“Mr. Mom:” Michael Keaton’s Cape Cod in Michigan

by hookedonhouses on January 24, 2010

Mr. Mom movie poster Who could forget the classic 1983 comedy Mr. Mom–or that famous poster? Not me. But something I had forgotten was the house that the family lived in. You can always count on a John Hughes movie to feature a good one. This was one of the first that he wrote, and it doesn’t disappoint. Despite the early ’80s decorating, it’s easy to imagine how beautiful this traditional Cape Cod could be with a few updates.

Mr Mom house-daytime

This is one Hughes movie that doesn’t take place in Chicago. Instead, they’re in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Michael Keaton plays Jack Butler, an engineer at a car manufacturer who is laid off. Teri Garr is his wife Caroline, who gets a job in advertising and becomes the breadwinner. She has to adjust to working at a high-stress ad agency, and he has to figure out how to take care of the house and kids.

foyer 2

staircase 1

The movie was called Mr. Mum in the U.K. Mister Mama in Greece. And Perfect Daddy in the Philippines.

staircase 2

Martin Mull was hilarious as Caroline’s smarmy boss Ron. I love the scene where he comes to pick her up in a limo, and Jack (Keaton) walks into the house revving a chain saw.

foyer 1

When Jack, holding the chainsaw, tells Ron he’s planning to work on some home improvement projects, Ron asks, “Are you gonna make it all 220?” Jack shrugs. “220, 221, whatever it takes.”

living room

The living room is the scene of Jack’s soap-opera fantasy sequence, in which divorcee Joan (Ann Gillian) shows up at his house wearing little more than a raincoat. Caroline comes home early to discover them together and pulls out a gun. After she shoots Jack, Ron (Martin Mull) asks her, “Did you use a .38?” To which she replies, “A .38, .39, whatever it took!”

living room 2

The dining room, where Jack eats alone while Caroline works late. Again:

dining room 1

dining room 3

I always wanted a swinging door that led from the dining room to the kitchen. You don’t see those much anymore, do you?

dining room 2

The kitchen is an homage to the ’80s. Remember those country oak chairs so many people had then? And the pale wood cabinets–classic!

Mr. Mom kitchen-wide shot

Those tile countertops were really popular for awhile. Then I guess we all realized what a pain it was to keep them clean.

Mr. Mom kitchen-Teri Garr

It was hard to believe that Jack could be so helpless around the house. What grown man has never done a load of laundry before?

Mr. Mom kitchen-island

David Worford, who writes about stay-at-home dads, says that the movie reinforced stereotypes about them–primarily that they’re doing a woman’s job, and that they’re clueless when it comes to taking care of the house and kids. But he admits that the movie holds up well after all these years in some ways:

It touches on some important stay-at-home dad issues – burnout, isolation and serious stereotypes are all there. Even the economic basis of the film is eerily similar to what is going on today. You throw out the absolutely ridiculous (although sometimes humorous) early scenes where Jack Butler doesn’t seem to know a diaper from a bowling ball, and those themes, along with the importance of family, carry the movie.

Mr. Mom kitchen-mess

The “housewives” get together each week to play poker with coupons instead of money. Did you notice how there’s a light fixture over the table in this scene that was conspicuously absent in others? (Scroll back up to see other photos of the eat-in area.)

playing poker

The family room has an entire wall of windows. Today they wouldn’t be quite so covered up:

family room-window wall

And a big brick fireplace:

family room fireplace

I think the movie on the TV in this scene was Cary Grant’s I Was a Male War Bride.

family room-arched doorway

family room fireplace 2

The boys’ bedroom has a poster for Rocky III–the movie Jack pretends to have seen when talking to his coworkers:

kids' room 2

Remember when those race car beds were the new, exciting thing for kids’ rooms?

kids' room 1

The master bedroom and bath:

master bedroom-bed

If you had these light fixtures in your bathroom when you were growing up, raise your hand:

master bath

Whenever I watch movies from the ’80s, it reminds me how things weren’t as staged and styled then as they are now. Decor was more casual and things were kind of thrown together over time. I don’t think people agonized over decorating their coffee tables and mantels and dressers like they do now. These sets reflect that with rooms that look lived in.

master bedroom-dresser

I couldn’t find any information about the sets for this movie, and there aren’t any special features on the DVD to help. However, I’m pretty sure the interiors were sets and not a real house.

Whenever they show Jack or Caroline walking out the front door to go to work, they walk down to the street, which is below the house. It’s like the house is up on a hill. But in the exterior shots, the front yard is fairly level. Several things like that just don’t match up. If anyone knows more about it, let me know!

Mr Mom house-night

In the end, Jack gets his job back–with a raise–and all is right with the world again. I always wonder who will take care of the kids now?

Mr Mom-family photo

What’s your favorite John Hughes movie? He died in August ’09 but left behind some wonderful comedies that are like time capsules of the ’80s and ’90s. I’ve written about a few others that have memorable houses in them, too:

To see a list of all of the posts I’ve done, visit my TV/Movie Houses page, or check out Teri Garr’s California Cottage.

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Miles January 24, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Being from MI, I have yet to see a home like that ;). Nice post.

The Little Red Shop January 25, 2010 at 1:33 am

1. I’m pretty sure that this is Kate Jackson’s house in “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” too.

2. I have the maple windsor chair set in storage that matches the style of those kitchen chairs…the rocker too. I believe the chairs at the head and foot of the table are Hitchcock. I have a different design of Hitchcock chairs (and a rocker) IN my house now.

3. Awesome cast…but Teri Garr had a major wedgie in the kitchen photo…how does that not hurt?

4. I love Cary Grant. Do you suppose that he was one of the inspirations for the movie?

: )

Julie M.
.-= The Little Red Shop´s last blog ..Hope and Blessings… =-.

Kim January 25, 2010 at 2:25 am

There are alot of John Hughes Movies that I like. Some I like are : Dennis the Menace, Beethoven, Beethoven 2nd, Home Alone 1 & 2, and Christmas Vacation.

I love the sets of this movie. John Hughes had a great eye when it came time to designing his houses. He may be dead, but his movies will never be forgotten.

Sandy January 25, 2010 at 5:09 am

Michael Keaton is one of my favorite actors – loved him in “Dream Team” and “Jack Frost”.
.-= Sandy´s last blog ..Hand Painted Delft Teapot =-.

Andrea Zastrow January 25, 2010 at 7:43 am

I love Michael Keaton, too, and think he’s very underrated. Whether it’s comedy like this or “Multiplicity,” or drama like his scarey role in “Pacific Heights” (there’s a house movie!) I think he’s great.

I love the scene In “Mr. Mom,” where Teri Garr gives a little speech about how she did a good job when she was the one at home because she took pride in making a nice home for her family, etc. A good moment in film for those of us who value our homemaking skills.

Julia has a very interesting point about the lack of formal set decorations in the 80’s. I sort of take it for granted these days. My favorite movie for it’s sets is “Far From Heaven” and the DVD’s “extras” include a long section about the wonderfully stylized retro sets.

Annie@A View on Design January 25, 2010 at 7:59 am

yes I love all those kinda movies, big fan of 80’s comedians, probably my age showing! Great post, good read, loving the swinging door, tiled tops and kitchen curtains in the living room too!
.-= Annie@A View on Design´s last blog ..Potts Point mini palatial palace… =-.

Theresa N January 25, 2010 at 8:05 am

I love John Hughes movies and I think the main reason is because of the houses
he uses.

Lesley @ TheDesignFile January 25, 2010 at 9:24 am

The thing that caught my eye first was the fireplace screen in photos #5 & #6. It seemed like everyone had one of those! And when I bought my house 12 years ago, the previous owner left that exact same screen in front of the fireplace. It just made me laugh.

And I love the Rocky poster in the kid’s room. Priceless!
.-= Lesley @ TheDesignFile´s last blog ..Giveaway: Inspirational art from Red Letter Words =-.

Susan January 25, 2010 at 9:44 am

Julia-I loved this movie!! (and think I might have lived in this house :). I think these sets reflect more of the way people really live. By the way, I have lived with one of those swinging doors –you’re not missing much. Did everybody have the same fireplace screen in the ’80’s ?

Carmen January 25, 2010 at 9:57 am

I loved this movie! I haven’t seen it in a long time though. I actually just watched a John Hughes movie last night … Some Kind of Wonderful. Thanks to your blog, I now notice SO much more about the houses in movies. :)
.-= Carmen´s last blog ..Just a Little Something Pretty =-.

Jenny January 25, 2010 at 9:57 am

I loved that movie! My Mom and Dad have those kitchen chairs right now! LOL! They had an old table and they were the only ones that matched. We found them at Grandpa’s when we moved back in 1998! LOL!

My Aunt has a swing door from the kitchen to the dining room, but she keeps it open all of the time.
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..stART: Care Bears Special Delivery =-.

Cori Heffernan January 25, 2010 at 10:26 am

I have to watch this again. What a great movie. There is alot I would keep in this house. I liked the tile on the kitchen floor. I would probably take up all the carpeting though.

The Tiny Homestead January 25, 2010 at 10:31 am

What a lovely home. It has gorgeous details, but WOW decor was so cluttery in the 80s. The bedrooms and bathroom scenes really show a lived in look. Oh, and ick to the bedside lamps- the one with the pleated lampshade and the other one a metal reading light.
.-= The Tiny Homestead´s last blog ..Starting the New Year with a Splash =-.

Amanda @ Serenity Now January 25, 2010 at 10:32 am

I saw Kim mentioned that “Denice the Menace” was one of John Hughes’ films. Have you done a Movie Monday post about that one? It’s a cute little movie with some droolworthy homes (plus, it has a TREEHOUSE!). ;)

I liked this little house. It was fun to think of ways it could be updated. Now, for a very embarrassing reveal: I think my kitchen table/chairs are identical to the ones in the movie. Don’t ask. All I can say is that if I tried to paint them, T would have a conniption. I’m holding out for a new DR set…then move the DR table into the kitchen. Some day….

:)
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly =-.

Stephanie January 25, 2010 at 10:37 am

Great movie…but my favorite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off….who doesn’t love a young Matthew Broderick.
.-= Stephanie´s last blog ..What to put on OUR canvas bus roll art?? My kitchen is done! =-.

Michelle January 25, 2010 at 10:40 am

I’ll have to see this movie. The house is so cute and it sounds like a fun movie. I wish we could have put our swinging door back on. When the kitchen was remodeled, they put the pantry where the swinging door would have rested so it would be in the way if we put it back. I do love them though!
~Michelle
.-= Michelle´s last blog ..BHG loves me =-.

Blakely January 25, 2010 at 11:37 am

I have those kitchen chairs or ones really similar to them. Also a swinging door from the kitchen to the dining room can be a real pain sometimes.
.-= Blakely´s last blog ..Stocking? =-.

Pamela Rosenberg January 25, 2010 at 11:45 am

Oh thank you for taking me back. I first saw this movie about the time we found out we were expecting our first baby and my hormonal nesting instincts were in full swing. I am one of those people that watch the house as much as follow the plot and this was my dream house back in the 80’s.
.-= Pamela Rosenberg´s last blog ..Hope for Haiti at iTunes =-.

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints January 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm

I loved this movie. One of my favorites. Sad about John Hughes… I think my other favorite of his was The Breakfast Club.
.-= Becky @ Farmgirl Paints´s last blog ..Golden girl =-.

Pat January 25, 2010 at 12:14 pm

There’s something very comforting about this movie house. I wouldn’t want to live with all the extra stuff, but it does say “home”. It’s where our memories live. It makes me wonder if all the constant change in decorating that we feel we must keep up (guillty) with leaves our families with that memory of home that a place like this does? I’m sure that if your first design element is love…however you decorate (within reason!) memories are made.
Interior design is really personal, isn’t it?
.-= Pat´s last blog ..Dutch Doors & Dad =-.

Kate January 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm

I love this house! The arched doorways, the stairway, the sunken living room, and the cozy family room. Thanks for doing this movie!

Bailey January 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm

It’s a litttleee 80s but seriously not that bad. The different movie names crack me up…Perfect Daddy…Why does that just sound creepy??
.-= Bailey´s last blog ..A different kind of Love Story =-.

Nita January 25, 2010 at 8:07 pm

I just loved this movie and the house and watched it over and over to get ideas for my own house. I just loved the early 80s beige decor. All the plants. Just love it, and love the bedspread. Hated the jungle theme they did for the bedroom. But, just love this house.

Another Michael Keaton movie I watch all the time for the house is Pacific Heights! How about featuring that one?

hookedonhouses January 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Nita–
I’ve never seen Pacific Heights! I’ll have to check it out. -Julia

Nita January 25, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Oh, and another thing about this movie, it shows Michael Keaton’s character watching Young and the Restless, and I remember the show he was watching! This house is wonderful, and I want to think it was a real house because when you see the upstairs hallway, there is a division between the parents’ room and the wing where the kids are. I think this is a real house somewhere, and I’d take it……with an elevator.

sesha January 26, 2010 at 1:22 am

oh.. i really like that movie.. it is awesome..

kristina January 26, 2010 at 11:05 am

One of my favorite movies! I grew up with the swinging door between the kitchen and the dining room. The only time my mom ever closed it was when she wanted to keep a new puppy (or now that we are adults, grandchild) out of the living room/dining room. She still never closes it. I don’t think you have missed out.

Karen January 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

This was SO fun to see! My heart will always be with older houses . . . .

I just ordered the movie, “The Good Son” (1993) w/Macauley Culkin, because I love the house featured in it! Set in various locations in Massachusetts, the scenery is gorgeous. The movie is spooky, but I love the house:) And also am a fan of Wendy Crewson (who plays the Aunt).

Home January 28, 2010 at 2:30 am

I loved this movie. Old as it is, but still the room looks neat. It even looks vintage and classic.

Jessica January 28, 2010 at 3:38 pm

We had a swinging door between our kitchen and dining room in the house I grew up in. It even had a porthole in it, and people didn’t run into each other coming and going nearly as often as you’d think.
.-= Jessica´s last blog ..Finally started =-.

Stephanie January 28, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I love this movie but haven’t seen it in ages! I’ll have to check it out again. :)

The funny thing is, looking at these pictures, it is like looking at my grandmother’s house with all of the then-on-trend pieces: the rag rug under the dining table, the wall sconces, the oak furnishings, those dining chairs.

Donna Johnson January 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Believe it or not…this is my favorite movie and I have seen it a bazillion times. I love the decor……20 years later! The recurring beige is so calming and homey. I especially love the living room (I love the cluttered look!) and the master bedroom with it’s iron bed. Love seeing the old brand name toiletry items in the bathroom…brings back memories. Thanks for posting!!

Khiori January 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Just went to an Open House this past weekend (Huge and gorgeous inside!) and there was a swinging door (all ivory woodwork) with a tiny brass plaque between DR and kit.

Does anyone else think the inside shots are a different house than the outside? It seems WAY too big inside for a pretty standard cape to me. The entrance and staircase looks like it belongs in a center hall colonial, and the ceilings look too high. Maybe capes are smaller where I live?

j February 1, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I can’t believe you didn’t mention the vacuum cleaner! That is the best scene! And the mom jeans are awesome.

I am surprised that you think there aren’t lots of dads out there that are as clueless about typical “housewife” chores. Now it’s probably less common than it was in the 80s, but there are still lots of guys out there who don’t have a clue how or why to separate laundry, scrub a toilet, or change a diaper.

hookedonhouses February 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

J–
The men in my life are all competent in those areas, I guess! Heck, my husband’s better at a lot of those things than I am…. -Julia :-)

Missie February 14, 2010 at 11:32 am

I just came across your awesome website. I can’t wait to check out all of the houses that have been featured.

This is one of my favorite movies. I am such an ’80s comedy fan. John Hughes films are the absolute best, with Ferris Bueller topping my list.
.-= Missie´s last blog ..Happy Valentine’s Day =-.

real May 19, 2010 at 6:07 am

HAHA…. missing Legs on cover ;)

Hobbs July 31, 2010 at 4:08 am

What about the big company race at Ron’s mansion? That is a huge, stately tudor mansion that is actually located in Pasadena by CalTech. You should have included some images of that house – it is amazing.

Great movie – takes me back.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman January 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Going back and reading some of your older posts, too funny! Loved that movie.

You said: Whenever I watch movies from the ’80s, it reminds me how things weren’t as staged and styled then as they are now. Decor was more casual and things were kind of thrown together over time. I don’t think people agonized over decorating their coffee tables and mantels and dressers like they do now. These sets reflect that with rooms that look lived in.

AMEN! Doesn’t it seem like movie houses now are picture-perfect, with perfectly placed pillows, that match the lampshades, that match the perfectly-ironed curtains? you are right about how decor was more “casual.” I think that decorating back then used to be getting a set of matching bedroom furniture, or getting some new (ruffly ’80s!) curtains. And maybe putting up some totally 1980s striped wallpaper, lol!
.-= Handy Man, Crafty Woman´s last blog ..Boy Card for a Baby Shower =-.

Lisa Stevens September 11, 2011 at 10:07 am

I just watched the movie “Date Night” (2010) with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. The house their characters live in is very similar to this house from “Mr. Mom”. I love both houses, and will keep them in my inspiration files. By the way, I love this blog. You combine to of my favorite things, movies and design. Thanks for all your hard work.

Meg July 19, 2012 at 10:28 am

*clicking through tv homes*. I noticed 2 dishwashers?! Out of place for that home.
Then it dawned on me- on is a trash compactor. Forgot those ever existed!

Jay July 31, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I’m pretty sure this was shot in Glendale CA. There’s a house on Allen Street above Glenoaks that I believe was the location.

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