Blank Check house, Pemberton Castle

90’s Nostalgia: 5 Houses We All Wanted to Live In

It’s become commonplace to reminisce about past decades; to both appreciate and poke fun at things we once loved. One thing that we can all agree on, though, is that there were some pretty cool hangouts in 90’s TV shows and movies. For anyone growing up during that time, the idea of real estate almost seems like it would be the last thing on a kid’s mind – but was it? I think we can all remember seeing rooms and houses that we would have loved to move into. Here are five that stand out above the rest.

5) Arnold’s Room in Hey Arnold 

Hey Arnold bedroom

I’m starting the list off with Arnold’s bedroom from Hey Arnold for a few reasons:

  • This is the only room/house on this list that doesn’t actually exist. I went out of my way to find the addresses of all the other houses on this list so that you could properly Google Maps all of them.
  • This only applies to one room instead of the entire house, so I wanted to get it out of the way; but boy, what a room.

For those of you that don’t remember (or didn’t have cable in the 90’s/early 2000’s), Hey Arnold was a super-popular television show on Nickelodeon about a boy (Arnold) growing up in a multi-racial boarding house. It was set in the fictional town of Hillwood, Washington, which was inspired by show-creator Craig Bartlett’s childhood in Portland, Oregon. The show, much like almost every other cartoon, chronicled every day life instead of having an over-arching story-line. The show itself was great, so if you missed it, go ahead and do yourself a favor by buying the seasons from Amazon.

Hey Arnold bedroom remote control

Now, let’s move on to the room. The size of the room isn’t spectacular, but what do you expect in a boarding house? Check out the layout, though. Built in bookcases next to the bed? A glass ceiling that allows you to look at the stars as you fall asleep? A built-in ladder that leads you to a spectacular rooftop terrace? All of that is amazing, but it’s not even the best part. You know where I’m going with this: the remote.

Hey Arnold bedroom flip down couch

Arnold’s entire room, the lights, the flip-down couch (awesome), the radio – everything is controlled by one single remote control. It was a ridiculously modern concept in 1996, and while it’s certainly attainable now, it’s still pretty cool to think about.

4) The Full House House

Full House house in San Francisco, CA

Address: 1709 Broderick St., San FranciscoCA 94115

Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV?

Everyone remembers these words. This pseudo-deep rhetorical question was the beginning of the insanely catchy and widely popular Full House theme song. I wasn’t even a Full House fanatic, and now, nearly 20 years since the show last aired (yes, it’s really been that long), I can still sing the entire theme song. Fun fact: Jesse Frederick, the theme song’s composer, also wrote and sang the theme songs for Family Matters, Step By Step and Perfect Strangers. TGIF forever!

Even though everyone on the show has since grown up and parted ways, the family remains a staple in our minds that helps symbolize a big piece of our 90’s nostalgia. This show helped a lot of people grow up. The advice that Danny Tanner would give at the end of nearly every episode set moral grounds for how to live your life. You wanted to be part of that family.

The TV show may have been filmed on a fictional set, but the house from the opening scenes is very real. So real, in fact, that it has it’s own Yelp page under “Landmarks & Historical Buildings” for people who want to visit it. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside, but I honestly don’t think it’s necessary. I just want to continue picturing the set and believe that it was an exact replica of what the house actually looks like.

Full House living room dance party

Let’s start with the living room, which was seemingly the biggest living room in the world. There was so much space for activities that Jesse and The Rippers (and Scott Baio) were able to throw an impromptu concert for 20+ people. You guys remember that, right? The night that John Stamos and Scott Baio performed “Shout!” and women everywhere swooned. What I think was a really underrated aspect of this living room was the reading nook tucked away in the back. That always looked like the best part of the house; the perfect spot to relax and read. But that’s probably because I was knee-deep in accelerated reader points at the time.

Full House living room library

The upstairs was average. The rooms were big and everyone seemed please. But do you remember the attic? In Season 4, Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky moved into the attic room when the twins (Alex & Nicky) were born. As you can see in the pictures below, the attic transformed from a cool-looking space with wood floors to a hip, carpeted apartment. How they got a piano up there (or a jukebox for that matter) is beyond me.

Full House attic

Full house attic apartment

If we mosey back downstairs we’ll run into their huge, open kitchen equipped with several windows providing enough natural light to really save on electric costs. This leads outside to their backyard, which wasn’t huge, but it was enough space for the kids and Comet (the family’s golden retriever) to run around. That’s really all (or more than) you can ask for in the middle of San Francisco.

Full House kitchen

Full House Backyard

Finally, we reach the basement. Joey has a mini-bachelor pad down there for the first few seasons, but he eventually moves upstairs and the basement gets turned into Jesse’s music studio where stars like Little Richard just occasionally show up to perform children’s songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

Full House basement, Joey's bachelor pad

Full house Little Richard

Ultimately, it was the family’s lives that we wanted to live and share, but there’s no doubt that we all wanted to live in that sweet house, too.

3) Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Mansion

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air mansion

Address:  251 North Bristol Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90049

Much like Full House, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air mansion that is seen in the show’s opening credits definitely exists, but the show itself was filmed on a fictional set. Still, that won’t stop us from trying to move in. Fun fact: the actual mansion is located in Brentwood, not Bel-Air.

In the show, Will Smith, an eccentric, misguided youth from West Philadelphia, goes to co-exist with his rich aunt and uncle in Bel-Air after too many fights and run-ins with the law. In the opening theme song, Smith declares that he has arrived to “sit on [his] throne as the Prince of Bel-Air.” He wasn’t too far off; this house, especially in the early 90’s, seemed like it was made for royalty. There’s a lot of ground to cover in this mansion, so I’m just going to hit the high points. Let’s start with the kitchen, so I can use this awesome gif of Carlton sliding across the floor:

Carlton Banks slides across the kitchen floor.

This gif, while hilarious, actually gives you the best view of the Banks’s kitchen/dining area. Aside from coming with its own butler (that also cooks), this kitchen has a lot of stuff going for it:

  • That kitchen island is humongous and has a lot of storage. It’s weird, but as you get older (and accumulate too many things), just the idea of having more storage space (especially in the kitchen) is eye-opening.
  • There’s not only a formal dining area, but two different areas for bar stools. Think of all the places you could choose to eat meals! Think of how easily you could entertain guests!
  • What this gif isn’t showing: beautiful french doors that lead to the backyard. Seriously, those doors are stellar and that back patio is just a small piece of how great that backyard is.

What’s the other piece, you ask? How about the awesome pool house that Will and Carlton moved into? The pool house was only shown in one episode in Season 3 before it became a reoccurring set throughout the rest of the series. I guess the Banks family forgot that they had a pool for almost three years. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of great images of the pool house around the internet, so, again, I will have to leave you with a Carlton gif to help show part of it:

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Carlton dancing gif

The gif helps you get the gist of the layout. There’s a small kitchen, a large living room and a smaller bedroom off of the living room. It’s a one-bedroom bachelor pad that two bachelors happen to live in. Outside of the kitchen and the pool house, there was really only one other set that we will all remember: the living room. It was big, classy and had a nice spiral staircase nestled in the back corner. The living room was where most of the action happened, including the most powerful scene in television history (okay, maybe in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air history). Since we’ve come this far, I may as well supply another gif to show you the living room:

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air living room gif, breaking the fourth wall

 

Talk about breaking the fourth wall. Still, this mansion will forever be a place that we want to call home.

2) Almost $1 million house from Blank Check 

Blank Check house, Pemberton Castle

Address: 1415 Wooldridge Dr., Austin, TX 78703

If you remember Blank Check, then congratulations. If you’ve never heard of Blank Check, then you’re missing out. Blank Check might be the most underrated children’s movie of all-time. A boy, Preston Waters, gets handed a blank check after one of the film’s “bad guys” runs over his bike. Preston decides to use his super-modern computer scanner to make the check read $1 million. After cashing out his prize at a local bank, Preston uses a voice manipulator to act as an adult and purchase this amazing house you see in the picture above (see: Pemberton Castle).

Of course, Preston can’t keep up his dual-life forever, and he eventually has to give everything back. However, for a short amount of time, Preston got to live out one of the coolest childhood’s in existence, and that all starts with this awesome house. While we can all appreciate the architecture, it’s what the house came with (thanks to Preston) that makes us really want to live there. Let’s start with the inside:

blank check punch outblank check tv wall

Yes, that is Punch Out. And yes, that is the biggest television screen ever (in 1994). The inside of the castle was beautiful, and with Preston’s fun-time additions, what person would ever want to leave? Oh, that’s right, we haven’t even made it outside yet. Let’s take a look at two of the main attractions:

blank check go kart trackblank check velcro wall

Not only does he have a castle equipped with everything you’d ever want inside, he also has a full go-kart track and a bouncy velcro-wall to keep him occupied! Other outdoor activities that were purchased (but not pictured above) include: inflatable sumo wrestling, inflatable boxing, human bowling, and an aerotrim (space simulator ball?). Wait, what’s that? We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet?!

blank check waterslide

blank check pool

That water slide is connected to the mater bedroom and, as you can see, twists and turns all the way to the pool. That was always the dream – “Well, I just woke up. What should I do? Oh, right, I guess I’ll just SLIDE DOWN TO THE POOL FROM MY BEDROOM.” I can’t stress to you enough how great this movie is and how amazing this house is. Unfortunately, if you do a Google Maps search for the castle, it now looks like it’s not being lived in:

blank check house today

That’s a lot of ivy. If anyone wants to pitch in, we can go halfsies on the castle of our 90’s dreams.

1) Richie Rich Mansion – a.k.a. Biltmore Estate

richie rich mansion, biltmore estates

Address1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803

Everyone was envious of Richie Rich at one point – how could you not be? He was the kid with everything. Well, almost everything. If you remember correctly, we were reminded that while Richie lived a lavish lifestyle, he was deprived of a normal childhood with normal friends and normal parents. He may have had it all, but did he really have anything? Sorry, let’s stop being philosophical about a kid’s movie that was made 20 years ago for just a minute so we can appreciate the main attraction: Richie’s mansion. One of Richie’s friends in the film jokes that his mansion should have its own zip code. When you check out these stats, you’ll know why.

The Biltmore Estate (the real mansion from the film) is the largest privately owned house in the United States. It has 178,926 square feet of floor space and 250 rooms. That. Is. Nuts. Here are a few things from the film that made us all want to move in immediately:

richie rich dining hallrichie rich the blobMaybe a formal dining room wasn’t every child’s dream, but any parent who watched this film could sit in awe of the chandeliers, the table fit for 24 guests, the high ceilings, the hand-crafted doors, and the butler/maid service. That’s perfection. 

richie rich roller coaster Okay, enough with the formal dining rooms and elegance inside. Let’s check out what this mansion really had to offer, like roller coasters and inflatable target practice. Honestly, it’s a wonder how Richie never got seriously injured during his childhood. As we saw in the film, kids were shot out of a cannon-like contraption and flew in the air (with only a helmet for protection) before landing on that inflatable target. That sounds awfully fun, but awfully dangerous. 

richie rich four wheelersThis is a little bit safer, but only when you put it up against getting shot out of a cannon, I suppose. How old were the kids in this movie? 12? 13? They were all pretty skillful four-wheeler drivers. Richie also had a full-sized baseball field on the grounds that he used to perfect his swing. Richie was quite the athlete.

richie rich mcdonaldsMaybe it’s because we grew up in a commercial-driven society that has a penchant for fast food, but seeing a McDonald’s INSIDE the mansion was easily the coolest part of the “kids having fun at Richie’s house” montage. I always thought of how awesome it would be to have a McDonald’s (or any fast food restaurant, really) inside my house. Then, I got older and realized eating McDonald’s for every meal wasn’t exactly an option. Oh well; at the time, it still made me (and I’m sure many others) really want to live there.

richie rich mount richmoreRichie’s mansion was the epitome of cool. It had everything you’d ever want (both inside and out) for adults and children alike. To top it off, the family’s safe was nestled inside “Mount Richmore” – If having your face carved on the side of a mountain isn’t appealing, then I don’t know what is.

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