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 Nolan Phone: 252-207-4898 Dated: September 3rd 2014 Views: 921 About Mike: Mike is the Broker-in-Charge of Waterfront Properties OBX and has been successfully involved in real...
Waterfront Properties OBX is a privately owned company specializing in sales, leasing and land development of residential and commercial real estate on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX).
Michael P. Nolan, Broker-in-Charge, has been successfully involved in real estate on the OBX since 1989. Mike was involved in the initial and / or development of the following premier communities and businesses located on OBX: Pirates Cove, Corolla Light, The Currituck Club, Pine Island, Old Nags Head Place, The Berkley Manor, Beachside Landing, Ocean Trail Realty and Ocracoke Island Realty to name a few.
Mike was the first resident of Pirates Cove community in 1988. He toured Rees Jones, famed golf course architect, the first time Rees saw the property now known as The Currituck Club on Feb. 18, 1995. Mike managed the sales and marketing while Rees Jones, Inc designed and developed The Currituck Club golf course from a combination of dense woods and sand dunes into one of the top 50 new resort golf courses in North America by Golf Digest magazine in 1997. Mike also developed Old Nags Head Place, a community of homes located within Nags Head with an architectural design reminiscent of the original Nags Head landscape, with cedar siding, exposed rafters and preservation of the indigenous live oakes within the community
From Corolla to Ocracoke Island, Mike's expertise in all facets of real estate sales, development, leasing and investment are available for buyers, sellers and investors to explore the many opportunities the OBX has to offer
"August 24, 2013.....
Subject: Michael P Nolan, NC Real Estate Broker.....
Over the past 10 years I have known Mike as my real estate broker, and then as a family friend. As my broker, Mike made the process of selling my property a very easy process. From start to finish, all details of the transaction were done with complete professionalism. Since then, Mike has continued to be a friend of the family. Rarely do you meet and work with someone that continues to care after the work is done, but Mike is there always with a helping hand. His real estate experience on the Outer Banks for over 20 + years has been very successful, with the main reason, Mike’s determination to help his clients needs and make sure that they are protected in this ever changing real estate industry.
I highly recommend Mike Nolan as a real estate broker to help both buyers and sellers looking for property on the Outer Banks of NC. His knowledge and experience are the mark of a true professional. For the security of your investment, you can trust Mike.
Ms. Janet D. Anderson
Kill Devil Hills, NC