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Soap and a Volkswagen Part 1 – Getting Her Home

In 2007 I fell madly in love with a 1971 Volkswagen Westfalia.B8DOcEPCAAAJ2KVShe belonged to my Aunt and Uncle and I begged them to sell her to me. They said IF they ever wanted to sell, I would be the first to know. Jump almost 10 years later and it was time to pass her on. Of course I didn’t have the money, I didn’t think they would ever let such a beauty go, but a quick interest free loan to myself off of a credit card, and she was mine. (I made my first payment today! Woo!)

The only BIG problem was that this Volkswagen lived in Utah, over the mountains, and I live in Iowa.

Everyone loves a good adventure, right?! We rented a vehicle, loaded up the camping gear, tools and the kids, and we were off!

The plan was to drive to Utah, work on the van a bit and drive her back to Iowa. Yes. Drive her back. This vehicle had been sitting for 15 years, undriven. What could go wrong?

DSC_0063DSC_0065IMG_1169IMG_1176IMG_1187IMG_1256Achievement unlocked! During this trip, the kids quickly learned how to set up the tent themselves. DSC_0076

After only two days, Rory had her ready to go!IMG_1283

Starla rode with him while I followed behind in the rental with Trent, just incase there were any problems.IMG_1347

And there were.

For starters, before we left, she wouldn’t start. We never did get her to idle and had no reverse the entire trip.IMG_1293

Double checking to make sure the topper didn’t blow off while driving…IMG_1305

Fuel filter change…IMG_1309 Over heating…IMG_1300

Majestically looking over Utah while she cooled down.DSC_0090

And then the scariest thing ever happened. While trying to make it up a mountain and hitting 10,000 ft. in elevation, she just couldn’t do it anymore. Between not being able to idle and 2 mph road work, she quit. Rory had to roll backwards onto the shoulder while I watched and basically crapped my pants. IMG_1359

IMG_1371IMG_1368Being the awesome guy he is, while waiting for the Volkswagen to calm herself down, he walked around seeing if other people, who were having trouble getting up the mountain, needed help. Do you see that incline?!!IMG_1366

To add insult to injury, we had to be damn sure she could make through the construction, as there were multiple places we would not be able to pull over if there was a problem.IMG_1369Getting over the mountains from south Utah to Colorado, over some of the most difficult terrain, in a 44 year old Volkswagen that hadn’t been driven for 15 years is absolutely not something I recommend for the faint of heart.

But we absolutely loved it. Even better, the kids loved it.IMG_1385

After three full days of driving, we made it back to Iowa. Getting from Denver to Nebraska to home was a piece of cake as we dropped elevation. The flatness of the midwest suits her.IMG_1396Extra bonus? Idle kicked in the next day when we took her down to the car wash! But that is for the next post along with what my future plans are for this beauty…

Soap and a Volkswagen Part 2 – Disassembly

Much Love, Kylee Lane

You can see more photos of our building adventure with hashtag #SoapBus on Instagram!

(Interested in being a part of this project? Check out the patreon here!)

The Yellow Room

UPDATE Oct 4th, 2016 (Almost two years later…)

I am still finding photos to update this post with of all the layers we pulled off of the walls. (Seriously. It was wainscot hell. I am not even kidding.) We also repaired holes in the floor, though we still need to repair some termite damage. Rory pulled up all of the baseboards and treated everything. There was also mouse damage so i have some cool pictures of him repairing the wall. (Some fat happy family of mice ate a bunch of my boxed clothing and pulled scraps into  the wall. Yay old houses!!) Still need to build a frame around the base of the room and I am going to paint the walls teal. But for now, I have a, bug-free, mouse-free, no-holes-in-the-floor, craft room!!! *kermit flail*

Craft Room

Love, Kylee


January 2015… Turn this into a CRAFT ROOM PARADISE!!!! Annnnd GO!IMG_2422.JPG





The Lane Lab Studio – Phase I

photoThis 3rd floor studio idea is actually why we bought this house. Not very often do you come across a home that has an entire floor you can dedicate to your business. The decision had been made to utilize the 3rd floor for Kylee’s work space in early 2012, but the project had stalled out somewhat due to a lack of funds and time. After the incredible amount of support for her indiegogo campaign and continued support through orders, it was time to make it a priority once again.

studio-7This is where we started out. Originally the 3rd floor was split so that 2/3 of it was one big room, while the other third was a small kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and a couple closets.




This tub was actually moved from the original bathroom on the west side of the 3rd floor, probably put in before the house was finished as it would be nigh impossible to get a cast iron tub up the winding narrow stairs…


When the house was converted to apartments in the 30’s or maybe early 40’s this big room was divided into several smaller ones, with another kitchen and bathroom added. For both practicality and restoration we decided to remove all the extra walls that were not original to the house.


Displaying my ladder collection.



The kids were a huge help, not very often does your parent give you a hammer and tell you to destroy the wall.




This work cost me several 2 liters of ginger ale. Next they’ll unionize and make more unreasonable demands.


The only good way to remove all the debris was to shovel it into a trash can and carry it down the stairs… My back hurts thinking about how many trips this required.


So many stairs…


The more material we removed I realized that this was also relieving a huge strain on the house. The amount of weight removed from the 3rd floor was equivalent to having a car parked up there.





Throughout the process I set aside salvageable trim and wall studs for future use. The kids got really good at pulling nails.



Already put some reclaimed lumber to use, one of the first things I did was make some sawhorses.



Also lots of not-so-salvageable material.

wpid-img_20140822_121800.jpg As the destruction progressed we got into somewhat of a routine. Tear down a wall, haul down the trash, tear down the next wall, haul down the trash…




This wall was separating one apartment from the next, and had wood fiber insulation woven between the wall studs probably for soundproofing.


Balsam Wool! Probably boasts an R value of about 2.


To remove the wall studs I found it most efficient to cut through them at the base, and then pull them side to side to get them loose from the ceiling.





The contractor must have used the last sheetrock on earth when they got to this point, using scraps to fill in at the bottom of this wall.


Quick! Slap a baseboard over that so nobody sees!


I am glad that wherever possible they built around the original stuff rather than cut into it. Almost like they knew someday it would all be put back…


Thanks goes out to those dead carpenters who had a little respect.


Not too pleased however at how they cut into floor joists for plumbing. Note the one right by that drain elbow.


May this carpenter be eternally shamed.

This was the bathroom sink drain. Somehow I think this was a drain in name only.

Any time you cut a drain line open be prepared for horrors.

Any time you cut a drain line open be prepared for horrors.

This cabinet turned out to be an original item that matches the upper cabinets in the maid’s kitchen. See the varnished oak peeking out on the side? These are solid oak including the top. Like the tub, they will be put back where they originated from on the west side.



This is the bottom of one of the drawers, designating which spot it goes in. The same handwriting I found on the silverware drawers in the built in hutch in the dining room. Why does nobody write like this anymore?


During this project great care was taken to not contaminate her workspace on the west side of the house.


Finally it was starting to feel like one room instead of several.



Well that’s it for now, there is ongoing progress with the electrical but that will be included with the Phase II post. From here on out will be less destruction and more construction. Feel free to leave comments and questions!

We are working on a full gallery for the hundreds of pictures we have taken! Let us know if there are any particular things you would like to see. 

-The Lanes

#TheLaneLab Update – August

I haven’t updated in about a month because WE ARE ROCKING IT!!!

Now that the kids are back in school, I will be able to update regularly again, so I wanted to know how often do you want to see building/product updates? As Contributors, I feel it is very important for you to have the easiest access point for information but at the same time I’m afraid of overwhelming you with said information. (Daily updates on Instagram #TheLaneLab for building and #LuxuryLaneSoap for products.)

CONTRIBUTOR PERK UPDATES – Perks are moving slower than I had anticipated *surprise!*, please let me know if you have any questions about anything!

Postcards ($5) SENT 7-15-14

PenPal ($10) This one is seriously taking a million times longer than I thought it would. Would you guys be cool if I turned this into a seasonal thing and sent in monthly batches?

Summer Theme SENT 8-1-14

Back to School Theme 9-1-14

Halloween Theme 10-1-14

Thanksgiving Theme 11-1-14

Snow & Stuff 12-1-14

Just send me a text (712-229-9115) or email ( or social media me (@KyleeLane) if there is a certain mailing group you would like to be a part of! This will be a perk that stretches until the end of the year.

Organic Shave Set ($20) SENT 7/15

Lumpin’ Love ($25) Scheduled to ship by 8/31

Everything is Awesome ($30) Scheduled to ship by 8/31

Limited Edition Color Set ($40) Scheduled to ship by 8/31

Bonus $10 ($50) SENT 7/03

Personal Batch ($75) In Production – Batches are shipping the first half of September, based on curing progress.

Blue Box Special ($100) Scheduled to ship by 8/31

Smuggler’s Haul ($100) Scheduled to ship by 8/31

Color Subscription ($150) July Box – SENT / August Box scheduled to ship 8/25

Six Months of Luxury Lane Soap ($250) July Box – SENT / August Box scheduled to ship 8/25

STUDIO BUILD UPDATE – The final wall will be down this week and we’ve started the plumbing. Electrical starts next week and we are hoping (without any unforeseen issues) that flooring will be moved in early/mid September. I have been very hesitant to assign a specific finish deadline because for one, I know my husband and he won’t sacrifice quality of work for time. Secondly, we are working with 1,000 square feet in a 100 yr old structure. There have already been a few surprises which Rory has been documenting for you all. Anything in particular you would like to see, as always, just let us know!

So much love, Kylee

How Soap is Born

I get asked a lot about how soap is made and it only takes about 30 seconds of me talking about saturated fat ratios and experimental lye to water temp testing before your eyes have glazed. (Btw, I have been able to pull off a 163 degree lye solution and a 98 degree oil mixture with a beautiful 126 degree pour temp. Perfect gel without insulation, in silicone, every single time.)

So! This is how I make soap! Yay!

First we measure raw vegetable butters and oils into magical, totally scientific ratios. Different oils will produce different star features of the soap.


20140717-115605.jpgLye*. It’s scary as heck. It is going to force our oil/butter combination into submission resulting in a transformation of epic proportions. Distilled water is going to ask the lye to tone it down a notch. (No lye is left in the remaining soap once cure is complete, it is merely the vehicle for saponification, the magic that makes soap.)20140717-120238.jpg

20140717-115634.jpgWhen the warm lye solution hits the organic solution non-literal sparks fly. It’s like they are tongue kissing and a new form emerges. Confident and thick. Oh sweet beautiful, Trace. This is when I add the fragrance or essential oil. Since I work at such high combination temps this entire process takes about 4 minutes. No room to fuck anything up, at all.20140717-120015.jpg

Thanks to making our stretch goal, I was able to upgrade my 10 yr old wooden molds to reusable silicone. Plastic coated paper will never be purchased again which saves money and reduces waste. Thank you.IMG_0140


After about 10 hours I unmold the freshly born soap, slice and put into storage for an 8 to 12 week cure. Why do I cure my soap for so long? Soap from scratch, like my Organic Artisan Soap, ages like a fine wine. The scent gets richer, the ingredients have better harmony and the water we used to tame the lye evaporates. I find that my bars start to really peak when they have evaporated no less than 1 full ounce of water, and they keep on getting better. Typically, that takes 8 to 12 weeks depending on the time of year.



And finally it is wrapped up all sexy when ordered and sent to you. Each batch is limited to only eight bars. I like to make a whole bunch of individual batches verses a million of the same thing over and over. If you don’t see your favorite formula, just shoot me the fragrance and batch number and I will make one up, no problem. You will see it on the site in about 8-12 weeks. I may already have it curing. It never hurts to ask! 🙂

20140722-181637.jpgIf you are genuinely interested in learning how to make soap using traditional, olden day methods, I encourage you to learn all you can from reliable sources. Soap requires lye and lye will kick your ass. Here, the Fight Club burn scene:

Or you can just keep purchasing from me, because you already know it’s the best and I’m the toughest.

Have an awesome batch idea? Let me know in the comments below!

Love, Kylee



Saturday Summary #2 July 19th 2014

I hope everyone is having a great summer! So many updates. Much chaos. Send candy…

Contributor Perks

  • All Shave Spiral Contributor Perks have SHIPPED!!! Please let me know if you like the scent!! Should I add it to the permanent line? Shampoo perhaps?! (more on shampoo below…)20140717-201021.jpg
  • 6 Months of Luxury Lane Soap Contributor Perks have also shipped! Let me know what you think!
  • Blue Box Special, Smuggler’s Haul and Everything is Awesome Contributor Perks are officially in production! See my progress on instagram via #TheLaneLab
  • Galactic Color Subscription Contributor Perks are shipping this week.
  • Pen Pal Contributor Perks are going out slowly but steadily. I am making each one of you a card, drawing hearts and taking my time writing something just for you. The kids have been helping too so you get an extra punch of awesome right to the heart hole from The Lane Kids.20140705-144340.jpg
  • Personal Batch Contributor Perks are in production and you guys are killing it with your requests! I am formulating in the order I received emails, so if you haven’t heard back from me, no worries, I have your ingredients ordered and the next round of production starts Tuesday July 22nd. (I am also making additional batches for the grand re-opening on August 1st! Those virtual shelves are going to be loaded.)20140717-120311.jpg


  •  We hauled out the first load of dead material from the third floor!! 800 pounds!! Rory is guessing by the end of demolition we will have moved out the weight of an entire car in garbage wall by the time we open the original ballroom.20140717-200418.jpg
  • Last section of wall starts coming down this weekend! It is a good thing we are taking down these walls because we are now seeing the ceiling is having issues we couldn’t see before. These walls are not original so the aren’t any sort of major support walls. After we get the last wall down, Rory is going to see whether or not we have to redo the ceiling. I will cry if we do. Flat out.20140717-200429.jpg

  • New Organic Artisan Soap formulas, scents, and packaging debuting August 1st. Upgrade includes ZERO packaging plastics, tapes or gums and everything is recyclable/biodegrable. #ProTip Reuse the tissue paper and give the best scented gift ever.
  • Shampoo has been reformulated! Every now and again, an ingredient that had been labeled organic looses its certification and I have to scramble to reformulate my products. This is one of the awesome things about small batch crafting, I never buy bulk so I am never stuck with a product I am forced to use because it’s “just on hand”. This means I have an all new formula for you, with the most currently certified ingredients on the market right this second. I know how much you loved the Hemp Silk Shampoo but my raw material supplier decided to switch to less natural ingredient processing processes due to profit loss. Companies get bought out and I am not having any of that noise. The new formula will be released August 1st buuuuuut as a thank you for reading this update, if you would like an adorable one ounce bottle of my new Shine Enhancing Shampoo just shoot me an email, and it’s yours, totally free.




Did you miss Saturday Summary #1?

Can we please buy this car.

One of my biggest regrets in life, probably the biggest regret, is not buying this car the first time my husband and I saw it. We buy near dead cars and drive them “as is” until they totally die and then park them. If the kids ever want a car, they already know they are expected to build one…