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Architect’s home inspired by Native American, Scandinavian design

Design New England
One end of the studio is designed to house lawn mowers and garden equipment.
One end of the studio is designed to house lawn mowers and garden equipment. Trent Bell

Growing up in Cooperstown, New York, where his father was an educator at The Farmers’ Museum, architect Eric Reinholdt became enamored of agricultural and Iroquois buildings. Both styles, so distinctive on their own, share an openness in their construction. Today, his home and studio on the backside of Maine’s scenic Mount Desert Island express those passions.

Reinholdt lives with his wife, Laura, and sons Sig, 11, and Henning, 13, in Long House, a 20-by-80-foot contemporary home inspired by traditional Native American and Scandinavian design. The companion Long Studio is a 12-by-32-foot building that provides Reinholdt with a 17-step commute to his office, the 30×40 Design Workshop, as well as a practice space for his sons’ garage band.

The standing-seam metal roof and wide boards give it the look of a barn while the unadorned fir plywood walls and furnishings from IKEA and Room & Board speak to the designer’s utilitarian aesthetic. —Trent Bell

It also houses the production studio for the YouTube videos that Reinholdt produces as part of his design work. Divided between residential architectural services and ancillary products, his practice encompasses plans, books, and a blog.

He is the author and publisher of the two-volume Architect and Entrepreneur and The Unofficial Guide to Houzz.com. Reinholdt’s YouTube channel, thirtybyforty.com/youtube, features 125 design videos (14 of which chronicle the design and construction of Long Studio) and has some 120,000 subscribers.

Outside, an alcove serves as a woodshed. —Trent Bell

The Reinholdts moved to Maine from Connecticut in 2001 when Laura, a geneticist, was hired to do research at The Jackson Laboratory on Mount Desert. Eric worked with Elliott + Elliott Architecture in Blue Hill, Maine, for 12 years before launching 30×40 Design Workshop in 2013.

“Thirty by forty are the dimensions of old English barns,” says Reinholdt. “Barns are the perfect examples of large, open, multipurpose spaces.” His Long Studio, a one-story white building with a standing-seam metal roof, is a large, open, multipurpose space that embodies Reinholdt’s agrarian aesthetic.

The distinctive slatted barn door allows in light even when closed. —Trent Bell

To give the studio an agricultural look and to distinguish it from the more finished main house, Reinholdt made innovative use of fiber-cement HardiePanel siding. The foot-wide planks are twice the width of the clapboards on the house, identifying the studio as a more utilitarian space.

A pair of 5-foot-wide sliding barn doors open the studio to the driveway and yard on one side. On the opposite wall, slot-style windows, set low to frame the adjacent woods and wetlands while the viewer is seated, create visual tension.

In keeping with the simple, humble aesthetic Reinholdt seeks, the interior is finished in Douglas fir plywood and gypsum wallboard with a honed concrete floor. The lighting is industrial, and a wall-mounted heat pump warms the space.

Reinholdt grabs some wood for the fire pit, where his wife and sons gather beneath the pines. —Trent Bell

The 384-square-foot studio is divided into three equal parts: drum kit and guitars at one end, computer and work space at the other, and a meeting space with a large worktable in the middle. Lofts at each end provide storage and reading space. Outside, 4-foot-deep recesses house lawn mowers, bikes, garden tools, and a generator at one end and firewood at the other.

Reinholdt refers to his home and studio as “avatar buildings,” variants on a basic theme at the heart of his design practice. With a strong show-and-tell ethic inherited from his father, he not only documents his work in drawings, plans, photographs, and videos, but also considers the buildings themselves as teaching tools. “The construction doubles as the finish,” says Reinholdt of their unadorned material minimalism. “The studio exposes everything about the means of construction.”

The beauty of the Long Studio is its simplicity. The seams, joints, fastenings, finishes, and furnishings are all as elementary and exposed as can be. What you see is how it’s made.

See more photos of the home:

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