot air separated from the cockpit but also added an additional level of security.
Don’t Forget These Items When Designing Your Skoolie Floor Plan
There are some very important parts of your skoolie floor plan that all too often get overlooked
It’s usually the most common and everyday things that we do not accommodate until after the build is complete.
Here is a list of the most common items overlooked and forgotten about when designing a skoolie floor plan.
Whether you have one pair or lots of pairs. You need to have a dedicated space to store as well as take off your shoes. Especially if you come in from a hike and have muddy or snowy boots on.
Where do you plan on putting your trash? This is something we didn’t think about until we moved in. We ended up using plastic bags attached to a hook underneath our sink.
It is something you are going to be using every single day, so plan on putting it in a common and central location.
This is another thing we didn’t think about until our build was complete. Depending on your level of activity, how much you sweat, and how you plan on getting your laundry cleaned, this could be a very important part of the floor plan to consider.
Ideally, you could wash your laundry every couple of days, that way the space and the odors would not build up.
It doesn’t matter if you are going to be harboring 200 watts of solar, or if you just plan on utilizing a 30amp RV hookup, you are going to have to house your electrical equipment somewhere.
Surprisingly, the electrical components to run even the simplest skoolie can take up a good bit of space. It is a good idea to make a model of your electrical set up so you can plan a central and easily accessible space on your skoolie.
Don’t forget plenty of airflow for these areas. The more electricity you have, the more heat it is going to generate.
Don’t think you are going to travel and live in a skoolie without carrying around a decent set of tools! A good socket set with standards and metrics. A solid set of metric and standard wrenches up to 1.5” head. Alan wrenches, a screwdriver with a bit set, and a wrench or two. Did I mention an adjustable wrench as well?
Keep in mind a place to store all of these tools when designing your schoolie’s floor plan.
Even if you aren’t planning on being in a cold or freezing environment, having your freshwater tank on the inside of your bus is a good idea. It is much less likely to have damage to it or unwanted creatures trying to access your water supply.
We kept our freshwater tank under our bed. This was a good spot for us because it was out of sight, but accessible if we needed to get to it.
Hot Water Heater:
Do you plan on having hot water in your skoolie? If you are, then you need to accommodate a space for it. That space will dictate whether you are using a traditional hot water tank or a tankless instant hot water heater.
The tankless hot water heater may make things a bit more complicated. Even if you use a ventless instant hot water heater with gas, you still need to give it ample clearance due to off-heating.
Even if you are using a small electric hot water heater, they take up more space, so plan accordingly.
Skoolie floor plans are the one part of your skoolie build that requires lots of thought and planning.
You probably already had a good idea of how you want to design the floor plan of your skoolie. Hopefully, you have a little more insight as to some of your options and some of the things most people overlook.
Whatever design you come up with for your skoolie build, don’t be afraid to try something you have never seen before and make it your own.
We’d love to hear what you have done or planning to do with your skoolie floor plan. Leave a comment, we look forward to connecting with you!