Last October, I posted a movie house tour featuring one of my favorite comedy movies, The Burbs, starring Tom Hanks and Carrie Fischer. The Burbs is a fun movie to watch around Halloween time. It’s not scary or gory, just mysterious and funny.
When I posted about The Burbs, several folks suggested I post a tour of the Victorian house in the movie, Practical Magic. I couldn’t wait to watch the movie to see the house. The movie, Practical Magic is based on the book of the same name by author Alice Hoffman.
I can’t really say I liked the movie that much, parts of it were a little too morbid for me, but it was definitely worth watching to see the interiors of the house. If you would like to know more about the story line, Wikipedia has a really comprehensive overview. This post is a detailed tour of the amazing Victorian house that is so prominently featured throughout the movie.
The Victorian House:
The house. Oh. my. stars! It’s awesome! There are a couple of rooms (Parlor and Dining) that are a definitely Victorian style and quite dark. But the kitchen and conservatory are light and bright. The gardens are wonderful, too! While watching this movie, you’ll find yourself craning your neck to try and see more.
Of course, the exterior is fabulous! Just look at it! I’ve always adored the exterior design of an historic Victorian home. And you know I”m loving that white picket fence!
Photo from Victoria Magazine
You’re going to disown me for telling you this, but you gotta know.
Unfortunately, the house in Practical Magic is just like the house in the movie, The Holiday. It isn’t real–it’s an architectural shell built for the filming of the exterior scenes in the movie. Land was rented on San Juan Island in Washington for the construction of the home. Once the movie was done, the house was torn down.
All the interior scenes were filmed in a studio in Los Angeles and they were modeled after a home located on San Juan Valley Road in Washington State. At one point during the filming, the wonderful conservatory was taken apart in Los Angeles and transported to Washington where it was rebuilt and added to the house for the filming of the exterior scenes.
You know, I was really giving this some thought the other night. Instead of building fake house-shells for movies, why don’t they just go ahead and build a real house and then sell it when the movie is over? After thinking about it, I came up with this: 1. It costs A LOT more to build a real house to code with plumbing, electricity, heating/AC systems, insulation, etc…. than it costs to just build a beautiful shell. 2. Wouldn’t it be a pain if all that money was spent to build a real house for a movie, and then once the movie was finished, they had trouble finding a buyer. Not good. 3. There’s also the added bonus of not having all the constraints you have with a real house. A faux movie house can have break-away walls and open ceilings, allowing for all that extra lighting and movie stuff.
So, though it may not be real, at least we get to see a “dream” home, a fantasy house, in all its glory. Then we can build that very same house for real. I wonder if anyone has done that–build a house based on the Practical Magic house. I’d love to see that! At the least, we can incorporate some of the features we see in the movie house into our own home. The kitchen in Practical Magic has been copied quite a few times since the release of this movie. So, in many ways, the house is real.
The roof line you see down along the very front of this pic below is a guest cottage in the movie. It was built with the roof sinking downward in the center so it would look old.
One side of the home is bordered by a road, while the other side features a picturesque water-side view. Beautiful! I can see why they chose this piece of land for the home. I love the name of the road the house is on in the movie, Magnolia Street. Not sure why they chose that name. I guess they wanted it to be located in the southern part of the United States.
Victoria Magazine featured this wonderful movie house in their October 1998 issue. The article shared some great pics, some of which I’m sharing here. The article also gave fascinating information about the home, it’s construction and set design. Of course, it revealed that the house was built just for the movie. The flowers on the trees are actually silk–the magic of Hollywood.
The town scenes are downtown Coupeville, Washington. I read somewhere, the townsfolk agreed to allow the buildings in town be painted white for the movie. Once the movie was completed, the buildings were all repainted back to their original color.
Did you know the tower in the movie is supposed to be a light house? I missed that part somehow. Turns out, many of the lighthouse keepers back in the day were women!
Robin Standerfer, the Production Designer for the movie, created all the wonderful interiors from the few descriptions she found in the book. In Victoria, she is quoted as saying, “I analyzed the descriptions of the stairway and the tangle of vines growing up over the back door and decided it had to be Victorian. But it couldn’t look haunted It had to be clean and white, not fading and cobwebbed.” I’m so glad she chose to make it pretty and not scary.
An evening view, all aglow.
As you enter into the home through the front door, here’s the view you would see. The entry has lots of stained woodwork that is so typical of most historic Victorian homes.
Looking back toward the front door…
In this view of the parlor, you can clearly see the filming took place in a studio.
Victoria shared the source of some of the furniture and accessories we saw in the movie. The crinkly, old leather chairs came from Bountiful, an antique store in Los Angeles. Velvet curtains were chosen for the window treatments. The botanical prints above the piano play a part in the movie at one point. They were found at Tin Man Antiques in New York. Wouldn’t it be a blast going shopping for just the right accessories for a movie set? I imagine it would be stressful, but a so rewarding seeing it all come together in the end. (The pic below was spread over two pages in my Victoria magazine. I scanned each side and created a collage to sort of give you the full view from the magazine.)
In this view from the movie, notice the oddly shaped mirror on the wall.
Here’s a close-up of that mirror. You can really see the wallpaper here, too. Robin chose this design of birds and entangled vines because the Aunts in the movie, Aunt Jet played by Dianne Wiest and Aunt Frances played by Stockard Channing, are all about nature. They grow and use all kinds of herbs from their garden in the movie. You don’t want to be a dove in this house, though…trust me on that.
Let’s check out the room where soooo much of the action in the movie takes place…the kitchen. Again, in this view, it’s pretty obvious it’s a set. I love kitchen cabinetry that’s designed to look like furniture.
In this view from the movie, it’s easy to see why this kitchen was such a huge hit and why so many folks have copied it for their own homes. It’s an amazing kitchen! We see a farm house sink, a charming plate rack, wonderful storage for glassware/dishes inside lighted cabinets and dark wood floors contrasting against creamy white cabinetry. Though this movie was filmed in 1998, this look is still very popular even today.
This kitchen is huge! The sink we saw above is actually in the section you see on the other side of the cabinets on the right. You can just see the old farm house table over the back of Aidan Quinn who plays Officer Gary Hallet. He is investigating the disappearance of Gillian’s old boyfriend in the movie.
Two photos showing the other end of the kitchen:
We get a closer view of one corner of that area in this view where Gillian is coming down the back stairway.
Sally is about to peek out into the back yard in this scene. We catch a great view of the sink area and the Aunt’s wonderful collection of creamware. Or, do you think it’s Ironstone?
The paper towels must be from recycled paper…not often you see brown paper towels.
The Production Director, Robin, took great care with every single detail of the design and decor in Practical Magic. For example, she insisted the glass in the cabinets in the kitchen be wavy, just as hand blown glass would have been a hundred years ago. Nothing you see in this movie is an accident. Every prop was well-thought out and planned, down to its location in the house.
On the other side of this section of cabinetry, we see a little area for hanging coats and such. You can see that the walls are beadboard.
See the bell jar/cloche on the counter? Those are everywhere in the movie. You see them in almost all the rooms, including the conservatory and even out in the garden.
I love how they chose a Dutch door for the kitchen exit to the garden. There’s just something special about this style door. I can so picture the top half open with a pie cooling on the lower section. Or, how about brownies since the Aunt’s eat those for breakfast.
The views just gets better. How would you like to see this from your kitchen?
Note the old timey scale on the table to the right. Do you know what that room is in the background? Love the hanging light fixture.
A view of the room from above. Hint: Those are flower petals scattered across the floor.
If you guessed the Conservatory, you were right! Looks like it’s been here forever, doesn’t it?
An evening view, looking across to the kitchen.
Feels romantic with all the flowers in bloom. Here’s an fun fact from the movie: The Aunts do all their mixing and measuring here in the conservatory, using hand-blown bottles and funnels. A glass scale that was modeled after a fifteenth-century Italian design was hand-crafted by artist, Allison Berger, just for the movie. It’s the tall, curvy, glass piece just to the left of the beaker on the tall, black metal stand. Sooo delicate. That would last about 5 minutes in my house before I’d turn it over and break it.
I love this view. I wonder if this was truly an old conservatory. It really looks old and authentic. Let’s go outside and check out the gardens and the pergola.
There’s a wonderful garden in Practical Magic. It’s on the side of the house that’s closest to the water.
In this scene from the movie, you see the pergola on the left, the garden on the right and three sets of stairs. The steps at the far right lead up onto the side porch you saw in the picture above. The set of steps coming down that we are see in a side view, lead into the kitchen. The other set, just to the left of those kitchen steps, lead up and through the double doors into the conservatory, which is the view we just saw a couple of pictures up in this post.
Here’s the same view at night with the conservatory all aglow. Wouldn’t you LOVE to live here? Imagine having a vegetable and herb garden like this just outside your kitchen. Imagine having a conservatory like this attached to your home.
In this pic from Victoria, we see bell jars in the garden. Bell jars were often used to protect delicate plants from frost damage, insects or animals. I wonder if some gardeners still use them today? I’ve never seen one in use on a garden tour. They are lovely in the garden, aren’t they? Wonder if they could withstand one of our spring hail storms here in Georgia. Have to be pretty heavy duty for that.
A gorgeous view…
It boggles the mind to think of all the work that went into creating the landscape, gardens, paths, etc… for this movie. It all looks so fully grown like it has been there for years and years.
Back inside the home, I’m not exactly sure what this room was in the movie, but it looks like a Butler’s Pantry, to me. Notice the mix of white cabinetry and white bead board walls with the stained cabinetry. The white woodwork and white cabinets really keeps the stained cabinets from feeling overbearing.
Dining Room: Lots of heavy stained molding in this room…
The dining room serves a dual purpose as both a dining room and a craft room for the Aunts.
They do their spinning and weaving here, in addition to other crafts.
The most subdued room in the home is Sally’s bedroom. In this scene, she and Gillian are talking after having been apart for a long time.
Sally grew up sleeping in the attic room, but as an adult she sleeps here in this bedroom when visiting or staying with her Aunts. We never see the bedrooms of the two Aunts in the movie.
The headboard for Sally’s bed…super plain.
Wouldn’t this be the most depressing room to sleep in? Maybe it would be pretty with the drapes thrown back and the sun pouring in. The depressing atmosphere is appropriate, though, since Sally is mourning her recently deceased husband. In this scene, her daughter is trying to draw her out of bed, without success.
A closer view of the entwined vines in the wall paper of Sally’s bedroom. There are lots and lots of botanical references in this movie.
In the movie, Gillian sleeps in Sally’s old room up in the attic.
The stairs continue upward beyond this attic room, presumably to the light house tower above. Maybe this is where the light house keeper would have slept, once upon a time. Love that old trunk! I just noticed those “things” hanging on the rafters above the trunk. Are those bats? lol
In the book and movie, it is said, “They (Gillian and Sally) sat in the cool parlor late in the day, or sprawled out on the second floor landing where there were thin bands of lemony sunlight, playing Parcheesi and endless rounds of gin rummy.”
In this weird pic, Gillian is busy being possessed by the spirit of her evil, ex-boyfriend, thus her strange position. The attic is simply furnished with two twin beds and a cute little desk tucked up under the eves.
As I read about all the work that went into creating the sets, the house and the gardens, I was wondering how the Production Designer can stand seeing all of it dismantled once the movie is finished. In the article in Victoria, Robin said she always leaves before it’s all gone.
Hope you enjoyed this tour of the Victorian home and the surrounding gardens from the movie, Practical Magic.
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Most pictures in this post are pics I took while watching the movie, Practical Magic. A few are scanned pics from an October 1998 issue of Victoria Magazine and are labeled as such.