“Miracle on 34th Street:” The Sets from the 1994 Remake by John Hughes

by hookedonhouses on December 12, 2011

Miracle on 34th Street movie remake yellow house

In 1994, John Hughes produced and wrote the screenplay for an updated version of the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street. Elizabeth Perkins was cast as the tough and practical single-mom Dorey Walker, and Mara Wilson played her daughter Susan, who’s been taught not to believe in fairytales–and that includes Santa Claus.

Watching the movie again, I was struck by how they tried to give the sets a timeless look. First, let’s take a look at Dorey’s New York City apartment.

Although there are some signs of the ’90s if you’re looking for them, the apartment isn’t as dated as you’d expect it to be after nearly 20 years. The white kitchen with stainless-steel appliances, for example, still looks great:

Susan leaves a video message for her mother on the TV, letting her know she’s watching the parade over at their neighbor Bryan’s apartment:

The windowseat in Bryan’s apartment next door has a perfect view of the parade that Dorey orchestrated:

Dorey’s place always looks dimly lit, serious and serene.

Kris Kringle–played by Richard Attenborough–comes to visit and makes shadow puppets of his reindeer on the wall for Susan:

Dylan McDermott played the neighbor, Bryan Bedford (his name was Fred Gailey in the original). Here he shares Thanksgiving dinner with them and insists on saying grace first:

Remember the early-90s “power suits” that paired long blazers over short skirts? I think we have “Melrose Place” to thank for that one!

I read that they planned to have a little boy in the movie instead of a girl, but Elizabeth Perkins refused to join the project if the story was changed that much from the original.

Unlike the original, which was filmed in New York City, this version was shot in Chicago. Macy’s refused to give producers permission to use their name for this one, so they substituted the made-up Cole’s Department Store for it. (When we were watching it over the weekend, my daughter Lily asked, “Kohl’s? It doesn’t look like a Kohl’s!”)

Kris Kringle babysits Susan and she tells him what she wants for Christmas…

This yellow house. Oh, and a dad and baby brother to go with it, please!

Sure enough, Kris comes through for her. Bryan and Dorey get married (in one of the oddest wedding ceremonies ever, while Susan is apparently back at the apartment by herself), and the next day they’re handed the keys to Susan’s dream house:

Just a little bigger and fancier than the one in the original! Our vision of what a “dream house” is seems to have grown a lot since the ’40s. (You can see Natalie Wood’s Cape Cod from the first movie here.)

The filming location for this yellow house is listed as Lake Forest, Illinois. I wasn’t able to track down the exact location in Lake Forest, so if you know where it’s at, fill us in!

The rooms in Susan’s new house in the 1940s were were all empty. But here they’re all lavishly decorated for Christmas:

They’re told that it comes furnished, courtesy Kris Kringle.

There’s even a fire blazing in the fireplace, and three stockings hanging on the mantel:

So Susan got exactly what she wished for–a yellow house in the suburbs, a dad, and–well, she says, she can wait a little longer for that baby brother…

Last week I showed you the sets from the original Miracle on 34th Street. Do you have a favorite version?

All three actors have been in other projects with great houses I’ve featured:

Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see more Christmas movies, including…

Home Alone movie house Winnetka Illinois

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Bella Michelle December 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

I love Miracle on 34th Street, both versions! I have beens surprised at how much I loved the new one because usually I am not fond of remakes….but Dylan McDermott had something to do with it! LOL

Laura December 12, 2011 at 9:50 am

I’ve only seen the remake version but it was one of my favorite Christmas movies growing up. I loved the fully decorated house at the end, so I’m glad they decided to make that change in the remake instead of keeping it empty.

Emily December 12, 2011 at 10:11 am

This is my favorite version! I secretly wished I was Susan everytime I watched it growing up! :)

That house is beautiful!!

Nicole Mulvany December 12, 2011 at 10:36 am

Thanks for this post. You just saved me from a decorating mishap. I was thinking (because the kids need NOTHING this year. We are drowning in plastic from China that runs on batteries) that we should get the kids a table and chair set for inside. We of course have a little outdoor picnic table. But, I have always wanted kids to have their own table and chairs. Not the painted ones in clown colors. I saw a cute set from Pottery Barn. But, the price and that it’s all so modern were killing me. We live in an old house. Seeing that chair and table set in the yellow house just made me realize I will wait until I can find that and I don’t care if it costs. What a gem and what a gorgeous heirloom piece. Being from the South you know I am all about the heirlooms.

Lisa December 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm

oh thank you! Thank you!!! I can’t tell you how happy I am to see this beautiful house on my screen! So the house is in Illinois? I’m happy to know that much. I used to wonder where this house was. I thought maybe it was filmed in Upstate NY somewhere since that’s where the house was most likely located in the movie.
ahh I feel better knowing this much. Thank you again! My favorite Christmas house ever. And I must say, though the Home Alone house was prettier than this house in it’s day, in my opinion, this house has stood the test of time better, decor wise. This movie came out only 5 years after Home Alone. It’s a bit dated but not as much. Still love the Home Alone house but it’s #2 behind this house. :)

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) December 12, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I’ve never seen this movie, Julia…gotta check it out this year. Hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas season!

Jenn December 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I absolutely LOVE the orginal “Miracle” movie with Natalie Wood. The remake is decent and Mara Wilson is adorable as Susan. There is so much of the original that I love from the decor to the NYC skyline and the clothes – oh – the fashions were fabulous!

Kim December 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for sharing this with us. I like both the original movie and this one in their own ways.

John Hughes really knew how to make his homes a part of his movies. My favorite is the one from Home Alone and this one is a close second. I love how the house in this movie doesn’t need much updating like the one in Home Alone.

Maggy December 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Julia, I haven’t seen the remake; I’m a big fan of the original version!

Kate December 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm

I love this film! My Mum and I were just watching it this evening – it really starts Christmas for me. And the house is just stunning.

ProjectHome December 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm

My husband and I just watched this movie yesterday and I said the exact same thing! It is not as dated as you would think for being filmed in the 90’s. I really love the downtown apartment as well… very classic.

xo,
Nikki

kelly in georgia December 12, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Thank you soooo much for this! I love this, and as a child I wanted the “dream house” on Christmas just like Susan did (but I already had the daddy and baby brother.) That fully furnished house at the end would have been my childhood dream. This version is by far my favorite…if you’re going to dream of a house I say dream big!

Patricia King December 13, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I adore this house and my son and I watched this movie every few months all through his growing up. We now live in a house very similar. The house decked out for Christmas is such an inspiration. I’m very glad they did a remake and decorated the house in the new version. Thank you for posting it on your site.

Would you please do the house from the movie “Fluke”. When it first showed on TV
my girlfriend phoned me to say “you must see this house. It is the most perfect French house in the country I have ever seen”. Looking forward to it.

NJ Cellulose Insulation Contractor January 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

How cute! I actually love the older version though.

JACQUELINE August 22, 2012 at 11:59 am

I can’t tell you how many times I have paused this movie at the exact moment the living room appears. It was my DREAM living room when this movie first came out and, honestly, it still gives me the warm fuzzies when I see it now! It is the perfect “Christmas Morning” room! I have twin boys and that table and chair set is a MUST for my living room. We live in a big, old southern home that my husband’s great grandfather built in the 20’s. I try to be very mindful of the age of the house when decorating. I always have my mind on Christmas when planning colors for a room. Silly, I know. Thank you so much for featuring this movie house!

Chas November 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

Hi,

I finally got around to doing the Chicago locations for the movie. Check them out at itsfilmedthere.com

Chas November 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm

And the yellow house is located at 771 Washington Road, Lake Forest

hookedonhouses November 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Thanks!!

Ingrid M November 19, 2012 at 8:08 am

Coles was one of the original dime and thrive departments stores in Bourke Street, Melbourne City Victoria Australia from around 1880 – 1980, JC Coles had a huge mansion in Essendon with Colonades. Sadly JC Coles no longer exists as a Department Store it is now a string of Supermarkets, I don’t think it is the same family that own it. I prefer the original with Edmund Gwen I am afraid these days we don’t have many elderly actors doing roles. I love Christmas in Conneticut too with S Z Suza the chef from Hungary, unfortunately Australian seasons are back to front to North America so Christmas is ususally at the height of summer, we have a lot of prawns and salads and beer for Christmas.

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