I *routinely* will watch movies and shows based solely on their sets. Even if the movie is terrible, I'm fine with it if there's decent interior eye candy. Side note: if you also are cool with or even enjoy bad movies like I do, I strongly recommend the podcast, How Did This Get Made. It's my absolute favorite. It was really hard to narrow down my list to just five movies for this blog post but I picked the ones that I find myself watching again and again.
1. The Holiday (English House)
We've all seen this move, right? Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet trade homes and romantic hijinks ensue with Jude Law and Jack Black. By the way, I hope Jack Black fired the agent who talked him into making this movie.
The Cottage Exterior
The first time I saw this, I gushed to my sister about the house, the house, the house and she gushed right back. A few minutes into our conversation, we realized that she was talking about the house in LA and I was talking about the cottage in England. This is a perfect illustration in the differences and similarities between siblings.
But wow this house. Set/production designers built this house! From scratch! For the movie! This house that looks like it's been around for hundreds of years.
I found a great website called Hooked on Houses where they discuss its construction. Apparently the production team built the cottage in two weeks and as it was just a shell, tore it down once filming had concluded.
The Cottage Interior
The interior is a dream. Exposed stone walls, plaster and thick timbers. Kate Winslet's character really knows how to pull together that romantic English vibe with her books, art, floral prints, paisley and tufting.
Antique iron bed, lofted ceiling with exposed beams, wood floors plus a fireplace?? Don't mind if I do! If you can't fit your clothes in that wardrobe, Cameron Diaz, then I suggest you practice a little KonMari next time you pack for a trip.
If there's one space the English really can pull off, it's a kitchen (cough **deVOL** cough.) Soft palette, cohesive with the adjacent sitting room. Adorable but solid antique stove. Some gracious humility with the kitchen cart on the left so you know this room isn't too precious or pretentious. Shelves with platters and plates for easy impromptu feasts. Bet there is even a leaf to extend that table! All this plus ANOTHER fireplace. Really why aren't there more fireplaces in kitchens?
All of the above photos are courtesy of Hooked on Houses, taken from the set stills. I love absolutely everything about it and feel like this house is totally wasted on Cameron Diaz. Who would EVER complain about that tub?! It's adorable. Every Christmas I watch this movie and every Christmas, I sadly shake my head that it's not me trading homes with Kate.
Never, ever would I classify this as a bad movie. Roxanne is a wonderful movie. I say this confidently having just watched it again recently. In fact, I had a hard time finding any good images of the interiors so all the below images are screenshots I took while watching it.
If you haven't seen it, it's a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac but with a romantic-comedy happy spin on things. Filmed in Nelson, British Columbia, you have the pleasure of not only seeing the gorgeous mountain setting but all the old beautiful homes as well.
At one point in the movie, Dixie, Roxanne's landlord, confesses to Steve Martin's character, C.D., that she's charging $9,000 for Roxanne to live in this house for the summer. For one person. For one summer. In 1987. What. Someone do the math and tell me what the equivalent rent amount would be now. That blew my mind.
It IS a gorgeous house. Not sure if it's $9,000 for one summer gorgeous but that's neither here nor there. Beautiful turret and upstairs balcony. Charming pediment and little dentil molding under the eaves and rafter tails. The wide front porch with all the hanging plants is picture perfect.
I'm still confused as to why she needed to bring her telescope up the exterior stairs. It was already in her living room- wouldn't it have been easier to just bring it up an interior staircase? Maybe there was an issue with clearance? But whatever. I'm overthinking it. And if it provides me with another opportunity to see the above view, I'm happy.
I clearly love old fashioned bedrooms. The little sitting room with the pot belly is attractive yet also somewhat alarming. Isn't that painting hanging a little close? Is that even up to code? Watching this movie again, especially seeing her 80s kitchen, I just want to get my hands on this house and restore it. Pull up that carpet, Roxanne! You know it's hiding original wood floors!
Steve Martin's house is just a lovely as Roxanne's but in a more refined simplicity. It also appears that he owns it outright so I'm glad he's, at least, not getting price gouged by Dixie.
Cedar shakes with neutral white trim to let it the cedar shine. Wrap around porch with those views. All complete with antique car in the carport. Just lovely.
C.D.'s house is responsible for so much of my personal style. I grew up watching this movie and always loved his living room. Books everywhere, especially up high over doorways. Fireplace front and center. French glass doors. Smattering of art and antiques. Pillows made from vintage rugs. Layers on layers on layers. I've been trying to recreate this room for myself for years and it was only during this most recent viewing/analysis that I realized it.
Yes, 100% there are things I would change here. However, if Annie, Tamara and I walked into this place for a site visit as a prospective project, we would be THRILLED. It has so much charm and character with the old stone walls, wood stove, pendant lights and wood columns. It even looks like there's wood paneling above the stone that carries onto the ceiling. So adorable! The 1980s were absolutely obsessed with the 1950s hence the out of place vinyl red stools but that is easily fixed.
3. Practical Magic
Another movie viewing that I'm not particularly proud of but we're not here for that. We're here for the house. Maybe my favorite of all movie houses. I love this house.
Hooked on Houses wrote extensively about this house as well. In fact, they mentioned that it is the most searched for house on their site so I'm clearly not the only one who loves it. (Apparently Barbra Streisand even tried to buy it!) However, just the like the English house in The Holiday, it was just a building shell. And it too was torn down after filming.
I mean, come on. Where to begin? It's perfection. The views of the sea, the garden and multiple areas to access the exterior in the widow's watch, roof deck, upstairs balcony and verandas. The clapboard exterior, mansard roof and holy cow the ornamentation! It's like a show piece for master craftsmen. I always snigger during the movie when they tell the story of the home's construction, that it was built by their single mother ancestor. Surrrrree it was. She must have been a serious jill of all trades.
Dark woodwork with glowing gold accents. Portraits of all women (I really love that detail) and a built in bench in the entry.
There's a conservatory. And an Aga. A dutch door. Double-sided casework with furniture legs detailing. Glass transoms. Dark wood beams. Antique island. It's all so glorious.
Victoria Magazine (remember Victoria Magazine?! I totally was a reader back in the late 80s/early 90s!) did a spread on the house back in 1998. A blog called Between Naps on the Porch very kindly scanned their old copy of the magazine and shared the spread.
Tones consistent with dark and contrasting gold. You can see textures of wood, velvet and leather as well as just that tangled sense of vines growing everywhere all over the house. Wallpaper choice is spot on.
I could share soooo many more images of this house! Really this whole blog post could be about just this house. And I haven't even touched Sandra Bullock's bedroom or the attic! There's also a great butler's pantry where Nicole Kidman mixes together some sort of deadly syrup. All above images are courtesy of Hooked on Houses and Between Naps on the Porch.
4. Moonrise Kingdom
What kind of designer would I be if I didn't mention a Wes Anderson movie? He is the ultimate for set design.
When Annie and Tamara and I talked about our movie selections, there was definite Wes Anderson overlap. Really, all of his films are worth watching for the interiors. The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Life Aquatic, The Darjeeling Limited...he's a master at creating a precisely detailed world. I also love how often Wes Anderson employs sections! It's so cool as an interior designer, who routinely drafts architectural sections of buildings, to see one come alive in 3D. But out of all of his films, Moonrise Kingdom is a special one for me.
That's my husband, Mark, and I dressed as Sam and Suzy for Halloween 2013. Try as I might, I couldn't convince our daughter, Alba, to dress as Bill Murray in tiny madras pants. She went as a ruby red dragon instead.
By the way, if you want to watch a slightly rum-drunk Bill Murray walk around the set of Moonrise Kingdom in said pants, here's a YouTube video. Highly recommend viewing.
It's an absolutely magical tale about two kids in love. Plus the best cast: Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Bob Balaban, who wears my ideal winter get-up.
The house belonging to Suzy and her family is classic New England. It feels like a true family home, one that's lasted through the generations but is living in its present era of the 1960s. Whimsical, nautical touches are found throughout.
Above photos are courtesy of Focus Features. Wes Anderson pulls together the most beautiful palettes for his films. Moonrise is no exception. Warm mustards, pops of red and pink, light blues plus dark wood tones as a neutral. The Bishop family is distant from one another but that is not the fault of the house.
That last image is my favorite. Man, I love Bill Murray. Above images from Architecture of Film blog.
5. Dan in Real Life
I swear I don't just watch romantic comedy/dramedy movies! But my last pick also falls into this category.
Steve Carell plays Dan, a widower having difficulty adjusting to being a single father to his three girls. The movie takes place during a reunion with the world's most annoyingly lovable family. Seriously. At various points of the movie, they play touch football, charades, have some sort of group exercise session on the back lawn, a 'boys vs. girls' crossword puzzle race and a family talent show all during one long weekend. Plus there's a love triangle between Steve Carell, his brother played by Dane Cook and Juliette Binoche.
I had trouble finding good images of this movie too so all images, except from the one above from Focus Features, are screenshots from my computer.
Reminds me a little bit of C.D.'s house in Roxanne! It's also fairly reminiscent of the houses and their settings in Practical Magic and Moonrise Kingdom. I guess I have a type. Beautiful Stickley-style house with weathered cedar shakes and killer bay views. Love that second story balcony and huge covered porch, both perfect for watching the water.
The First Floor
Wood, stone and wicker. Niches with books, shells, art, life. But opposed to C.D.'s house in Roxanne, this house feels very deliberately like a seasonal home. The premise is that the family is gathering together for one last weekend to help the grandparents 'close up' the house. You get the feeling that maybe there's zero insulation and you'll freeze in the winter. The kitchen especially feels like everything was piecemealed together with the different styles of chairs, stools, old appliances and peg board. It feels like a summer camp but the most luxury of luxury summer camps.
The Second Floor
During my most recent viewing of this movie, I counted at least two bedrooms upstairs with their own brick fireplaces. In the image below, you can see the fireplace clearly on the left. The bedroom on the right has the door that I'm pretty sure must lead out onto the upper balcony. But if you look closely, you can see a sliver of brick. Another fireplace?
If you look at the image above, pretty sure that's another fireplace over there in the bedroom down the hall. I love the bookcases in the hallway as well as the maps, little lodge-y looking lamps and sconces. Plus the doors and their brass hardware.
I love this room: the twin bed sanctuary. Yes, a 'bunk room' would probably be a more efficient use of space and you'd get twice the number of people in here. However, there's something so charming (and again, so summer camp) about having everyone on the same spatial plane in their own antique acorn-top four poster twin beds.
Plus expansive windows and little built-ins. This is definitely the fun room.
There are tons of other movies/shows to discuss: Moonstruck, The Family Stone, Locke and Key (I really tried to hang in there to watch the whole series solely for that house but couldn't do it), Amelie, White Christmas, Angela Lansbury's house in Murder She Wrote, Baby Boom (I dreamed about moving to Vermont based on that house), all the different versions of Little Women...there are some great set designers doing really thoughtful, beautiful work out there.
Let us know on Instagram or here on the blog if you agree with our choices or what YOUR top five picks would be. Next up is Tamara's top five!