The Classic San Francisco Victorian in “Mrs. Doubtfire”

The Victorian Painted Lady where "Mrs. Doubtfire" was fllmed | hookedonhouses.net

When you think of the 1993 comedy Mrs. Doubtfire, what comes to mind? Robin Williams in drag and that beautiful old Victorian home that the Hillard family lived in, right? And not necessarily in that order. Let’s take a little trip down Movie Memory Lane and see how well the interiors have aged since the ’90s…

The house is considered a “Victorian Painted Lady,” even though it’s not colorful like others you see in San Francisco (I’m guessing it used to be and would love to know what the original colors were). The real address was mentioned in the movie by Sally Field’s character Miranda as 2640 Steiner Street.

The interior scenes were filmed in a Bay area warehouse that they used as a soundstage.

When Daniel, dressed up as Scottish housekeeper Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, walks into the house for her interview, we see the living room through the entry hall:

The Set Decorator was Garrett Lewis, who worked on other films I get frequent requests to feature like Panic Room, Wedding Crashers, and Hook.

The kids watch The Dick Van Dyke Show on TV in the living room every day after school. I got just as irritated as the kids did in this scene when Mrs. Doubtfire turns it off in the middle of a very funny scene with Alan Brady…

The kitchen had tile on the island…something we’d never see in a house like this onscreen today:

They were ahead of their time with the stainless-steel appliances, though.

The movie won an Oscar for Best Makeup. It took over 4 hours to turn Robin Williams into a woman each day.

Even though the house was decorated in the early ’90s, it really isn’t as outdated as you’d expect it to be after nearly 20 years. You can tell they were going for a classic, timeless look–nothing too trendy.

They originally planned to film the movie in Chicago, but ultimately settled on San Francisco. I think the movie would have had a very different feel to it in the Windy City!

They also planned to give the movie a happy ending by getting Daniel and Miranda back together but realized (after the script went through multiple revisions) that it wouldn’t work. The final script had them finish on a friendly, but non-romantic, note, which really was more realistic.

The movie was based on the novel Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine.

They tried to get a sequel together in 2003 (Bonnie Hunt wrote a script for it) but Robin Williams didn’t like the story, which was reportedly about Daniel following his daughter to college to keep a close eye on her. He probably made the right choice not to sign on for that…

Ever wondered how these grand windows can be above the staircase when the kitchen and other rooms are on the other side of them? How is all this natural light getting through them? (Movie magic!)

Lydie’s room is pink and ruffly and in one of the round turrets:

Miranda (Sally Field) is a decorator, so it makes sense that her house would be so, well, decorated.

After separating from her husband, she starts dating her handsome and charming client Stu, played by the handsome and charming Pierce Brosnan. At the time the movie came out, he was best known for the detective comedy “Remington Steele.”

(You can see Sally Field’s house in Malibu here.)

The street signs in the movie marked the location as being on the corner of Broadway and Steiner.

The movie was directed by Chris Columbus, who has given us some good “house movies” over the years, including Stepmom and Home Alone.

The house was built in 1906 and has 2,578 square feet. It last sold in 1997 for $1.395 million. Whoever bought it is holding onto it, and who can blame ’em? I would, too, wouldn’t you?

Here’s how the house looks today, shown from the corner we never see in the movie (via inetours):

*UPDATE*

When Robin Williams died in 2014, the house became a kind of shrine for his fans to visit and pay their respects. His Napa Valley Estate is now on the market:

Robin Williams Selling Napa Valley Villa Sorriso

An arsonist recently set two blazes outside the “Mrs. Doubtfire” house. Fortunately, the homeowner was able to put both of them out before too much damage was done.

You can read about the incident on Curbed, which points out that Robin Williams’ character came up with his character’s fake name after spotting the Chronicle headline, “Police Doubt Fire Was Accidental.”

doubtfire newspaper headline arson

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Comments

  1. says

    Good morning, Julia!!!

    This is so FUN! You know how much I love seeing the movie houses you find for us. This is definitely a special post!

    Have a lovely week!

    xo

    Luciane at HomeBunch.com

  2. says

    I had no idea that Bonnie Hunt had written a follow up script. You are probably right, it is best to let this one stand on its own. It was funny.
    Cool post!!

  3. says

    A move and a home not many will forget!! Thanks so much for sharing Julia!!

    xoxo
    Karena

    Art by Karena

  4. says

    I can remember watching this when I was 5 years old, a couple of years after the film was released, and I love the house even then! San Fran seems to have amazing homes.

  5. says

    I really liked that movie, and the house is really nice. Wonder what the inside really looks like.

    I liked the way the exterior was painted better in the movie… It looked larger and more grand. I think the new paint colors make it looks small and ordinary, although it is now actually a painted lady with three different paint colors.

  6. Kim says

    I was so excited to hear that you were featuring the “Mrs Doubtfire” house today. I love this movie and one of the last times I saw it, I paused it so I could look at the interiors and exterior. That staircase and exterior are breathtaking. I love how the interiors wouldn’t need much updating.

    I don’t like the exterior colors of the house today. The colors of the one in the movie made the house feel more grand.

    I wish we could see the real interior. It would be interesting to see how it compares to the sets of the movie.

  7. Janice Mahon says

    What a beautiful home! Too bad the overhead electrical wiring hasn’t been put underground. Very expensive to do, but it sure changes the view! Thanks for the memories!

  8. says

    I’m a new fan of your blog! I found you through Beach Vintage, another great blog. Simone is such a sweet person. I love houses and can spend quite a long time on your blog! Jennifer:)

  9. says

    How fun! It really isn’t that dated for a 90s movie. I can’t BELIEVE it’s been almost 20 years since it came out??! That makes me feel so ooooold! The movie had so many great quotes: “Leeland! Git back in yer cage!” “So are the kids well behaved, or do they need, like, a few light slams every now and then?”

  10. shabbychick says

    Love this house, even after 20 years! Thank you, Julia!!!

  11. Deb in Oz says

    These houses are glorious! I do think though that the interior (set) is a little too cluttered for my taste.

  12. says

    Loved the movie and always really loved the house – I can’t believe it’s been nearly 20 years! Amazing how it’s stood the test of time!
    Mary

  13. jodi from new jersey says

    SO excited! I love this movie and this house. I remember watching and thinking Sally Field’s character had it all–great job, lovely home. I always get sad when people get divorced. I don’t think it’s so terribly dated. Everything’s pretty simple, change a few fabrics and you’re right in the new millenium. Feels like home- Thanks for a great post.

  14. says

    Great post! Loved this movie! The house was one of my favorites as was Robing Williams. Thanks for sharing. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  15. says

    I love this house! It’s a dream of mine to have a old Victorian in San Francisco. It’s one of my favourite cities.

    I didn’t like the movie much though. I always found it really sad that a man could be kept from seeing his kids like that. I just found it hard to see the humour in the story.

  16. annette says

    Hi Julia, Love all your movie and t-v choices. Have you ever considered the houses from Providence and Educating Amy? Both shows aired in the 90’s ,I believe. Also, Stephen St. Onge on his Designing Dad blog has featured the beautiful apartment on The Good Wife and more photos from Parenthood.Just thought I’d mention these from one looki-loo to another!

  17. Jared says

    I find it interesting the house is only 2,578 square feet. This is by no means small but the shots from the movie always made it look a bit more grand in my opinion. Even in that recent shot it looks smaller than the movie shots. Oh the magic of Hollywood!

  18. says

    My husband and I were in San Francisco in August and took a guided tour of the city. The tour included a drive-by of this house and we were told by the tour guide that usually movie producers film inside scenes on a set somewhere but that, in this case, both inside and outside scenes of “Mrs. Doubtfire” were filmed entirely at this house. Hmmmm …

    As for the movie, it has some very funny scenes, but, overall, makes me sad every time I watch it.

  19. Maria says

    Beautiful house! Loved it and the movie.

    It looks like the house has yet a new paint color – cream/white/gray which is my favorite of the three — you can do a street view of the house via G maps (2640 Steiner Street San Francisco). Also, though it’s hard to see with the new street trees, the original front door is back on the house. The movie door isn’t Victorian. Oh and FYI those aren’t all power lines overhead — some are for the electric trollies (streetcars). I have no idea if they shot inside the house but I’ve seen it done in SF, but that banister certainly isn’t the right color to be original finish. I wonder if they ended up shooting in SF because Robin Williams is local? Hummm!

    PS
    Just 5 doors down at 2311 Broadway is the Party of Five house (if anyone besides me remembers that show!). I’d love to see a future post on that house (hint-hint). :)

  20. says

    Absolutely LOVE this post, movie, and house! I know every line of Mrs. Doubtfire by heart, I even went as her…him…shim for Halloween when I was little. So much fun! This movie is fantastic, of course I loved the makeup transformation scenes the most! The house is absolutely gorgeous and I completely agree, it’s classic and it has really stood the test of time as far as decor goes. I would love to visit San Fran and see this house! Awesome post, Julia!

  21. Bee D. says

    I really do think that if you go for the classic look, it will last for a long time. Makes me wonder about all the homes that have soooooo much granite everywhere, and paid a nice price for it. What will it look like in just 10 years?

  22. says

    I love that house. My husband and I went on vacation in SF in 2007 and I wouldn’t leave until I found that house and took a picture in front of it. It was still an off white back then and some trees in the planters were overgrown and covering much of the lower part of the house. Still a very beautiful house.

  23. says

    I love this house!! It was also used in the thrilling movie “Pacific Heights”. Loved that movie too! So sad when I saw how sinister Michael Keaton wrecked the house!

  24. Lindsey says

    Beautiful home! Please, please, please do Hook next! (Granny Wendy’s house) :)

  25. Tad Bratten says

    My friend used to live just across the street in the large house seen in the photo with the bay in the background for years. The view from that house is amazing! Beautiful corner bay windows -with curved glass double-hung windows hanging out towards the bay-perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Palace of Fine Arts. Its a great, tony neighborhood with tons of spectacular houses and I especially love the scale of the house in the movie.

    Just discovered this site- there goes my life haha, I am house obsessed (I’m an architectural designer) so will no doubt be spending way too much time here now.

  26. Howie says

    I watched this movie being filmed, or at least a few scenes and Robin was very nice and cordial and allowed an assistant to snap a great picture of use on Steiner Street that was on the wall at a Deli in Philly where I grew up from 1994-2005. I was working for a Petv Supply/Grooming shop on Mission street and had to deliver two white Standard Poodles to your typical, snooty and CHEAP Pacific Heights people. After delivering the dogs to the owners I drove down the street and noticed the filming crew so I pulled over. I saw the animal farm scene and two other scenes being filmed.

  27. J.B. Lawence says

    As an Interior designer, I love movies where the house is a cast member. Ive seen this house on my last visit to SF. Beautiful interiors, make for a beautiful movie. I have many in my collection. Nothing beats classic, traditional interiors.

    JBL