The 2003 Steve Martin-Bonnie Hunt family comedy “Cheaper by the Dozen” was a (very loose) remake of the 1950s classic. It’s about a harried couple juggling work and a busy household with 12 children.
This is a great “house movie” for those of us more interested in the sets than watching, for instance, family food fights.
In the beginning, the Baker family lives in a charming white farmhouse in the Illinois countryside. And then they move to a huge, rambling Victorian with a fabulous turret in Evanston.
Read on to take a closer look at both of the houses in the movie and learn about where they were filmed!
The “Cheaper by the Dozen” Farmhouse
Director Shawn Levy says they shot on location in Petaluma, California, which made things a lot more difficult than they would have been on a soundstage.
“I don’t know what the heck I was thinking.” But adds that he “wanted the movie to look beautiful.”
In real life, the farmhouse is a 2,000 acre apple orchard known as Two Rock Ranch.
Kate is writing a book about life with 12 kids called — you guessed it — Cheaper by the Dozen.
“The thing I love about the production design in this movie is the texture of real life in every scene,” Levy says.
The Production Designer for the shoot was Nina Ruscio.
Set Decorator was K.C. Fox.
They did a good job giving the sets the look of big-family chaos and clutter.
An Entertainment Weekly review summed it up well:
“Having a big family seems like lots of fun — and then you meet someone like Tom (Steve Martin) and Kate Baker (Bonnie Hunt), whose 12 children can spill more milk and harbor more illegal pets than any other 12 children we know.”
The director says it took several days to shoot the scrambled eggs scene in the farmhouse kitchen.
“We were all nauseous by the end of it from the smell of rotting eggs.”
When Tom gets a new job as a football coach in the city, they have to leave the farmhouse.
They were sad about that for about a minute.
And then they saw the fabulous Victorian in Evanston, Illinois, that they were moving to!
The “Cheaper by the Dozen” House in Evanston
In the movie the house they move to is in Evanston, Illinois.
But they filmed at a real house on Lorraine Boulevard in the Windsor Square neighborhood of Los Angeles.
2022 Update: It’s on the market!
According to Seeing Stars:
“In the film, there is a fake street sign out front saying Forest Ave – S. 300. Ignore it. There is no Forest Ave in Hancock Park. It’s actually at the northwest corner of Lorraine Blvd. & 4th Street.”
The interiors were built on a separate soundstage:
It was a two-story set, which is really unusual.
Levy wanted to be able to film the movement of the characters going up and down the stairs.
He says it probably cost more than building a real house would have been.
There are incredible details they added to the set.
It looks like it could be a real house where a large family lives.
The Living Room:
The Turret Bedroom:
Steve Martin, who doesn’t have any children himself, said, “I played fathers so many times, it’s like being one. I’ve had children of every age. And like I say, I get to do everything but the dirty work. Their parents have to take them home and deal with all that.”
A fan of the original? Check out the Second Empire Victorian from it.
Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see the other movies I’ve featured, listed A-Z.