Hope and Manny Hernandez convert buses and vans into tiny homes for a living.
Their recent bus renovation minimized dead space and included unusual storage hacks.
The couple said the $37,000 conversion took five weeks and was their hardest project to date.
For Hope and Manny Hernandez, renovating buses started as a way to travel the country. Today, it's their main source of income.
In 2020, Hope and Manny Hernandez spent seven months and $35,000 converting a 187-square-foot minibus into their home.
At the time, they didn't plan to renovate anything other than their own bus.
But that changed after a van owner found the couple on social media and asked if they'd be willing to travel to his home and renovate his van, Manny previously told Insider.
The couple agreed, and one vehicle turned into two, which turned into three. Today, the couple has renovated everything from minibuses to double-decker buses from London. Manny said he and Hope are currently wrapping up their sixth vehicle conversion and that the renovations have become their main source of income.
Their most recent renovation of a 120-square-foot bus was all about storage, the couple told Insider.
Manny told Insider that their most recent renovation, which was a 120-square-foot Navistar IC Bus, was their toughest and proudest build yet. It took about five weeks and cost $37,000.
"It was definitely our favorite project and the most perfect project we've done to date," Hope told Insider.
The conversion tested them in new ways: Manny honed in on cabinetry-making skills, and Hope designed a space that was "white, clean, and simple," she said.
In previous conversions, Manny said they had more freedom and flexibility to design the layout and decor how they wanted.
But that wasn't the case with this client, the couple said.
"This has been her lifelong dream," Manny said. "So the client was particular and knew exactly what she wanted."
Hope and Manny said they worked with the owner to make sure the finished bus was how she envisioned her tiny home on wheels.
Throughout the entire process, the main focus was creating a home where no space was left unused, Manny said.
With the client, Hope and Manny created a layout that minimized dead space.
Hope and Manny said that their client had a strong vision of what she wanted her future tiny home to look like before the couple even arrived in Massachusetts to start the build.
It would incorporate a lot of blues, which was a sentimental color to the owner, Hope explained. Their client also knew where she wanted to place the bathroom and that she wanted a full-sized bed.
From there, Manny and Hope said they helped brainstorm, nail down details, and create a plan for the build. Five weeks later, the client's bus was complete.
"I believe she was extremely happy with the finished bus," Manny said. "I think she's going to be able to live her dream, and I hope it goes really well for her."
Manny and Hope shared the images with Insider, which showcase custom cabinetry, a creative storage solution for a cat's litter box, and secret drawers for their client.
The most noticeable use of creative storage is above the driver's seat when you first step into the bus.
Manny said that often the space above a vehicle's driver seat and door can go to waste.
Instead, Manny and Hope added in two sets of storage. Above the seat are cabinets, and above the bus' door is a little shelving unit where the owner plans to display books and plants.
Before building the upper cabinets, Manny wired speakers so the owner could play music from a Bluetooth connection.
In the kitchen area, there are hand-built cabinets by Manny intended to maximize space.
In Manny and Hope's previous builds, they often used pre-made cabinetry.
"But with the weird shape of this bus and how tall it was, I had to completely make it from scratch," Manny said, noting that because the bus had a curved roof, the couple didn't want to waste space by using rectangular cabinets.
The cabinets Manny built utilize every inch of the upper section of the bus. Manny also wanted to create as much storage as possible, so there are cabinets across from the kitchen, above the couch, too.
The couple's favorite feature in the bus is the set of secret, drop-down drawers below the cabinets.
Originally Manny said they planned to add LED lights underneath the cabinets, and Manny even built a lip at the bottom of each cabinet where the lights were designed to go.
But when the electrical wiring didn't work, the couple brainstormed how else to use that space.
Using hinges, Manny said he installed small, pull-down drawers that are completely hidden when tucked away.
"If you're standing there, you really can't see it," Manny said.
Near the sink is another spot for storage that could've been wasted space.
In the cabinet below the sink, there wasn't enough space for a drawer or shelving unit. So the couple added a small pocket for storage, which is ideal for items like sponges and soap.
Behind the kitchen is a living area with smart storage hacks like a set of drawers below the couch.
"That was our major moment of pride," Manny said about building the drawers.
In Manny and Hope's previous renovations, they used a lid and chest design to access the area underneath the couch. Here, they wanted to incorporate something a little more functional.
The drawers will help their client stay organized and access the full area under the couch, Manny said.
The couch also converts into a bed.
With support from the drawers and front section of the couch, the couch cushions can fold into a full-sized bed.
The bus' owner works remotely, so the living space needed to be functional for both work and social life.
"We had to design a seating area that will be comfortable for her and fit her two monitors," Manny said.
The result was a removable swivel table attached to the top of the couch. The table, which the couple loves in their own bus, can function as a desk, dinner table, and can also be detached and stored away if needed.
Next to the couch, the fridge has custom-built cubbies.
The client chose a medium-sized fridge for her tiny home on wheels. Manny and Hope hand-built a nook for the fridge to make sure it wouldn't budge while driving.
When designing the area for the fridge, the couple decided to build some cubbies, too, to tuck away baskets, pantry items, clothes, and other items, they said.
In the very back of the bus is a full-sized bed.
The back section of the bus is the owner's bedroom. Here, there's a mounted television on one side of her bed and cabinetry on the opposite side.
Underneath the bed is access to the "garage," which is similar to a trunk in a car.
Typically, this type of storage space is accessed from the outside of the bus, but Manny and Hope added an interior door.
Plus, their client plans to live and travel with her cat, Manny said, so the garage is one of the places she could keep her cat's litter box.
Finally, there's a small built-in shelf near the bathroom.
The couple created an insert shelving area for the client near the bus' bathroom to store a plant or two and hang a picture.
Hope and Manny said there can be a lot of pressure around creating people's dream homes, but it's what they love most about their job.
Manny said that there's often a lot of pressure with conversions and renovations. Often their clients have saved up for years in order to create their ideal tiny house on wheels.
Seeing people's reactions to the finished renovation makes the pressure worth it, he said. That, plus "a little bit of beer."
"Making other people's dreams become a reality can be very difficult, but it's a really rewarding feeling," Manny said.
Read the original article on Insider