Located 20 miles east of mainland Maine on the 0.7-square-mile island of Criehaven (technically Ragged Island, but we’ll stick with what the “locals” call it), Criehaven Cottage has long been a favorite off-grid cabin of ours. Designed as a writer's retreat for a retired Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism professor, the isolated cottage is the epitome of a building designed to handle the harsh island elements and supply just what the owner needs, and little else.

For over four decades the owner had held a plot on the isolated island, though little was ever done with it—that’s not to say there wasn’t interest, but as one may assume building on such a location equates to nothing short of a logistical nightmare. Then the owner’s own daughter grew up, started an architecture practice (Alex Scott Porter Architects + Design), and all fell into place. The result is a humble yet handsome writer’s retreat where the entire family can commune together.

Much of the home makes use of elementary materials commonly found at any hardware store, making repairs and maintenance easy (something that’s especially important when said hardware store is a lengthy boat ride away). Heavy-duty corrugated steel panels close off the more vulnerable windows when the owner’s are away, solar panels offer electricity and supplies warm water when needed—a rain catchment system provides said water—and a composting toilet handles exactly what you think it does.

In short, this minimalist cabin is exactly what an off-grid retreat is supposed to be—refined yet comfortable, and totally self-sustaining.