It’s easy to get caught up on the visual design of a Wes Anderson film, especially on its first viewing.
Each new release from the auteur feels loaded with more details waiting to be discovered, rediscovered and revered.
Last May, Bar Luce, a café designed by Anderson himself, opened in Milan, and it’s like a set from right out of his short film Castello Cavalcanti (2013), yet specifically inspired by films by Visconti and De Sica. I’d imagine more than a handful of Anderson fans have made the trip to Milan to experience it.
But those of us here in North America have an even more immersive experience awaiting them. Located in the County of Prince Edward in Canada is a cinephile’s Airbnb dream come true: Mr. Anderson’s House.
Each room is themed after a different film in the director’s repertoire, and according to owner Dayna Winter, a “love letter to him” that’s ever-evolving.
I spoke with Dayna about her unique rental, and its backstory…
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FOG!: So, how did the “Mr. Anderson’s House” come about?
Dayna Winter: I’ve always wanted to retire in the country later, but the urge to leave the city just kept creeping up. I was doing some make-believe house hunting while driving through on a weekend, and found this house. Everything at that point was a blur. Since my job and life is still very much in Toronto, I decided to turn it into a part-time Airbnb rental so that it would pay for itself until I could move full time.
I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan, especially his eye for design and color. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I had this idea: theme the house after his films—one film for each room. I figured the gimmick would be a draw, and maybe get me some attention from Airbnb or on design blogs. At the very least, it was a fun design challenge, especially since I’m on a budget. Almost everything is thrifted or a DIY hack. I didn’t go too heavy-handed with it—I wanted the effect to be more of an ode or nod to his style, rather than a straight copy.
On the listing, you call it a love-letter to the director. There has to be an easier way to meet Wes Anderson. All kidding aside, have you heard from the auteur?
Ha, nope! I recently read something about the Wes Anderson-inspired art show, Bad Dads that was put on by Spoke Gallery. The article said that Wes Anderson’s dad follows his son’s news, and had to inform his son about the show. I’m guessing that he doesn’t Google himself much. To be honest, I don’t actually care about celebrities, or meeting them. I simply respect his work, and it would be cool if he heard about my project (and stayed over!), but would I really have anything to say to him over coffee? I’d probably just be super awkward.
A lot of the references to Anderson’s films in your rooms are more subtle, and others are easy connections. What’s the most obscure thing you’re proud of in the house?
As it’s still a work in progress, there are a lot of items on my wish list that I’m hoping to score at an antique or thrift store. I have plans for some super sneaky items if I can find them. So really, a lot of the rooms aren’t quite there yet from a theme perspective. There are a few little things, though: I have a Latin book in the mix in Rushmore room, and Suzy Bishops’s saddle shoes are peeking out from under the side table in the upstairs nook. If anyone has a wild javelina (faux) taxidermy head, I will totally give it a good home!
I’m assuming you have his complete filmography available for viewing while staying at the house?
Getting there! I have half of them on DVD, I think, but my guests don’t seem to watch much TV, and if they do, it’s Netflix.
What’s your favorite of his films?
The Royal Tenenbaums, hands down. It’s not just my favorite of his films—it’s my favorite film, period.
Do you get guests who are just looking for a place to stay on Airbnb or, do you always have folks in on the theme?
I’m getting more guests who are staying because of the theme, which is really cool. People actually get into it and shoot some Wes style photos of themselves interacting with the spaces. Luckily, though, people really just love the area, so I get bookings from non-fans too. I’m cautious of making the home too theme-y, and therefore not universally appealing. I want to balance a comfortable stay with the design experience.
Any families show up yet dressed as Tenenbaums?
I wish! One couple bought some vintage clothing and staged a few cute photo shoots in some of the rooms.
Did you catch Wes Anderson’s new commercial for H & M, and did you base your Christmas decor around it?
I think I received more than a dozen “have you seen this!?” messages from people that day. I’m getting quite the reputation. My friends and I cut up a million snowflakes that same week to recreate the experience in the house, but I’ve yet to find time between guests to get them strung up!
Any future expansions in 2017 planned, like perhaps a Lake Wandawega rope swing in an all-Moonrise Kingdom backyard?
I’m trying not to create any extra projects for myself until the main rooms are where I want them to be. But yes, the backyard is definitely on my radar! I think some signature Wes pastel pink might make its way into the plans for the exterior of the house, too.
What is it about Anderson’s production design that lends itself so well to home decor? Any recommendations for bringing a little Wes into our homes as well?
I’m not sure it’s everyone’s jam, so I wouldn’t say it necessarily lends itself to home decor. It does if you’re into warm, quirky, precious, vintage-y spaces. It’s difficult to recreate because he is notorious for meticulous details. Mastering the look involves the relentless pursuit of just the right little items, placed just so. I’ve had to hand paint signs for the Grand Budapest bathroom, because I couldn’t find anything that worked.
Symmetry, awkward paintings hung awkwardly, and signage with the right fonts go a long way. Also, color choices are so important. Beyond the films, the style is really my own brand. His aesthetic is pretty in line with how I usually design my living spaces—lots of color, a mix of vintage and new, planned clutter, pattern mixing—so it feels natural. I think home decor has to reflect you, even if you’re going for a particular look.
You have permission to sleep over…