The Art of Home in Midcoast Maine

An artist and photographer maximize the enjoyment and beauty of life in a renovated church in midcoast Maine.

| May/June 2015

  • Pesto is one of Erin’s favorite things to make, so she’s devoted an entire garden bed to basil. She froze 48 jars of pesto last year.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • Elisabeth loves tending the chickens and collecting their eggs, as well as helping her parents in the family’s extensive vegetable gardens.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • Mark and Erin renovated an old church to create an open, light-filled home with expansive, gallery-like walls.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • Elisabeth is a gifted writer who makes up stories and scripts.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • Mark harvests chard, a crop Erin says she eats pretty much every day.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • Erin and Mark value creativity and artistic output, and they’ve designed a home that incorporates their family’s ongoing creations.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • Mark and Erin wanted to find a space that could accommodate artists’ studios for each of them. Mark prefers his office chaotic and full of inspiration.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • As a photographer, Erin considers light a crucial element in a space.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • The Little's home is filled with creative energy and family-made art.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • A tall red gallery wall in the dining room makes the perfect place to display family-made art. One of Erin’s favorite pieces in the house is the series of paper cutouts mounted on roof tiles, hanging on the wall behind Mark.
    Photo by Greta Rybus
  • Erin and Mark collect salvaged and antique furnishings and décor, making the reclaimed church a perfect fit for their aesthetic sensibilities.
    Photo by Greta Rybus

For Erin and Mark Little, creating a home is an extension of the artistry and beauty they aim for in every aspect of their lives. With its gallery-like walls filled with family-made art; antique and salvaged furnishings from their Maine explorations; and lush, jungly gardens, Erin and Mark’s home is uniquely their own—with a style that seamlessly blends traditional and modern with their own artistry.

Revivalist Movement

In 2012, Erin was searching for a new home for her family—which includes Mark, Erin and 8-year-old Elisabeth. Erin and Mark hoped to find a space that could accommodate living and working, with enough room for an art studio and a photography studio, yet something small enough to be manageable. Although she sought something small and efficient, most of the houses Erin had seen were historic buildings that required complete renovation to make them livable.

“What about that crazy old church?” Mark asked Erin one day. On a major road, a renovated church had been home to a number of businesses throughout the previous decade, then sat empty for several years after a counseling center had moved out. Erin was doubtful about the space, but she decided to go take a look at it. It was love at first sight. “I came here and walked in the first room, then I looked at my realtor and said, ‘That’s it. I want it,’” she says.

As a photographer, one of Erin’s first priorities is a space with great light. With its 8-foot-high windows and tall ceilings, the church is flooded with light at all times of day. And although the commercially zoned space needed some renovations to make it ready for residential living—it had no kitchen, for example—most of the major renovations, including updating the insulation and plumbing and installing walls to separate spaces, had been done by previous owners. After overcoming some difficulties in financing the commercial space for a residence, Erin and Mark were the owners of the church.

They set to work making the space their own, spending more than a month doing nothing but painting the interior’s grand walls. They collected materials from Craigslist and antique stores to create their own brand of eclectic, classic décor. “We don’t like anything new,” Erin says. “I’m always disappointed by the quality of the things being made now. Everything seems not built to last. In Maine, we have all kinds of antique and flea markets. If we buy a table that’s already lasted more than 100 years, I figure it will last 100 more.”

Made by Hand

Personalizing their home wasn’t a challenge for Mark and Erin—they feel an imperative to create and surround themselves with art. “My husband’s an artist and I am, as well,” Erin says. “Elisabeth is really creative, too. We’re constantly trying to infuse this into day-to-day life. Life can get tedious, so we try to make up things and try a lot of different things. We’re always making something, whether it’s food or a painting. There’s a lot of creating going on. We all really thrive on that.”



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