Meet Mande, Ben, and Sawyer Tucker
Husband and wife team Mande and Ben Tucker, cross-country nomads and bus renovator extraordinaires, have become experts at life on the road. While their small family of three has a comfortable stationary life, they find spending stints of time on the road helps them break out of mundane routines and habits and shift their momentum in new, unexplored directions. Enter Fern the Bus.
Longing for Adventure
Several years prior to settling down with Mande, Ben renovated a bus with his friends to travel and volunteer across the US. Ever since, Ben longed to embark on a similar adventure with Mande. They sought a delicate balance of comfort and a sense of adventure and spontaneity. When they encountered not one, but two 24’ school buses for sale, the purchase was a no-brainer. The couple purchased both buses and immediately began renovations on their first project, fondly known as Fern.
The name Fern was inspired by well-known children’s book, Charlotte’s Web. Mande, a second grade school teacher, found the name of the story’s sweet and nurturing main character to suit the bus perfectly. In fact, the name was so well suited for their project, that they could not fathom parting with it for their second bus, now aptly named Fern2.
While renovating the original Fern, Mande and Ben learned as they went, and that sometimes meant learning the hard way. The first time Mande upholstered Fern’s seats, she used a standard cotton blend fabric. Within a short time, the fabrics became stained, worn, and faded from constant exposure to sunlight. After only a few months on the road, all of the upholstery needed to be replaced, and this time, Ben and Mande dove into researching fabrics that were built to last. When they came across Sunbrella and discovered the abundant benefits of using performance fabrics to create durable, functional living spaces, Ben and Mande were sold.
Function meets Cozy Comfort
On top of UV protection, stain resistance, and bleach cleanability, they were thrilled to discover how comfortable Sunbrella fabrics were! “Comfort plays a huge role while we’re on the road,” says Mande. With limited space and needing to accommodate their young son, Sawyer, comfort and cleanability were major priorities for the main living areas. “It’s more than worth it for us to invest in quality and comfortable materials, so that we truly feel that we are at home on the road.” When it came time to upholster the seating in Fern2, the choice was simple. After falling in love with Sunbrella after reupholstering the seating in Fern1, they knew that they needed to equip Fern2 with the durability to withstand the challenges of life on the road. They opted for Sunbrella Canvas Granite for the bus’s bench seating, and Horizon Capriccio Toast, an engineered synthetic leather, for the captain’s chair.
It’s All in the Details
In addition to a functional fabric choice, Ben and Mande were thorough to consider every inch of space on their traveling bus. They pride themselves on the details, reveling in their tiny storage nooks, which Mande notes are essential to staying organized, little decorations that make Fern feel like home, and their big comfy mattress that welcomes the tired travelers after a long day of exploring. They even went so far as to include a rooftop deck, where the couple enjoys lounging, taking in scenic views, and winding down with a good book.
What’s next on the list of destinations for this dynamic duo and their adorable toddler, Sawyer? “Our next trip will hopefully be to Lake Superior in Northern Michigan. We have traveled far and wide around the US and Canada and would love to spend a little time on our own state to show Sawyer what Michigan really has to offer! It truly is one of our favorite places!”
To follow Fern and the Tucker family on their adventures, and see Sunbrella fabrics in action, check out @fernthebus on Instagram! If you’re stationary but like the idea of a fun DIY reupholstering project, check out our blog: Ready to Reupholster Furniture? Tips, Trends & Trend-Setter Inspiration, and follow @Sunbrella on social media!