Welcome to Movie Monday, when I post photos of the houses from our favorite films. Today I’m featuring Housesitter, a romantic comedy with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn that came out in 1992 and has remained one of my favorites ever since. Even though I have watched this movie more times than I can count, I still laughed out loud while watching it again today. It never gets old for me.
Steve Martin plays Newton Davis, an architect who built a dream house for his girlfriend Becky (Dana Delaney). He tied a big red ribbon around it and asked Becky to marry him, but she said no. He draws a sketch of the house on a napkin and shows it to Gwen (Goldie Hawn), a waitress at the Cafe Budapest.
Here’s what it looks like when Gwen sees it in person, with the ribbon drooping and the house empty and abandoned:
According to an article about it in Entertainment Weekly:
Sexy Dana Delany, who plays architect Steve Martin’s hard-to-please squeeze in Housesitter, must be the only person in America not impressed with his dream house. Nestled by a pretty pond in Concord, Mass., it’s both snug (1,800 square feet) and architecturally prestigious. The columned porch is classic Yankee farmhouse, the gables evocative of 1800s Greek Revival, the clapboard siding and checkerboard window pattern very ”American Gothic.”
”It taps a memory bank,” says architect Debra Wassman, who did the design with husband Jonathan Lanman. And [the house plan] is available by mail from New York’s Trumbull Architects.
Davis (Steve Martin) disappears after a one-night stand with Gwen (Goldie Hawn), leaving her with nothing but the napkin and stories about his idyllic hometown of Dobbs Mill. Knowing the house is empty, she sets out to see it for herself–and maybe take a little vacation there while she’s at it. Here she is exploring the village after getting off the bus. (“Housesitter” was shot in Concord and Cohasset, Massachusetts.)
Gwen spots the little yellow house. Finding the front door unlocked, she looks around.
We don’t get to see much more of the upstairs loft than this — the view of the pond from the window:
It’s really a very small house — one bedroom and bath, a great room, a kitchen, and an open loft. But it looks like it would feel much bigger than that:
A Little “Housesitter” Trivia…
- Designer Kelly Wearstler (Top Design judge) is listed in the credits (she helped with the sets).
- Meg Ryan was originally cast in the role of Gwen, but she dropped out.
- In one scene, Goldie Hawn is singing “The Name Game,” and she inserts the names Katie and Ollie into the song. Her children are Kate Hudson and Oliver Hudson, who were still young at the time.
Gwen loves the house and moves in. She tells a little fib to get the local grocer to put her food on Newton Davis’s tab — that she’s his wife — and word spreads fast. She soon meets his parents, who fall in love with her and help her furnish the house as a wedding present.
Davis comes to Dobbs Mill with plans to sell the house and discovers her there. Here he is, shocked to discover that his house is fully furnished, decorated, and lived in:
The decorating is very eclectic–and looked very fresh and new to us in the early ’90s.
He spots Gwen in the kitchen, cooking, and she asks, “What are YOU doing here?”
In this photo, when she’s pulling her dog off Davis, you get a glimpse of the dining area, furnished with mismatched chairs that are each painted a different color:
When he tells her she has to get out of his house, Gwen climbs into bed and pouts. “Boy, we had a great marriage going until YOU showed up.”
Davis’s old girlfriend Becky (Dana Delaney) walks in on their argument, and he’s surprised to find out she and Gwen are friends. Becky says she was never able to picture Davis as the type of guy you’d marry until she saw him through Gwen’s eyes. She admits she’s a little jealous of Gwen now and wishes she hadn’t been so quick to turn his proposal down.
So Davis strikes a deal with Gwen — they’ll pretend to be married for a little while longer, and then when they “divorce,” he’ll get Becky back.
This will probably shock you, but things don’t go as he planned. He finds himself falling for Gwen instead.
In all the times I’ve seen the movie, I never noticed what Gwen was hanging on the wall in this scene — the napkin sketch of the house.
I wanted to get a shot of the porch with the blue-painted ceiling, but this is the best I could do:
A view of the house from across the pond, where a house is being built for Gwen’s “parents” (who are really two homeless people she hired to play the parts):
I was heartbroken to read that this house was built specifically as a “standing set” in Concord, Massachusetts, for the movie, and was torn down after filming ended.
Excuse the credits, but this is the only picture I could get of the house from overhead (I took these while watching the movie because I couldn’t find any good ones of the house anywhere else):
UPDATE 1/10: I was just contacted by Debra Wassman, the architect behind the Housesitter house. She says there were two houses. Her company built the first one, which was named House Beautiful’s “Best Small House 1990.” I remember that issue! Wish I still had it. But at least you can see it on their website: Trumball Architects.
The second was built for the movie. It was a temporary structure that was torn down afterward. She explains:
The main difference between the movie house and ours is the center feature of our house was the two-story fireplace not an opening to the kitchen, and we also had a garage. The film house was a set and torn down; our house was bought and badly renovated so really both are lost.
The original plans were built all over the country, and the world; we have seen a few. I know the changes on the movie house were made for filmability, but also so they didn’t have to pay us a fee! We got film credit because we asked, not because they offered.
Thanks, Debra! You can see more examples of her amazing work at Trumball Architects. I love all of the houses they’ve done.