Practical Magic: A Victorian House Fit for a Witch

Victorian house from movie Practical Magic cvr

You’ve been clamoring to see the grand white Victorian from Practical Magic, and I can understand why. It’s one of my all-time favorite movie houses. Producer Denise DiNova says that the house where the Owens family of witches lived played such an important role in the story that they decided to build it themselves: “I don’t think we could ever have found a house that could have matched our needs.”

Practical Magic movie house on the water

The story takes place in New England, but the house was built on San Juan Island in Washington State, where the weather would be more amenable for shooting. In the shot above, you can see how close the house is to the water.

Practical Magic movie house-exterior

It looks like a real house that was built in the 1850s, but it’s really just an “architectural shell” that took 8 months to build and was (sadly) destroyed after filming was over.

Practical Magic movie house-white Victorian

Even the flowers in the garden were fake, but you couldn’t tell, could you?

Aidan Quinn-Practical Magic garden

After their parents die, sisters Sally and Gillian go to live with their aunts Frances (Fran) and Bridget (Jet), played by Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest:

white picket fence Practical Magic house

The movie was based on the bestselling novel by Alice Hoffman.

front yard of the Practical Magic house

The side porch overlooks the water:

side porch overlooking water Practical Magic

Derek of Derek M Design tells me that the entire exterior set was built on an old Indian burial ground, so they weren’t allowed to dig there or disturb the site. The entire house was built on a giant platform. Here’s a photo he sent me of it being taken down–you can see that it was “empty” inside:

taking down the Practical Magic house


front door of Practical Magic house

The interior sets were all created in a studio in Los Angeles.

Practical Magic movie house staircase

The Potions Room:

Evan Rachel Wood in Practical Magic

The pantry is where the Owens women store ingredients for their magic potions. The props department reportedly filled hundreds of bottles to put inside these glass-fronted cabinets.

Evan Rachel Wood played Sally’s daughter Kylie:

Nicole Kidman and Evan Rachel Wood potions room

Sally’s Bedroom:

Sally's bedroom in Practical Magic

Sally’s Shop in Town:

Coupeville Whidbey Island WA-Practical Magic

The town they used was Coupeville on Whidbey Island in Washington State. Debi Ward Kennedy says that the production designers painted everything in the town white for the movie. After filming was done, they repainted the buildings their original colors.

Sally's shop in Coupeville-Practical Magic

Sally's shop in Practical Magic

The Attic:

Practical Magic movie house-attic 1

The stairs go up from the attic to the lighthouse-like tower:

Practical Magic movie house-attic 2

Here’s a look down the staircase as the girls run to get away:

looking down staircase in Practical Magic house

After they accidentally killed Gillian’s boyfriend Jimmy (played by Goran Visnjic, who you may recognize from “ER”), the sisters cast a spell to bring him back to life. Unfortunately, he came back as a kind of zombie who was way creepier and even more evil than the original Jimmy had been. I hate when that happens.

Here he is, confronting Officer Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn) in the attic:

Goran Visnjic and Aidan Quinn Practical Magic

Gillian in the attic bedroom, possessed by Zombie Jimmy:

Practical Magic movie house-attic 3

The Parlor:

Practical Magic parlor 1

They tie possessed Gillian to a chair and plan a kind of exorcism for her in the parlor. They round up women from the town (via the school’s phone tree, of course!) to help them.

Practical Magic parlor 2

These photos show what the parlor set looked like off-camera:

behind the scenes of Practical Magic-parlor 1

From a 1998 article in Victoria Magazine:

Victoria magazine article on Practical Magic

The Kitchen:

Practical Magic kitchen set 2

“The Aga is almost like a shrine,” production designer Robin Standefer says of the gas stove that is the focal point of the kitchen. “This is the place where they do their work; it’s where they place the cauldron.”

Practical Magic kitchen AGA

Practical Magic kitchen 2

Love the back stairs that lead into the kitchen:

Practical Magic kitchen-back staircase

Aidan Quinn plays the detective who comes to town in search of Gillian’s ex-boyfriend, Jimmy.

Bullock, Quinn, Kidman Practical Magic Kitchen


A reader wrote me about a kitchen he designed that was inspired by the one in Practical Magic. You can see how it turned out here:

A Kitchen Inspired by the one in "Practical Magic"

Back to the kitchen in the movie:

Practical Magic kitchen 3

From Victoria magazine, a photo of the double doors leading from the kitchen out to the conservatory:

Victoria magazine article on Practical Magic 2

The Conservatory:

Practical Magic conservatory looking in to kitchen

overhead view of conservatory in Practical Magic

“The house itself has a certain magic to it,” production designer Robin Standefer says. “There is a whole world in this house and garden. These women are outcasts and this place is their sanctuary.”

Aidan Quinn in the conservatory-Practical Magic

Director Griffin Dunne says he was enchanted by the script: “It was literally like a cauldron. Every emotion, theme and ingredient you could imagine was swirling around in it. I particularly liked the women’s use of magic; it comes right from the title. It’s about a more practical, almost holistic approach that seems like a gift that virtually anyone could have.”

white Victorian house in Practical Magic movie

Practical Magic fans knows that the best fan site on the Internet is Amas Veritas. You can find a lot more information there, including floor plans for the house and drawn elevations that were used for building it. I found a few of these photos there.

Others are from a Victoria Magazine photo shoot in 1998. And the rest were ones I took while watching the movie (all rights belong to Warner Bros).

Practical Magic Victorian at night

By the way, Sandra Bullock fans can see photos of her (real life) New Orleans Victorian here.

Practical Magic Victorian wraparound porch

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  1. says

    I have watched this movie so many times, and only to see the house and the interior of the shop. So dreamy and I wish they both were mine :)
    Happy Sunday, Julia!
    xo Isa
    .-= isa´s last blog ..Help Me Light My Way… =-.

  2. Kim says

    Thanks for posting these houses! Everytime I watch this movie I can’t help, but stare at this house. It’s absolutely beautiful and unique in it’s own way. There’s nothing I dislike about this house.

    I can’t wait to see which house you post next.

  3. says

    I love this series that you do! It is so great! I used to think I was the only one who would pause a movie just to make notes about room layout! (I most recently did that with The Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan. His Brownstone in the movie is so amazing! And the Caribbean home is breathtaking!)

    This house is so dreamy. I have a soft spot for Victorian homes. I have always thought it would be so great to have a home with a tower! Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish´s last blog ..Decorating Obstacles: Big Open Walls (part one) =-.

  4. says

    Everytime I hear the song “They put the Lime in the Coconut they drank it all up” I think of this movie. Remember that scene?

  5. says

    Thank you so much for this post! This is one of my favorite movies and the Owens house is quite possibly the house of my dreams!
    .-= Ann´s last blog ..The Outdoorsham =-.

  6. says

    Oh, another wonderful movie house tour! How disappointing to know that gorgeous house was just a shell! Can you imagine just the work to make that shell? They could have tried to sell it, do you think, and some wonderful one could have finished the inside? Could that have been possible? OH, it was as lovely movie and I just adored that kitchen! Thanks again for loveliness!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉
    .-= Shelia´s last blog ..Changes to Suit My Mood =-.

  7. says

    I was living on the island when they built the house…one day I was driving by and just about drove off the road when I saw it, and then poof…when the movie was over it was gone! Great post 😉
    .-= shelly´s last blog ..Time to DIY =-.

  8. Janelle says

    I know a lot of people really love this movie, but I was pretty creeped out by it. The house and set sure are beautiful, though.

    I have an early suggestion for next Halloween — the witches’ cottage in Hocus Pocus. It’s not very big, but there’s so much in it.

  9. Derek says

    Bit of trivia: The entire exterior set was built on a old Northwest Indian burial ground. They were not allowed to disturb the ground or dig any holes. Hence the entire set, including the gardens were built on a platform that holds the entire thing 2 feet or so off the actual ground. After the set was dismantled and hauled off there were no signs that a 5 story Victorian once stood there.. Also the Kitchen set was in fact used on the set in LA and was dismantles and rebuilt in the exterior facade for some of the shots. Giving the perfect illusion that it was in fact a real house. I love the hint of gothic revival in the house. It adds the Salem witch angle to the house. I can’t say enough good things about the house and set.. you can tell that the enormous amount of research and designing that went into this paid off. It makes it all that more painful to think it does not exist as a real house. Darn it.

    Thanks for posting this one Julia…. Right up my Alley..

  10. says

    A little bit more trivia: The production designers painted every building on Main Street in the small town of Coupeville white for the movie. When filming was complete, they went in and re-painted each building its original color. (Been there a lot, and personally I think it looks MUCH better all white! ;0) ) I knew the house was a facade, and remember reading in the Victoria article that the production designer couldn’t watch as the house set was dismantled (‘struck’) after filming wrapped. She really loved that house!
    .-= DebK´s last blog ..Upcoming Article in One Coast Advisor =-.

  11. hookedonhouses says

    Thanks to Derek and Deb K for the additional information! I edited the post to include some of it for those who may not read the comments. ~Julia

  12. E. George says

    Hi Julia thank you for these movie sets – I WANT THAT KITCHEN wish I had a magic wand …… Regards Esther from Sydney

  13. says

    Great, thorough post, Julia! Love this movie, love the story behind the house, LOVE the interiors (and Aidan Quinn!). I don’t own it but watch it every chance I get… like this Wednesday night on Lifetime. Perfect, not-so-scary Halloween movie.
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..Mood Board Monday =-.

  14. says

    The tour on that house is amazing! And I’m glad to see Goran Visnjic in a movie again. Great cast overall – I’m one of these people who watch a movie because certain actors are in it. Love Sandra Bullock!
    .-= Maya Nagel´s last blog ..Handmade Beach Decor =-.

  15. says

    this is good film though.. never know anything about the house.. why they just don’t keep the house, at least for people to visit, taking pic and stuff.. sigh..
    .-= izzat aziz´s last blog ..Trust your instinct =-.

  16. says

    I just watched that movie again a couple of weeks ago and remembered how gorgeous this house is. I wish it was real and that I could live there. Thanks for doing your movie mondays, they are the highlight of my day!
    .-= Cole´s last blog ..More More Progress =-.

  17. Susan S says

    Holey moley! You may have outdone yourself on this one! Wonderful job, Julia. Thank you so much for your time involved in bringing these beautiful movie homes to your readership. I’m sure that after your posts, many of these movies are purchased or, at least, rented! You should receive a commission!

  18. says

    I’ve been totally in love with the house (and her shop) since I saw the movie a few years ago. I swear, if I were a millionaire I would build a house exactly like that, including the interior.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..1898 Victorian, Buena Vista, VA =-.

  19. says

    I have always LOVED this house and this film. Thank you for doing a post about it. I never knew it was filmed up in Washington State, so that was interesting to learn.
    .-= Jocelyn Stott´s last blog ..Pumpkin Patch =-.

  20. says

    The location alone is fantastic, but add the kitchen to the mix and I am completely smitten. This would be the perfect movie to rent for Halloween night for the story and the house!

  21. Jan says

    My very very favorite movie house! Every detail is perfect — and so very liveable — cozy and truly enchanting inside every room and space and out in the garden! There was a rumor floating around that Sandra Bullock loved the kitchen so much — that she had it replicated in her house (not sure which house that might be!) Ooooo — this IS my lottery-dreams house! LOL! For folks who like the book — do check out “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen — very similar in feeling to “Practical Magic”

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage (who does have rosemary planted by the garden gate and lavender plants for luck! — a bit of wisdom from the movie — and the book)

  22. says

    You have the most interesting and enjoyable website, and I just spent my full lunch hour at work reading through! 😉 A big thank YOU for making my afternoon so much enjoyable…. fairies and witches are certainly everywhere these days–come visit our little magical house in the roses! 😉



  23. says

    I missed the movie, but it is a shame the kitchen is just a set–gorgeous! HOWEVER, I would not set foot on an Indian burial ground–outta there! I guess I have seen too many movies :)
    .-= susan´s last blog ..Bone Appetit =-.

  24. greenie says

    I’ve had a couple of friends recommend this movie, but I haven’ seen it yet. What they created looks straight out of the New England coast. It’s beautiful! Funny it’s only a shell and not the real thing.
    I camped out at an Indian burial ground one night. It was very peaceful–nothing freaky.

  25. says

    I loved this house when I saw it in the film!! My husband is so glad I met you; now when I watch a film or TV programme with a house I want to comment on, I make a mental note to share it with you instead of boring him with my comments about everything from kitchen shelves to window details! I would love to know what you use to make your film stills; that way I could collect all the inspiring details of my fave films for my own wish file as well as seeing them over here at some point. thanks again, Julia. This film spot is one of the treats in my week – a real passion.

  26. hookedonhouses says

    Your comment made me laugh this morning. Believe me, my husband is glad I have the blog as an outlet these days, too. :-)

    I use the VLC Media Player. You can find it here:


  27. kthnxbye says

    Nice post! Love, love, love that kitchen. I hear AGA owners really do treat their ranges like a shrine, actually, hehehe. I would love to own an AGA one day!

  28. belledame says

    the girl who played little Sally is now the ingenue starlet Camilla Belle. and the blond shop worker was best known as Laurette on “China Beach”

    what i love most about the movie is the bond btw the sisters. when Gillian feels the scar on her hand and hits the road to come help Sally just for one night, that is pretty awesome. i don’t have a sister, but my brother and i are almost that close. we’re okay with phonecalls though.

    and the circle of women expelling the ghost was pretty fantastic.

    this house and the house on the show “charmed” are a couple of the most interesting, in that they lend the central conceit of a hereditary line of witches a quirky, anachronistic base to fulfill there destinies. even the attics of the two houses are somewhat similar.

  29. Trish says

    I just went to Netflix and put this movie in my queue also Hocus Pocus that someone else mentioned. I love scary movies and it’s even better when there’s a beautiful house to look at as well. As I’ve mentioned before, these are my favorite posts of yours. I love your attention to detail. Thanks for all your hard work!


  30. says

    Now I know why movies cost so much to make. Cannot believe they spent all that to build a such a beautiful “shell” and then take it down. Wild. I loved Wood in one of our old favorites — Once and Again. That was a GREAT show.
    .-= Sarah @ Thriftydecorchick´s last blog ..A dining room reveal! =-.

  31. says

    I have loved this move since it came out and bought the DVD immediately. I never realized how much that movie affected my taste in decor, mixing a little of every decade… how strange!

    One of my favorites you’ve covered :)

    .-= rue´s last blog ..Getting back to normal =-.

  32. Jen Host Clark says

    I purposely waited until today to look at this post because I knew that “Practical Magic” was going to be playing on Lifetime tonight. I got the kids settled and poured a glass of wine and watched and clicked and watched and clicked….The fantastic kitchen…the conservatory (funny that I had no idea of the magic of a conservatory all those years I was playing clue)…the walls of the the parlor…the fantastic floors!… and on and on and on! So thanks for a fun evening of indulging in pure selfish pleasure!!! I really enjoy your blog!

  33. Katie says

    its unbearably beautiful, I wish they used this set up for a movie abt something more interesting than witches.I think ill go buy it just to see more of this house.

  34. says

    This is one of my all time favorite movies! My sister and I went to see it when it came out I think like 3 times, lol. The house is great. Thanks for sharing these pictures. It has brought back memories of a fun time. Your blog is wonderful!
    .-= CHERYL´s last blog ..HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE! =-.

  35. Cathy says

    Love, love, love this house. I have been trying to figure out the square footage of this house (I have odd hobbies.) I have been trying to match up the rooms with the shell. Actually, we are about to build a house and I was all set with cottage plans and made the mistake of watching this movie again. Any idea of what the square footage would have been if the house had the rooms intact? I am trying to recreate a plan so that I can get my own Practical Magic house. If you have any idea, let me know. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures.

  36. says

    You said that Producer Denise DiNova built this home for her self. Could you beg plead get on your knees so we all could have a peek of the inside and out. You would not have to stay where she lived or the state or anything. She and yourself could make money charging people to look at her pictures on your site, I would pay handsome so see it. I and so many people are in love with this home, its just wonderful that someone could build it and live in it. Good for her,
    Linda in Kansas

  37. Tonya says

    Thanks for the pics! Another movie I drooled over because of the set.

  38. kat says

    Has any your entrepreneurial architecture student made the plans for the house. I would like to buy the plans and build this house. I am so in love with it I compare all houses to it.

  39. Renee says

    I’ve been mesmerized by the kitchen in this movie for years. I’m presently re-doing my kitchen in my 1906 home (we have two ghosts too!) and have used it as inspiration. I’m limited by budget and size…but have been able to introduce some of the magic in my own design. Mine won’t be nearly as grand. We have done the tear out and are now in the building stage…am breathless waiting for it to be done. Would love an Aga Range…but that was not in the stars…but did get a beautiful hammered steel Fratelli Onofri range that will do nicely. Thanks so much for posting the pictures…it was nice to view them without the distraction of the movie…although I LOVE the movie.

  40. Allyson says

    I love the conservatory. Hope to build as an add-on one day!

  41. Danielle says

    I have fallen head over heels in love with that house. when I get enough money I’m going to build my own house just like it.

  42. says

    This is my dream home! I absolutely love it! I have thought so since I saw the film and I am so appreciative of this lovely collage you have created! Awesome collection, Bravo!!!
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..Oh, the Pride… =-.

  43. Cindy says

    Thank you so much!!!
    You really went all out with your informaion. I live in Coupeville where this movie was filmed so this piece especially means alot to me. (:

  44. Abbey says

    I have loved this house since the movie first came out. I have tons and tons of pictures of the set and house and even got a copy of the house plans that were used to build the on site house. They are really neat to compare to how the set house makes it all look inside.

  45. says

    Everyone adores this house, and that kitchen! In fact, simply BECAUSE the house was a fake makes it more magical.

    Just want to add: I can’t look at your fantastic blog for too long. I feel as if I’m overindulging with chocolate. You are just too, too delicions, and I have to take a break.

    So glad I found your site.

  46. Imogen says

    Ha ha ha! My mom, my aunt and I love this movie. It’s so cute! My last name is “Owens” and we are all psychic, so we get a kick out of it. The only difference is, there is no curse and we’re Metisse! (for Americans, that means “Black”)

  47. says

    I have no words to describe how I feel about this house! I cannot thank you enough for sharing this with us. It breaks my heart that it was not a real house. Something about the house, the town, being on the water, that just speaks to me. As if it were meant for me. Oh, to wish…….
    Thank you again!
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..Fast &amp Fancy Cupcakes =-.

  48. E.M.S. says

    I like your website better than AV. On AV the photos are so small and the text so light and delicate that my eyes strain hard to see it. Also, I didn’t see any plans there that weren’t so tiny as to be useless.

    Yep, your’s is the better website. :-)

    • hookedonhouses says

      They really are frustratingly tiny photos and plans! Not sure what that’s about. For people with better eyesight than mine, apparently. 😉

      • E.M.S. says

        I just remembered that one can enlarge the webpages with the tool at the top-right of your screen. (well, that’s where it is on my screen)
        Look for the tools Page, in the drop-down menu, choose Zoom, and enlarge accordingly. Under Page, you can also enlarge the Text only too.
        Still, when done, you have to keep shifting the bottom slide bar from left to right to see everything, but it’s better than taking a magnifying glass to your screen.

  49. E.M.S. says

    Me again.
    On AV, under ‘Mistakes’ (and there were a lot in this movie), it’s not listed that at the beginning of the movie, the narration says it was 200 yrs ago that Maria met her demise, despite the fact that the costumes of the colonials present are from an earlier period.
    Later in the movie, Sally says, ” After 300 years, you’d think they could come up with a better rhyme.”

    AND, on another page on AV, AV itself writes that the Owens women have been under a curse for…. 100 years.

    Did anyone read the book?

  50. Maryanne says

    OMG! OMG! Can you believe they torn that awe inspiring shell house down? That had to have been a man’s dumb decision. They could have put it up for sale( on the condition that it was moved) and ALOT of offers would have come in for it! My witchy soul mourns for aplace that would have been perfect for fellow witches and familiars alike!

    • Amanda says

      I think they did put it up for sale, but there weren’t any offers. Well, at least that’s what I read on some site. I can’t imagine why, though, since it is probably the most beautiful house shell I have ever seen!

  51. Amanda says

    I am obsessed with this house and the movie – I plan on building one just like it someday. I’ve even drawn out amateur floor plans. It’s not exactly like the house, but it’s as close as I can get without a good copy of the original floor plan.

  52. Amber says

    its actually pretty cool. i used to work in the building that is Sally’s shop. the name of the place is called Tartans and tweeds. its in coupeville Wa right on the water. up the street is the firm my mother worked for and theres a deli under it that serves the best chowder you’ll ever have. i really miss Whidbey.

  53. Elizabeth says

    Please do Six Feet Under and PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE do Pushing Daisies!

  54. Mariah says

    this house was built right next to mine i have sent my life in the San Juans it was amazing going up!