October 3, 2011 at 9:05 am

Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

by twistedsifter

burning house brett Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?
Photograph by BRETT ROGOWSKI


The Burning House is a brilliant project that seeks to answer a simple question:

If your house was burning, what would you take with you?

It’s a conflict between what’s practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question. With nearly 250 submissions and growing each day, the Burning House is a truly fascinating project.

Below is a list of the items Brett (pictured above) would take with him:

Name: Brett Rogowski
Age: 38
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Occupation: Programmer, Photographer, Runner


Trusty knife
Willow Tree Dad with baby (we had such a hard time conceiving our first child – this gift moved me)
Medals from many, many, many marathons
My favorite Mizuno Racing shoes
Change of clothes for my two girls / pacifier from the hospital. Only one that works
Paper mache cat that my wife and I both had when we met
My guitar (the only item that has survived more than 15 years with me)
Wine from 2008 the day my first daughter was born (Big Sur Marathon)
Gimli my trusty pug
Gimli’s treats
Illegal fireworks
Box of misc flowers given to me from my wife over 11 years ago
Red Pepper
My favorite pen
Memory cards
iPhone and iPad
50mm and 125mm leneses
Canon 40D (not shown)
Dell 2600 – my life is almost completely digital now
Painting from 2005 of a moth in monochromatic.


2. Sean Crowley

burning house crowley Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Sean Crowley
Age: 30
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Neckwear Designer

This list is to “the bare essentials” what Wellington’s-army-on-campaign is to a camping trip, but I suppose we all have a different idea of which things are “essential.” *Note: The carpet underneath is not merely decorative as the idea is that all these bits would be rolled up in it and carried out the front door in one go.

List: (Anti-clockwise from top left)
Striped college scarves (to secure the rolled up carpet and because I like them)
Leather collar box and stiff wing collars
Loose organic Assam BOP tea in silver caddy (which goes in the blue pot to the right)
Royal Lancers mess dress (and why not?)
Green silk formal waistcoat of the Porcellian Club with jacquard boar’s heads c.1931
Apparel Arts No.1 Christmas 1931
Paper silhouette of my royal consort, Lady Meredith
Johnnie Walker Black c.1950s (from a case found in an uncle’s basement)
Old Thurston braces
Carved wooden school placque
Pour le Merite medal given to me by a WWII veteran friend
Coldstream Guards Colour Sergeant’s scarlet coat
Old striped ties
Wedgwood plate c.1870s and RAF crested officer’s mess cutlery
French 1930s military-style hairbrushes (use ‘em every day)
Royal Artillery zig zag needlepoint slippers
Black silk Fox umbrella
English purple leather suitcase c.1930s
Grey topper (every inch of the silk lining is covered in autographs and witty handwritten sayings from various garden parties c.1932-1934)
Smith Woodhouse vintage 1977 port (part of a mixed case of vintage port my uncle gave me when I graduated college)
Equestrian mounted leather pouch with fitted sandwich case and flask (don’t ride, but it comes in useful for a ramble)
Wedgwood (huge) mug marking the investiture of Prince Charles c.1969
Silver toddy/punch ladles c.1750s (the handles are twisted whale bone and the bowls are fashioned out of George II silver shillings)
Gold Krugerrand given to me by an uncle on graduating college
Topsy Turvy Criterion dvd
Christ’s College, Cambridge carved wooden box
Battle Creek Sanitarium silver souvenir spoon
Ancient Order of Froth Blowers silver pin for the rank of “Blaster” in the shape of a foaming mug
Musket ball I dug up in Fort Greene Park
Gold monogrammed cufflinks (worn by 3 generations of Burbidges before me—with the history written on a tiny piece of paper—each owner wore them during a momentous occasion in their lives
Pipe, tobacco and a humidor my brother made for me for Christmas (matches are from an old hunt club near where I grew up—they have Polo and fox hunting)
Old English molds for making fancy meat pies
The Gentleman’s Companion: Around the World with Beaker and Flask


3. Alex Boenisch

burning house boenisch Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Alex Boenisch
Age: 23
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Graphic Designer
Website: http://www.alexboenisch.com

The List:
Canon Rebel Eos T2i with Tamron 17-50mm lens; I shoot with this
Sig Sauer P226 Dark Elite; I also shoot with this
Inhaler; I’ll need it after crawling under the smoke
CRKT M16-13DSFG Folding Knife (always carry)
Leatherman Wave Multitool (always carry)
Favorite photo of my girlfriend and I
Assorted keys and fobs (always carry)
Business Card Case (always carry)
Wallet (always carry)
Old photograph of my grandfather and his car
Old photograph of my grandmother taken by my grandfather
The Mobile; Not an iPhone. Weird, right? (always carry)
15” Macbook Pro in my favorite Incase sleeve


4. Carrie Paul

burning house paul Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Carrie Paul
Age: 19
Location: New Jersey
Occupation: Student
Website: carriepish.tumblr.com

All people and pets
Cross Bike
1930’s first edition Webster’s Dictionary (a gift from my boyfriend)
Canvases, brushes, and oils
Orange carton wallet, Phone and iPod
Pearl necklace and earrings that were my great grandmother’s
Emerald rosary that belonged to my grandmother
Leather ring that my mother made
Polaroid of my dog
Climbing shoes
My mom’s purse bought in East Berlin before the wall fell
Two of my favorite stuffed animals
Old cowboy boots from my mom


5. Kate McAuley

burning house mcauley Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Kate McAuley
Age: 36
Location: Australian-born, London-based (for the moment)
Occupation: writer
Website: http://www.i-am-not-a-celebrity.com

Goose, the cat.
A broken shell – the first thing my beloved ever gave me not long after we met Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Jade and silver earrings bought by my beloved at the souq in Muscat, Oman.
Silver cuff bought by my beloved at a market in Douala, Cameroon.
My grandmother’s copy of the complete works of Oscar Wilde (most of my books are in storage at the moment).
Link bracelet bought by my beloved at a market in Cyprus.
Flapjack succulents struck from my mum’s plant in Sydney.
Money plant struck from favorite plant in my yard in Dubai.
Orchid given to me for my birthday last week (if you could see the flowers, you’d understand).
Handful of notebooks where I make plans and write prose for my novels and the other bits and pieces I’m commissioned to produce.
Mac book pro with an almost finished novel, photographs and music hiding somewhere safe inside.
iPhone (for reasons obvious).
Bronze statue bought in the markets in Douala, Cameroon.
Silver, glittery Manolo Blahniks.
Green woven hat from Sydney.
Framed photographs of us at The Grand Canyon and outside The Louvre.
The baby cactuses I got in Ikea, just because I love them and I’m so happy I’ve been able to keep them alive for more than a year.


6. The McMillans

burning house mcmillan Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: The McMillans
Age: both 36
Location: Minneapolis
Occupation: Menswear
Website: http://www.pierreponthicks-shop.com/

Orrlaskan Wool Blanket
Antique 1970s Encyclopedia Brittanica Globe
Baby Gator head
Mac’s Fishing rods
Kat’s favorite bag by Schuler + sons
Photo of Tess, Kat’s first dog + love
Kat’s Adidas Sambas
Mac’s Sperry Boat Sneakers
Pierrepont Hicks FW11 Tie
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Scrapbooks from Africa and Beyond by Peter Beard
Baby: Mimi McMillan, 10 weeks old
Not Shown: Camille McMillan age 2


7. Brian Thomas

burning house thomas Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Brian Thomas
Age: 28
Location: Chicago
Occupation: Copywriter
Website: http://www.thewordfurnace.com

KHS Pursuit track bike
Seagull custom backpack
Bike repair tools & pouch
Pilgrim At Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Patagonia Torrentshell jacket
My Army medals
Moleskine sketchbook
Pocket knife
Surefire E2D defender flashlight
Acme pen
Wegner watch– it just won’t die
My last photo of my parents together
My Army combat knife (with flint and whetstone in sheath pocket)


8. Martha Wasacz

burning house wasacz Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Martha Wasacz
Location: San Francisco, USA
Occupation: Investor/Collector
Website: http://www.naivecollector.com

Painting of a boxer, circa 1935.
2 glass men. A gift I bought for my father and reclaimed after his death.
Set of Tombow pencils in a roll case.
Vintage mug shots and ID photos. Source material for the drawings I am working on.
My sketch books containing completed portraits.
My boots.
iPad2 with headphones.


9. Dan Opalacz

burning house palazcz Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Dan Opalacz
Age: 23
Location: Arcata, California
Occupation: Itinerant Fly Fisherman
Website: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/danopz/bedrock-sandals

Vintage bamboo Bayshore fly fishing rod (Portland, Oregon)
Pair of Bedrock running sandals
Estwing rock hammer
Rite in the Rain geological field book
Phish stubs from memorable shows
First wine I helped bottle: SHELTER, Napa Valley
Polo suede elbowed shirt
RRL Jeans worn since 2008
Patagonia board shorts I that have shredded Maine, New Jersey, Nicaragua, and Northern California


10. Marie W Matta

burning house maria Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Marie W Matta
Age: 25
Location: Detroit Michigan
Occupation: architect, in training

selected sketchbooks from architecture school + WD hard drive containing every drawing I’ve ever made
B+L red cat-eyes
ever-present turquoise rings
assorted personal ephemera, mostly photographic history
minolta SLR, formerly my mother’s
gifted leather klein tools toolbag
dogeared selection of favorite books
trusted phone and well-worn wallet
italian knit fisherman’s sweater from salvation army
two most loved pairs of shoes: beat up brogues + all-star hi tops
architectural model from my senior thesis, made of paper and gold leaf
feline companion


11. Christian Baron

burning house baron Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Christian Baron
Age: 39
Location: Bonn, Germany
Occupation: CT Apps Specialist, Photographer
Website: http://www.tageswerk.net | http://www.flickr.com/photos/triggerflanke/

my favorite vinyl (kraftwerk/kruder & dorfmeister/stone roses/dj shadow/pixies/smiths/blumfeld)
purse with all the life in form of plasticcards
sinn watch
harddisk with most of my photography-stuff
my leica m7 with 35mm summicron
the one and only dollar left from my first trip to the us twenty years ago
favorite belt
ramone jeans (not shown, since wearing right now)
imited edition old tom style gin from river mosel (fantastic stuff)
my ben sherman budapesters and of course my vans
a collection of my favorite prints, vandykes and emulsion-lifts
my hasselblad with 80 and 180mm sonnar primes
two folders with my most important negatives


12. Bryan T. Bowie

burning house bowie Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Bryan T. Bowie
Age: 27, feel 77
Location: Southeast Virginia
Occupation: Designer/Artist (Designer of The Burning House Logo!)
Website: http://blog.tiptonandco.com

Leatherman PST – Their first model, and my first Leatherman, handed down.
Dad’s Bolle’s – From early 80s.
Grandfather’s WWII Leather Photo Pouch.
Final Prototype Of First/Flagship Tipton & Co. Wallet .
Parker 51 Fountain Pen.
Moleskine & Dog Tag & Foot print from my best, and one of my oldest friends, Buster (a plotthound). We had to put him down last year.
One of my Grandfather’s smaller ink pieces.
Small Portfolio – Stuffed with my own work and select negatives.
Small Wooden Box – Things that have poured out of my head from the last 2-3 years, cards from parents, and misc. things like that.
The Thing – natural sculpture, driftwood.
Hard Drive – 3TB in Rosewill enclosure.
The Yearling – First edition from my Grandmother.
Grandfather’s issued Navy Watch Cap & Blanket.
Camera Bag
Contents: Nikon F3HP (hard to replace in good shape, otherwise I wouldn’t care).
Leica M3 (I could let this go honestly, but it’s always in the bag so I included it).
Weston Master 5 meter. If you find one, buy one. Never had a better meter.
Leica M6 + 40 Cron – I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was a teenager, and the lens was a gift.


13. Matteo Sartori

burning house sartori Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Matteo Sartori
Age: 44
Location: Turin, Italy
Occupation: programmer / Photographer /timewaster
Website: http://msar67.carbonmade.com/

the angle of technology: PC, HD, my music, phone
last books not yet read
my travel diaries
Some family photos
comfortable clothes and shoes
survival kit: wallet / light / multipurpose cutter camera


14. Emily Loerke

burning house loerke Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Emily Loerke
Age: 30
Location: Dallas, Texas
Occupation: Blogger, Writer, Clergy
Website: http://www.todaysletters.com

Childhood woobie (for cape wearing and fort building)
Favorite coffee mug
My mom’s 1962 Gibson guitar
Favorite thrifted belt
Birth certificates & marriage license
1941 Royal Quite Deluxe Portable Typewriter (a gift from dear friends)
MacBook & iPhone
Wallet, Checkbook, Keys
Antique bone fork (a gift from my dad)
My grandmother’s oak recipe box & recipe book
Leather journal (My husband and I have been writing letters to each other in it for the past 5 yrs)
My mom’s 1960’s blue bandana
Favorite thrifted salt & pepper shakers that remind me of my twin sister
Vintage Fire King dish (a gift from my mom)
Antique E.T.N. Swift box (filled with cash we’ve been saving for our 25th wedding anniversary)
Canon 40D (used to take this photo)


15. Rohan L Anderson

burning house survivor Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Rohan L Anderson
Age: 35
Location: Ballarat, Australia
Occupation: Photography & Design
Website http://www.wholelarderlove.com & http://www.rohananderson.com.au

Nixon Chrono Dive Watch
Japanese bone handle knife (had it for 22 years)
Led Lenser torch
Nikon 50mm f/1.4
500gig Time Machine Back Up
My glasses. Can’t see without em so may as well gram em! (yes they have real lenses in them)
One of my Nikons
CZ 22 Magnum. It’s my favourite hunting tool
Barbor International.
G-Star Raw circa 2004? Love these guys. I haven’t bought G-Star since. I’m happy just to keep these as the best pair of jeans I’ve ever owned


16. James Oliver Lamont Fox

burning house fox Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: James Oliver Lamont Fox
Age: 40
Location: Somerville, MA
Occupation: IT, and library school student
Website http://10engines.blogspot.com/

Growing collection of old-timey Vermont pennants
Ede & Ravenscroft brogues. Bought them for our wedding.
Levi’s Troy lined jacket. Thrifted for $2.50 a long time ago.
Box of cufflinks incl. grandpa’s mother of pearl jobs and JOLF monogrammed silver ones (39 y/o present from godfather).
My kilt, Lamont. Only MTM thing I own.
External hard drive of photos.


17. Hannah Queen

burning house queen Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Hannah Queen
Age: 20
Location: Blue Ridge, Georgia
Occupation: Photographer
Website: http://www.honeyandjam.com
basket of family photos, old and new
cast iron skillet
leather bracelet with mustard seed charm, which was my grandmothers
leather bracelet, a gift from my mom
l’occitane lavender hand cream
l’oreal voluminous million lashes
lancome teint idole ultra
letters & postcards from friends
favorite tea towel, which was a gift
the complete works of jane austen
blue ball jar, filled with river rocks. souvenirs from a perfect day.
minnetonka moccasins
favorite wooden spoon
two forks from old family silverware
twig spoon, a gift from a friend
not pictured, canon 5d mark ii


18. Mikael Kennedy

burning house kennedy Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Mikael Kennedy
Age: 31
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Photographer
Website: http://www.mikaelkennedy.com & http://www.passporttotrespass.com

Large Olive Green Filson Duffel
6 boxes of my Polaroids (I only could fit 6 out of the 18 that are full, priorities include, edit for next show & Passport to Trespass book edits)
Workbook from ‘The Odysseus’ photo series
St. Christopher Necklace given to me by an old friend when he was done traveling and had settled down
Grandfathers Timex (still broken)
Small tin of dirt from the Santuario De Chimayo in Chimayo, NM
Black Polaroid SX70 Special Edition
Custom Polaroid case from Strawfoot Handmade
Two bricks of the last Polaroid 779 batches ever made (Expiration Date 09)
Keys to my Chevy
Harddrive with latest backup from computer
First edition of Johnny Dark’s ‘People I may know’ published by Little Bear Press


19. Foster Huntington

burning house huntington Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: Foster Huntington
Location: New York City
Occupation: Fashion
Website: http://restlesstransplant.blogspot.com/

My Grandfather’s Explorer Scout Shirt
Naked and Famous Jeans
Zeiss 35mm f/2
Nike SFB boots
Ralph Lauren Alligator Belt
Leatherman Wave Black
One basalt rock from the Columbia River Gorge
One shell from Nicaragua
Three shells and one stone from the Maine coast
45 RPM Orange Bandanna
Vintage Woolrich Horse skin hunting gloves
LaCie Rugged External Hard Drive (all of my photos and image research)
Rolex Submariner Date with Zulu Ballistic Nylon Band
Oakley Razor Blades
Ernest Thompson Seaton, “Two Little Savages” (well worth a read)
iPhone 4
Not Pictures
Canon 5D Mark II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4


20. David Coggins

burning house coggins Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?

Name: David Coggins
Location: New York
Occupation: Writer
Website: http://www.groverscleveland.com/
Great Gatsby (1st Ed.)
2 good pens
Bottle opener
Cigar holder
Favorite English suit
Cleverley brogues
Olch tie
Antique casino chip
Plastic cowboy
Smythson calendar
Calling card
(Rugs not included)



What would you bring? You can submit your own photo here






If you enjoyed this post, the Sifter highly recommends:

Vintage Mugshots from the 1920s [30 photos]


vintage mugshots black and white 17 Your House Is Burning. What Do You Take?