Small Space Living That Inspired Our Van Conversion - a converted railway carriage

Inspirational small space living

Over the past few years we’ve spent some lovely holidays in small spaces. Two places in particular – a converted railway carriage, and a converted hay trailer – have inspired my ideas for the Baby Bus renovation.

As we finally (finally!) get closer to actually creating our interior living space, these two places are popping up more and more in my thoughts. I have gleaned many ideas for how to use our space, both creative and practical.

One room living in a converted railway carriage

Small Space Living That Inspired Our Van Conversion - a converted railway carriage

For the last two years in January we have spent a long weekend staying in a converted railway carriage in Wales. As the New Year rolled in I’ve been thinking back to those lovely days spent in this special place, and how it taught us so much.

Last year when we revisited the railway cabin (as we call it), I was 4 months pregnant. The railway cabin and its location encourage living quietly and simply and slowly. It was a wonderful reminder of life in a small space, how daily events work within such a tiny living space, and how to adapt.

Small Space Living That Inspired Our Van Conversion - tiny home kitchen and sitting room

Coming home it was hard not to have aspirations (entirely unrealistic) to totally transform the interior of the Baby Bus into the railway cabin. Namely reclaimed wood cladding on every wall. And wishing we had those double doors you see on so many van conversions that let in so much light (the railway cabin has a huge glass wall). But it did refresh our enthusiasm to transform it into a space we love, one that is a joy to live in, one that is stuffed with ingenious uses of space wherever possible.

The railway cabin gave us one version of how to make different areas of your living space work on a tiny scale. In particular, the kitchen, and just how much space do you really need for a kitchen?

Small Space Living That Inspired Our Van Conversion - tiny house kitchen

A composting loo in a motorhome?!

Other elements of life at the railway cabin that come to mind are the outdoor shower and composting toilet. We are planning (perhaps madly?) to install a composting loo in the Baby Bus. It’s been researched thoroughly for all the practicalities, and we think we can make it work for us. Living at the railway cabin helped to make the reality of a composting loo, well, a reality!

Romantic ideas of bathing outdoors…

Small Space Living That Inspired Our Van Conversion - outdoor shower in converted shed

We’ve also decided to get rid of our old motorhome bathroom (you can read about that here), giving us the space for other uses that we feel are more important than a shower and extra basin. I have romantic visions of washing in lakes and streams…or perhaps it’ll just be a wash tub or a DIY outdoor shower.

The railway cabin gave us firsthand experience of what outdoor showering is like – in Welsh wintertime as well! I feel like I can shower anywhere warmer than January in Wales .

A few days living there reawakened the creative parts of our brains and challenged them, making us question every inch of space we have in the Baby Bus. It also gave us some practical experience of alternative living.

Creative small space living in a converted hay trailer

Small Space Living That Inspired Our Van Conversion - a converted hay trailer

The other place that always comes to mind when I start dreaming up ideas for the Baby Bus interior is a converted hay trailer, also deep in Wales.

We stayed here a few nights when I was 8 months pregnant with our eldest daughter. It was the one of the hottest July’s and the converted hay trailer was akin to a tin box – it was sweltering! But it was also crammed full of creative ideas for small space living, and I took lots of pictures thinking they would one day come in useful.

The two that stuck with me were a super simple idea for curtains, and repurposing used cotton reels as hooks and door knobs. I’m not saying that I will use these ideas in the Baby Bus, instead it’s how they opened my eyes to being creative with our living space.

When we finally get past the practicalities of our van build, I’m excited to get stuck in with all the details.