Monthly Archives: September 2012

Humble simplicity: Inside the Amish home

Have you caught that new show on TLC called Breaking Amish? I have been watching it with great fascination and equal amounts of discomfort. Witnessing young Amish and Mennonite adults getting drunk for the first time and dropping spit from penthouses in New York City is truly cringe-worthy.

image from:

Apart from feeling really badly for the young people who are, um, being slightly exploited for television ratings, I also find the glimpses into the daily lives of Amish people very compelling. There’s a lot of talk that the show is staged – which wouldn’t surprise me – but it does give us a fleeting look inside the elusive Amish household where cameras have rarely, if ever, been allowed.

Old Order Amish farm house (1941), Lancaster Pennsylvania, image from:,_Pennsylvania

In the small town where I live in Colorado, there is a sizable Mennonite community. Mennonites, however, are not nearly as conservative and insular as most Amish communities back east (for example, the Mennonite people here text away on cell phones, drive cars, and hang out at Village Inn).

So a peek inside the homes of Amish people is completely tantalizing for a house-loving (culturally curious) person like me.

I admire the quiet, uncomplicated lifestyle of the Amish and so (at the risk of being voyeuristic and exploitative) I would like to take a closer look inside the Amish home…

Although modest and simple, the typical Amish house reflects the importance of the family, daily work, and humility.

– from:

When we think of an Amish home, we often think of an old 19th century structure without electricity such as the home below…

That’s a photo of The Amish Farm and House tourist attraction in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Even though there are some Amish families who live in newer construction homes, most Amish homes are typically large old farmhouses with 2 stories to accommodate large, extended families. (The average Amish family has 6-7 children).

Exterior house colors are usually white, or natural – anything but flashy.

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House peeping in Buena Vista, Colorado

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

I spent a few lazy days in Buena Vista Colorado over the past couple of months so I thought I’d share a couple BV house pics with you. Note the log cabin (above) with Victorian trim work!

And how about this small purple bungalow with lime green shutters…

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

Matching vintage bicycle placed just so by the front porch – sweet!

Buena Vista (or Bee-you-nee as the locals call it) is a small mountain town with a population of about 3,000 located in the Upper Arkansas Valley nestled along the base of the Collegiate Peaks.

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

It’s just beautiful. There are many cute cottages, cabins, and Victorian style homes throughout the tree-lined streets of Buena Vista.

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Rezoned and Repurposed: The Victorian Church Inn

image courtesy of Barb from the Victorian Church Inn

Today I am featuring another local conversion just down the highway from me – a church that was converted into a residential rental and has recently been given new life as a vacation rental.

image courtesy of Barb from Victorian Church Inn

The Victorian Church Inn is located in Florence, Colorado. It dates back to 1902 when it was built as the First Church of Science.

image courtesy of Barb from the Victorian Church Inn

The church was converted to a house in the 1970’s and rented out for the next few decades. It was then vacated and was for sale for a long time – I remember seeing the listing a year or two ago. Then a local couple bought the building last fall and spent the next few months fixing it up and redecorating.

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One of a kind… Agua Luna Ranch in Texas

My Spanish is really rudimentary but I *think* “Agua Luna” means water moonor perhaps it’s supposed to be moon water. In any case, this off-grid octagonal cabin is located in the area of Terlingua Ranch in west Texas. (Terlingua = earth tongue??)

It’s kind of an odd dwelling, but it is indeed a house for humans – or a getaway cabin if you don’t want to do the off-grid goat-herding thing year round. It has no electrical service or public water or sewer, but it does have solar and wind power and a rain catchment system.

Have a peek inside…

image from:

(I love how the chimney snakes up to exit through the center eye of the octagonal roof.)

The house comes fully furnished with wind powered appliances.

There is a bathroom, but it is rustic…

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My house’s distant relatives

photo credit: Sarah Felix Burns

My 1870’s brick Gothic Revival is rare in this part of the country [Colorado]. You just don’t see the Gothic Revival style very often out west; it was more prevalent in the 1800’s in places like eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.

Southern Ontario, in particular, has an impressive collection of brick and stone Gothic Revival homes.

Anyway, during my travels around the Internet, I have come across some homes that have instantly jumped out at me because they remind me of my own dear house.

Have a look…

image from: (Published By – Hard Oiler)

This cut stone Gothic vernacular farmhouse (above) located near Halton, Ontario has the hallmark central dormer gable with window and gingerbread detail.

image from: Google images

I have no idea where this blue house (above) is located but the 1.5 story floor-plan is very similar to my house. It has wood siding and less adornment but still reminiscent of the Gothic Revival style due to the central dormer peak and steep roof-lines.

The house below was actually designed as a carriage house but it exemplifies the carpenter Gothic style with its board-and-batten siding. It is located at “Springside” – an historic estate in Poughkeepsie, New York.

image from: (author: Daniel Case)

image from: (via

This adorable yellow farmhouse (above) is located in Beaverton, Oregon and was built in 1859. Rather than a window in the central dormer gable, it has a door which opens to a balcony!

image from: (image posted by Flar)

A red brick beauty located in Oakville, Ontario (above).

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~ House Crazy Sarah ~

Sarah Felix Burns

"So many houses, so little time"

My first novel

JACKFISH - The Vanishing Village

My second novel

Song Over Quiet Lake
Rivit Media Publisher