Mogli and Felix shared a passion for traveling and living life on the open road. So, the two purchased an old bus and transformed it into their dream home. Here's a look at the mind-blowing transformation.
Born and raised in Germany, Selima "Mogli" Taibi was pushed by her parents to follow her dreams from an early age. She even sang at an opera house as a young girl all the way until she was 18!
Daughter of two college graduates, Mogli did well in school but always looked for something different. She wasn't interested in the typical "mainstream career" or university degree. "I had lots of freedom to explore and was encouraged to learn, just do and not overthink," Mogli said of her childhood.
Felix Starck was born into a somewhat different community in Southern Germany than Mogli. People from his town "work really hard for their money, and some even start building their own house at a very young age," Mogli said. However, Starck couldn't resonate with that lifestyle, and he left in search of something else.
"He dropped out of school… sold everything, and went on a road trip through 22 countries with his bicycle," Mogli explained. "He had his camera with him and came back with his documentary Pedal the World." During this adventurous journey, the two kindred spirits met.
Let's Fall in Love
It didn't take long for the two to fall crazy in love. Both Felix and Mogli craved magical adventures, so when the two solo travelers met during Felix's cycling escapes, they instantly gravitated toward each other. She turned "all her experiences and influences during her trips into new songs," Starck said.
"We come from two totally different worlds," Starck admitted. "But I think the repulsion of the traditional way is what unites us." The two quickly found they not only shared a passion for traveling but that traditional city-living wasn't the way for them.
Looking for an Adventure
As their trip came to a close, the new couple decided to move to Berlin together! "We had everything we could wish for," said Felix. "We had a loft, we had us, we had friends, even a puppy, but still, we weren't happy." However, the pair were not ready to settle down in one place quite yet…
"We kind of had cabin fever," Mogli shared. "We knew we wanted to travel again, make a new movie, and get inspiration for a new album." The couple knew they were ready for the next chapter but had no plan of where they wanted to go next. So when their lease ended, the couple embarked on their next adventure.
Finding the Perfect Bus
Considering they wanted to be mobile, the duo had a few viable options. However, they were exhausted from cycling but loved the freedom to get up and go where they wanted. With this in mind, Mogli and Felix checked out RVs as an option, but it was "too boring" for them.
After extensive research, the wanderlust couple found their new adventure. "By coincidence, we saw an old American school bus online and decided to convert it to a loft on wheels," Mogli said. The brave couple bought a $9,000, 40-foot school bus and decided to go to North America!
A Fresh New Look
Mogli and Felix were excited about their upcoming DIY project and found "two really talented human beings" to help them with the transformation process. The new bus owners were about to tackle the project of a lifetime, converting an old school bus into a home on wheels - a skoolie.
The couple began with the skoolie's exterior, giving it a total makeover while maintaining their personal style, painting it gray and white. "We knew we had to custom-build something to fit our style but didn't want to lose our freedom," Taibi told Huffington Post. "The bus was the perfect balance!"
"So day 1 converting the bus into a RV went pretty smooth," they wrote on their shared Instagram page. "We got all the seats out and some of the flooring." However, the experience wouldn't be complete without a few bumps in the road, and on day one, Felix cut his finger with an angle grinder.
Even with a bit of a hiccup on day one, the new bus owners were not discouraged to continue! In fact, they were even more motivated to see their dream home come to life. Mogli and Felix envisioned their home to have a complete living area, bedroom, and bathroom.
Running Into a Few Problems
With all the motivation and dedication in the world, they still faced a few obstacles along the way. With the help of their team, they were able to strip the original walls, flooring, and seats from the bus - but it was the next phase that gave them some difficulties.
"We got all of the flooring out yesterday, but we found one huge hole in the floor," they shared with their followers. "The bus has a lot of rust, but that's the problem or the risk when you buy a bus located in Florida while in Germany." The couple continued their renovations!
Taking Care of the Rust
Mogli and Felix kept discovering more and more rust all over the bus, in addition to the massive hole in the floor. They definitely needed to take care of that. The handy team fixed the hole by "screwing in some metal sheets" and addressed the rust issue by adding on coats of Corroseal Rust Converter.
Now that the rust and large hole issue was addressed, the couple was ready for the next phase in their bus-to-home renovation. To keep the temperature inside the bus comfortable, especially for all the various climates in North America, they would need new walls and flooring.
Installing the Walls
The couple had to decide what to do with all the windows in their new home! Because the windows took up so much wall space, controlling the inside temperature could be challenging. Mogli and Felix decided to keep the windows intact to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the open road.
Now that the windows were taken care of, it was time to move on to the next step in the home conversion process. They insulated the bus and then installed wooden subflooring, panels, and walls. "We already got the paneling in, so our bus actually starts to look like an RV now!" Next step: framing!
Working on the Framing
Due to the unusual shape and size of a school bus used as a home, many bus conversions require custom-built furniture to fit the home's specific dimensions. So, with a 40-foot vehicle, making sure each inch is used to its best capability was extremely important for Taibi and Starck.
The singer turned DIY master, Mogli, got right to the building when the skeleton of the bus was nearly completed. The image above shows the beginning phases of the couple's future bed! "Mogli built us a bed… no big deal, I guess!" Felix teased. The couple worked on building bedroom storage next!
Perfect Storage Space
A large part of the skoolie transformation process is finding innovative ways to create storage space. So, Mogli and Felix built the bed's headboard not only for its traditional use but would eventually be used as a storage space and block the sunlight from the back of the bus. Crafty!
The cabinets pictured above would soon be used to store some of their belongings, but it didn't end there! "So the bed is almost done, and we even built some drawers so we can store all of our stuff somewhere," Felix explained. Underneath where the mattress would be, the DIY-ers placed more storage space!
Finding the “Teensy Tiny Toilet”
Now that the bed was built, the next step would be to tackle the bathroom. To live in a skoolie, the couple needed everything for day-to-day living, including a restroom. "Painting our teensy tiny toilet…" the couple wrote as they painted their new bathroom. But how would a toilet work without traditional plumbing?
Upon much research, Felix and Mogli found most other motor homeowners installed a compostable toilet in their mobile homes. "We don't have a black water tank," Felix explained. "We just compost, and then every couple of weeks, we dump our stuff in the trash." The couple planned to use the kitchen sink to wash their hands.
Countless Hours of Tiling
Taibi's artistic talent didn't stop with music; she was also a talented interior designer! The young artist took her talents to re-doing the shower walls and decided to tile it herself. However, Mogli fell in love with tiny pieces of tile, which turned into a lot longer project than she had expected.
"These are actually handmade tiles from a little company called Mercury Mosaics in Minnesota," Taibi said in a documented tour of their soon-to-be home. "I tiled the shower. It took me four days straight." However, the end result would be magnificent with all that time she dedicated to the project.
Creating Their Dream Kitchen
Just because they were living on the road didn't mean the couple had to forego a fully functioning kitchen and home-cooked meals! Taibi and Starck were determined to build their dream kitchen, and that began with custom-built wooden cupboards on either side of the skoolie.
Calling on their more experienced building partners, Mogli and Felix installed a plumbing system that allowed freshwater from a tank to their future faucet. For everything to properly and perfectly fit, they created enough room in the cabinets for all future appliances, like a sink, stove, and fridge.
Almost at the Finished Line
As soon as the cabinets were placed and painted with a fresh coat of white paint, the skoolie's interior felt more like a cozy home and less like an old school bus. Moglie and Felix decided to install black knobs on the cupboard doors, which tied in beautifully with the black window frames.
Slowly, slowly, the old walls were coming to life, and the couple added their personal touch to ensure the overall look of the bus was up to their standards. "We covered a lot in pellet material," Felix explained. "It was cheap, recycled, but a little too heavy. But our bus is pretty strong, so that's okay."
Circling back to the bedroom, Felix and Mogli decided to paint their bedroom white, just like they did in the kitchen! The couple most likely chose light and neutral tones in order to make the tiny home feel more spacious, which was extra important in their small space!
While the renovations were finishing up, Starck and Taibi stayed in a local Airbnb. Time was getting closer and closer to the bus reveal, and the couple was ready to hit the road - but first, they had a big decision to make. What were they going to name the journey ahead?
Loft on Wheels
The couple started throwing out different options to name their skoolie adventure, and it all came down to why they decided to begin this adventure in the first place. Moglie and Felix were living, what seemed to be a perfect life in Germany together, but ultimately they were unhappy with a conventional lifestyle.
After much time contemplating the perfect name for their skoolie adventures, the couple found the perfect name. One of their primary goals for their North America trip of a lifetime was to live happily, which led them to "Expedition Happiness." It didn't stop there! The duo also called their home the Loft on Wheels.
The Final Product
The bus transformation was completed, and Mogli and Felix had totally renovated their home on wheels to their dream home. Their once yellow school bus was now a fully functioning home. Like their Berlin apartment, the skoolie had a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and lovely bedroom.
The whole transformation process only took the determined couple 12 weeks to complete! "It's [the kitchen's] actually bigger than the last one we had in Berlin," Mogli commented on their Instagram. "We custom-built it so we have plenty of space for everything we need." Wow!
The finished kitchen was not only beautiful but fully equipped with everything the couple had in their kitchen in Berlin! Mogli and Felix installed running water, electricity, propane, and all the standard kitchen appliances they needed to have a comfortable kitchen space. Most importantly, they included a coffee machine!
Because the motor-home bathroom had a toilet but no sink next to it, the couple came up with a smart solution for their restroom needs."Over the sink, we built a little bathroom cabinet so we can brush our teeth and look ourselves in the mirror if we want to," Mogli shared.
Instead of installing a two-burner stovetop on the kitchen counter, the couple went for it all and bought a four-burner top - and it looked great! The stovetop worked on a propane tank kept in the back of the bus. Taibi and Starck added a medium-sized refrigerator/freezer to the right of the stove to complete their kitchen.
Once the gorgeous kitchen was up and running, Mogli jumped right in and started baking. It didn't take long for her to prepare fresh croissants in their oven, and we can't imagine what else the young couple got to cooking while living in their skoolie!
Rudi Loves the Skoolie
Behind the driver's seat was the tiny home's living and dining room. "The couch actually folds out to a bed," Felix explained in a YouTube tour. "So if you guys want to join us, you're more than welcome." We totally would love to join! The couple made sure to add extra storage room under the sofa for visitors to store their stuff.
Visitors may have a tough time getting to the furniture because the skoolie owner's dog, Rudi, loves hanging out on the furniture! "He has his own bed bus, he never uses it," Felix laughed with their followers. So the multi-functional sofa serves as more than just a couch and guest bed, but also Rudi's bed!
Living the Simple Life
The innovative couple found countless solutions to utilize their small space to its highest capability. From creating a "bathroom cabinet" outside the bathroom to designing custom-made cabinets as the headboard, this couple thought of everything, but still, living in a skoolie meant downsizing!
Mogli and Felix only took the essentials with them on their North America Expedition Happiness journey. This included their adventure gear (bikes and musical instruments for Mogli) and just the right amount of clothing! However, just because they lived the "simple life" didn't mean they had a simple budget.
The Final Cost
After the renovation process was done, the couple tallied up their total expenses and estimated the whole transformation from beginning to end to cost them between $60,000 and $70,000! Although that's no small chunk of change, the couple definitely saved money on big city living!
Looking at the final product, we can see how much effort the couple put into their new home. "It can be done a lot cheaper, but for us, it was important that it felt like home," Mogli shared. "So it had to be perfect." It really was perfect - and we haven't even seen the rest of the bus yet...
Let’s Go on an Adventure
Right past the living room and kitchen, a little hallway led to the couple's rustic-themed bedroom. On either side of the hall were the toilet and shower with a sign reading," Let's go on an adventure." The sign truly encompassed the overall vibe of the couple.
As mentioned earlier, it was important for Felix and Moglie to transform the school bus into a proper home. So when it came to the bedroom, they put in extra work! Their bedroom space was big enough for a queen-sized bed and even had some room along the outside. Let's take a closer look at this unique space.
The Ideal View
Interior design was extremely important to the duo, so the bedroom aesthetic was no different. They choose a white comforter for the bed and matching white curtains for the windows. Across from the bed, they installed a 32-inch flat-screen."We got Apple TV," Felix excitedly revealed.
However, Mogli found a creative solution for the emergency exit on the bus's ceiling. "Rudi and I don't care about TV," she said. "So at night when we're in the nature, we can open this [the emergency exit], and then we can watch the stars." Now that sounds amazing!
A Special Shower
Thanks to Mogli's intricate work on the tiling, the finished shower couldn't have looked better. "I don't think there is another shower out there in any RV that is cooler than ours," she proudly said. Safe to say, she put in a lot of work and deserved a whole lot of credit!
"This is probably the most beautiful part of the bus," Taibi added. "It was really hard work, but it was worth it because this is just beautiful." So now that we've seen most of their complete skoolie, what else was in store for this dynamic duo and their dream skoolie?
The Tiny Little Garage
Heading to the back of the bus is the couples storage area behind the bedroom."This is our tiny little garage, a very important place of the bus," Felix pointed out in their Youtube video. Felix and Mogli kept a portable A.C. unit, propane bottles for cooking, a hot water heater, and Rudi's stuff!
"We got 800 amp hours of pure power," Starck added. "We can charge it either with our solar panels, where we get 300 watts every hour if there's sun, or we just plug it into shore power and charge the whole system." Felix and Mogli were covered and ready to go - no matter where they ventured!
Leaving a Journey of a Lifetime
Mogli and Felix crossed the American border into Canada when the transformation was completed and started their adventure there. The couple lived out their goal and traveled throughout North America in their skoolie. And nearly six months later, they arrived in Mexico!
Starck and Taibi decided it was time to pack up and move on to their next adventure. "We said goodbye to road trip life for a while and are enjoying the cold weather and family dinners back home," they shared. The couple made sure to mention their dog loved the experience!
After the inspiring couple returned to Germany, they signed a Netflix deal! Felix and Mogli created a documentary, Expedition Happiness, showing audiences everywhere their experiences on the road together. However, the wanderlust couple eventually split up.
"Me and Mogli recently split up - but I will continue this page!" Felix shared on social media. Converting the old school bus to a mobile home was just the first of many exciting projects ahead for Starck. As for Mogli, the artist is focusing on expanding her music career! We can't wait to see where their next chapter takes them.