Houses on the Big Screen

by hookedonhouses on January 22, 2008


In honor of the Oscar noms being announced today, I thought it would be appropriate to mention the role that movies play in our dream-house fantasies. If you are hooked on houses like I am, then you may have found yourself willingly sitting through otherwise dull, poorly acted, or just-plain-awful movies, as long as the action takes place in a house that you like to ogle. Right? I know I can’t be the only one who watches, at least somewhat, for the sets.


In the late 1980s I watched Housesitter for the first time and fell head over heels with that cool little yellow house that architect Newton Davis (Steve Martin) designs for his girlfriend (Dana Delaney). He wraps it in a giant red bow and asks her to marry him, but she–unbelievably–says no.

Becky clearly didn’t deserve Newton or his house. When Gwen (Goldie Hawn) finds and falls in love with the abandoned yellow house, we know she has to be the girl for him–even though she’s a pathological liar who breaks in, decorates the place, and tells everyone in town that she’s Newton’s wife. A house as perfect as that one can justify all sorts of insanity.

I can’t even name all of the movies I’ve rented multiple times or even bought simply because I liked the characters’ houses. Would I have watched Something’s Gotta Give three times if Diane Keaton hadn’t lived in that fabulous house with the kitchen that made me drool every time she stepped into it? No.

Would I have made it all the way through The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet if they had been swapping two boring bi-levels in the burbs instead of that modern California mansion and an adorable English cottage? I’m guessing not.

The Lake House-maple tree in center

Let’s just say the only thing I loved about The Lake House was . . . the lake house.

I know my 5-year old daughter Lily is taking after me already. Today she was watching a Halloween episode of Tom and Jerry that took place in a haunted mansion, and I tried to turn it off, thinking the ghosts and monsters might scare her. “Stop!” she cried. “I like this house they’re in. It’s sooo pretty. Look at that chandelier!”

What are the movies you watch for the scenery? Is anyone willing to cop to their favorites?

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post I’ve featured many of these movie houses and more. See the full list here at HOUSES ONSCREEN.

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Liz January 23, 2008 at 1:48 pm

When Cher tells Olympia Dukakis in _Moonstruck_ that she’ll have to move out of the family house because her father hates her new fiance, Johanny Camarari, I have been known to say to the TV screen, “I’ll take her room.” Of course I was also ready to move into Alex’s warehouse/dance studio in _Flashdance_ in the ’80s, so my taste cannot always be trusted.

hookedonhouses January 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm

I think we all wanted to live in a warehouse or loft after “Flashdance,” so you’re not alone! Not only that, but some of us went so far as to wear legwarmers and ripped-up sweatshirts like Alex (Jennifer Beals) did–but I’m not mentioning any names.

I haven’t seen “Moonstruck” in years, but I love that movie. I’m going to have to watch it again and pay more attention to Cher’s room this time around.

Tracey January 23, 2008 at 3:13 pm

I have to admit to watching “Home Alone” at least twenty times, strictly for the house. John Hughes always picks a beautiful chicago suburb house for his films. I realize that the movie was filmed in the eighties and has outdated decor, so I now redecorate in my head each year as I watch. A classic shell of a home never goes out of style, don’t ya think?

hookedonhouses January 23, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Yes! “Home Alone!” That’s a good one. It always pains me when those bungling burglars mess the place up.

Speaking of John Hughes movies, remember that scene in “Pretty in Pink” when Andi (Molly Ringwald) is driving through the neighborhood with Duckie (Jon Cryer) and ogling those big, beautiful old houses? She parks in front of her favorite and says, “The sad thing is, the people who live there probably don’t think it’s half as pretty as I do.” How many of us have done the same thing?

A few scenes later, she’s going to a party there with Richie Rich (Andrew McCarthy) and there are hordes of wild teenagers trashing the place. That always made me cringe–even when I was a teenager myself. I admit, I was that nerd in high school who would remind you to set your beer bottle on a coaster.

Another cringe-worthy moment from “Pretty in Pink” that has nothing to do with houses: when Andi shows up at the prom in that hideous pink dress and we’re supposed to pretend she looks good.

Amanda January 24, 2008 at 1:12 am

Hey, I loved that movie! That dress could have had possibilities! :) (I can’t say that I remember the houses in the movie, though). How about the house in “The Family Stone”…love that one!

hookedonhouses January 24, 2008 at 1:29 am

“The Family Stone” is a great example. Their house was like a character in and of itself.

After talking about “Pretty in Pink” today in earlier comments, I had to the urge to watch it again. I’ve got the “Everything’s Duckie” edition, which has the original ending in the special features. Did you know Duckie was originally supposed to get the girl (as in Andie/Molly Ringwald)? Apparently the test audiences hated it, so they had to re-shoot the prom scenes to show her getting together with Andrew McCarthy’s character instead.

Don’t ever say this blog isn’t educational!

Carlene January 26, 2008 at 1:52 am

The movie I’ve watched time and time again, simply to see the house is Somethings Gotta Give with Diane Keaton & Jack Nichelson. The kitchen, the bedroom, the furnishings, the ocean! A dream house by the sea….classic seaside elegance and coziness! See all the rooms and read about the house on the website for Architectural Digest & enjoy!

hookedonhouses January 26, 2008 at 1:58 am

Thank you so much, Carlene! I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to learn that the sets for “Something’s Gotta Give” are shown on the Architectural Digest website. That’s one of my favorite “house” movies, too.

Here’s the link to the article she mentions:

GrooviGirl January 29, 2008 at 8:52 pm

I watched Bewitched (movie w/ Will Farrell and Nicole Kidman) twice just to see her house. I love it and dream about finding such a house.

Ditto on Andi’s dress- both of the ‘ugly’ dresses torn up to make that conncoction were better- much better.

hookedonhouses January 29, 2008 at 9:19 pm

GrooviGirl–I forgot about her house in “Bewitched.” That’s a good one! If it hadn’t been for that, I think I would’ve fallen asleep halfway through the movie….

LuAnn August 25, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Here’s a few awesome film houses-at least interior of them: Adam’s family (exterior too), Jumanji (ahhhh),
Casper meets Wendy (what a cool mansion) and the interior library of My Fair Lady-I have enough books but not that kind of beautiful space, or I would take the library from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast anyday! But what I’d love to create is the perfect Chateau like on the front of Danielle Steel’s book “The Ghost” and it would be all bookshelves.

Karen October 21, 2008 at 10:35 pm


So I’m not the only one who will watch a so-so movie just for the kitchen windows!:)

OK – how about the house in “Stepmom”? GORGEOUS house in the woods.
Houses in movies, “Father of the Bride”, “Baby Boom”, “Family Stone”, “Once Around” (neat movie w/Richard Dreyfuss), “The Love Letter” (w/Kate Capshaw), “To Gillian on her 37th Birthday”, “Madame Sousatzka”, “Fatal Attraction”, “What Lies Beneath” and check out the Woody Allen movies, “September” and “Hannah and her Sisters”. Oh! I could go on and on. I also love the movies from the 40s – the living rooms and bedrooms are to die for.

LOVE THIS WEBSITE! Keep up the fantastic work – it is SO appreciated out here in computerland.

Karen October 21, 2008 at 10:44 pm

I just thought of a few more wonderful movie houses:

“Practical Magic” (the kitchen and sunroom – oy!), “Green Card” (her wonderful apartment with a greenhouse in the living room!), “Myth of Fingerprints”, “One True Thing” and “Before and After”. sorry – I get carried away with this subject . .

Stephanie October 31, 2008 at 12:22 pm

I absolutely love Meg Ryan’s character’s house in “Hanging Up” that entryway is to die for!!!!!

mercedes November 10, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Ilove also the pent house at The Nanny diaries, the house in Father of the bride,Home Alone,Death at a funeral (an incredible english cottage),Story of Us (an Arts &Crafts house,both of The holiday (England and California) the appartment of Meg Ryan in You have got mail,and all sets of Nancy Meyers films. If you dont see them, rent all,are incredible.Do you have pictures of some of this list?
Thank you
Great blog

Ramona Owen November 11, 2008 at 6:05 pm

The kitchen in Moonstruck…love the table with everyone sitting around, and absolutely the house in Practical Magic…love it, love that movie, yep, The Family Stone, the loft in Ghost, and it is not a movie….but I always wanted to live in the Berenstain Bears’ treehouse!

Smiles ~ Ramona

Karen January 12, 2009 at 11:37 am

I agree with many of the above…a few others….how about Patrick Dempsey’s apartment in Enchanted? Also, Richard Gere’s and Diane Lane’s beautiful NY home in Unfaithful. Tina Fey’s apartment in Baby Mama. Jason Lee (Dave’s) home in Alvin and the Chipmunks (I was surprised how much I loved this home.) Under the Tuscan Sun has a pretty one as well. I definitely look at the backgrounds when I watch a movie and sometimes rent a mediocre movie just to see the house they live in. Glad I’m not the only one!

Jodi from New Jersey March 11, 2009 at 6:40 am

All I can say is “I am home!”. Thank you, Julia. I am in love with movie houses.What about Meet the Parents? I’ve watched that scene so many times when Ben Stiller kicks the cat to try to get a better look at that stenciled kitchen floor. I think it’s a fleur di lis pattern on painted diamonds. Someone should dissect these houses and help us out. I also love Forrest Gump’s house in Alabama( is it really in Alabama?). Such a sweet country house, all screen doors and crickets and beautiful trees, I love old trees.I even love the Food Network. Paula Deen’s kitchen is killer. I guess I’m a closet country girl, tho I grew up in Brooklyn. Which makes me think about the Moonstruck house. I’ll have to check out Cher’s room………….. I guess I am hooked . Someone help me!

trent April 12, 2009 at 7:56 pm

I love the apt. in single white female,with the big oval entry and all white tile bath room.
And I love Hill house the house from the haunting(remake), the house from casper (the one in freindship main)
Love the apt. in just like heaven, And the house small house (not the plantation thou I love it to) in sweet home Alibama. Most of all I LOVE LOVE LOOVE the house from step mom(the best movie ever) there was another house that inspired me to leave this post but as soon as i put finger to key bord I fogot witch it was,(now i will go nuts trying to remember)

jan April 12, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Love the house from war of the roses (one of my faves0

Gloria April 22, 2009 at 6:50 am

Jodi-Yes I do the same thing! I want that floor. Funny thing is that house is right here on Long Island- Oyster Bay so someone local must have done it. I want it for my bedroom. It is diamonds with fleur di lis but it looked stained not painted. I don’t know but my cousin claims it is her daughters’ friends’ house so I should try to find out more.

Allie June 6, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Of course I LOVE the house in Father of the Bride :) I also have to agree… the house in Alvin and the Chipmunks is SO cute!! I LOVE IT!!! But one that I think of everytime I watch it… Because I said so. Mandy Moores apt is AMAZING! I WOULD LOVE IT!!!! Also… the apt in P.S. I Love you… I think its so charming and cute!! Why can’t I find cute little charming places like that???

Allie June 6, 2009 at 10:43 pm

oh and how could we forget… TARA from Gone With The Wind!!! EVERY little girl wanted to live in a house like that!! The grand sweeping staircases… LOVE IT!!

Karolyne Koberg June 7, 2009 at 4:31 am

What architect designed Tom Lincoln’s(Ewan McGregor) house on the movie The Island?

Analía Giordano July 8, 2009 at 12:15 pm
Brooke July 11, 2009 at 1:52 am

i am completely obsessed with sarah’s house in “must love dogs”. love love love it!!

Tommy July 29, 2009 at 4:53 am

What happened to the fake Amityville house in all 3 original Amityville movies, basically the movie set house and could it be really haunted and not the real house on long island. Where is the location of the fake house and is it for sale.

Nick September 2, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Where was the original Fun with Dick and Jane house located? It looks like Northridge, CA.

hookedonhouses September 2, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Tommy and Nick–
Sorry, but I don’t know anything about those movies or their houses. -Julia

Trish January 15, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I can’t believe there are others like me!!!! I watch Home Alone every Christmas just to see that beautiful home! THAT is my idea of a home! My second favorite would definitely be Meet The Parents house. Gotta love it!

Sheila White February 4, 2010 at 11:43 pm

For some reason I was lying in bed tonight thinking about a house that was in a movie. I could not remember who was in it. But I could remember that house. I am a Mom of 2 and have 3 dogs and a husband. I usually can not remember what I had for breakfast. I goggled a few actors I thought were in the movie and could not come up with it. I just knew I could not sleep until I thought of the movie. I typed in movie houses and your site came up. What was on the page but the movie “Housesitter”! That was the house the yellow one! I can not believe I found the answer so fast. I love your website! Thank you…now I can go to sleep.

Lorraine July 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Liz – I’m totally there about the house in “Moonstruck”–it’s weird that I’d read your comment today, as I was just discussing the scene in which Loretta says she’ll move out because “Pop don’t like Johnny”. “No, he don’t”, Mrs. Castorini sighs. What a great film, house and all the actors were superb! If I ever lived in NYC, it’d have to be there. I love films about extended families such as the Krichinsky’s in Barry Levinson’s “Avalon” (though none of the houses are that spectacular).

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