“Dan in Real Life:” A Summer House in Rhode Island

The Summer Cottage from "Dan in Real Life" | hookedonhouses.net

The 2007 movie Dan in Real Life is a heart-warming comedy about Dan Burns (Steve Carell), a widowed father who writes an advice column about parenting and relationship issues, even though he has plenty of his own. When he takes his daughters to the annual family reunion in Rhode Island, he struggles to connect with them in the way he hopes.

the "Dan in Real Life" movie summer house | hookedonhouses.net

The movie was filmed almost entirely on location in an 8-bedroom summer house known as Riven Rock in Jamestown, Rhode Island. It was built in 1911 and has been in the same family for generations.  You can rent it during the summer. Here’s how it looks in the listing:

Riven Rock-waterview side of house

There’s an interesting article in the Providence Journal about the locations used in the movie. According to the paper, the movie crew changed a few things, like adding awnings to the front of the house (the family liked them but moved them to the water side after filming). They also added steps to one side of the porch to open it up.

Riven Rock porch

kitchen 4

Director Peter Hedges says, “To me, the house was another character in the film. The minute I walked in, I couldn’t wait to start filming in it.”

kitchen 5

Even though it was a kind of small, quiet film, there were a lot of big actors in it, like Juliette Binoche as the woman Dan has fallen for, and John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest as his parents (even though Wiest is only about 10 years older than Steve Carell).

Dan in Real Life summer house kitchen

In this photo of the kitchen from the rental listing, you can see what they changed for the movie, from the island to the flooring:

Riven Rock kitchen

It looks like they also added a red pegboard and shelving beside the fridge for the movie:

kitchen 7

Producers recruited some local children to play Dan’s young nieces and nephews.

Dan at desk

I love this sliding “barn door:”

sliding barn door in Dan in Real Life movie house

Dan in Real Life movie house stone fireplace

Here’s how it looks in the listing:

Real dining room from Dan in Real Life movie

The dining room has a view of the water from the windows:

dining room window

Dan in Real Life family around dining room table

As the only adult in the house without a partner, Dan has to sleep on a cot in the laundry room:

Dan in Real Life movie house laundry room

Peter Hedges, who wrote the screenplay with Pierce Gardner, says that the film was really a tribute to his own father who raised him and his siblings alone: “I know he was really lonely. The nights were the hardest for my dad.”

upstairs hall

Hedges says he wanted the movie to be a “human comedy” that just shows the humor in real life, tempered with pain and sadness.

guest bedroom

guest bedroom 2

guest room 3

The bedroom in “real life:”

Riven Rock bedroom with twin beds

Okay, it has nothing to do with the house, but I have to point out that the police officer who pulls Dan over several times during the movie was played by Matthew Morrison (aka Mr. Schuester from Glee):

Matthew Morrison from Glee in Dan in Real Life movie

Back to the house. Here’s the entry hall and staircase:


Living Room Fireplace in Dan in Real Life Movie

The stone fireplace as it looks in the listing:

Riven Rock fireplace

The striped rug in the movie made a big difference in this room:

Stone fireplace in Dan in Real Life

Dan in Real Life summer house 2

Amy Ryan in Dan in Real Life movie

Dane Cook in Dan in Real Life movie

Dan in Real Life family talent show

The cast — except for Steve Carell, who was busy filming The Office — spent four days living in the house and rehearing scenes before the cameras arrived, so they could bond and get into a familiar rhythm.

the cast of Dan in Real Life

They put on a talent show for Carell when he arrived similar to the one shown in the movie. He jokes, “I probably like these people better than my own family now.”

Dan in Real Life summer house Rhode Island

Visit Liz Brazil’s real estate site for more photos and rental information about Riven Rock.

front of the house in Dan in Real Life movie

P.S. Visit Houses Onscreen to see more, including…

Funny Farm movie Andy Farmer's Cape in Vermont

The Real House from Funny Farm

The Blind Side house
The Blind Side was filmed on location in Atlanta, Georgia, which doubled for Memphis, Tennessee. The house used for the Tuohy family was a private…
Swing Shift movie poster Goldie Hawn
One of the questions I get asked a lot is whether the bungalow court from the movie Swing Shift is the same as the one…

See More


  1. says

    I loooove “Dan in Real Life!” In fact, I watched it again the other day. I studied for a bit back East and always wanted to have a neat old house and a huge family…so that has a bit to do with it. The music composed for the film is quite lovely too! Thank you for another dreamy post!

    : )

    Julie M.
    .-= The Little Red Shop´s last blog ..Dad =-.

  2. says

    Oh I LOVE this movie so much! I remember googling for info on the house after the first time I saw it. It really does feel like a character! I agree with Julie too, the music is great. Sondre Lerche is one of my favorite musicians!
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Samantha Pynn =-.

  3. Julianne says

    This house DEFINITELY is another character in the show. When they all pull up that first night, and then in the subsequent days of the reunion, it’s the house that seems to always pull them back together, even through the issues they all go through. And seriously, Dan’s “bedroom” is about the funniest thing ever, because it is SO TRUE! Who of us that grew up in a large family (8 siblings here!) hasn’t spent their fair share of nights in a less-than-stellar room? Ha!

    And you’re also right, the rug in the living room with the fireplace seems to really make that room just be as cozy as possible.

    Great post! We loved this show!

  4. Kim says

    I haven’t seen this movie, but have seen the trailer for it. Steve Carell is a great actor.

    I wasn’t really hooked on the house until I saw the staircase and familyroom. I agree with you, this house I couldn’t live in, but would be fun to stay in sometime.

  5. says

    I love this movie! So well written and perfect – just my kind of movie. And I loved the setting and the house. I also enjoyed the scenes shot in Dan’s own house, before they leave for the vacation. Right down to his beat up Volvo, this is a great movie! I’m so glad I found your site and this post. This has made my day. Now I need to pull out my DVD and watch the movie again. Thanks!

  6. Buddiegirl says

    I just watched the movie for the first time on Saturday and of course fell in love with the house. It is the kind of house I would have loved to go to with my family and their families when all the kids were younger. I might not want to live there all year, but I could certainly spend the summer there.

    Loved the movie, love Steve Carell and would watch it again in a heartbeat.

    Thanks for showing us the “real” house.

  7. says

    I too loved the house in this movie. I thought I was the only person who loved “movie” houses. Some more of my favorites are both houses in The Holiday but esp the Surrey home of Kate Winslet’s character, Mlynn’s house in Steel Magnolias, The Vermont house in Baby Boom, The McAllisters house in Home Alone and those are only the ones off the top of my head. I am new to this blog but LOVING it!!
    .-= Arlene @At Home with the Grimms´s last blog ..I’m the Mary, You’re the Rhoda! =-.

  8. Jane says

    I don’t think I would want to live in this house year round, but it would be a wonderful place to vacation. Kind of reminds me of the house in The Whales of August and On Golden Pond.


  9. SOL says


    • hookedonhouses says

      I haven’t seen that movie, but I’ve gotten a few requests for it. Maybe I’ll get to it one of these days! -Julia

  10. says

    I would love to see this movie, so on it goes to my list thanks to you.
    I love the way you do these decor in the movies posts Julia. You really show alot of great images, and your commentary is always interesting.
    xo xo
    .-= Visual Vamp´s last blog ..Welcome To The Man Mansion =-.

  11. says

    This is one of my favorite movies…not only for the characters and script, but the house. It’s one of those places you imagine having so that they entire family can get together for a summer vacaton. My little Northern Michigan cottage would have to be enlarged many times over to accomodate my family…we only use it one famly at a time LOL! The house in Golden pond gives me the same feelings, a vacation home that is furnished with memories, not decorators elements. Some places just beg for that kind of decorating!
    .-= Pat´s last blog ..Big Lots Isn’t Just For Buying Soap! =-.

  12. says

    I love this house. Too dark for me as well but what a great vacation home for anyone lucky enough to rent it out!
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Lavender =-.

  13. says

    I loved this movie and the house!! I definitely like they way it was decorated for the movie better than it is in real life. The kids bedroom with all of the beds piled in there together was so cute. I could just picture them all talking and playing into the wee hours, even thought they didn’t show that in the movie.
    .-= hip hip gin gin´s last blog ..Tea Tent =-.

  14. says

    I loved that movie and the house did feel like a summer home. Our tiny lake cabin has the same feel. I wonder if people ever keep the changes made when a movie is filmed in their home. I would have kept the rug for sure!
    .-= vanessa´s last blog .. =-.

  15. says

    I love your analyses of houses AND movies Julia, you let me see things I hadn’t noticed You’re my movie guide! This goes on the Netflix list.
    .-= Tricia Rose´s last blog ..Father’s Day =-.

  16. Destiny says

    Loved, loved the movie (It was a little sad and a lot sweet; my favorite combination!) and loved the house. Probably because it is traditionally, typically New England and that is home for me. It’s not the style house that most of us lived in year round, although our homes do tend to be much darker than those in California, but defintely represents our lake and pond summer houses. (Interesting fact that both Steve Carell and Dane Cook are from Massachusetts.) It’s so neat how people from different parts of the country decorate differently. My house in New England was primitive country straight out of my Bible — Country Living Magazine. I live in Atlanta now and my house is having an extreme identity crisis. There are piece from home that I can’t. won’t part with and then there are a lot of creative, elective pieces strewn in. My style was so clear before, but not now. I’m kind of enjoying it… I can’t make sense or wrap my head around it, but I am enjoying it!

  17. says

    I haven’t seen this movie, but now I want to! Last month Netflix had it in their “watch instantly” collection and I missed out. Guess I’ll have to put it in my queue.

    The house could definitely use a little love (and some light!) but it’s very cozy. :-)
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Mostly concerning Modest Mouse =-.

  18. sbean says

    You can take all those over the top, gild the lily, 10,000 square foot mc mansions most celebrities live in and give me this. With just a little warming up, oh, what a wonderful family place.

    Thanks much for sharing. (o:


  19. Gerry says

    Oh, I’m so glad you did this movie! I don’t know which I loved most – the people or the house or the music. I have watched this at least 4 or 5 times and it never gets boring. The scenes when he’s trying to sleep in the laundry room are hilarious. This house is the PERFECT vacation home. Not a show place inside but just a really homey, comfortable place to relax. Thank you! You never cease to amaze me with your movie picks!

  20. says

    Reading this just put a HUGE smile on my face. I was not a Steve Carell fan at all until I saw this movie. Then I loved him. In fact, The Office grated on my nerves prior to me watching the movie, but after seeing Dan In Real Life, I was able to watch and really like The Office.

    I agree with you that the house is too dark to live in year round but I would be one happy camper to have a vacation home like that. Great, great, great post!
    .-= Karrie´s last blog ..You Know I’m Serious When… =-.

  21. Katie says

    “Put it on my tab” LOVE this movie! I really love the house and felt like it was PERFECT for filming…

  22. says

    Steve Carrell and Juliette Binoche?! The mind reels! Neat house, though. Interesting to see what those subtle changes the movie crew made did for the overall look of the place.
    .-= Lori-Anne´s last blog ..Edible Flowers =-.

  23. Kaye says

    I liked the movie more for the house than for the story.

    Thanks, Julia!

  24. says

    1. Mr. Schuster could pull me over any day. 😉
    2. I would love to live on the water like that…at least in the summer months!
    3. I am still pulling for Holly and Michael too. 😉
    .-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..I Was Framed =-.

  25. Lisa T. says

    Add me to the “love this movie” list. One of the funniest parts is when he is trying to sleep while his mother is drying what sound like shoes in the dryer. With no apologies, just like a real mom.

    Would love the house for vacations, but yeah; if you left me in there long enough, there would be some painting going on. It wouldn’t improve the place, but I wouldn’t be able to help myself.

  26. Brenda says

    This is a favorite movie of mine! I loved seeing how the house was changed ever so slightly and what an impact that made. Thanks for giving us a peek inside!

  27. says

    Nice house Julie I wouldnt mind renting that if i came to the states its a shame they never kept the rug in the living room it did make it feel more cosy. I have never watched the movie but I might have to hire it out now so i can see what its all about :)
    .-= Elaine´s last blog ..My Favourite! My Bargain! My Find! =-.

  28. Babs711 says

    SUCH an underrated movie! I’m so glad you posted this! I discovered this movie about a year ago and have seen it three times since. Everyone I’ve recommended it to loves it as well. Steve Carrell does a great job in it…it’s not his typical goofy role. It’s really a movie that leaves you with such a good feeling! (P.S. – nice catch re: Matthew Morrison! I haven’t rewatched it since starting to watch Glee!)

  29. says

    One of the best movies of the past 5 years if you ask me, so realistic not only in dialogue but in the fact that the house wasn’t “perfect” and there was barely enough room for everyone, just like a real family home. Nice to see the set decorators barely made any changes — although I hope they let the owners keep that striped rug as it is so much better than the original!
    .-= Robin´s last blog ..Hold the phone, Domino may be calling =-.

  30. debbie says

    When I saw Dan In Real Life in the theatre for the first time I had no idea it was filmed in Jamestown, and had so much fun recognizing all the landmarks I grew up with. I no longer live in Jamestown, but have lots of wonderful memories of summer vacations spent at the beach. Love the house and especially love the good family vibe!

  31. says

    Oh,what a wonderul house it is !i hope i can spend my summer vocation in this kind of house,lol!

  32. E. George says

    Hi Julia you realise now I will have to send hubby out in the cold to look for this movie. I agree with you the house is a bit dark for me but I think its just got too much stuff in it for a holiday home and I guess the timber tends to make it look dark too. Great blog as always thanks for sharing. Regards Esther from Sydney ps hubby can take the cold…

  33. Renae says

    The movie is sweet but the house is the reason I keep watching! I guess it’s the family in the house…I want a huge family like that and a place to escape to someday. I know it’s probably not possible but I can dream right? Great post!!

  34. says

    I loved this movie. I also love the house. So many people are painting really cool wood paneling like this white, and while I like the look, it is a little sad. I would probably just add a ton of white and light accessories to lighten it up a bit- I am really digging all the wood!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Music for shakin’ it =-.

  35. Zuitzy says

    I JUST saw this movie and the house has been on my mind since then. I can’t believe I stumbled across your post about it! This is my dream house for vacations with my brothers and their families. We just have to find a meeting place in between the further corners of the country where we have all made our own nests.

  36. Ben says

    I love Dan In Real Life! Peter Hedges is actually a panelist at Austin Film Festival. If you guys live in the area I’ll see you there!

  37. kate says

    i love love this house but i love wood there us nothing like it for warmth and character.
    Can’t imagine living in anything but a wooden house.

  38. says

    I loved this movie and the house was so great – it was just the perfect family retreat. So glad to read about it and see it in the listings. I would so rent it if I could! I loved it when Dan’s parents were making breakfast in the kitchen, and he’s sleeping in that laundry room/closet. So funny and sweet!
    .-= Kelly@40isthenew30´s last blog ..Lakeshore Lovin’ =-.

  39. says

    You are on my list of FAVORITE blogs for this very reason! I love houses by the sea and this one, though too dark for everyday like you said, was the perfect back-drop for this film, and the [SPOILER] at the end. I just saw it a week ago.

    I also LOVE all of the houses in Nancy Meyers films! It’s my personal dream to have a beach house even remotely like the one in “Something’s Gotta Give”!

    Keep up the good work fueling dreams!
    .-= glorystory´s last blog ..Too Hot For Words =-.

  40. says


    I read this post just the other day, and when I got on a plane today to fly from Houston to Seattle, the movie was on, so I watched it again, thinking, “Oh, those awnings aren’t really there” and “Hey, that’s Mr. Shue!” I loved the movie the first time I saw it, and it was fun watching it after I knew more about the house!

    .-= Kelly@40isthenew30´s last blog ..Summer Bucket List- Revisited =-.

  41. lynda says

    I love your blog……just so enjoyable. Of ALL the blogs I read and all the entires I have read and re read this is my FAVORITE entry on any blog of all time. It is fresh-intersting and just a good, good read. Thank you for the effort you put into your blog. It is SO apprecaited!!!!!

  42. Elaine says

    I have always judged a movie by the house. It is so nice to find out that I am not alone. My favorite scene in this movie is the talent show where Dan and his brother are singing “Let My Love Open The Door.” It’s better than Pete Townshend.

  43. Jon says

    I kept wishing they was going to make a part II. Liked the house could almost feel a huge family spending time on vacations there.