Monster-in-Law: Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez & Their Houses

by hookedonhouses on March 1, 2010


Did you see the romantic comedy Monster-in-Law, starring Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez? It had some pretty funny moments, but the sets are what really held my attention. There were four different homes featured in the movie–Charlie’s apartment, Kevin’s Craftsman, and Viola’s two lavish residences. They were created with an amazing attention to detail by the talented production designer Missy Stewart and I thought they deserved a closer look.

Charlie’s Venice Beach Apartment:


Lopez is sweet and likable as Charlie, a temp who spends her days walking dogs and answering phones but dreams of being an artist. She doesn’t know what she’s getting into when she agrees to marry Kevin (Michael Vartan).

If only I could live in a charming apartment near the beach with a courtyard like this on a dog-walker’s salary!


At the beginning of the movie, the camera pans down onto this apartment complex, and looks inside that covered porch (second story, far left). Inside we see Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) sketching:


Charlie’s bedroom:


Her living room shows us that this is a woman with a million creative projects percolating at once. When Kevin sees it for the first time, he asks, “Oh, did you just move in?” No, she says–she’s lived there for years.


Kevin’s Craftsman-Style House:


Kevin is a doctor. He’s young and handsome and thoughtful. Best of all, he lives here, in this beautiful Craftsman-style home, and asks her to move in with him. He really does seem like the perfect man. But then–as the movie’s tagline goes–she meets his mother. Dun-dun-dunnnn.

In a deleted scene, we get a look at the front porch, not seen close up in the final cut of the movie:


Charlie moves into Kevin’s house:


Actor Mark Ruffalo was reportedly asked to play the part of Kevin, but he declined.


Fonda is hilarious as Kevin’s mother Viola, who lends the movie its title. In this shot, we can briefly see the staircase behind her:


The living room, during the rehearsal dinner:


In the DVD special features, we get a look behind the scenes and are treated to a couple of close-ups of the beautiful fireplace and the built-in shelves on either side of it:



Looking from the living room into the dining room and kitchen:


In the dining room for the rehearsal dinner:


Looking into the kitchen:


Wanda Sykes, as Viola’s acerbic assistant Ruby:


This was Fonda’s first film in 15 years. She has said that she based her character on her ex-husband, Ted Turner.


Charlie decides to add some of her own style to the house by painting a wall in the breakfast nook:


We never get to see how it turns out in the movie, but I spied it here in the Behind-the-Scenes featurette on the DVD:


The bedroom:




The master bathroom (Viola bursts in and rips the phone out of Charlie’s hand so she can talk to her son, who is on a business trip):


The real house used for the exterior shots is in Pasadena. The interiors were created on a soundstage. Here are the sets being built:



Iamnotastalker did some excellent sleuth work and found the actual house that they used in Pasadena. Here’s what she says about it:

In real life, the Monster-in-Law house is known as the Ross House and it was designed in 1911 by Alfred and Arthur Heineman, the same architectural team who was responsible for giving us Dylan’s house from Beverly Hills, 90210 and the Eppes house from the television series Numb3rs.

The Heineman brothers built the residence, which features Craftsman, Asian, and Neo-Classical design elements, for a rancher named Winslow Ross at a cost of $8,000. The house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, boasts Batchelder tile work, a hand-painted mural, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a whopping 4,657 square feet of living space.

Check out her post for more photos and information.


UPDATE: The owner of this Craftsman contacted me and sent me some of his personal photos of the house. You can see them here.

Viola’s Country Home in Montecito:


We don’t see much of the exterior in the movie except for in this brief shot below. The photo above is from the Special Features of the DVD, which gives us a better idea of how big that wraparound porch really is.

UPDATE: This house was also used on “Gilmore Girls” as the Independence Inn. See photos of it here.



Viola sends Charlie to this bedroom where she has a dress waiting for her to wear to the black-tie party already in swing. Too bad it’s about three sizes too small:


Viola’s Estate in Pasadena:


According to the LA Times:

When location manager Timothy Hillman needed a house that would make a statement about the Barbara Walters-type mother Jane Fonda portrays in the upcoming film “Monster-in-Law,” he settled on a majestic 1927 Wallace Neff home in Pasadena as the character’s home.

“We wanted to show that she oozed class,” Hillman says, “so we picked this gated estate with fountains in front and grand windows into the living room.”


The fireplace is huge. See all of those framed photos on the right? We see Viola with famous people like Oprah and Gloria Steinem. They’re all real photos from Fonda’s collection.


The staircase decorated for the wedding:


Viola’s bedroom:


After Kevin makes a surprise proposal to Charlie on the porch, Viola runs to her bedroom to meditate and calm down. In this shot you get a glimpse of the connecting bathroom behind her:


In the DVD Special Features, we are shown a close-up of Viola’s bed that we didn’t get in the movie:


The clothes for the movie were just as much fun to look at as the sets. They were all specially designed for the characters by Kym Barrett, the costume designer–including this white gown that Viola wears to her son’s wedding:



Charlie gets ready for her wedding in Viola’s room. Notice how they hung curtains in the arched doorway and blocked the view of the bathroom in this scene with a screen:


Viola’s garden, where the wedding was held:


Visit my TV/Movie Houses page for links to all the others I’ve featured, from Father of the Bride to Something’s Gotta Give.

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Annie@A View on Design March 1, 2010 at 7:30 am

both of viola’s homes were divine! funny that jane fonda based her character on ted turner, says a lot about him – don’t ya think! Loved that movie!
.-= Annie@A View on Design´s last blog ..Toorak’s finest =-.

Celebrity Digs HQ March 1, 2010 at 7:47 am

That craftsman is to-die-for!
.-= Celebrity Digs HQ´s last blog ..“Seabiscuit” Writer/Producer/Director Down on the Farm =-.

Pam @ Design Fanatic March 1, 2010 at 8:15 am

I love this movie! Wanda Sykes has some hilarious lines! Since Craftsman style homes are my favorite, I love Kevin’s house. Thanks for another great post!
.-= Pam @ Design Fanatic´s last blog ..WHAT A DIFFERENCE A LITTLE PAINT MAKES! =-.

linda@LimeintheCoconut March 1, 2010 at 8:37 am

I did see this movie…I loved the subway rolls at his house!
.-= linda@LimeintheCoconut´s last blog ..Milo and the Big Butt chair… =-.

Carmen March 1, 2010 at 9:59 am

I thought this movie was hilarious! I love the Craftsman style house. Beautiful. I wouldn’t mind a Kevin either. 😀
.-= Carmen´s last blog ..The Few The Proud =-.

Lara Jane March 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

I loooooove Wallace Neff but I would choose Charlie’s place! It’s in Venice, near the beach, and I am definitely feeling the artsy/bohemian vibe. Kevin’s house is just too dark for me.

Amanda @ Serenity Now March 1, 2010 at 11:40 am

I really liked the craftsman style house, but the decor was a little too dark/modern for my tastes. But it suited Vartan’s character perfectly. Jane Fonda had some great freak-out scenes in this movie. :) I am SO glad my mother-in-law isn’t like that!!! She’s only had two melt-downs, never in front of me, and they were during the Christmas holiday. We’ll be working on that this year. 😉
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..The Waste Land =-.

Hip Hip Gin Gin March 1, 2010 at 11:59 am

I love Kevin’s house! It’s funny that the thing people don’t like about it, that it is dark, is exactly why I do like it. I think I’m a bit of a den animal, at the end of the day I want to hole up somewhere dark and cozy to relax! Beautifully decorated too but not fussy. Love it!
.-= Hip Hip Gin Gin´s last blog ..Simple Pleasures =-.

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints March 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Oh girl I loved this post. This is one of my favorite movies. I not only loved looking at the homes, I loved Jennifer Lopez’s style…very bohemian chic.
.-= Becky @ Farmgirl Paints´s last blog ..Chase the Lion =-.

Stephanie March 1, 2010 at 12:25 pm

very funny movie, the house is really pretty too!
.-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Canvas Unwrapped, Deployed in Iraq, Constance and Matthew’s Story =-.

Vicki @ In The Sandbox Comic Strip March 1, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I loved this movie! All the houses were gorgeous. It was hard to choose which was my favorite!

Thanks for a GREAT post! Happy Monday!! =)
.-= Vicki @ In The Sandbox Comic Strip´s last blog ..Being a second child =-.

Struggler March 1, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Thank you for this, you worked so hard for all these great pictures! I’m fascinated that the vote above favors the Craftsman House over the big mansions – how lovely we all have our feet on the ground.
Funnily, I was driving to work this morning and noticed the subway sign that they used (shown in a couple of your pics) in the window of Restoration Hardware.
.-= Struggler´s last blog ..Impulsive but Adorable =-.

Lesley @ TheDesignFile March 1, 2010 at 2:34 pm

The craftsman house is a stunner — inside and out. And it’s almost sad to know the interior was just a set in a sound stage. I shouldn’t be surprised but I always am!
.-= Lesley @ TheDesignFile´s last blog ..Green kitchens – the color, not the eco trend =-. March 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm


Enjoyed your post today!! I just discovered your blog. I am really enjoying it. I love going to the movies with my friends just to see some of these houses. Favorite ones are the English cottage from The Holiday, Hampton House in Something’s Gotta Give, and the house in CA for the movie It’s Complicated!!!
.-=´s last blog ..My first blog post! =-.

Kim March 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

I rented this movie right after it came out on DVD and I liked it. I loved how Jennifer Lopez character, got back at Kevin’s mom. She had it coming to her.

I loved the Craftman and Country styled homes. I could see myself living in any one of them.

greenie March 1, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I was just talking (and laughing) about this movie 2 or 3 days ago with someone from work. Funny movie– Jane Fonda and Wanda Sykes are hilarious! Love the craftsman the most. Surprised that the interiors weren’t “real”.

devil March 1, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Surprisingly, I loved all the homes in this film. The craftsman is my fave, though.

Remember the scene where Viola wakes up Charlie with the airhorn, then claims that she thought it was air freshener (then cackled evilly)? That’s my mother. Seriously, that is EXACTLY something my mother would do. My brother’s wife is a living saint having my mother for a MIL.

The Little Red Shop March 2, 2010 at 3:58 am

Mmmmmmm…Michael Vartan……

I’m sorry…what were you saying?

: )

Julie M.
.-= The Little Red Shop´s last blog ..French Larkspur ~ Jeanne D’Arc Living Garden Book Giveaway! =-.

E. George March 2, 2010 at 6:46 am

Hi Julia I voted for the Pasadena Estate but I love Kevins place too. The pressure to make this vote….. I’ll take all of the above. Is Pasadena anygood at this time of the year? You know I have only seen this movie once I loved Wanda Sykes character she is my favourite and now I’ll have to send hubby shopping for the DVD. This was great thanks Julia. Regards Esther from Sydney with Autumn on our doorstep.

Claire March 2, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Is the country home the same property used as The Independence Inn on Gilmore Girls??

hookedonhouses March 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Oh. My. Gosh. It is! It’s the same house! I’m a huge “Gilmore Girls” fan, but I didn’t even notice it. I just checked the first season to get a look at the Inn again and you’re right. I’ll have to update the post as soon as I can get a photo from “G.G.” Thanks! -Julia

Tania - Grange de Charme March 5, 2010 at 4:55 am

You have a great blog ! very inspiring … please continu to make me dream !
Have a wonderful week-end !
.-= Tania – Grange de Charme´s last blog ..Ma rencontre avec Rachel Ashwell =-.

ellen brady May 25, 2011 at 11:14 am

I’ve been looking for a bed to buy and found the perfect one when I saw this movie again. How did I miss that bed? Can anyone tell me where to buy the Master bed seen in Jane Fonda’s mansion? It’s in the scene before the wedding. You can see it in one of the photos above where she is sitting on it. PLsss.!

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