Anyone who’s a fan of Etsy knows you can spend too many hours browsing the wonderful stores and handmade items on the online crafter’s marketplace. One such item is large enough to live inside. Tom in Canaan, NY owns the Etsy shop pinecountry and is selling custom build Vardo wagons to be used as campers, retreats, hideaways or a tiny house.
The Vardo featured above is 8′ 6″ long, 6′ 5″ inches wide and 5′ 5″ tall. It only weighs 1,100 lbs empty and is made of lightweight pine laminated and bonded to plywood. It is going for $7,000. Tom said this adds strength which allows for fewer braces and less weight. Tom has 15 years of experience building with wood and usually builds country style tables. He started building the Vardo as an alternative to camping in a tent.
“We first thought we would build a teardrop trailer, but then we fell in love with the Vardo design,” Tom said. “Our take is a more country than the traditional gypsy wagon. To us it combines the best of the Vardo design and a simple rustic cabin into one.”
Tom finds the building process interesting and definitely different from a pine table and enjoys the complexity of this type of build.
“All of the compound angles make the build a challenge,” he said. “Part of the charm I think of my Vardos is the multiple angles.”
Tom is available to build any custom feature a client may want. From the start to finish the build typically takes about six to eight weeks since he only builds one at a time.
“Sleeping in the Vardo is wonderful,” Tom said. “It is insulated and tight. So it is pretty quiet inside. We climb in at night while at a campground and once we close the door we don’t hear the noises outside.”
Photos by pinecountry
by Jim Mangum
Totally insulated. It has tiny appliances in a tiny kitchen area with working window…jalousie windows on both sides of the bed…transom window above it…artwork/awning/window box on the “romance side” of the wagon…faux wood stove…a/c…bed with pull out dining table…and soon the porch will have a propane outdoor shower and cassette toilet hidden away inside a plywood box seat…all surrounded by outdoor privacy curtains.
It was built on a 8 x 5′ Tractory Supply trailer and we will be using it primarily as a writing studio…my wife and i are both authors…and a guest house when the kids/grandkids come.
Jim Maangum Bastrop, TX
Wally and Victoria Roth of Bend, Oregon have experience in building exquisite carousel horses, cabinets, boat building and yacht restoration, but their designs really come to life in their re-creations of their Romani “Gypsy”* Caravans. Their goal for the custom design is to come as close as possible to the original look and feel of the caravans that can still be found around England today.
The Romani were a group of people who arrived in Europe from northern India around the 14th century. Their travels in wagons much like the Roth’s took them across the continent to Great Britain and even into North America, Brazil and Australia. Many of the Romani groups traveled and lived in these wagons which they called a vardo, waggon, van or caravan. They were traditionally horse-drawn and decorated and painted in bright colors with gilded accents. The British Romani during the mid-1800s to the early 20th century were thought to have the most artistic designs.
The Roth’s caravans feature Victoria’s decorative painting skills and decor which includes using silk, satin, velvet and lace. The couple do all the construction, carving and painting of their caravans. Their designs are not meant to travel down the road, but Wally and Victoria offer their works of art as a tiny home, guest house, art studio, meditation or healing space or just a wonderful addition to a backyard.
Photos by Gypsy Vans by Roth
* Many Romani feel the term “gypsy” is a derogatory term. The word “gypsy” is a short form of the word “Egyptian” since many cultures at the time mistook them for being from Egypt. The term “gypsy” should never be used in connection with any other nomadic group of people other than the Romani as they are the only group to have been mistaken as being Egyptian. To class any other group as being “gypsy” or “gipsy” is a form of racism built on anti-Romani stereotypes and prejudices. Hence the Tiny House Blog puts the term in quotes.
Abel Zyl of Zyl’s Vardos sent me some photos and information on his latest build. A tiny house called the Little Bird which resides in Portland, Oregon. I hope to visit it in October as my daughter is a good friend of the owner, so expect another update then. In the meantime, here are some of the details and some great photos.
Able says: I can’t quite believe how beautiful of a little ‘pocket’ in the city this house has become. Credit to the owner for all the surrounding elements.
This house is 22 feet long by 8 feet wide. It has a cedar exterior, copper roof (fabricated by Abel from sheet copper), and handmade windows all around. The stained glass windows are restored and set in frames Abel built. It has wood heat, on demand hot water & shower, and a composting type toilet. The owner uses an electric cook top, which she stows away (that is why you do not see it in the photos.)
The Little Bird house cost around $50,000. It was constructed in five months and no plans are available. This is a client design with Abel’s engineering. Abel builds both clients’ designs and he builds his own designs.
As for Zyl Vardos: Abel is booked thru the next year or so, but happily accepting future builds (just not anything run-of-the-mill).
Zyl Vardos, Olympia WA