By Cheri Sicard
Meet Stefanie Fisher. After finding herself with a lot of time on her hands during the COVID lockdown, she decided to learn some new skills and undertake a new project. The result is her gypsy wagon (also known as a vardo), one of the most creative DIY RV builds we have seen.
Stefanie named her DIY RV “Misty.” You can follow their adventures on her website, My Tiny Wagon.
In the video below we get to go inside Misty while Stefanie talks about what it took to build her.
It cost Stefanie about $15,000 to build this stylish and functional 84-square-foot vardo RV. Although she did put in the disclaimer that she was fortunate to have bought the wood for the project before the prices went up.
Of course, it did take some skills. Stefanie had remodeled a couple of homes in the past and considered herself “handy.” But she says she didn’t have a background in building.
Stefanie had originally planned to put solar panels on the roof and even hired a contractor to help. When he bailed on her, she instead decided to keep it mobile and use a Jackery solar generator for her electricity needs. (I personally own a Jackery 1500 and I love it!)
The rounded roof of the gypsy wagon makes the interior of the tiny space appear more spacious.
While she chose not to go over the top with color and décor, as would be the case in an authentic vardo, Stefanie did add stylish architectural elements to nonetheless give her RV that gypsy wagon feel. They also work practically, too, as she demonstrates in the video.
Some practical advantages and features of Stefanie’s DIY gypsy wagon RV design
- It’s lightweight. Using birch plywood kept the weight down but also produced the visual aesthetic Stefanie was going for.
- It can be towed by a car or a truck.
- It was possible to do virtually the entire build by herself (with some basic skills of course). The only things she got help with were the installation of the propane gas lines and the roof.
- The exterior features a covered fold-down deck that adds about 30 square feet to the overall living space.
- Using aromatic cedar on the counters keeps the vardo smelling fresh.
- Practically placed windows provide excellent cross ventilation.
- A stylish Dutch door provides airflow when half is opened, but security against the dog getting out.
- A beautiful epoxied pullout table adds workspace of dining space when needed
- The kitchen includes a small 3-way refrigerator, 3 burner stove, and small oven
- Water comes via a low-tech water foot pump
- It has a flushable porta-potty.
- Full-size memory foam bed.
- A pull-out step that makes it easy for the dog (or Stefanie) to hop up into the sleeping area.
- Lots of storage throughout both the interior and exterior.
- Low maintenance cedar tongue and groove exterior. An annual coat of stain to protect the wood is all that’s necessary to protect the wood and keep it looking great.
- 4 inches of roof insulation, and 2 inches in the walls and the floor.
- Stylish space to hide three large propane bottles that fuel both interior and exterior appliances. This includes an outdoor stove and oven and a portable water heater for dishes or showers.
Watch the video for the full tour and commentary.