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Storybook Architecture: Find Your Fairytale House


Are you looking for a little more magic from your next house?

Maybe you should be looking for a storybook house!

These unique houses have distinctive designs, transporting both homeowners and neighbors to a charming fairytale world. 

Are you a storybook house buyer?

This article will answer that question and explore the history and features of storybook homes.

storybook architecture baltimore

The Origins of Storybook Houses

Storybook houses became popular in the early 1920s after soldiers began returning home from World War I. 

The first storybook houses started popping up in Los Angeles, where art directors used their set building skills to craft unique buildings for their rich, eccentric clients. The homes they built borrowed from Tudor, Gothic, and English cottage styles and quickly made news across the country. 

One of the most famous storybook house lovers of the era was Walt Disney. Disney used storybook houses in both his movies and theme parks. Many of these houses made their way into the background art of some of Disney’s earliest movies.

The style spread across the United States, though it became less common during the Great Depression when people had less money to spend on the materials needed for these houses.



Architectural Features of Storybook Houses

Sloping Roofs & Crooked Chimneys

Storybook houses are renowned for their whimsically crooked roofs and chimneys, calling up images from classic tales like Hansel and Gretel. 

Roofs on storybook houses have deep slopes and are often thatched. Shingles can be applied in wavy patterns that give the impression that the house is moving. 

Some houses take the storybook feeling a step further and add turrets to the roofs, which definitely give fairytale and castle vibes.

Ridgemede Rd House


Unique Windows & Doors

Windows with diamond-shaped panes and arched doorways contribute to the storybook charm. 

These features don’t just add to the whimsy of a storybook house, but also give them a sense of coziness and warmth.

Unusual Materials & Textures

Storybook houses often use textured exteriors with elements like exposed timber beams, stone detailing, and intricate woodwork. 

The materials used to build storybook houses are chosen because they give the homes a “distressed” look. This helps give the houses a sense of history.

These details really add to the fantasy-like quality of the homes, making them stand out in any neighborhood.

Chestnut Ave House Hampden


Famous Examples of Storybook Houses

The Gamble House (Pasadena, California)

Designed by architects Charles and Henry Greene, the Gamble House was built during the Arts and Crafts movement, featuring a blend of woodwork and stained glass that stand out and give off big fairytale vibes.

During the 20th century, the style of the house received a lot of criticism from the public and the architecture world, but after World War II, it regained popularity. 

Though it served as the Gamble family’s winter home originally, today it’s an education center dedicated to inspiring the public’s interest in architecture.

gamble house, beverly hills, ca


The Spadena House (Beverly Hills, California)

Affectionately known as the "Witch's House," this storybook house is iconic and is what most people think of when they hear “storybook house.” 

It was built in 1921 by Hollywood art director Harry Oliver for Willat Studios. 

Originally, the house served as both office spaces and a silent film studio. Today, the home is a private residence.

It was nicknamed The Witch’s House after the famous villain of Hansel and Gretel.

the witch's house in spadena, ca


Who Should Live in a Storybook House?

Living in a storybook house is a unique experience that goes beyond ordinary homeownership. 

The whimsical atmosphere created by these homes is great for people who want their house to evoke a sense of creativity and imagination. 

If you loved Lord of the Rings growing up and always wanted to live in a hobbit house, you’ll probably love storybook houses. 

If you’ve ever dreamed about being the village witch, living in a storybook house will definitely help you accomplish that. 

tuscany canterbury baltimore

Where to Find Storybook Houses in Baltimore

Finding a whole neighborhood of storybook houses would be very unusual, but there are some neighborhoods in Baltimore where you’re more likely to find a few one-off storybook houses.

These neighborhoods were likely constructed around the 1930s, which is when the storybook style really took off. Some neighborhoods that have their own storybook houses in Baltimore include:

  • Keswick
  • Tuscany-Canterbury
  • Ellicott City & Catonsville
  • Sudbrook (olmstead)
  • Evergreen
  • Roland Park
  • Mt. Washington
  • Woodbury
  • Dickeyville
  • Windsor Hills


Need Help Finding Your Storybook House?

Are you interested in finding a storybook house to live out your own fairytale? 

Storybook buyers are among our dearest friends and favorite clients. 

Once upon a time there was a special group of real estate professionals who understood that visionaries needed to be nurtured. With a bit of pixie dust and a wave of the wand they opened doors and made their clients fairytale wishes come true.

Ready to start house hunting? Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation and become the village witch you always dreamed of being. 

That candy coated house in the woods is waiting for you.