A New House Built to Look Like Grey Gardens

In the early ’70s, a now-classic documentary was made about Jackie Kennedy’s aunt, Edith Bouvier Beale, and her daughter, known as “Little Edie,” who were living together in a broken-down family mansion in East Hampton. In 2009 the HBO movie Grey Gardens introduced a new generation to the story–and the beautiful old estate they lived in.

There’s a new house on the market in Massachusetts that was inspired by the HBO version of Grey Gardens in its heyday (shown above). But first, let’s take a look at how it looked in the movie:

Production designer Kalina Ivanov did an amazing job recreating the rooms and bringing them to life.

In the movie, Jessica Lange played the eccentric Big Edie, and Drew Barrymore was her daughter, Little Edie.

Sadly, by the time the documentary was filmed in 1973, the real-life Grey Gardens had deteriorated to this:

Hard to believe the women were still living there amid the filth and rotted floorboards–not to mention raccoons and other critters. Albert Maysles, one of the directors of the documentary, said the most difficult thing about filming it was the condition of the home: “The first thing you noticed was the smell from all the animals,” he said.

Here’s a screenshot of it from the original film, when it looked abandoned:

In 1984, Architectural Digest featured the iconic house, which had been bought in 1979 by Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife, writer Sally Quinn (photos by Peter Vitale). Here’s how it looked then, after its restoration:

You can see how similar the real entry hall and staircase is to the one in the movie I showed you above:

Even if I hadn’t told you these photos were taken in the ’80s, I bet you would’ve guessed, right?

Here’s how the exterior of the real house looks today:

Which brings me to the reason why I started looking at photos of Grey Gardens again in the first place–a newly built home in Falmouth, Massachusetts, which was inspired by it.

The homeowner, Michael E. Jaye, saw photos of the house from the HBO movie and told his architect, Leonard J. Baum, that he wanted the exterior to look like it (shown at the top of the post, with the shutters). Here’s the result:

It’s not as large as the original, and the interior layout isn’t the same, but the front and sides look the way the real one did at the turn of the century, shutters and all.

The interior has a lighter, less formal feel to it than the original.

The new house has 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, and about 4,000 square feet. It’s on the market for $2.995 million.

Thanks to Betty for telling me about this house. I love it!

It sits on nearly 2 acres overlooking Oyster Pond in Upper Cape Cod. The listing says:

“Enjoy swimming from your private dock, exploring the Salt Pond Bird Sanctuary Conservation area across the street, walking to the sandy beach on Vineyard Sound or biking the Shining Sea Bikeway.”

If you could build a house inspired by one you’ve seen on TV or in the movies, which one would it be? Right now I could go for the beach house from Something’s Gotta Give. :-)

Julia-simple-teal-signature2 (1)

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  1. says

    I’d definitely build the English cottage from The Holiday. It’s one of the cutest cottages I’ve ever seen. Love!

  2. Marge Webber says

    I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your posts. This one on Grey Gardens inspired me to order the dvd of the referenced movie. My collection continues to grow, thanks to your wonderful shots of houses and interiors!

  3. Lynne Alpert says


    You choose all the houses that I love in the movies to feature on your web site. I had watched The Holiday six times just to see the stone cottage again, and then you featured it on your site. In order to see the Grey Gardens house you featured today, I had signed onto HBO just so I could see the house. Interesting (and sad) movie too!

    I enjoy your posts every day!

    • Michael Jaye says

      I’m Michael Jaye who built this house and was quite surprised to see the interest that is has gotten, thank you to all for that. The collection you reference are sand pails, dating from 1898 – earliest has stamped on the bottom “Remember the Maine”…most are patriotic with American flags, or “children on the beach”. We collect “needlework samplers” covering the walls in the livingroom, as well as “sailor’s valentines” on the shelves, thank you again for your compliments and interest. It is heartbreaking to sell the home, but we are now in Arizona – lots of beach – so little water LOL

      • says

        What a nice surprise to hear from you, Michael! I love this house you built. Thanks for answering our burning question about the sand pail collection, too. :)

  4. Brenda says

    I loved the summer home featured in the movie “What About Bob”. It just seemed so warm and cozy. At the other end of the spectrum would be the beach house from “Something’s Gotta Give”. I’m with you on that one.

  5. Janice Mahon says

    I loved the documentary made by the Baysles in 1975. Big and Little Edie virtually imprisoned in their squalor. Big Edie was the sister of Jackie O’s father. Raccoons in the attic, cats roaming around. Little Edie wearing scarfs on her bald head, dancing around. Sad but fascinating. She died in Florida at an old age, living off the proceeds of the sale of Grey Gardens and happy at last, I hope.

  6. says

    Another great post Julia! The Grey Garden movie facinated me, not only the house but their lives.
    The new home is so beautiful. I can’t think of a thing I’d change if I were fortunate enough to own it.
    I keep trying to fit all these grand decorating ideas into my small home…it’s just not working! LOL!

  7. Carisa says

    You’ve already featured my two favorite movie houses; Iris’ cottage in “The Holiday” and the aunts house in “Practical Magic.” Would live in either of those in a heartbeat.

  8. says

    Yep, for me it’s the beach house from Something’s Gotta Give. The architecture and the interior design are in such harmony — I wouldn’t change a thing.

  9. Marilyn Podoll says

    Yes, great post. I always wanted to live in a house like the Bradys! That’s when I was younger. Have you ever featured that house?

  10. says

    I have never heard of Grey Gardens before – now I am going to have to get my hands on that 1970’s documentary! Fascinating! Thanks for posting this Julia!
    As for what Movie house I would like to have made for me… I’ve always loved the craftsman bungalow in Must Love Dogs. If I was really rich – maybe the mansion in the Great Gatsby! But more realistically, the cabin in The Great Outdoors would be a fun place to recreate.

  11. Julie says

    I love the house in Practical Magic, but I’ve always been obsessed with the manor in the TV show Charmed.

    Although I haven’t seen The Holiday, I love the pictures of that cottage.

  12. says

    I read about the original house some time ago. I didn’t see the show but I’d love to see if it’s available to rent, it would so interesting to hear about “little Edie”. The new house is so pretty and fresh. What a great setting.

  13. Maddie says

    I love the house from It’s Complicated. It’s the perfect California house-open and casual. I would build it in a heart beat and decorate it similarly. Oh, and I also want the garden and the romantic entanglements.

  14. says

    My movie dream home would be the “Unfaithful” house. Diane Lane and Richard Gere seem to simply belong there. I also love the house of Elias Montrose in the 80’s movie Mystic Pizza and the house in the Hamptons in the artsy movie “Door in the Floor”. So hard to tell that I adore the northeast coastline isn’t it 😉
    Thank you for posting this-it makes me want to see the movie with Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange-I saw the documentary and was still fascinated by the women and the house.

  15. Moi says

    I love everything about BOTH those houses.

    And the movie, too. Who doesn’t think that an old cashmere sweater worn as a wrap skirt, with a cashmere sweater turban, is “a good look for day”?? lol

  16. says

    You know asking me for my favorite movie home is like asking which of my children I love most, right? I’m with you on Something’s Gotta Give. That home & the interiors seem to stand the test of time, but I actually loved the Wallace Neff home of Cameron Diaz’s character in The Holiday. Of course, it was cold and sterile, like her character, but warmed up with some personality I could happily live in that open kitchen and all those rooms with french doors opening to the great pool & grounds!

    • Lisa T. says

      Yes, I was disappointed when I found out that wasn’t a real house but a “movie house”. With a little color thrown in, it would be even more fabulous.

  17. ann says

    For me it would be the house from Holiday Inn. I just love all of those windows!

  18. says

    I need to see that movie, I am familiar with the story and it sounds interesting. If I got to pick a movie house it would probably be the Father of the Bride house, or I am with you on Kate Winslet’s from the Holiday :)

  19. says

    This home is stunning! If I could have any movie-home it would be the home from “Life as we know it”- which was not the best movie (by any stretch of the imagination) BUT worth watching if only to see the house!!

  20. Cindy says

    “Practical Magic”! That house is awesome!

    Great post – loved the pics of all three – the ‘real’ house (sad state that is was in), the ‘revamped’ house and the ‘new construction’ house.

  21. Kim says

    My heart jumped with joy when you mentioned the Grey Gardens house had been restored. It looks so beautiful along with the home that has the same exterior.

    Which tv/movie home would I like to build? I love the layout of “Something’s Gotta Give” house, but one my favorite movie houses is the three story “Matilda” house,(which I’ve told you about more than once). That has been one my favorite homes since the first time I saw that movie. I even dreamed about being inside that house once.

    Reading this post reminds me of the homeowners who built a Replica of the “Munsters” exterior and interior in Texas because they loved the home so much. They allow people to come take tours during charity events. Some of the cast members from the show have even visited the house. You can visit the website to see pictures: http://www.munstermansion.com/mansion.html

  22. Jennah says

    My “movie” house would be the big house from “Stepmom” in which Susan Sarandon’s character lives with her two children. I love absolutely everything about that home.

  23. says

    The new Grey Gardens house is lovely. If I had to pick a movie house, I think it would be the Bennett house in the Kiera Knightly version of Pride & Prejudice.

  24. Jan says

    I think the collection on the mantlepiece is candles. either in tins or on their own.

  25. Elizabeth says

    Thanks for showing us all these great homes. The house (the original and the new) are classic and timeless. I love the story of Grey Gardens, as well. I am siding with you on the favorite house choice. The Something’s Gotta Give beach house is my all time favorite. I watch the movie just for the house, though the movie is pretty good, too!!! That beach house would absolutely be my dream house!!!!

  26. says

    The only reason I’d even heard of Big Edie and Little Edie was from a scene in Gilmore girls. The restoration of that home is amazing.

    I have a list of movie/TV homes that I love. Lorelai’s house in GG, of course, I love Sookie’s house in GG too, and Bing Crosby’s farmhouse in Holiday Inn top my list. I’m sure there are others that I can’t think of right now.

    Love this post!

    • says

      I remember that scene from “Gilmore Girls” when they’re watching “Grey Gardens” and realize that might be them in another decade or two. :-)

  27. ValerieO says

    Love this house but my FAV movie house of all time would still have to be Twelve Oaks. I WANT that staircase! LOL
    Love, love your blog…you make my house porn obsession complete every week!

  28. Brandy says

    Someone beat me to it, but the Manor from ‘Charmed’ was amazingly gorgeous. It is my dream Victorian, no changes (though, I’d prefer no demons…) I would move into it in a heartbeat.

    Not my usual style, but the Summers’ California-southwest style home from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ also always intrigued me, even though we never got to see very much of it.

  29. Wendy says

    Love the interiors of the new Grey Gardens house. Not as much the outside. I prefer the original home’s more charming exteriors.

    As for fantasy houses: Adams family TV show. Practical magic. Under the Tuscan Sun (but only if it were really in Tuscany, I’m not a fan of “fake” houses).

    • Wendy says

      And I meant I want to live in the movie version of the Under the Tuscan Sun house, rather than the lovely renovation (which is too done for my tastes) or Frances Mayes real Bramasole.

  30. jodi from new jersey says

    If we’re dreaming, of course, I’ll take the Stepmom house for everyday and the “Something’s Gotta Give ” house for weekends. That dream would also include private transportation to and fro each week!

  31. Dava says

    What I love about the Grey Gardens knock-off house is the beadboard ceilings in the living room and kitchen. I am seeing more and more of that look and really can make a simple plaster ceiling elegant. Also love the river rock stone chimney and that slanted closet door in the orange bedroom. Simple touches like that are inspired.

  32. Julie says

    It would definitely be” The Holiday” English cottage, and secondly, the interior furnishings of “It’s Complicated”. I love how most people are drawn to the little cottage of The Holiday, rather than the California home of Cameron Diaz’ character, even though that is the style we see from most decorators.

  33. Serena says

    Hi Julia – Hope you are well. My name is Serena from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I got to know your website from.. dailymail online (yes – my guilty pleasure) about couple of weeks ago when they mentioned it in ‘scary houses for sale’. I am happy to report that I am now totally hooked and loved all of your posts! They gave me great ideas and made me smile too :) Well done! xo

  34. SaraLou says

    Hi Julia,
    I am from the UK and found your website by accident and now check it daily. After your recommendation I purchased “Somethings Gotta Give” on DVD, I loved it!
    Many Thanks

  35. Derek says

    Whipstaff Manor from the 90’s movie version of Casper. Who wouldn’t want a house with secret rooms, sculpted details, and overlooking the ocean on a cliff outside a charming New England town?

  36. says

    Since I like large houses, but also worry about maintenance, I would choose the house in Burnt Offerings (actually Dunsmuir house in Oakland, California). I can think of a few people I would be willing to feed to it.
    –Road to Parnassus

  37. Jared says

    What a great job they did on this house! I became infatuated with the real house after seeing the movie and documentary so I certainly wouldn’t mind living in this gorgeous place let alone the real one. I’ve been falling in love with movie houses for as long as I can remember, a love that actually brought me to this blog in the first place! I could make a very long list of the homes I’d want to live in/build for myself but Grey Gardens is definitely one of them as well as Diane Keatons house in Somethings Gotta Give. I guess I have a thing for Hamptons beach houses?

  38. Destiny says

    I adored Grey Gardens, the original documentary and movie, and being from New England, where the Kennedy family is still our royalty, albeit slightly flawed royalty, was fascinated by the story. “You can pick your friends, you can’t pick your family…” I love, love, love this house in Falmouth (Sigh…) and with the exception of adding a few personal items, and just a little color to the bench in the foyer, wouldn’t change a thing. It’s a 10 in my book!

  39. Jenn says

    If I could build any house I’ve seen in a movie, it would definitely be the house from Home Alone. Not how it looked recently when they were trying to sell it, but how it looked in the film. I love seeing that house every Christmas season!

  40. missy says

    Great post! So glad they brought that beautiful home back to life. I would probably go with the Something’s Got to Give house. I also loved Samantha’s cottage in Bewitched, or the Father of the Bride house….oh, there are too many….

  41. Susan Mills says

    I love the house in Father of the Bride and also Kate Winslet’s cottage in the Holiday. I am so happy to have found your website. My friends and family think I’m nuts because I’m always watching HGTV House Hunters (international). Think I became obsessed with houses when I used to drive down University Avenue in Palo Also as a kid with my parents on Sunday drives and imagined living in some of the beautiful homes in that area. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on houses.

    Susan :)

  42. Debra says

    I became obsessed with the story and house of Grey Gardens when Barrymore did the film. I have moved on and now feel I would love to have a house like the one in Brothers and Sisters with Sally Fields.

  43. mo ree says

    i became obsessed with houses in 2004. our house burnt down the year before and we rented a house, that ended up unheated, and blew up my appliances. my 5 kids and i stayed 2 months in a homeless shelter. until we bought a mobile home and put it on the property of the original house. every house i saw or watched on tv inspired me 2 imagine the floor plan. the mobile home exploded 9 mos after we got in it. all of my children were inside except the oldest. he went thru the flames and brought out the rest. all safe and sound. but homeless again. we now live in an old farmhouse that i am painstakingly restoring. it is my passion. could just remodel, but to bring it back to it’s glory is my goal. and by the way, i’d like to see the eight is enough floor plan. i love old houses. and does anyone remember webster? and the secret hallways in that house?

    • Susan Mills says

      Wow, what a story! I wish you all the best in this chapter in your life. Would love to see what you’re doing with the place Before and after pictures would be great! . I would love to live in a farmhouse — that’s my dream — big porch, land, big trees — now that’s living.

      • mo ree says

        the pines outside were too big and unstable. they were dropped and we used them to side the house. only the front so far. we are putting in octogon windows in the ends of the upstairs. one in each room. in the peak. one is in. but can’t do the other until machine comes back. other half of roof goes on this spring as soon as weather is steady and hopefully lowes can deliver during that window. then front porch, back porch, and laundry room. by mid-summer all should be completed. but i already bought my kitchen and now we are walking around it in the dining room. i seem to make a huge mess before every project. will post pics as soon as i can. oh, we painted a 40’s metal table pink and black (very vintage) to use as an outside table. we used old pocket doors as the walls for r staircase railing. everything is trimmed in barnboard. i’m hoping for some new ideas for old doors, old windows, barnboard, etc. thanx for the response and the best wishes. love this site!!

  44. Karen says

    “Even if I hadn’t told you these photos were taken in the ’80s, I bet you would’ve guessed, right?”

    I wouldn’t have guessed. I guess I haven’t been following designs that closely, so I wonder what gives it away?

    The house modeled after Grey Gardens is lovely as was the original, although the story is a rather troubling one. I didn’t see the movie either.

    I would have a hard time narrowing down building a home inspired by a movie or TV show, because I like so many of them. I did love the home from Somethings Gotta Give, but just a smaller version. I also loved the bungalow in Must Love Dogs too. Oh this would be so hard to choose.

  45. says

    My favorite movie house is Gull Cottage from “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.” The movie, not the TV series. I love everything about it, including the location AND the resident ghost.

  46. Dianne says

    I would love to see the log house from The Christmas Card. I absolutely love your site – you have featured so many of the houses I love – the new Bewitched, The Holiday, Sleeping with the Enemy, Baby Boom, to name a few.

  47. says

    I cast another vote for the house in Practical Magic. I also love the house in the first Nanny McPhee movie. I’m serious!

  48. Epicurious erin says

    Practical Magic House for me! I love many, but that house is my one true love

  49. cm says

    I’ve seen Grey Gardens, the movie and the documentaries. You should add the messy pictures too. I’ve always wondered how many square feet the real house has and the floor plan. I know its sits on 2 1/2 acres. It also rents at $30k a season! I wish it was open for house tours for GG fans. I also read that it smells like cat pee when it rains and the new owners found 55 dead cats after they bought it!