As you can see, this cabin is on an island, which comes with the cabin: your own island for a mere $350,000, and it comes with the boat to get to the island, which is otherwise a couple hours by car from Chicago. Don’t let the outhouse fool you, there’s septic and a well. There’s not a lot else to it than that—it’s 900 square feet and one of the two bedrooms is basically a sunporch, for better or worse. But it’s simple and cozy, extra-cozy with the wood stove.
This cute cabin stuffs three beds and two baths into its 1,200 square feet, and balances some nice contemporary renovations with its 1930 origins, like the gorgeous original (if low) beams in the kitchen and dining room. There’s a perfect little office, with a work nook next to a corner fireplace—one of two in the house—just off the small but sunny main bedroom; the second bedroom is modern and relatively spacious. The best part? It’s right in the middle of Ogden Dunes, just a couple blocks from Lake Michigan.
Everyone loves an A-frame—it’s just 800 square feet with one bedroom and one bathroom, but the form (literally) elevates it into something light and spacious. This one is pretty spare inside, but the other benefit of A-frames is that they’re dead simple and give you a lot to work with if you want to renovate. Or you can just spend all your time outside, with lake access and a shared pool. What’s in Elkhorn? This house is close to Lauderdale Lakes and the Petersen Island Woods Preserve; not far to the west is the Clifford Messinger Dry Prairie and Savanna Preserve and the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
The main part of this cabin dates to 1865, and it shows; there aren’t a lot of properties like it, at least that you can live in comfortably or without the historical society calling the cops. That’s your main room. The parts that make modern life possible—cooking, showering, sleeping in a comfortable bed, working at your computer next to a window—are all fairly straightforward additions in… well, not the original aesthetic, but in the practical spirit of the original, perhaps. The location is great, near the Fox River with Fox Bluff on the other side. And judging from the contents of the barn, it’s a nice place for skiing.
For a bigger place and a more intensely cabin-y feel, try this 1,568-square-foot, three-bed, three-bath southwest Wisconsin getaway. Few surfaces lack either knotty boards or full-on logs, save for the carport. The two loft bedrooms add to the classic midcentury vacation aesthetic, which look down on a living room with a stone fireplace. Even the bathrooms are floor-to-ceiling wood, making the tub a peaceful getaway-within-a-getaway. It’s tucked in between two small lakes not far from the Illinois-Wisconsin border, a bit over an hour if traffic’s not bad.