I admit it. I’m a house and home voyeur.
It was something I discovered while house hunting in Philadelphia over two decades ago – there is nothing more fun than going to an open house.
Not because I want to spy on others, though that’s part of the fun. But what I really want to do is get design ideas. See how real people in real spaces make it work. Look how they arranged their living room! What a clever closet! Is that really an IKEA kitchen? It looks gorgeous!
In the old days, my husband and I would sometimes spent entire Sundays at open houses, even after we were no longer in the market for a home. As our family grew, and time became more precious, I was forced to confine my house tour voyeurism to Halloween – ostensibly being a good parent accompanying my small daughters, what I was really doing was finding out what the folks on the 10th floor were doing with their place.
Unfortunately, that ruse lasted only so many years, at which point my kid and her friends refused to let me join them trick or treating, and the neighbors began to look at me funny when I showed up alone at their front door without a costume…
Fortunately, just around that time, I discovered Apartment Therapy, and I was off and running in the work of online home tours.
Now I can practice my addiction in the privacy of my own home, where I will sit up till all hours of the night checking out how the rest of the world lives. No one has to know. No one gets hurt.
And I get my fix.
Home Tours Online
Here are just a few of the places I go for my fix of other people’s spaces –
- NYTimes Real Estate Section – Let’s face it – we’re all addicted to the Time’s Real Estate section. For most of us, it’s like reading the bios of the lottery winners. Pick a neighborhood, drag the price range bar as high as it will go and enjoy the fantasy.
- Apartment Therapy – Young and hip folks and the places they inhabit. It frustrates me that it takes so many clicks to get into a given tour, but once you’re there it’s almost always worth the journey. The spaces can be anything from an early post-college shared space to a settled family home. Some are amazing, others more ordinary, and occasionally, some disappoint. That’s what makes them real.
- Dwell Apartment Tours and House Tours – The most prolific home tour site I found. I could stay on this site for hours.
- The Design Files Daily – Australian Homes. The site is clean and easy to use, and has convinced me that I need to visit Australia and maybe live there if this is the kind of light and color that inhabits that country.
- Design Sponge – Sneak Peeks – I feel really old and terribly unhip looking at these spaces.Where do these kids get their eye for things? Of course the site is run by a very hip young woman from Brooklyn. Which I will never be.
- CasaSugar House Tours – A bit heavy on the celeb and high end homes, but always fun.
- Ikea – I never stop loving how stuff so cheap and flimsy can look so good. The room tours are always inspirational, and the clutter very real looking. One of these days I’ll show you how we transformed our cottage using IKEA furniture. Of wait, that would be a house tour, wouldn’t it?
- Home Designing – Modern design home tours; really fabulous ideas here that I will never be able to afford to do. Try to ignore the ads – they’re everywhere.
- W Magazine – Tour the homes of the rich and famous. Or not.
- Martha Stewart – You can tour all of Martha’s own homes, those of her editors, and then by category – suburban, waterfront, etc. Some great spaces here, though trending to traditional. Once you’ve entered a tour it’s hard to get back to the tour home page, so I recommend you right click on the house tour link and open each tour in a fresh browser window so you can find your way back home. Just like Martha did from prison.