How do Amish decorate their walls? Artwork and other items typical in English homes are generally not found in Amish homes. That doesn’t mean that Amish don’t display nice things, however.
No matter your culture, people still like to fill their houses with eye-pleasing items. The general rule for the Amish is that things with a practical purpose are most acceptable. You’ll see what I mean below.
As with most things, some families have a more liberal approach to what they allow on the walls. That said, here are five items of decor commonly found in Amish homes.
Five Decorations Found On The Walls Of Amish Homes
By timekeepers I mean both clocks and calendars, two staples on Amish walls.
Mechanical-action musical clocks which chime a tune on the hour are widely popular (see one close-up here). I haven’t seen cuckoo clocks as often, but you can see one in this photo below, from our look inside an Ohio Amish home for sale.
There are plenty of other examples of timepieces on walls. Here is a clock on a wall shelf also displaying decorative drinking items (coffee mugs) in an Andy Weaver Amish home.
Calendars are very common, even in plainer homes, and typically feature photos–nature or even Amish scenes–or drawings or other artwork. Another type, perpetual calendars like the one below, can be re-used year-in and year-out.
On a similar note, I recently picked up a neat calendar in the Somerset County, PA community, featuring all the birthdates of members of the community–from the newborns to the venerable elders.
But it lacks a year, or days of the week, so it can be used in theory perpetually (though of course would need updating as people are born and pass away). Small black-and-white photos of the community’s schools and meetinghouses decorate each month (see what I’m talking about here, 5th and 6th photos from the bottom).
2. Birth & Family-Related Decor
To state the obvious, family and lineage are very important to the Amish. And so you’ll often see decorative items commemorating family and birthdays in a few different forms in Amish homes.
One example are family records, listing parents and all children, with birth dates. Here’s a rather decorative example, dating to the 1930s.
Another are individual birth commemorations. These may be a framed drawing with the child’s name and birthdate and a scene such as a baby’s room and crib, or you may see something similar in the form of a decorative plate.
I’ve also seen a wall hanging showing ancestry of a married couple going back generations (giving the couple’s parents, then grandparents, and great-greats along a certain line). Items like these remind you of your place in the whole–not just today in the community, but throughout time.
3. Zip Code Charts
I’ve always assumed these are handy for letter writers. This one, in a Lancaster County home, lists zip codes both for the Lancaster area, and for other places Amish live in Pennsylvania, such as Lebanon County, Smicksburg, and the Big Valley area.
Truth be told, I don’t really know how much these are referenced. You’re not going to send a letter to someone in your own community to arrange a get-together next week. You’ll probably just call or say something at church.
But you might use this when writing to relatives in other communities, or if you’re sending a birthday card to the other side of the settlement and the zip has slipped your mind.
4. Religious-related or Inspirational
Something you tend to see in more progressive homes. This might be the Ten Commandments or an inspirational message. This type of decor might hang in the kitchen, a living area, or the bathroom.
Here’s one of my favorites, a plain and simple one. I took this photo in friend Mark Curtis’ home. This is/was technically hanging on the door, but you get the point:
Here’s what I’m pretty sure is another example (can’t quite make out what looks to be text in the photo), notable as it’s in a very progressive-looking (some commenters felt “un-Amish”) Michigan Old Order Amish home.
Not exactly a decoration, but depending on the home and room you may see plentiful hooks for hanging both headwear and garments.
In rooms where church is held, for example the basement, you’ll find these attached to the rafter/ceiling area, providing a place for men to hang their hats. Here’s an example of hooks on the walls from inside a very plain Swartzentruber Amish home.
I guess hats and shawls are their own form of simple, temporary “decor”, or at least something to make otherwise empty walls less bare.
These aren’t the only examples of Amish wall decor of course.
A hunter might display antlers, which conveniently can double as hangers. One of our readers brought up the practice of hanging completed puzzles on the wall. A friend has a framed photo of a horse-and-buggy on the wall of his study.
Though decor will vary by community and family, cultural norms mean you tend to see the same types of practical yet decorative items adorning the walls of Amish homes.
Image credits: family record- lydiaglick.com; Swartzentruber home hooks- Karen Johnson-Weiner