Movie-tested, designer approved.

It's a Wonderful Life
RKO Pictures/Getty Images

What makes a holiday movie truly great? For some, it’s the heartwarming plot that never fails to remind us what the holidays are really about. Meanwhile, others favor legendary one-liners that they can recite at the drop of a hat. But, if you’re more design-minded like us, you’re all about the gorgeous residences that act as the backdrop to our favorite films. (There’s no place like home for the holidays, but we firmly believe these pads are covetable with or without holiday decorations.) 

There are so many holiday movies—and holiday homes—but which ones have the design industry’s seal of approval? Several designers weighed in on the very best homes that are merry and bright year-round. (Spoiler alert: The list below will make you want to put on your favorite festive flicks.) 

Iris’s House in The Holiday

As the resident queen of the coastal grandmother phenomenon, it’s safe to say that anything Nancy Meyers touches turns into aesthetic gold. So, it likely comes as a surprise to nobody that Iris’s stone-clad cottage in Surrey ranks high on our list. In fact, her charming digs have evoked cottagecore well before the trend hit our radar. “The English countryside home might have a small footprint, but it packs a punch with its exposed wooden beams and a natural stone clad fireplace,” says Nadia Watts, who runs her own design firm in Denver, Colorado. “The living room is full of comfortable stuffed chairs and chintzy, mismatched fabrics; the ultimate spot to curl up with a book and a cup of tea.”

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Meanwhile, Kathy Taslitz says gets plenty of inspiration from Iris’s kitchen. “The spaces were full of natural light, open and airy, modern and warm at the same time,” the Los Angeles-based designer shares. “Although my own kitchen isn’t that big, it feels larger with high ceilings, lots of counter space and storage, clean and uncomplicated. For our family holidays, it’s where we all gather and all the action is!”

Graham’s House in The Holiday

The Holiday

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The Holiday, $7

Why settle for one Nancy Meyers home when you can enjoy two? The Holiday is packed with on-point abodes—from Amanda’s Los Angeles mansion to Arthur’s cinematic crib—but Denver-based designer Kam Davies is partial to Graham’s home. “The inviting and overstuffed squashy furniture paired with clean-lined contemporary lighting and crisp black and white gallery walls strikes a great balance between cottage nostalgia and handsome tailored details,” she says.

From the sweet blanket fort Graham built with his daughters to the farmhouse-like kitchen where Mr. Napkinhead made a cameo, the British home is perfect for the Three Musketeers. But, if you look closely, the home has a few moodier moments that deftly represent Graham and Amanda’s budding romance. “Dark painted, perfectly layered bookcases swagged in whimsical paper chains immediately draw you in and have you hoping you will be invited to stay through New Year,” Davies adds.

The Bailey House in It’s a Wonderful Life

It's a Wonderful Life

RKO Pictures/Getty Images

George Bailey might’ve called the Old Granville House “drafty,” but Los Angeles-based designer Tanya Stone respectfully disagrees. “The traditional Colonial Revival-style home adds a timeless elegance, complementing the movie’s nostalgic atmosphere,” she shares. In addition to its architectural charm—the second-floor balconies and impressive turret are designed to dazzle—the Old Granville House serves as the original fixer-upper. 

Though it might be easy to overlook the rundown Bedford Falls residence, Mary saw plenty of potential and transformed it into her dream house. “The Bailey family home goes beyond mere aesthetics; it encapsulates the essence of the holiday season,” she says. “Mary’s efforts to transform the space into a haven of joy and connection contribute to making this movie home one of the most memorable and well-designed Christmas settings in cinematic history.”

The McCallister House in Home Alone

Home Alone

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Home Alone, $11

There’s a reason why the Wet Bandits called 656 Lincoln Boulevard their “silver tuna.” Built in the 1920s, the colonial Georgian home is Midwestern real estate at its finest. While the symmetrical, brick-laden residence is upscale without being over-the-top, the interiors deliver with sun-drenched spaces, a large kitchen, and a staircase in the foyer that’s perfect for sledding. (Plus, it can accommodate a family of seven, so you know that it has a generous square footage.) 

“They used great combinations of large print traditional wallpapers; love the window treatments as well,” says Kirsten Conner, who runs her eponymous design firm in Seattle. “I applaud the set designers for keeping the classic traditional nature of the house while using cheerful happy print and luxe textures.”

Since Home Alone first premiered in 1990, the McCallister residence has become more than an idyllic backdrop: It’s a tourist attraction for many who visit Chicagoland. “The house is iconic and remains a tourist attraction to this day,” adds Wendy Labrum, a designer who splits time between Chicago and Park City, Utah. “I grew up in a neighboring town in a very similar house, so this entire setting is peak nostalgia for us native Chicagoans. Just watching it feels like coming home.”

The Stone Residence from The Family Stone

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The Family Stone, $10

The 2005 movie might center around family and love, but the Stone family’s residence is overdue for some much-deserved praise. Why? With an elegant exterior that could rival the Old Granville House, shabby chic interiors à la The Holiday, and a sled-friendly staircase in the foyer, this property has everything we love about our favorite festive homes rolled into one. Of course, don’t write this pick off as a design dupe.

“From the artfully cluttered kitchen to the myriads of wallpaper and patterns in each room, there are so many layered details to take in,” says Jenny Williamson of West Rose Design. “It’s a home filled with items that were collected over time—overflowing with happy memories and tons of nostalgia. Exactly the type of lived in cheerful space to hunker down for the holidays.” Splashes of yellow and strategically-placed patterns round off the space in style, creating a warm, welcoming family home.

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