Scott Newkirk’s New York Cabin in the Woods

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Scott Newkirk is a fashion stylist and interior designer based in New York, and as you can imagine he has a pretty busy schedule during the week. However, when spring arrives he spends every weekend he can in his small, off-grid cabin located in Yulan, NY.

New York Cabin in the Woods 1 -  Scott Newkirk - Humble Homes

The rustic cabin is only 300 square feet in size and has no running water or electricity. The lack of modern amenities reflects Newkirk’s wish to “switch off” from the busy life he leads during the week. There’s no TV, and definitely no computer. If he wants to take a bath he has to visit the nearby brook. It’s truly off-grid, a complete disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city.

New York Cabin in the Woods 2 -  Scott Newkirk - Humble Homes

Before building his beautifully finished cabin, Newkirk had been visiting the site and staying in a wood-frame tent. Unfortunately the wood-frame tent was burned down. Not one to be dismayed Newkirk seized the opportunity to create a more permanent structure on the land.

After reading the 1973 eco-architecture book, Handmade Houses: A Guide to the Woodbutcher’s Art, Newkirk was inspiring to create his own small, handcrafted house constructed from recovered and salvaged materials. After the tent fire in 2003, he started to sketch out his own ideas.

New York Cabin in the Woods 3 -  Scott Newkirk - Humble Homes

The cabin measures only 14-by-14 feet and took two years to complete, with the help of three different builders. According to Newkirk it was difficult to find local builders that embraced his ideas concerning simple, eco-friendly construction: “I finally found a talented and dependable local guy, Craig Petrasek, to complete construction with reclaimed wood, extend the deck area, and build the stone patio.”

New York Cabin in the Woods 4 -  Scott Newkirk - Humble Homes

The cabin is constructed with a traditional post-and-beam frame. Several reclaimed elements have been incorporated, including old square-head nails that have been used to fast the exterior siding and floor. The side windows are handmade, whereas the large glass-panelled windows on the front are standard aluminium frames that have been clad in wood.

New York Cabin in the Woods 5 -  Scott Newkirk - Humble Homes

The completed project also contains an outhouse, guest house and an outdoor shower. From Newkirk: “The house reminds me of every fort I built in the woods as a kid growing up in Jackson, Mississippi.” His parents visit every year and stay from July to October in another cabin that’s also off-grid and without modern utilities. “I stress that, because they actually live off the grid full-time, and they are 75 years old. Being able to provide them with a getaway and spend time with them is pretty precious.”

For more retreats check out Quebrada House, a lofted getaway hidden among the trees of a forest in central Chile. Or the Sol Duc, a 350 square foot cabin on stilts designed by Olson Kundig Architects. See all retreats.

Via Inthralld
Photos: Dean Kaufman

11 Comments

  1. “Wow” is an understatement!! I would love to live here year-round–it would be a bit challenging in the winter but… It’s nice to see something rustic but also beautifully decorated…and not shaped like a bowling alley (no disrespect to many tiny house lovers). More inspiration for my future off-grid living! Thanks!!! DLB

  2. Deb – Agreed, it’s simply stunning. I always find myself caught between the rustic, character-filled timber cabins and the clean lines of modern building. There’s such a homey feel to these types of house; I think anyone could settle in without a hiccup or a second thought.

  3. Marsha Cowan on

    Absolutely wonderful! It reminds me of the one room log cabin I used to live in at my Aunt’s house in Virginia. We raised tobacco and lived way out away from the nearest city, so we had no running water or electricity. We actually brought our water up in buckets from an artesian well on the property about a quarter mile away, had kerosene lanterns for light, and a large wood stove for cooking and heat. Of course, there was the outdoor “john”, and those who could not fit on a pallet on the floor downstairs slept up in the loft under the tin roof. As I got older I watched them add a lean-to kitchen out the back for the stove and a table with chairs, and later a small room out front for a piano, but that is as large as it ever got, and there were sometimes as many as 7 or 8 of us cousins living there during tobacco season with the family. I really miss that lifestyle. We were very happy and healthy people. My Aunt Hattie still lives in that house today and I try to get down there with my own family as often as I can. Once, my children and I hiked down through the trees and weeds (it has grown up a lot since the new well went in years ago) until we found the opening from which the artesian well bubbled. We cleared away the weeds, and there it was, still as clear as a bell, and still under the tin lid my uncle had put over it to keep out the animals. We all drank from it in a tin dipper my aunt still kept at the house. It was a wonderful moment and let my children know a little more about my roots and who I was. Your house takes me there. You did a wonderful job!

  4. Wow! What a terrific house. Any chance there are some plans for this available. Many thanks for the photos and write up. Again, what a great house.

    • Robert – I have a feeling that there aren’t any plans, or at least they’re not publicly available. I’ll have to have a snoop around and see if I can find anything haha.

  5. Niall, Thanks, I didn’t figure there were much in the way of plans, I’d really like to see the loft. I have a good idea how it is framed but a photograph would confirm. Thanks again, and what a great place.

  6. I was so impressed with de design of this cabin, had to find out more which led me to here. Was hoping for some kind of plan, but, there should be enough here for an architect to put something together that would be close to this one.

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