There’s No Place Like Home – 20 Movie Houses You’d Want To Live In.

Posted on July 8, 2011


You might have noticed that I have a slight obsession with movie architecture. Previously, I’ve looked at the architecture of John Lautner in films, Tony Stark’ Iron Man pad, and I’ve also taken a look at the home of a certain Mr. Bond.

Well, continuing this theme, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of my favourite movie homes. Rather than focus on the more obvious abodes, such as the apartment from Rear Window or the sprawling heap of Xanadu from Citizen Kane, I decided to look at the residences I wouldn’t mind making my own. So, with that in mind, here’s my list of the top 20 places to live in the land of make believe.

The Doctor’s Residence, Sleeper.

In Woody Allen’s 1973 film Sleeper, his character Miles wakes up two hundred years into the future. Here, he is taken into hiding by two doctors who wish to use him to overthrow their totalitarian state. The futuristic home he is taken to is Charles Deaton’s Sculptured House in Denver. A beautiful sweep of concrete and glass, the home is referred to now as the Sleeper House and recently sold for 1.5 million US dollars. Take note, however, that giant bananas do not grow in the garden.

Tracy Island, Thunderbirds.

Okay, I admit it. I saw it. But the truth is that I saw it just to see the coolness of this island base. (By the way, if you’re a good guy, it’s a base; if you’re a baddie, it’s a lair.) This has it all. Private beach, swimming pool, suitably modernist design (although I do kinda like the one from the TV show a little more for its mid-century modern vibe) and more transport possibilities than you can shake a stick at. Sophia Miles will drop in dressed in pink leather, and that’s no bad thing. Trouble is, you get stuck with all the Tracy boys and Brains. Still, did you think a Thunderbirds pad would come with no strings attached?

Deckard’s Apartment, Blade Runner.

Deckard’s apartment is actually Frank Lloyd Wright’s incredible concrete Ennis House – now somewhat in disrepair. The apartment might be what Stephen Fry would generously describe as “compact and bijou”, but it is, at least, big enough to incorporate a piano. Tyrell’s pad might have boasted floor to ceiling windows and offered an incredible view over the city, and J.F. Sebastian’s entire floor of the crumbling Bradbury was certainly much larger, but its Deckard’s place that has the most character, stuffed full of objet (memories?) and with the intricate patterned concrete on show. Invite a chaste Sean Young over to keep you company and tell her all about her childhood memories. Have a snooze and dream of unicorns. 

Thomas’ Studio, Blow Up.

This studio seems to be a labyrinth of tight staircases, split levels, raised walkways and open spaces. This is all the result of clever camera angles chosen by director Antonioni, as the actual studio location isn’t that big, but the effect leaves one feeling slightly disorientated. It’s what you’d expect to see if David Bailey owned a TARDIS. Why live here? Well, it’s swinging London baby, yeah! And this is the coolest pad there is. Why, one minute you’ll have Verushka writhing on your floor, the next Jane Birkin will be begging you to rip her top off. You can get stoned with Vanessa Redgrave and the smashing Sarah Miles lives next door, who’ll happily give you a back rub and a beer whilst you playfully insult her husband.

The Pseudosphere, Charlie’s Angels.

(Okay, I made this name up.) Based on the fabulous Chemosphere by John Lautner, this ultra cool pad has the advantage of being slightly bigger than the real deal. Perched on a single column on a Los Angles hillside, this place has a view to die for. Well, almost, if you’re Drew Barrymore. 

The Lars Homestead, Star Wars.

A bit out of left field, I know, but this place is cool. Well, it would have to be on a planet with two suns. Forget the fact there’s nothing for hundreds of miles in either direction. Forget that your uncle is a bigger bastard than the Emperor. Forget you best friend is a 60 year old man. Here, your hobbies will include driving a floating car, sniping Tuscan Raiders with your unwieldy looking blaster rifle, blowing away Wamp Rats in your T-16, and drinking blue milk. That’s right, milk that’s blue! Crazy! You will also get to indulge in what most teenage boys do, which is watching poorly recorded videos of young women bending over and looking slightly nervous. Except this one will be your sister. 

Patrick Bateman’s Apartment, American Psycho. 

Ah, the eighties. Nearly everything was horrible. However, the super-rich and criminally insane Patrick Bateman managed to make his apartment look fantastic, or as fantastic as the eighties would allow, by keeping the colour scheme monochromatic, the lines clean and the furnishings classic. It boasts a large bedroom for three-way sex and aggravated torture. There’s plenty of storage space for bespoke suits, bodies and chainsaws, as well as a spacious kitchen, complete with a large refrigerator – perfect for storing severed heads. I’d offer this word of caution, however: A predominately white house is not ideal for murdering people with an axe. 

The Carver Residence, The Ice Storm.

Nestled in amongst the trees, this beautiful house was designed in 1972 by architect Richard Henderson and is located in New Canaan, Connecticut.  This low, white, angular house features large panes of sliding glass and a deck that extends out over the rocky outcropping. Perfect for a bit of afternoon delight with Sigourney Weaver, but watch out, she has a whip.

The Frye Residence, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.

Ferris coldly dismisses Cameron’s place as “cold” and “like a museum”. Have you looked around your place lately, Ferris? It sucks. Give me the beautiful glass and steel box of delight that is the Frye residence any day of the week. Mia Sara in the pool and a ten million pound Ferrari 250 GT California in the garage. Que Bella, indeed. 

Jason Nesmith’s House, Galaxy Quest. 

Probably better known as The Stahl House, or Case Study House #22, this stunning piece of mid-century architecture was designed by Pierre Keonig in 1959 and is one of the most recognisable examples of modern architecture in Los Angeles. Be prepared to be woken by sic-fi fans/aliens at some ungodly hour whilst you’re trying to sleep off you hangover.

Willard Whyte’s Summer House, Diamonds Are Forever.

Not an easy choice, this one. I could just as easily have written “every single villain lair in the entire James Bond series” but that would have been a cop out. Why not Piz Gloria, Goldfinger’s ranch or Palmyra? Well, whilst I’d love to be stuck up a mountain with those Angels of Death, I’d prefer not to find Irma Bunt in my bed one evening. And whilst a roll in the hay with Honor Blackman (curiously, the only Bond girl whose real name is also a double entendre) might be many man’s idea of a fun way to while away an afternoon, it isn’t particularly mine. Of course, Palmyra has Claudine Auger doing laps and Luciana Paluzzi working the pump action, but ultimately it has to come down to the fact that Willard Whyte’s house is the fantastic Elrod House by John Lautner, and that should be reason enough.

Catcher Block’s apartment, Down With Love.

One for the boys, for sure. This bachelor pad looks like it was dreamt up by Ken Adam, and it even has the hallmark gadgets one would expect from the veteran Bond production designer. There’s a state-of-the-art sound system, a well stocked bar, and at the flick of a switch, the lounge becomes the bedroom. The perfect place for entertaining. For the ladies, Barbara Novak’s apartment might just be the perfect female equivalent. 

Sean Ambrose’s Sydney Harbour House, Mission: Impossible II. 

Like many of the cool movie houses on this list, this one doesn’t actually exist. The whole thing was built out of flat-packed polystyrene and sailed across the harbour in a boat to Bradley’s Head, where it was assembled. It nearly didn’t make the journey. Still, it looks pretty damn awesome. It features a private jetty, a sweeping garden with fabulous views over the harbour and a private security detail headed up by Richard Roxburgh, whose improbable accent swings between South African and a poor impression of Prince Charles. It also comes with the gorgeous Thandie Newton, who I can attest from personal experience, is one of the loveliest women in the universe.

The Cullen Residence, Twilight series

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat as it’s more than one house. Certainly the best thing about the first film was the vampire’s choice of lair (yup, I know what I said about it being the bad guys that have the lair, but the rule applies here too, as I can’t imagine anything more evil than their acting). The Cullen residence in the first film is a beautiful, modern building, all wide panes of glass, jutting steel and warm wood cladding, surrounded by tall conifers and gentle mist. This is actually the Hoke House in Portland, OR, and was designed by architect Jeff Kovel. Edward’s room in this house is just beautiful. However, serious architecture lovers will perhaps be more familiar with the house used in the second film, New Moon. Designed by one of my favourite architects, Arthur Erickson, this low level residence is actually in Vancouver, Canada, and was recently on the market for about three million Canadian dollars. Actually, a proper bargain. It didn’t even come with the annoying, angst-ridden tweeny vampire set, which I think should probably add another million to the value right there.

George Falconer’s House, A Single Man.

Let’s face it, there are not many things that can happen in your life that are worse than loosing your soul mate. However, if you have to spend your last days on Earth grieving, why not do it in style? The beautiful wood and glass house featured in Tom Ford’s directorial debut is the Schaffer Residence, yet another John Lautner creation, and is utterly gorgeous. This redwood, glass and concrete house was also recently on the market for a cool 1.5 million dollars. 

Sam Flynn’s Container Home, Tron: Legacy.

In this age of carbon footprint reducing, environmentally conscious, energy-saving responsibility, what better way to make your home than out of the detritus left behind by global industry? Sam has shown us how to make responsible use of waste by stacking up these empty shipping containers and turning them into a house. The entire walls simply roll up, creating either an easily accessible front door or providing a view across the harbour. All this and it comes with not one but two Ducati bikes. The jaw-droppingly beautiful Ducati Sport 1000 can be garaged behind the sofa for easy access. Sam can keep his little mutt, though.

Kevin Flynn’s Grid Hideout, Tron: Legacy.

Okay, I know it’s from the same film, but this Kubrick inspired den is one of the most incredible apartments you’ll ever see on celluloid. Full of mid-century design classics, such as the Eames 670 Lounge Chair, the Barcelona chair and the Arco floor lamp, this glowing white apartment has a sunken lounge, a fireplace that produces what looks like water flowing upwards, and a view across the digital frontier that is simply like nothing on Earth. Access is secure and there’s parking for the fastest lightcycle on the Grid. Your live-in young lady is the delectable Olivia Wilde, who lounges around in skin-tight rubber and, in her wide-eyed innocence, hangs on your every word. She is also able to cure all disease, which is handy if you’ve been around the block a few times. Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed that Sam and Kevin’s homes are laid out almost identically, although the scale and interior design is somewhat different. 

The Vandamm Residence, North By Northwest. 

Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, this almost perfect home, situated atop Mount Rushmore, is, like many other movie homes, completely artificial. What a shame, because it is utterly gorgeous. Constructed out of a blend of matte paintings and practical sets, this house has large windows that lead out onto the cantilevered balcony, giving a wonderful view across the mountain and the surrounding woods. With a huge open plan living room, maid service and a garden big enough to land a plane in, it’s no wonder that Cary Grant was prepared to get his palms scratched to get a peek inside.

Syndrome’s Lair, The Incredibles.

Okay, this very nearly came in at number one. This vast complex pretty much has all the elements of every Bond villain lair throughout the franchise. It has so much cool stuff going on, I really don’t know where to start. The fact that it’s on it’s own tropical island? The fact that the waterfall opens up like someone throwing open the curtains? The cool monorail system? The secret rocket base? The giant computer interface protected by a wall of lava? (One can only imagine that your “special computer time” would not be interrupted by you mum knocking on the door to give you a cup of tea.) There are just so many cool things about Syndrome’s lair that it really is difficult to beat. But beaten it has been, by a rather more modest abode…

Tony Stark’s Residence, Iron Man.

Okay, this is the biggy. Trumping Syndrome’s lair by virtue of just being the coolest building in the known movie universe, Tony Stark’s Lautner inspired residence is simply the number one place to live in the world of movies. Why? Well, firstly it is perfectly placed, nestling on top of Point Dume in Malibu, with a panoramic view of the Pacific. Secondly, it is simply exquisitely designed and beautifully conceived, fusing all of the best elements of John Lautner’s designs into one tidy package. Lastly, the whole place is practically alive, being precisely run by the computer, Jeeves, who, one imagines, precisely monitors those little things like energy consumption and climate control. Oh, and I nearly forgot the garage. Filled with an assortment of boys toys and automotive excellence, this really is where Tony hangs out the most. However, why be limited to just the garage? Why not make yourself comfortable in the massive lounge, sit back in your Eames chair and strum either your Gibson 335 or you Fender Telecaster? Curl up on the sofa by the roaring fireplace, or mix yourself a martini in the bar. If you feel like a work out, there’s a full gym. Whatever your tastes, you’ll be comfortable here. There is, of course, a helipad, but with a super-alloy computer-aided combat suit, capable of supersonic flight, why bother? In fact, the biggest question is why Tony Stark bothers leaving it at all?

So, that concludes my list for now, although it can never be complete or comprehensive. I have to admit that it is somewhat ironic that so many of my dream homes are in the land of make believe, but then again, where else would they be?