1) Funny Farm – Cap Cod house in Vermont
This is my absolute favorite movie. All the right elements come together for some big laughs, including the adorable Cap Cod style Vermont farmhouse where much of the drama takes place. Although the movie spans several months in the life of Andy & Elizabeth Farmer, the culmination of the movie is the Christmas scenes when the unlucky couple try to sell their house.
The day that the prospective buyers show up was supposed to be a snowy winter wonderland, but the area in real life had not seen any snow yet. The production crew was all ready to deck out the house and the surrounding property with fake snow, but lo and behold, the real stuff came pouring down the night before so the film crew had a nice fresh, authentic blanket of snow to work with.
Andy & Elizabeth Farmer impress the potential buyers with their quaintly decorated historic home that looks like it belongs on a Christmas card. Everything is perfect! Too perfect – and shenanigans ensue, as expected in any classic Chevy Chase movie.
The Funny Farm house is a real home in Grafton, Vermont and all of the interior scenes were actually shot on location inside the house. The owners rented it out for the duration of filming and the film crew put the owner’s furniture in storage and moved their own set decor in.
The home – which is locally called The Hall House – sits on a rise of land with great views of the Vermont countryside. A municipal fire water source pond is located right in the front yard – the “fish pond” in the movie. It was frozen over and made a great ice-skating rink in the snowy day scene.
Fans of the 1988 comedy still occasionally try to sneak up the private drive to catch a glimpse of the house. But beware, it is a private residence and as the movie portrays, there may be some weird characters up in them parts.
(Come on now, I’m kidding about the weird people part…. not so much about the no trespassing thing)
Check out this Hooked On Houses blog post for a very interesting and detailed look at the Funny Farm house in Vermont. For additional information about filming locations in Funny Farm, see this article from Vermonter.com.
2) The Christmas Card – Log cabin in Nevada City California
This lesser known movie is one of Hallmark’s sappy seasonal gems. Set in a real town in northern California called Nevada City, the movie tells the story of a Christmas card that was sent to the front lines of Afghanistan and then finds itself in the hands of a lonely soldier. The soldier was so moved by the card and the woman who wrote it that he set out to find her and her picture-perfect hometown while on leave from the war during the holiday season.
The Christmas Card (2006) was shot on location in and around Nevada City and the locals helped to deck out the town in its Christmas best. Most of the downtown scenes show Victorian era homes and storefronts which all host an annual city-wide Victorian Christmas celebration.
But many of the crucial scenes in the love story take place in a nearby log cabin where Faith – the heroine and love interest – lives with her aging parents.
The large luxury log cabin is a stunner. I have read that it is indeed a real house and a family lives there so there aren’t any public images of the cabin other than screenshots from the movie.
If you ever get a chance to see this flick on the Hallmark Channel, the wonderful log cabin setting will make it worth your while.
I only wish I could’ve found more shots of the interior!
For more information on filming locations for The Christmas Card movie, see the Outside Inn website.
3) The Sound of Music – Trapp Family Austrian Villa
The Sound of Music is always on TV around the holiday season and though it doesn’t specifically deal with Christmas, it is an enduring family saga that evokes that warm fuzzy Christmastime feeling.
The main house where the movie is mostly set is the Villa Trapp located in Aigen, outside of Salzburg, Austria. Just as this movie was based on a true story, so too was the magnificent house.
Although the actual former Von Trapp home was NOT used in the filming, it still exists and is now used as a bed and breakfast. Guests can tour the grounds and stay at the actual villa where the famous singing family once lived. I did an extensive post on the Trapp Family home in Austria a couple of years ago and it is still one of my most popular posts.
All of the interior shots of the Villa Trapp from the 1965 movie production were filmed on a soundstage. However, some of the exterior scenes from the film were shot at another real house just outside Salzburg which was located on a small lake. This house is called Leopoldskron Palace, a lavish estate that was once owned by famed theater director, Max Reinhardt and is now also a luxury hotel.
To discover additional real-life filming locations from the original Sound of Music film, check out this website.
4) Miracle on 34th Street – Susan’s dream house in the suburbs
Another proverbial Christmas favorite, Miracle on 34th Street (1947) is mostly set in downtown Manhattan at a pre-war highrise apartment building and of course, at the historic flagship Macy’s store.
The sets for the apartment scenes were very nicely representative of the era, but it is Susan’s “dream house” at the end of the film that steals our hearts.
Young Susan first showed Santa a picture of the house that she wanted for Christmas:
Kris Kringle works his miracles, and Susan, her mother, and mom’s new love interest just happen to come upon the perfect little Cape Cod style house in the suburbs that coincidentally has a for sale sign in the yard.
“Stop the car!”
The cozy home is perfect for the new family and they fall instantly in love with it.
Although the interior shots of the house were filmed on a soundstage, the exterior shots were from a real life house that still stands today.
The home is located in Port Washington, New York. According the Zillow, it was built in 1943 and is just over 1,700 square feet. The exterior depicted in the movie is only slightly altered after all these years with new shutters and the addition of a second story dormer window.
Here’s a lovely photo of the famous movie house in the springtime:
You can read more about Miracle on 34th Street filming locations and sets at Hooked on Houses.
5) How The Grinch Stole Christmas – Who houses down in WhoVille
Okay, okay, so it’s not a real house, or town, but who doesn’t love the Who houses down in Whoville?
I watched the original cartoon version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) many times as a kid and I was always transfixed with the quirky Suessian homes in the make-believe town where everyone was nauseatingly kind and happy.
The naive locals were a bit much to handle, but I loved their colorful, disproportionate houses – so much fun to look at!
In the more recent 2000 remake of the cartoon classic, the set designers obviously had fun making the fantastical houses of Whoville…
The rest of the scenes were filmed on indoor soundstages. The production of the 2000 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas used 10 soundstages in total and was one of the largest users of space ever at Universal Studios.
Just looking at these happy Who houses makes me want to eat lots of cotton candy and sing Kumbaya!