As alternative power becomes more efficient, it’s easier to live off the grid than ever before—but it’s still not easy. What you’re looking at used to be a falling-apart shed used mostly for storing rusty yard tools and mouse droppings. The floor had rotted out, the roof leaked, and if you were standing in there when the wind blew, your hair moved. But the structure was good—the bones, as they say. It’s about 18 by 12. It’s in a semirural backyard, about 200 yards from the house, but it could well be in the middle of the woods, or on a river, miles from any place. The idea came about to restore it as a functional, self-sufficient escape, with heat and electricity. No running water, but that could be done if it was needed. The woodstove is a Morsø 2B, a model produced by the Denmark-based foundry from 1934 to 2000. This one was on Craigslist for $240. The rotten floor was ripped up and carted away, replaced by a layer of Roxul insulation (the vermin don’t like it, nor does moisture) and this sweet tongue-in-groove pine floor from a local (well, two hours away) mill. The fire-rated bricks are from Home Depot. The angle-iron penning in the brick hearth was sold and cut ...