It happens every December… the snow starts to fall here in Salt Lake City, I decorate our home exterior for the holidays, then proceed to share plenty of photos & videos of our house looking pretty covered under a blanket of snow, only to receive hundreds of messages with the same observation: “Your house looks strikingly similar to the Home Alone house!” We get this ALL the time (even from neighbors), and it’s honestly a wonderful compliment I love hearing. Let’s be real- that Chicago house in the movie is beyond beautiful. Anyway, in the spirit of Christmas, I thought it would be fun to analyze the Home Alone house together, shed some light on colonial architecture, and make some interesting exterior comparisons. Click through to talk about the famous Christmas movie house and colonial architecture with me (I promise it will be fun and educational!)…
First, let’s talk architecture and exteriors. I think a lot of people draw the conclusion that our homes look the same because they have the same style of architecture. Are they exactly the same? No. Can you read a very similar aesthetic and make the connection? Most definitely! To get more specific, both my home and the Home Alone house have a classic, Georgian colonial style architecture. What exactly does that mean?
Georgian colonials are typically identified by certain aesthetics and structural features:
- Symmetry- they’re very symmetrical homes
- Balanced multi-pane windows flanking the front door
- Stone or brick exterior
- A transom over a paneled front door, in the center of the home
- Side gables or a hipped roof
- Pediment or bulky crown and pilasters at the front entrance
- Exterior dentil moulding
- At least two stories
- Hard edges, lines, square or rectangular, boxy shape, 90 degree corners.
- Can often have: columns, a cornice, and window dormers
In short, colonial homes are very balanced in terms of composition and include plenty of classical, English details. Have you heard of the architect, Christopher Wren? He was famous for his colonial style architecture. He also designed Kensington Palace, one of the most famous Colonial style buildings. This was actually the first architect-inspired style in America, which is pretty cool! Check out this article for more beautiful Georgian colonial exterior inspiration. Am I boring you yet? Let’s switch gears.
I love living in a colonial home because they’re rare here in Utah (except the below image is a colonial in OUR neighborhood), and you all know I love balance and symmetry. It’s a very classic and traditional exterior look. I think our home checks many of the typical “Georgian Colonial” boxes, but given its not actually a historic home, and is a builder grade house built in the early 90’s… there are definitely some architectural shortcomings. Our house is obviously not as grand as others mentioned here, but the scale doesn’t bother me, nor does it make it less of a colonial. Emmett and I have been talking about other exterior updates, since our roof contract is signed and that project is on the docket for spring. We’ve talked about potentially adding a couple window dormers, reworking the columns and balcony railing, replacing windows, and updating the millwork. I would love to see traditional dentil moulding and corner quoins added, that you see with many colonial homes. Maybe someday! We have big plans, but first up- the roof is getting english-style slate tiles. I’m VERY excited for the update.
Ok, moving onto the film and the Home Alone house… some quick facts:
- It’s located in Chicago.
- According to Redfin, the home last sold in 2012 for $1.5 million (you can tour it here).
- For the movie, they actually only filmed the exterior of the home and the outdoor scenes… the interior shots were all filmed inside a two-story set they built inside a gymnasium.
- The interior color palette was intentionally designed with seasonal red, green, and gold hues (the entire set)… it was inspired by antique cards and Norman Rockwell paintings.
- They used a lot of traditional decor and furniture from designers like Schumacher and Ralph Lauren.
- The movie switches between cool and warm tones depending on where the family is located… when the McCallister family is together in Chicago, the decor tones are warm. In France, they are cooler.
I actually learned a lot of this from watching, The Movies That Made Us… did anyone else watch that series? It was fascinating! You can find more set secrets in this article.
Emmett and I just watched Home Alone last week. We watch it every holiday season- it’s one of our favorites. What holiday movies do you end up watching year after year? Is it on your list?!
Did you learn anything new- either about architecture or the movie set?! This was a fun and different type of post for me. I hope you enjoyed it! I have an interest in movie set design, so I also found this article to be a fun read: 15 Most Iconic Movie and TV Houses of All Time… of course the Home Alone house is included. Emmett and I have our fingers crossed for a big snowstorm, now that our exterior Christmas lights are installed. Ha!
*You can also learn more about this particular style of architecture here… this is a great source for Georgian architectural info.
PeggiDecember 8, 2020 at 4:41 am
I love architecture talk! I confess that I have never seen Home Alone, but I certainly enjoy a lovely Georgian colonial! The symmetry just really appeals to me! Also, any sort of colonial reminds me of New England. (Homesick sigh.) Set design is so interesting! I bet we underestimate how much impact it has on our viewing experience. Now I’m curious to go read that article about the 15 iconic sets. I wonder if I will recognize the houses! Thank you for always giving me something to ponder and learn! Have an amazing Tuesday! 💜
(We’re having a noisy puppy morning over here.😱 That’s what I get for bragging. Ha.)
Danna FDecember 8, 2020 at 8:45 am
I enjoyed this architectural post! Interesting tidbits of information about the Home Alone house. I have heard several things about the house from Father of the Bride. My favorite home (or kitchen) has been from It’s Complicated. Speaking of movie set design, I just finished watching The Queen’s Gambit…so so good! I loved the clothes, the home, hotels and well… just all of it. Also the Marvelous Miss Maizel is my favorite because of the clothes and sets.
Home Alone has always been a family favorite along with Elf. Happy Tuesday to you both.
SarahDecember 8, 2020 at 9:46 am
I’m fascinated by all of that! Movie set design is SO different than regular interior design. I also learned that some rooms were only 1/4th decorated in Home Alone (like Kevin’s sisters rooms), when they peeked into the door… the other part of the space was totally empty. They only decorated what you can see. Ha! I love the Father of the Bride home as well- so beautiful. I don’t know that I’ve watched It’s Complicated, but now I want to google the kitchen :) We LOVED the Queen’s Gambit. I enjoyed sets and fashion from that series as well! We’re also Ms Maizel fans and that’s another one I pause often to check out the design elements. It sounds like you enjoy the same TV and movies as us, Danna! Happy Tuesday! xo
SarahDecember 8, 2020 at 10:00 am
Same!! I love that many of us can nerd out over design and architecture here together, but WHAT!!! You’ve never seen Home Alone?! It’s such a classic Christmas movie. Believe me when I say, it’s a cute one… and the design is good! Let me know if you watch it this season. I want to hear your thoughts. I feel like in terms of design, New England would be my kind of place. It’s one of the few places Emmett and I have yet to visit in the US, and it’s definitely on our list. What a magical place to live! I agree with you- I think we definitely underestimate the impact of set design. I love learning more about design choices that evoke certain feelings, the inspiration behind it, and the main goal for the film. I feel like set designers probably get to be extra creative (if the movie has the budget), in comparison to regular interior designers because they don’t have to consider many functional things, and aren’t designing for the longterm (a space withstanding the test of time). I did learn that the set designers bought multiples of everything (furniture, etc) for Home Alone, in case something was broken during filming, it could easily be switched. I’m also curious what happens to all of that ones the movie wraps? Do they have an auction, a warehouse sale, and “estate” sale?! Does it live there forever? Probably not. I could talk about this all day. Haha! Give your noisy puppy a belly scratch for me!! Happy Tuesday :)
PeggiDecember 8, 2020 at 11:17 am
Wait. With all the traveling you guys have done, you haven’t visited New England?! I’m most certainly biased, but I think Maine is just spectacular. (More homesick sighs.)
SarahDecember 8, 2020 at 11:35 am
Never!! It’s at the very top of our list. The closest we’ve come is New York. Emmett is convinced we would be happy living in Maine, despite never having visited. Haha!!
LaurenDecember 8, 2020 at 8:23 am
I have to admit, the first time I saw your house with snow I definitely was reminded of Home Alone. I knew the architecture was similar, but wouldn’t have been able to say the exact style. I love learning about different architecture styles and what makes them unique. By the way dentil molding is my favorite! I’m excited to see your roof project happen-I think the English tiles are going to make it pop! Such fun facts about the movie-the set designers did an amazing job creating an interior that made sense for the outside of that home. It makes me wonder if the actual layout is similar. We love that movie over here, and because the kids are at the prime age for thinking Home Alone is basically the coolest movie ever, I get the pleasure of watching it when it isn’t Christmas. The original and number 2 have basically been on repeat since last Christmas and I’m mot mad about it. I could watch those over and over and still laugh. One of our holiday traditions is doing a fun Christmas Eve with friends, hot cocoa, and unexpected food choices; and each year we select a Christmas movie to play. Most years we try to pick movies either none of us have seen, or ones the kids have yet to see. Last year was Home Alone. I have no idea how I’m going to top that this year, but there are several movies I have in mind. Such a fun post for Tuesday Sarah! Have a great day!
SarahDecember 8, 2020 at 9:51 am
Really? I had no idea how often we would hear that after moving in! I kind of love it. Dentil moulding is also my favorite and our colonial home is begging for some!! It’s an expensive addition, but I’m hoping we can budget for it in the future. I feel like it would totally change the exterior appearance. Yes- so Emmett and I did a deep dive into the Home Alone house research after watching it this year, because we thought the house looked SO much larger than ours. We discovered that it’s actually smaller (in square footage) and the interior layout doesn’t look like the actual interior of the home. Take the tour on Redfin I linked, if you want to see the actual interior- it’s so interesting. I honestly wasn’t super impressed. The photos are from 2012 and it has good bones, but the style is meh (lacking personality). We’re hoping to watch number 2 this weekend :) I love hearing that your kids are big fans. What fun ages!! Your Christmas Eve tradition sounds so fun and special. I can’t wait to hear what movie you choose this year. Hope you have a wonderful day too, Lauren! xo
Kerri HansenDecember 8, 2020 at 10:40 am
Sarah I LOVED this post, thank you for sharing. I am also fascinated with movie sets/houses and love the Georgian Colonial style. We have a gorgeous one in our neighborhood and it really stands out not only because of the style, but also because you rarely see red brick homes in the Pacific Northwest (I am in Vancouver). Living in “Hollywood North” as we call it up here, there is always filming happening in our neighborhood. Whenever a spot a filming crew in action, I take my dogs for multiple walks a day past the sight, trying to get a peek and maybe see someone famous – I am shameless! Ryan Reynolds is here in the city somewhere…you never know who you might bump into, lol!
We also make it a yearly tradition to watch “Home Alone” as a family over the holidays and now I will regale my family with my new house trivia, lol.
SarahDecember 8, 2020 at 11:39 am
I’m so happy to hear that, Kerri! This was such a fun one for me, as well :) Hollywood North- that is really cool that you’re able to dog walk and get behind-the-scenes peeks at movies being made in your neighborhood. That’s amazing! I would do the same thing (no shame). Haha! We watched our annual Home Alone last week, but I think we’re adding Home Alone 2 to our watch list this weekend. Happy holiday watching and let me know how the trivia goes ;) xo
KingaDecember 8, 2020 at 2:15 pm
Hi, your house looks great especially cowered in snow, as it was made to be like that all the time. I love symmetric houses, and Georgian style is one of my favorite – and I partly blame Home Alone for that , as I’m only 2 years older then the movie.
In Poland Home Alone is a tradition, one of the TV stations has it in their program each year from 2003 (I checked😉) and when in 2010 they decided that there would be no Home Alone during Christmas, it caused a stir, and petition to bring movie back was signed by 75k people.
Yes, it’s a must watch for me
SarahDecember 9, 2020 at 10:05 am
Thanks, Kinga! I love it covered under a blanket of snow, too! It really was made for winter… so beautiful. I love hearing about Home Alone in Poland and the television traditions. I had no idea! 75k people signed a petition? That is incredible! You all have the best Christmas spirit. Thanks for sharing those fun facts :) I enjoyed reading about that. Happy Home Alone watching and holidays!!
BethDecember 11, 2020 at 2:05 pm
HI Sarah! Home Alone is my all-time favorite Christmas movie! I grew up in a beautiful 1939 brick colonial that looked very much like it, although it was less Georgian in style and more of a traditional colonial (I think?). The best is that since I grew up in the 80s and 90s, the interior of the house was actually very similar to the movie set haha. My mom was very into Colonial Williamsburg at the time and loved a cream, burgundy, and green color palate with shiny brass. Anyway, I am sure whatever you guys do to the exterior of your home will be beautiful. I love the conversation about favorite movie homes in general and second those who mentioned It’s Complicated. I love a Nancy Myers kitchen and also love the Hamptons home in Something’s Gotta Give and the colonial in Father of the Bride!
SarahDecember 14, 2020 at 5:39 pm
It’s such a good movie! I love that your childhood home resembled it- the exterior AND interior. That’s so fun! It sounds like your mom had perfect 90’s style. haha! Nancy Myers can do no wrong when it comes to her beautiful films and movie sets. All of those are top favorites of mine as well :) xo
SusieDecember 13, 2020 at 9:02 am
We love Home Alone at our house. Also a must-watch Christmas movie, but I think our favorite is #2 (In NY). My son spent a lot of time in hospitals as a kid and we wore out the hospital’s VHS tape of Home Alone because he watched it every time we were there. And we are still not tired of it!
Love to read your informative posts like this – not at all boring. I always assumed they filmed inside the house. Set designers did a great job!
SarahDecember 14, 2020 at 5:20 pm
We’ve already watched both 1 and 2 this season :) They’re both so good! I think I like the first one best, but NY is great as well. I love hearing that children’s hospitals have happy holiday movies and comedic entertainment for their patients and their families. Some of our family members have spent their fair share of time in the hospital, and we were still able to make happy memories thanks to things like that. I’m thrilled that you two still watch it together :) That’s very sweet! The set designers really did do a phenomenal job on Home Alone. Happy holidays, Susie!! xo
JAYLYNJanuary 28, 2021 at 3:13 pm
I would love to know how to figure out how to interpret a style of builder grade homes that don’t seem to fit into a specific architectural style. We live in a suburban neighborhood built in the early 2000s and every other house on the block looks the same. As we start updating and adding character Id love to know how to add certain types of architectural elements. I want my home to be a colonial lol and it has some features but specific things stand out to me like we don’t have perfect symmetry because the garage is in the front of the house. Also the exterior windows on the top floor are arched instead of 90 degree angles. We have brick on the front, but wood paneling in the sides and back. I really want to bring some character and life to the interior and exterior but want to try to make it look at “natural” as possible.
SarahFebruary 1, 2021 at 9:52 am
I’m working on some posts for this, Jaylyn :)