In case you hadn’t realised it, Amish-style homes are hot stuff at the moment. The Amish are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships, closely related to but distinct from Mennonite churches, with whom they share Swiss Anabaptist origins. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology. The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish.
US designer Shea Soucie from the architectural interiors firm Soucie Horner was asked to create a concept for a development of homes in Indiana. These were lakeside cottages where people could come home from their work in the city and feel that they had “retreated” back to a time when there was less hustle and bustle and hurly burly. She decided to echo the lines of some neighbouring architecture. This boiled down to the farms and dwellings of the Amish who had close to a 100 communities in the area- the third largest series of communities in a state, the two largest being Ohio and Pennsylvania.
These homes could be used as full-time homes or vacation cottages, but either way Shea wanted to draw from one of the key building features of Amish homes- the traditional front porch- ideal if not essential to human interaction, plus a love of the outdoors and communing with nature.
The houses have narrow but tall windows, over-generous front porches and a mixture of board-and-batten and clapboard facades. Naturally made from local wood. The houses all have symmetrical gabled roofs. They all have either a (natural) varnish or plain brilliant white. The garages are a revelation because they resemble, very closely, the well-known (almost standard issue) Amish barn where the farmers house animals and grain. The garages are linked to the main house by a wooden covered way and they have an iconic barn door, so that when you go to get the car out, it’s like opening up to let out the dairy herd or the tractor!
The crafty “third story” is in fact not an extra story at all and is really for architectural balance and aesthetics- it is open to the rooms below and acts as a windowed cupola, drawing natural light into the floor below. This has the added benefit of creating an airy double-height space directly over the kitchen, which is the anchor point of the open-plan spaces.
The bottom line is that these our houses to sit outside of as much as you can- why go to an idyllic Lakeland setting and stay indoors watching TV?
The flooring is, of course wood. It features hand-scraped hickory wide-plank boards. If this is how the Amish live, then I am heading out to Indiana today! It just goes to show that simplicity doesn’t have to mean dull and boring!