Top 10 Best and Worst Homes in Fiction

Ever wished these famous fictional houses were real? Check out the top 10 best and worst homes from literature…and maybe get a little inspiration for your own home in the process. (Both what to imitate and what to avoid at all costs!)Ever wished these famous fictional houses were real? Check out the top 10 best and worst homes from literature...and maybe get a little inspiration for your own home in the process. (Both what to imitate and what to avoid at all costs!)

Long before we have homes of our own, many of us envision what we want our “dream house” to be like. Didn’t you? I did.

In one early version, my imaginary house had a red slide inside, with a fountain and an always-freshly-mown lawn out front.

Nowadays, I’m still into dream homes, but instead of trying to find one I’m trying to create it. You see, you have to work with what you’ve got, flourishing right where you are and letting your home blossom on the outside as you do from the inside.

When creating your dream home, you can find inspiration in all sorts of places. Books are one of my very favourite places to look! There are so many memorable homes in literature that I’ve longed to visit; and the authors’ descriptions make me feel that I have. Of course, there are also certain iconic literary homes that I want to avoid at all costs because they make me shudder. These are prime examples of what NOT to imitate with your home!

Let’s take a look at 10 dream houses from literature, and 10 (thankfully fictional) houses that are just the worst.

Top 10 Worst Homes in Literature

(I’m not actually ranking these, just listing them. I couldn’t choose the lesser of ten evils.)

1. Castle Dracula from Dracula

Sure, it boasts costly furnishings and a well-stocked library. But with its shadows and secrets–plus being the residence of one of the most evil villains in literature–Castle Dracula will never be featured in Better Homes & Gardens.

2. Thornfield Hall from Jane Eyre

Although it’s not the worst house on this list, the brooding Thornfield Hall doesn’t exactly strike me as a dream home. It’s interesting that Jane doesn’t end up there at the end of the novel. I’m with Jane; I’d choose Ferndean over Thornfield.

3. Hill House from The Haunting of Hill House

When you think of adjectives to describe your home, you don’t want the words “vile” and “diseased” to come to mind. This is the ultimate (and often imitated) haunted house, and I wouldn’t go anywhere near it!

4. Satis House from Great Expectations

The crumbling Satis House is in desperate need of redecorating. The bars on the window don’t exactly scream curb appeal, and inside the “conversation piece” is a 30-year-old wedding cake smothered in spiderwebs.

5. Wuthering Heights from Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights is gloomy and imposing on its own, but what’s more repellent about this house is the residents, and the tragedies that occur within its walls. It gives us a grim reminder that it’s often the people–and their choices–that make or break a home.

6. Castle Udolpho from The Mysteries of Udolpho

This Gothic castle situated in the Apennines has everything…you don’t want in a fairy tale castle. You know, like mysterious blood on the stairs, wax figurines lying about, and banditti lurking nearby.

7. The House of Harfang from The Silver Chair

At first, Harfang seems like the ultimate haven for weary travelers. Jill and Eustace find plush beds and plenty to eat. But if there’s anything that will break the mood of hygge, it’s finding out your hosts want to eat you for supper!

8. Palazzo Roccanera in The Portrait of a Lady

Welcome to “a kind of domestic fortress, a pile which bore a stern old Roman name, which smelt of historic deeds, of crime and craft and violence.” It’s nice when your house has a story, but you don’t want it to go like that!

9. Efrafa from Watership Down

The theme of home is a big one in Watership Down, and we get both positive and negative examples of it. Efrafa is a terrifying place, where residents are subject to a dystopian existence that’s far from the home-like atmosphere you want to cultivate!

10. The House of Shaws from Kidnapped

Of this dreary Scottish manor we’re told “Blood built it; blood stopped the building of it; blood shall bring it down!” That’s not exactly a slogan you’d want cross-stitched and framed above your mantel, is it?

Okay, now let’s move on to the GOOD homes from literature. The ones you’d actually want to live in!

Literature is full of memorable houses. Here are 10 iconic good and bad homes from books!

Top 10 Best Homes in Literature

These aren’t in any order. It’s too hard to decide because each is wonderful in its own way!

1. Bag End from The Hobbit

Big houses can be just as cozy as small cottages, and Bag End proves it. Bag End is built into the side of a large hill, but it’s not a “nasty, dirty, wet hole….it was a Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” With many wood-paneled rooms and well-stocked pantries, it’s the perfect place to raise a large family–or live comfortably alone, with plenty of room to welcome house guests.

2. Green Gables from Anne of Green Gables

Green Gables offers a simple, honest way of life I admire. Anne’s imagination imbues this home with wonder, but it’s a pretty lovely place to begin with anyway. (Honestly, there are so many tempting homes in Montgomery’s novels that I’m planning to devote a whole post to the topic. That’ll be over on my literary blog, Tea and Ink Society.)

3. Pemberley from Pride and Prejudice

Pemberley is “a large, handsome, stone building,” but what really makes it special is its gorgeous natural setting. We’re told that Elizabeth “had never seen a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste.” A house’s setting can be as important as the house itself…and a good setting shouldn’t be wasted on an ugly home.

4. The tree house from The Swiss Family Robinson

If there’s a part of you that’s ever felt like running wild in the great outdoors, the Robinson tree house is the perfect home to “get away from it all.” Really away! Picture yourself swaying in a hammock in the hot island breeze, the sound of waves crashing nearby.

5. The March family home from Little Women

It’s not grand and fancy like the Laurence residence next door, but it’s homey and full of the vibrancy of a close-knit family. I love the home and family atmosphere of Little Women so much that I’ve written two posts on it: The Little Women Guide to Homemaking, and How to Have a Little Women Christmas.

6. Grandfather’s hut in Heidi

High in the Alps “where every ray of sun could rest upon it,” this tiny hut is the epitome of simple. As a child I wished myself there, with a hayloft bed, surrounded by the smells of warm wood and fresh mountain air. And of course, there’s all the toasted cheese and fresh goat’s milk you could wish for!

7. Godsend Castle from I Capture the Castle

Sure, it’s drafty and probably leaks in a dozen places, but I’d overlook those details for the sake of my very own English castle. Wouldn’t you? To swim in the moat by moonlight and sunbathe on the battlements? When you really love your home, as the heroine in this story does, you forgive its flaws.

8. The Burrow from the Harry Potter series

The Burrow is the Weasley family home. It’s cluttered but cozy, with evidences of bustling family life wherever you turn. Oh, and it’s full of magic, which would be super fun! (And very handy for getting chores done, I should think.)

9. San Salvatore from The Enchanted April

In Italy above the Mediterranean Sea sits San Salvatore, a villa swathed in “wisteria and sunshine.” With such a profusion of light, fragrance, and flowers, the people who stay there can’t help but find transformation. All who enter its walls and gardens discover a softening towards past grievances, a renewed zest for life and deeper understanding of love. I’ve never read a more lovely reminder that a place can transform a person.

10. 221B Baker Street from Sherlock Holmes

Holmes’s residence is almost as iconic as he his! I can just picture the Victorian rooms, littered with newspapers and eclectic odds and ends. Everyone needs a home base that reflects them, a retreat from which you can sort out the world’s puzzles.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Related posts to read next:

Many of the residents of these houses made it onto my list of best heroes, heroines, and villains from classic lit. Chances are when you find a memorable home in literature, its occupants will make an impression, too!

30 Simple Ways to Add Beauty Around Your Home

6 Ways to Be a Better Homemaker When You’re Waiting for a Better Home

How to Make Any Apartment Feel Like Home

[question]If you could live anywhere from a book, where would it be?[/question]

Green Gables image from Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Little Women is my favorite book of all time. I grew up in MA and why I’ve not been there yet, I have no idea but I’m going home in June (I live in TN now) and I will be going to Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s house. I’m so excited.

    1. I’m excited for you! I love Little Women so much. We visited Orchard House when we were in Boston for our honeymoon. It is lovely and makes the book come to life even more. I don’t understand why Alcott didn’t care for the place, and it made me a little sad. It was a good reminder to me to see the beauty in what we have, and sometimes that means seeing our homes through someone else’s eyes.

  2. What a fun and thought-provoking post! I concur with all your choices. Who didn’t want
    to live with the Marches, or Grandfather’s hut?

    I might have given Manderly from “Rebecca” a spot on the “Worst” list.
    ans I have a few more “best” contenders:
    China Court, in the charming novel of the same name by Rumer Godden
    The Beaver’s Home in Narnia
    The home of Tom Bombadill in The Lord of the Rings

    1. I’m adding China Court to my reading list now. Thank you for the book suggestion! I thought about Manderly since it is so memorable, but I was trying to keep the list to 10 and thought some of the other houses were worse, in my opinion. Definitely agree about Tom Bombadill and the Beaver’s. I also thought about adding the Cair Paravel, the Dawn Treader (ships can be homes!), even the wizard’s house from Dawn Treader always intrigued me. Rivendell/the last homely house would be good too.

  3. Elsie, I loved this post soooo much! And Green Gables would be my top pick from your “good” list. Simple, unfussy, expanded over time as needed, not huge, plenty of “scope for imagination.” (PS I’m doing a great giveaway this week from Rishi Tea & Botanicals.

  4. If you go to amazon you can find the newest illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the goblet of fire, and one of the pages available to see ( the book isn’t actually published until October) is of Molly Weasley in her kitchen… it’s wonderful!

    1. I would LOVE to see that! I think I found the right book on Amazon (Jim Kay is the illustrator?) but it won’t let me preview the book): I’ll try again later this year when it comes out!

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