By Lauren Etter, The Wall Street Journal A different sort of mobile home is gaining popularity, making its way from Europe to the U.S. The brightly colored gypsy caravan, once used by Romany families, traveling salesmen and circus performers, is reappearing — this time used by affluent homeowners as guesthouses, party spaces and studios. The most ornate of the wagons resemble giant Fabergé eggs, with gilded woodcarvings, cut glass mirrors and red velvet interiors. Earlier this year, a wealthy Russian throwing a party for his daughter's 25th birthday on a Greek island decided a gypsy caravan would add a nice touch. He called Kees Hoekstra, who specializes in refurbishing antique caravans and building modern replicas. Hoekstra had two to offer: one newly built; the other a restored antique, about 65 years old, with a marble mantelpiece and intricate carvings. Hoekstra sold the two for about $75,000. Post continues below "They sent two trucks from Greece to pick them up," says Hoekstra. "They ended up painting them gold on the outside." Hoekstra, a Dutchman living in southern France, started his business nearly 20 years ago. He sells at least half a dozen a year and often has a waiting list of equal size. Under his guidance, craftsmen in the Czech Republic build the wagons from scratch, carving intricate patterns on the exteriors and adding brass trim, and, if requested, sandblasting the windows with floral designs. It takes about six weeks to build a new caravan, he says, with up to eight men working full time.
Many of Hoekstra's clients are affluent owners of large estates from across Europe, particularly in France, Spain and Sweden. Typically, he sells empty wagons. "Clients love to buy the stuff for the caravans," he says. But he sometimes does interior decorating, procuring furnishings and materials at flea markets in France.The price of his caravans ranges from $30,000 for a simple design to about $60,000 for the most ornate.
Gypsy caravans emerged in the 1850s as the Romany people traveled across Europe. British stagecoach builders fashioned some of the finest wagons in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the Romany families decked them out to suit their personal style. The fanciest looked like Victorian parlors of the era. The wagons fell out of favor in the early 1900s; those that survive are collectors' items that can fetch well over $100,000. The value of a caravan depends largely on the intricacy of its woodcarvings and the quality of its interior. "It's a piece of movable art," says Tim Jasper, a designer whose eponymous U.K.-based design firm builds garden wagons, as he calls them, or upscale, modern gypsy caravans. His first wagon, built in 2010, was featured at the Chelsea Flower Show that year. The wagon was inspired by the opera "La Bohème," which he says is reflected in its hand-hammered copper panels on the outside and silk curtains on the inside. It also has an oak interior and a flat-screen TV.
Jasper has built three more wagons since then, including one sent to the estate of a German prince and another to a chateau in France. The flower-show wagon, sold for nearly $130,000, is at a castle in England. The caravans are starting to gain a foothold in the U.S. In 2013, Hoekstra posted an ad online seeking an American partner. He found one in Wally and Victoria Roth of Bend, Ore. Roth built his first wagon in 2005 — a crimson, gold-gilded Reading style. He sold it for $150,000 to a wealthy ranch owner in Colorado who used it as an ornament on her property. Now, he is finishing a small, $20,000 wagon for a woman to put on her riverfront lot. It features a hand-carved dragon and phoenix on either side of the door. The client, Christina Giltzow, a teacher in the Los Angeles area, says she fantasized about owning a wagon ever since she saw one in the movie "Lassie Come Home" as a girl. "It's like a little dream come true," she says about her vacation home.
Author:Mike Siers Phone: 252-489-3861 Dated: September 3rd 2014 Views: 957 About Mike: Mike is a top producer in the Nations top Privately owned Real Estate company, Howard Hanna. With a...
About Outer Banks Real Estate Mike and Stacy Siers Howard Hanna
We could give you the scripted bio, but it is the age of Google. Believe me when I say if you are online, you can be found. I want to tell you what you may not know.
Stacy and I have been together for most of our lives. We enjoy being around each other so much we work together. I like to say she keeps me balanced. I have been fortunate to work for many people and companies throughout the Mid Atlantic region and feel that experience has helped me understand people and situations. I have been doing sales for about 20 years, construction during 10 of those years and have managed a few companies along the way. Stacy, operated a HVAC company, managed retail and restaurants. Stacy started in Real Estate in 2008, not the best time if you dare to remember the real estate crash. She motivated me to get my license in 2009 and I started in 2010. I looked at the bad real estate market as an opportunity. A time to learn the market from the bottom up. A time to learn how to sell real estate when no one could buy it. In one of my past jobs, I learned the who, what, whens and hows of sales. I could move products! When I bought my first house out of college, I learned this was one of the most important purchases I would ever make. So when we work with clients, it is about them. We want to know why you are looking, how you want to use the house or what you are selling. What memories you have made from this house. We believe real estate is about people and relationships. We are fortunate to build friendships through real estate. It usually means we go to a lot of dinners in the summer when folks are down. (I really love that part)
The wrap up, Stacy and I won't sell you a house on The Outer Banks of North Carolina. We will work with you, share our knowledge, provide facts and dig for information on every home you are interested in and hopefully grab a bite to eat and share the memories you are making!
"December 16, 2013.....
This letter is in regards to our experience with Outer Banks real-estate agent Mike Nolan. This fall we were looking to relocate from Northern Virginia into the Outer Banks area. In meeting Mike on-line we discussed some of our needs as potential full time residents and offered him a few houses we searched and wanted to see when we came down. Mike was a great agent. He was receptive to our two dogs that had to travel with us. Mike is very knowledgeable and offered us a pet friendly hotel at which to stay and a local opinion of the best places to visit during the late fall season. The house hunt was easy. It didn’t take long to find the perfect match in Nags Head. Mike was familiar with the builder and sellers agent which helped us work out a great price. While we sold our house in Northern Virginia, Mike took care of much of the inspection and contract items. It really helped having an agent we could trust. Shortly after the move we ran into Mike at a local grocery store. It was nice to know we not only met a great agent but a neighbor and a friend.
Laura and Adonis