Katy's "Don Vardo" for Sale - Tiny House Blog

Katy’s “Don Vardo” for Sale

The other day I gave you a peak at Katy’s Vardo and yesterday she sent me pictures of the completed vardo which she is officially calling the “Don Vardo.” I knew it would be beautiful as Katy’s craftsmanship showed through even in the very beginning of the build. But when I first saw the pictures, all I could say was, Wow! I think you will agree as you look at the pictures below.

Dee Williams sent me a note when she emailed the pictures to me and I laughed at her explanation of towing this little beauty.


“Katy actually finished the vardo up a few days ago and we took it out for a test drive yesterday to
show it off at the park. It was awesome! It handled great on the road and I was able to sneak under those big trees that scare the crud out of me when I’m pulling my house.”

Katy designed it as a writing/guest studio with a pull-out double bed, kitchen nook, desk, radiant heat floors, and exquisite craftsmanship throughout.

The DonVardo is for sale. Katy is offering it for $22,000. The features include:


  • Specially designed 8′ x 10′ trailer providing 4″ of floor insulation
  • Firmly set to the trailer with 4 hurricane ties in the corners and bolts through the sides.
  • Built to building code/road tested
  • Cedar siding
  • Metal roof and flashing over water and ice shield
  • Six wood/clad double hung windows
  • Cedar deck
  • Arched transom window with tempered glass
  • Reclaimed fir for french doors and corbels


  • 8′ x 7′ space
  • Hemlock wall covering and trim detail
  • Cork flooring with electric radiant heat
  • Desk with paperstone top
  • Salvaged made cabinet with brass sink. (drains to a bucket)
  • 24″ bench with cushions (pulls out to make a 45″ bed)
  • Two sconces, one porch light, and LED rope lighting for ceiling accent.
  • Two plugins
  • 30 amp electric box with two, 15 amp circuits

Ready to serve as:

  • Home office
  • Guest Bedroom
  • Writing studio
  • Artist’s retreat
  • Small get-a-way

If you are interested in purchasing the “Don Vardo” please contact Katy at kupiak@mac.com or phone her at 503-577-4566 as usual be sure and let her know you saw it on the Tiny House Blog. The “Don Vardo” is located in Portland, Oregon.

Note: If you prefer to build your own plans are now available. Click here to view more details and click on the “Plans” page to purchase.










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RowdyKittens - December 8, 2009 Reply

WOW – this is beautiful! Thanks for the post Kent. 🙂

Breaking News: Katy’s Don Vardo for Sale - December 8, 2009 Reply

[…] from the Tiny House Blog, has a great post up about Katy’s Don […]

Christina Nellemann - December 8, 2009 Reply

This is one of the most exquisite Vardo builds I have ever seen! A lot of thought went into this.

-billS - December 8, 2009 Reply

Very nice looking. The earlier story someone posted a question about tongue weight. Can you tell us if that posed a problem? With the awesome 2′ deck out back that would appear to add a significant amount of weight to the front. Do they know how much? The reason I ask is I have always wanted to build a TinyHouse on a trailer and the Vardo Style is what I am looking at. Thanks!

    Kent Griswold - December 8, 2009 Reply

    Hi Bill – I talked to Katy yesterday and both she and Dee said the vardo had no issues with tongue weight and that it drove really well both on the freeway and off. There must be sufficient weight with the furniture inside to balance it out. I’ll see if I can get one of them to verify this here if you like…Kent

Epperson - December 8, 2009 Reply

This is very nice looking.

I’m not sure if they’re willing to divulge this information but how much money was spent on materials to build the Vardo?


Michael O'Leary - December 8, 2009 Reply

Beautiful work! This is fantastic stuff and I fee fortunate to have the chance to see it on this blog. The only thing that stumps me is the price on the trailer. At $306 per square foot without a bathroom I just don’t get it.

This past feature had a fully furnished unit for $169 per square foot. Granted it was larger, allowing for certain expenses to be spread and the economies of scale to jump into play – but there is still a huge delta to be explained.

Like any business person I struggle with the methodologies for costing and pricing every day. I’d really be interested in understanding the valuation technique that the builder used to come up with a $25,000 price tag. It may be completely justifiable, or maybe it was the “wet finger, stick in air, pick a price” method (which is pretty common as well).


ej - December 8, 2009 Reply

Elegant! The ceiling and the arched window are beautiful. The interior is full of wood but doesn’t look like a sauna. Looks really well built.

I would have extended the indoor space 2 ft and had the porch fold down. That would make room for a bit of storage. Plus more insulation and a heat source.

dee williams - December 8, 2009 Reply

Great write up on Katy’s Vardo! I wanted to respond to a couple of the questions since Katy is out of town. My understanding is that materials typically run 1/3 of the final price and labor/oversight costs run about 2/3 of the total bill. Katy will have to weigh in on the specifics.

With regard to the high price per square foot, I can only refer to the high quality of materials that were chosen and the craftmanship that was applied. Katy’s vardo is bomb-proof, engineered to handle nasty weather, road trama, and routine use by absent-minded writers and relatives. That quality of construction and design should help it retain its value over time. It’s also important to note that Katy isn’t just a good carpenter or clever builder, she’s a craftsman and it shows in a 1000 different ways in her vardo. It doesn’t feel rustic… it feels rich and perfectly tooled, like a well-made piece of furnature.

I know its hard to fathom paying so much money for something so small, but good things sincerely do come in small packages.

Thanks all! Be well. dee

Daniel - December 8, 2009 Reply

Very nice work. Congrats to completion of this project.


Christin - December 9, 2009 Reply

I absolutely love this vardo. Bravo!

Every detail is perfection. The color choices are exquisite, and if I could afford it I would purchase this myself.

A bathroom of some sort would be a nice addition. But if used as a retreat, I don’t see why a portable toilet would not be sufficient.

I also like Ej’s idea of adding 2′ and having a fold down porch. The extra storage space would make this even more liveable.

frank - December 9, 2009 Reply

nice little pad but its too pricey.i think that white one on this same page for $17.500 is more bang for your buck.

Colleen Peltomaa - December 12, 2009 Reply

It is the preference of each person as to how much value and demand one places on craftsmanship and aesthetic considerations.

I know that myself when I walk into a space that is close to perfect in macro and micro scale a lot of negative energy drops off and I feel very much at home.

However, I have also learned that function comes, if not before form, at least in balance with form. Yes, if one intends to live in it solo then a bathroom with shower, and a little bit larger space is needed.

CHUCK - December 30, 2009 Reply

I do think this little place is beautiful but I am just a poor carpenter and could never afford to buy it, when I could build if for under 3000

    Kent Griswold - December 30, 2009 Reply

    Hi Chuck – not everyone is a carpenter like you so for the right person the price may be just right. I know the trailer alone cost them almost $2000 so if you can pull it off for $3,000 you must know some secrets. The plans for the Vardo will hopefully be available in late January or early February so if you want the details you may want to wait for those.

      Christin - December 31, 2009 Reply

      Thanks for the information about the plans Kent. I’m sure that it’s very difficult to build a vardo as beautiful as this one, but I can see how these plans can be great for builders of all skill levels.

Noreen Crone-Findlay - April 8, 2010 Reply

One thing that I have wondered about when I see the photos of these exquisite vardos and other tiny houses on wheels is- What about rocks flying at those lovely windows as they trundle down the roads?
Do they put shields over the windows to protect them? Having had a rock take out one of the windows in our little old trailer, I know that this does happen….

KJ - June 15, 2010 Reply


How much does the house weigh? And, can the next iteration include a toilet (wet bath?)?

colette - August 15, 2010 Reply

I would also like to know the weight. Would you be willing to weight it and disclose this so potential builders know what ball part they are looking at. It is a basic feature to disclose.

Djanga Sostar - August 28, 2010 Reply

It truly is a beautiful and well made trailer, however, it is quite modern and feels more like an office than a living space. This would be great for anyone who travels around and needs an office on various job sites. And I agree that a bath added in would make this living space far more livable. Since Katy is so skilled at carpentry, I’d love to see what she could do with a traditional vardo be it a Reading or an Open Lot.

GargeCat - July 5, 2011 Reply

Beautiful space. The multiple windows make the unit feel much larger. This would make a great concession stand/small business office type of place.

Jack Storey - December 23, 2011 Reply

Hi, I need to know the weight of the vardo; I will be buying the tow vehicle first, then building the vardo trailer on the back. In Britain the maximum towing weight is 80% of the vehicle weight – so knowing the vardo weight is important!

Clint - January 5, 2015 Reply

Why such beautiful material and workmanship then go so cheap on the cabinet doors and drawer fronts (?). Is there heat and / or AC?

Logan - April 17, 2015 Reply

What does a Don Vardo trailer weigh?

What is the tongue weight?

(questioning if my vehicle can tow it)

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