84 sq. ft. Gypsy Wagon

a truly small house

This project started as a bucket list item for me. What I didn’t know was that it was also on my neighbor Jill’s bucket list! Once we discovered this, we pulled out pencil and paper and got to work on what would become complex and exciting design collaboration. Jill and Ken were recently retired; this was to be their second home — their home on the road.

Jill and I studied gypsy wagons, modern RV’s, train cars and tiny homes and borrowed elements from each. While it is less than 8 ft. by 12 ft., this modern vardo has a queen size bed, bathroom, refrigerator, hot and cold running water, holding tanks, a furnace, AC and DC electricity, storage cabinets and a fold down porch. It is solar-powered and completely self-contained. The wagon is insulated as well.

One of the primary design objectives was to keep it light. Not an easy task given that it contains all of the luxuries of home. At 2,700 pounds we felt we did pretty well. The exterior shell is thin tongue and groove strips of douglas fir with fiberglass on the outside creating a lightweight but extremely strong and waterproof shell.

The ledge brackets were designed and hand forged by friend and artist Scott Kessel. We designed the roof to look like an old canvas roof by folding the Dynel (like fiberglass) fabric to create overlaps that had more of a traditional look. At one point I was even grinding nail heads to give them a smaller, less uniform look. It is particularly tricky to get the proportions right on a dwelling this small! The windows and doors had to be scaled to fit visually but so did the hardware (which I ended up making for all of the windows because we couldn’t find what we wanted).

The wagon is currently on its second cross-country journey, attracting many curious souls as it goes. Jill and Ken have described it as “magical.”

–Greg Ryan
Designer/Builder
theymightbegypsies (AT) gmail.com

a happy couple at home on the road 3

5 Responses to 84 sq. ft. Gypsy Wagon

  1. Anon says:

    it’s a beauty. Love the wood, detail, and all the explanation of “attention to detail”.

    only one complaint…

    more pictures, please.

  2. Would love to see more details of how you did it (floor plan) and photos of the inside. Looks gorgeous from what I can see on the outside.

  3. Tom says:

    I love that it only weighs 2700#. How are the inside walls finished and what did you use for insulation?

  4. Kathy McClintock says:

    Wow! What pride of craftsmanship! Gorgeous. Yes, to all the above questions & requests!

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