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Paula’s House from “Four Christmases”

Jan 2nd, 2013 | By | Category: Movie Locations

Sissy Spacek's House Four Christmases (6 of 11)

While I realize that the holidays are now over and that I should be posting about a non-Yule-related locale, today’s house is one that I have been searching for for over a year and finally found on the morning of December 25th – yes, it was a Christmas miracle Winking smile – and I am FAR too excited to wait a full year to blog about it.  So please excuse my belatedness.  And now, on with the post!  Ever since first seeing the movie Four Christmases back in 2008, I have wanted to stalk the supposed Marin-area residence where Brad’s (Vince Vaughn’s) mom, Paula (Sissy Spacek), lived.  Thankfully, the flick’s production notes stated that the exterior of the “Zen-styled living space” was actually a private home in Topanga Canyon, so I knew where to begin my search.  Try as I might, though, I could not seem to find the darn place.  Then, on Christmas morning, while my mom was at work (I know, boo!), my dad was napping and the Grim Cheaper was preparing our turkey dinner, I decided to get some cyber-stalking in and did a quick Google search for Topanga Canyon cottages with stone fireplaces.  Lo and behold, one of the first results to come back was a real estate listing for an adorable little bungalow that I immediately recognized as Paula’s!  Yay!  And while the residence did not appear to be visible from the road, I could hardly wait to stalk the place and dragged the GC right on over there just a few days after we returned home.

Well, let me tell you, when we pulled up to the property and saw that it was actually visible from the street, I was so excited that I just about started doing cartwheels!  Yahoo!  As you can see below, the cottage is absolutely idyllic in person.  It literally looks like something ripped right out of a fairy tale!

Sissy Spacek's House Four Christmases (11 of 11)

Sissy Spacek's House Four Christmases (1 of 11)

In real life, the residence boasts two bedrooms, two baths, 1,632 square feet of living space, a 236-square-foot detached studio, a sprawling one-acre lot, a fireplace constructed out of River Rock, a sauna, an eat-in kitchen, an outdoor patio, a wrap-around deck, a footbridge built over Garaptas Creek (which runs through the property), several meandering pathways, and numerous park-like areas consisting of willow, oak, sycamore and pine trees.  The place is absolutely stunning!

Sissy Spacek's House Four Christmases (7 of 11)

Sissy Spacek's House Four Christmases (3 of 11)

Paula’s bungalow actually shows up only once in Four Christmases, and very briefly at that, in the scene in which Brad and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) arrive at their third holiday destination – which was my personal favorite.  The Taboo game segment (which you can watch by clicking below) was absolutely hilarious – “I don’t have an attitude.  I’ve shut down.  She buzzes me, I’m trying to explain to you how to the play the game, you obviously don’t understand the best ways to play the game, and I’m shutting down.”  Love it!  But I digress.

In an AMAZING twist, Four Christmases production designer Shepherd Frankel contacted me after reading my post on Brad and Kate’s house from the movie.  (And yes, I just about died when I received his email in which he said that he loved reading my blog and seeing my detective work unfold!!!!)  Shepherd was nice enough to answer all of the questions posed in my various Four Christmases posts (which I will get to in a bit) and also had this to say when I asked if Paula’s home was indeed a real location: “Yes, we shot at a house in Topanga, but . . . I added all kinds of things to make it bigger.  I created sun rooms by enclosing decks.  Added skylights built up to help the house appear bigger.  Created an entrance.  Did all of the set-ups and ‘places’ in the yard.”  As you can see below, the real life residence does look quite a bit different – and much smaller – than its onscreen counterpart, although it is (thankfully) still very recognizable from the film.


Sissy Spacek's House Four Christmases (4 of 11)


Sissy Spacek's House Four Christmases (5 of 11)

Amazingly enough, the stained-glass interior of Paula’s cottage was just a set that was built inside of a soundstage at Ren-Mar Studios (now Red Studios Hollywood, which I blogged about here).  The set was so incredibly realistic, though, that, before reading through the movie’s production notes, I was absolutely convinced that the actual interior had been used, which speaks to Shepherd’s artistry.  As you can see in these real estate photographs as compared to the screen captures below, the actual interior of the residence is much smaller than its onscreen counterpart, and much simpler in design.  You can check out some fabulous photographs of Shepherd’s set on his website here.



As I mentioned above, Shepherd was nice enough to answer a couple of questions posed in my other Four Christmases posts.  First, he informed me that the backyard of Marilyn’s (Mary Steenburgen’s) house was not a mixture of the actual backyard and a set, as I had surmised.  According to Shepherd, “ It was all done onstage where I replicated a version of the rear elevation of the location, but modified it to suit our needs.”  He also told me that the view behind Marilyn’s fence was a “plate shot” of the home’s actual neighborhood.


Shepherd also explained that the deleted scene in which Brad and Kate called their respective parents to tell them that they would not be coming home for Christmas was not supposed to have taken place at the couple’s residence, as I had guessed, but in an upstairs coffee break room at the dance studio.  So the differing interiors now make sense.



You can find me on Facebook here and on Twitter at @IAMNOTASTALKER.  And be sure to check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic.

Sissy Spacek's House Four Christmases (2 of 11)

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Paula’s house from Four Christmases is located at 1290 Oakwood Drive in Topanga Canyon.



Leave a comment »

  1. Annie says:

    I’m so happy you found AND shared this. When I saw think home in the movie I fell in love. We are almost empty nesters’ ready to downsize. My husband builds log homes and this is the eclectic mixed with Frank Lloyd Wright home he will be challenged to build us. Can you show the plans for the cottage with the changes that were made in the movie? I’m very happy your hard work paid off .
    Sincerely Annie B ✌ 💜

  2. Ashley says:

    LOVE that he contacted you and answered all of your questions, how awesome is that?! Why can’t more people be that gracious? Cute little cottage too 🙂

  3. Katie says:

    I haven’t seen Four Christmases, whoops, must line it up for this December’s viewing but oh my goodness, that little cottage is just stunning to look at! Love that you got in touch with the set person themselves and that they initiated it, squeee! I do love your blog Lindsay, it just gives me more and more places on my list of LA landmarks to see next time I’m there!

  4. SHE CONTACTED YOU?! Cool. I really need to watch this again. Wonder if its on my netflix? Hmmm

  5. Lavonna says:


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