Cinematic Style

When I watch a movie, I always pay close attention to the houses that are featured—and not just because this job has trained my eye to look askance at drapery left askew or un-plumped pillows. No, it’s because the places where the protagonists live are much more than a backdrop to the action; they can play an integral role in plot and character development.

Scarlett O’Hara’s saga of grit and guile is heightened as she wrangles with the abrupt assault on and inexorable decline of Tara. Under The Tuscan Sun showcases the renovation of Bramasole as it mimics the heroine’s revamp of her life. And the animated movie Up extols the virtues of being at home, even while on a bucket-list adventure. Here’s a closer look at some movie residences that serve to enhance the larger story.

(Most of these photos came to us from our friend Julia Sweeten, the blogger behind Hooked on Houses. It’s a fantastic blog and worth a visit!)


The Great Gatsby (2013)

This set is from the Leonardo DiCaprio iteration of the story of fictional millionaire Jay Gatsby. It’s an Art Deco dream. I assume the closet was specifically designed to show off Gatsby’s shirts because his collection is an important part of the novel. All I can think about, though, is the shoes and handbags I’d store on those shelves.

A two-story bedroom seems impractical; I have HVAC concerns. Set Design: Catherine Martin | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses


The Blind Side  (2009)

There’s a lot happening in this room: the heavy drapery, the sumptuous fabrics, the gold accessories. It’s almost claustrophobic. I wonder if that was a conscious decision by the set decorator to reflect Michael Oher’s impression of the place. The lavish décor serves as a constant reminder of the Tuohy family’s fast-food fortune.

This looks like one of those “only-for-company” rooms. I’m surprised there are no plastic covers on the seats. Set design: Susan Benjamin | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses


Mr. and Mrs. Smith  (2005)

Everything about this kitchen is sleek, slick, and a bit cold — just like its assassin inhabitants. Even those decorative sculptures on the back wall look like they could be used as weapons.

All I can think of is how fingerprints show on stainless steel. Do ruthless international assassins have time for constant home maintenance? Set design: Jeff Mann | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses

Lots of metal and marble gives the Smiths’ bathroom a chilly feel as well. I do like the squared-off bathtub; it’s perfect for soaking sore muscles after a killer day.

If this were my bathroom, I’d look much happier than these two do. | Photos courtesy of Hooked on Houses


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Father of the Bride (1991)

Juxtapose the Smiths’ home above with the Banks’ home here. The warm tones and cozy cushions make this place inviting for a fiancé meeting the folks.

Although, the overabundance of throw pillows does make sitting a little awkward. Set design: Sandy Veneziano | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses


Practical Magic (1998)

The expansive kitchen in the sorceress sisters’ home is large enough for a fully-stocked larder (eye of newt?) and a we-mean-business Aga range ideal for simmering potions and brews. The wood beams along with the rustic console and table have a certain Puritan vibe — a call-back to the beginning of the story.

That is a long table, large enough to entertain the whole coven. Set design: Robin Standefer | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses


It’s a Wonderful Life  (1946)

The flower theme is strong in Zsu Zsu’s room, which I suppose is appropriate because the climax of the story hinges on that flower she’s holding.

Poor, sniffly Zsu Zsu. Nice touch of realism adding the glass of water and the medicine dropper on the side table. Set design: Jack Okey | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses


The Parent Trap (1998)

Nick Parker’s home is California chic. It’s stylish with a masculine vibe, and the high-end look is reflective of the prosperity of his vineyard.

Best. Fireplace. Ever. Set design: Gary Fettis | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses

Elizabeth James’s cosmopolitan dwelling is sophisticated but comfortable. Look at the hall tree on the right. This place may be impeccably decorated with art and sculpture, but people live here, people who need to go out and about in soggy London weather.

Ooooh! I never noticed that little patio in the movie. Elizabeth must sell a lot of wedding gowns to afford this prime piece of London real estate. | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses


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Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

Like a lot of people, I thought the house was the real star of this movie. With its soothing tones and gorgeous view, it’s the perfect haven to mend a broken heart (and write a play). Even though this room is large, the comfy cushions, casual carpet and handy throw help keep cool coastal nights cozy.

Slip covers on beach house furniture – very smart. Set design: Beth Rubino | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses


Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

When I saw this movie, I thought it was kind of cool that Sam Baldwin moved with his son to a houseboat after the tragic death of his wife. This kitchen (minus the clutter) has a simple, streamlined look that works well in a small space.

I may be overreacting here (I’m not), but how do houseboats work? Doesn’t all that stuff piled on the shelf and the counters pose a hazard in stormy seas? Set design: Clay A. Griffith | Photo courtesy of Hooked on Houses


Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)

Marisa Tomei seems a lot younger than the Aunt Mays I remember from previous versions of this story, but this home does have a “grandma” quality to it. Look at the pouf ottoman and the floral rug.

Fine. I’ll get used to young Aunt May. But why does she have filing cabinets in her living room?Set design: Dennis Gassner | Photo: Chuck Zlotnick/Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.