I hope you’ve been enjoying our new Small Space Squad home tour series. Personally, I’m loving getting a glimpse into these homes — and getting their insight about living tiny! Next up, I interviewed Debbie Mayes from The Mayes Team. Trust me when I say this… this family is GOALS. They left their home, converted a school bus (aka a Skoolie) and moved their family of six into it!
Home Tour: Inside the Coolest Bus Conversion by The Mayes Team
Who: Debbie Mayes of The Mayes Team
Where: Redding, CA
Years spent living small: 18 Months
To start, tell me your story about how you ultimately ended up choosing a small space?
We were living in a 5000 sq ft house with Gabriel working multiple jobs, sometimes working until the early hours of the morning. We have always had someone living with us since we married 12 years ago. And we very much believed that our value was based on what we did. Things emotionally started to fall apart. We were both miserable and disconnected so realized we needed to change everything about our life. I saw a youtube video of Expedition Happiness on Facebook and instantly knew we would rock that lifestyle. Gabriel was a little skeptical, but we were both knew that we were supposed to head to California, so thought it would be the perfect way to reconnect as a family and head that way! We decided to live small to connect closer as a family and focus more on each other than stuff.
What is your biggest challenge in your small space?
The worst has been how poor the workmanship was, the builders that converted it told us they would fix all the problems, but after two months blocked our numbers and social media. There are many issues that still aren’t fixed. And the laundry is our biggest challenge about living in a small space! I have one day a week that I go over to a friends house to do it all and our overflow from the basket usually ends up in the bathtub!
What is your favorite part about living small?
The best thing is how connected our family has become. We used to find ourselves all spending time in different rooms of the house but now the kids read to each other in they bunks, go on biking adventures and we all curl up together on the couches and watch movies. Being in such a tiny space can be stressful but we have so much more opportunity to talk it through and connect.
What is your number one hack for living small?
I would just tell them to start. Don’t waste time worrying about what other people will think or if everything is perfectly planned. We get so many emails from people who are miserable with their current life and want to do something similar and there is always a BUT (well paying job they can’t leave, family that disagrees, etc.). If you are unhappy with where you are at, you are only ONE decision away from changing everything and you will feel so much freedom when you start living your life the way YOU feel called to live it! Sometimes starting can just mean minimizing what you already have, or not living beyond your means… taking any step in that direction will get your momentum going. You don’t have to make a sudden big leap like we did!
Do you ever feel pressure to be “minimalistic” or feel guilty about buying things you don’t “need” for your home?
In our large house we felt the pressure to fill it with lots of stuff, but in a small space we want to only stick to high quality things that we know bring us joy. There is no longer any pressure for us, we have made this our lifestyle and things are much calmer. We have much more of an appreciation for the things that we do have so we only buy things to either replace items that are broken/damaged or because we really love it. If there is something we really need we get it and do not feel guilty about it.
What have you learned about yourself by living small?
It’s completely changed us. Life is so much simpler now. Stuff is not as important to us, we spend much more time outside or having fun experiences as a family. We are much more in tune with our emotions and the emotions of the other members of our family. We are using this time to get out of debt and save money so that we can build our forever home.
What’s your number one storage hack?
Take things out of the boxes and put them in storage containers that fit neatly in your space. Food packaging especially takes up so much space!
Who is your biggest small space inspiration?
The first people who inspired us were Expedition Happiness and I felt really passionate about creating a bus that looked like something from Dwell magazine, which we had not seen before. @Skoolie_com and @navigationnowhere on Instagram both have amazing bus conversion information. And my favorite podcasts are by Brooke Castillo and Brendon Burchard for life coaching.
What do your friends and family say about your choice to live small?
Our friends and family have been very supportive of our decision. They know it is not forever but they honor us for taking the leap and believing in ourselves.
Stay tuned for even MORE Small Space Squad Home Tours!
Photography by The Mayes Team, used with permission.
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