My Island Hut in the Woods: A Photographic Tour

Written by Ashley Ladlie

I’ve written about my beautifully unique indoor/outdoor, off the grid, micro-living situation before. I tend to share artsier photos that don’t offer a clear glimpse of what the place actually looks like. Partly because I like to take artsy photos. But mostly because I live in a constant state of clutter— a result of my stuff-loving, chore-avoiding nature, my newly self-employed life status, and of course, the very real fact that I have no space to put anything.

People always seem to have questions about the cottage layout, and so this post has been planned for months. But I keep putting it off for the day when my entire house is clean enough to be photographed. I finally had to admit to myself that that is never going to happen.

So…here it is. In all its very lived-in glory.
Welcome to my hut in the bush.


1. Counter space. Holds dish drainer 99% of the time. Dishes get extra rinse when it rains.

2.  Marine stove with bespoke canvas cover. Whenever I return from a trip, I have to shake out the cover with my long-handled grabber to rid it of any scorpions that may have taken up residence in my absence.

3. Custom sign, “Orchid House,” and home to growing family of Cuban frogs.

4. My front door. Seldom closed.

Note: Space has not looked as tidy since I moved in, and will not until the day I depart.


1. Clean. Yay! Gold Star!

2. Sink full of empty beer cans waiting to be rinsed out for recycling.

3. Coffee

4. Coffee

5. Coffee

6. Coffee

7. Plastic drawers brought from Minnesota and purchased before freshman year of college in 2001. Now full of kitchen wear. Oh, the things we carry with us.

8. Rock garden view out the kitchen window.

9. Under the sink rat mouse hot spot.

1. Stevie Nicks scarf hung over lamp for dramatic, bohemian effect

2. Spice Rack, partly inside soup pot

3. Stevie Nicks scarf #2 blowing in the wind, adding some gypsy flair

4. Mobile closet turned collapsible drying racks

5. Dog bed. Usually inside.

6. One of two barn french doors to indoor living space

1. Ad-hoc ergonomic working space. Moderately effective.

2. Too much to look at. Nature becomes especially fascinating when there’s work to be done.

3. The only furniture I own – bamboo table and four chairs purchased from island’s resident elder hippie / rainbow-sunshine creature / former importer of exotic furniture.

1. Deluxe Mini-Fridge. No more buying in bulk. Which makes no sense for a single person anyway.

2. The “Audi of toaster ovens” according to my dear ex-boyfriend who gifted it to me (in the mail, no less!) over four years ago. This appliance rocks my world.

3. Pantry / Marine Cooler. Rat, bug, moisture proof. Brilliant!

4. Exterior Floor Lamp / Collector of Flying Insects

5. Three containers of jewelry, much of it broken and rusted and waiting to be re-purposed. Containers brought down in the trunk of my car from Minnesota.

6. Charming architectural details that offer even more landing spots for lizard poo.

1. Shower Curtain

2. Extra bamboo chair – no room for it around the table – another surface to pile things on.

3. Twelve pack of unsweetened mineral water. Not beer – more gold stars! (rare)

4. The place where the cisterns, pump, and propane tanks live.

1. Gorgeous basin-style sink

2. Ad-hoc washcloth holder aka plastic liquid measuring cup. Doesn’t hold up well to wind. Is on ground underneath shower as I type this.

3. Shower bench. Sumptuous wood.

4. Privacy Curtain / Draft Blocker

5. Canvas Roof

6. High-end tiles and fixtures that make outdoor living seem quite elegant. No Home Depot sale items here.

1. Towels on ad-hoc towel stand that fell over regularly for over a year until I finally decided last week to just leave it set up in the shower. Fluffy bright nice Kmart towels.

2. Just acknowledging the great sink again. It really pulls the room together.

3. Former compost toilet. Now regular foot-flushing toilet hooked up to small, plant-based septic system too high-tech for me to explain here.

4. Toilet-paper/Paper Toilet storage

5. On Demand Gas-Powered Hot Water Heater House. Hot Hot Water! Only in the bathroom.

6. MASH-y mesh. For ambiance.

1. Closed windows. Since I’ve had screens for the last 6 months, these have stayed open at all times. Even when it rains.

2. Surprisingly comfortable futon / my bed / extra desk

3. Indoor work space, more conducive to productivity than outdoor work space

4. CD collection rarely listened to that I can’t bear to part with – hundreds more in stateside storage

5. Ridiculous thing I sat on in lieu of a desk chair for months. So ergonomically incorrect that I started taking Advil every day for my shoulder pain until I finally decided I deserved and required a big girl office chair.

6. Make up mirror. No full-length mirror. (Where to hang it?) But a light-up, magnified make-up mirror, I can’t live without.

7. Stevie Nicks scarf lamp used to be inside. Now it’s out.

cottagewardrobe-titles-blogedit1. Shoes. Belts. Extra purses. Collects rat mouse poop.

2. Antique wardrobe. Fits less than half of my wardrobe. The rest stuffed into four drawers, two under-the-bed containers, and 1 large beach bag.

3. Suitcases aka linen closet. Towels and sheets are stored on my bed when I pack my bags and go somewhere.

Stormy day view from my bed. At night I look up and out and see the starry sky.

It’s micro. It’s half-outside. But it’s home. And I’m not yet ready for walls again.


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Ashley Ladlie

About Ashley Ladlie

Ashley lives on St. John in the US Virgin Islands where she can be found drenched in sweat while communing with the hermit crabs who live in her yard. The irony of living in a shac-teau on the most remote part of a tiny secondary island in the Caribbean while spending the majority of her time with a creature named after people who prefer solitude is not lost on her.

Despite constant inquiry as to how long she’ll be on St. John, Ashley has learned in her three decades on this planet that setting one’s life plans in stone is the best way to ensure their futility. For now she remains enchanted with the beautiful absurdity on her rock of residence, which is colorful in far more ways than one.

You can hire her to write and design for you at




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24 thoughts on “My Island Hut in the Woods: A Photographic Tour

  1. Wow, that was truly lovely (and funny!). Great little shack you’ve got there. Almost makes me willing to brave the buggies! Thanks for sharing your home.

    • Hi Jessi. I love how bugs don’t bother me like they used to…I’m a way more resilient me! Glad you enjoyed! Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment.

  2. Thanks for sharing your home with all of us. I live in a slightly bigger house. My desk/office/art studio/dresser room is 95% of the time a poster child for chaos. However, what is great about this house is that we do have a noa fide living room that even LOOKS like a living room. I can always keep the living room neat because I can stuff all that I have left in it ( since I use the table there as my craft desk since the one in my office/studio is too cluttered to actually use –except that I know where everything on it is) back to my desk/office and then bring it back there for my net craft project. Good exercise running up and downstairs as I clutter one room and clean up the other!

  3. would you mind sharing? We hope to be moving to St. John area. Husband might have a job on STT. What kind of work do you do? I am looking for some options.
    I love your home. It fits right in with my idea of a place to live. I’m interested in solar- have a guy here that might be a resource- but how did you manage there- lol- where are you? I haven’t read enough to know.

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