My book family buys a run-down old farmhouse at the end of book 3 (Rhythm & Rhyme) on Tiger Mountain, east of Seattle. It’s on five acres of land backing on to a state forest, and is hidden behind a stone wall.
This house becomes a character in its own right in the series, so I spent some time imagining it, drawing the plans, and eventually mocking up a view from the front. The house is eccentric, which in this case is another way of saying *ugly*, built in stages over the years.
I think I have a slight obsession with houses. We grew up with huge drawerfuls of Lego, and all I ever made with Lego was houses. I didn’t play with the houses. I just made them. The three most fun parts about making Lego houses were:
This last one was important. When you’re constructing a tiny Lego house, you’re essentially working in “plan view”, looking down on it as you sit on the floor amid a pile of Lego bricks. So to get that 3D view at the end, to actually imagine yourself in the rooms, you need to look through the windows.
I also obsessively drew house plans in my younger years — ridiculously huge mansions with secret corridors and ballrooms and inside balconies. One of the reasons for my interest was, I’m sure, that I grew up in the most incredible 3-story Victorian house in suburban Birmingham (UK), complete with a deathtrap attic, a secret walled-off room on the top floor, and a purported body in the cellar. My dad spent my childhood forever fixing up the place.
(My room was the one at the very top of the house.)
Here’s my mock-up of the house on Tiger Mountain after all four siblings have moved in and shuffled into their final bedrooms. I warned you it was ugly! Swipe (or use the little dots under the image) to see the rooms labeled. (Caleb and Wynter swap rooms and Jesse takes the tower soon after moving in, while Indio later claims the extension at the back.)
The original clapboard farmhouse has a newer extension out the back, and the infamous tower that was scheduled for demolition. There is a long deck running along the other side of the extension (not seen in this pic).
Missing from this picture (because it's well behind the camera) is the front wall and private lane leading to the front door; the rickety carports attached to the house on the concrete area, because Caleb pulls them down pretty quickly; and a couple more sheds in the fields.
Here's the plan view about 18 months after they've all moved in (furniture is just representative, not necessarily exactly right). Jesse has taken over the tower. Indio uses his second bedroom as a studio. The basement has become a recording and rehearsal studio and den, along with a couple of small bedrooms and sunken garden.
Shown here is the first floor (what we call the “ground floor” in the UK and Australia) of the house on the right, with the basement on the left slotting underneath, and the second floor on the left fitting directly on top.
This gives you an idea of what the deck looks like, as it isn’t visible in the above images.
Lego houses are my first love, but my second love is building digital houses with the Sims! I used to satisfy my house-building fetish with the Sims years ago because all my childhood Lego was at my parents’ place. Then I purchased The Sims 3 and built the house on Tiger Mountain.
As with Lego, I love building Sims houses but I don't enjoy the game itself. It lets me build a fairly realistic 3D model of the house and walk through each room, which is what I've done for the house on Tiger Mountain house.
Please understand I have a non-functional sense of aesthetics when it comes to house decor, and especially in creating an appealing exterior view with this program, so I did the best I could. Due to limitations of the game, the rooms aren't exactly the same as the plans above but they match approximately.
The property is located at the end of a winding mountain road. There wasn’t one of those in the Sims town so you’ll have to pretend there are trees everywhere and that the street goes up to the gate. Here’s the view over the wall, with the new garage on the far right and the main farmhouse on the left. The driveway from the gate to the garage is much longer than this in “real life” but I was limited by the small size of the lot. For the same reason, the backyard is truncated – no room for the goats, but I did include the features closer to the house. Behind the tower you can see the gazebo out the back inside the stone-walled garden.
At the front door. The Sims does weird things with the roof when the building shape is irregular, as you can see on the right – that’s the angled hallway leading into the tower, which makes more sense in the later shots below.
Let’s go inside and we’ll look at the back garden later.
This is the view as you enter – doorway to kitchen on the left, living room straight ahead with (out-of-view) door to the tower on the right, and the French window to the deck straight ahead.
(Note that I removed walls to take some shots.)
Here’s the kitchen looking back into the entry hall, a front (bay) window on the right, breakfast bar (or island bench), and behind it on the left is the archway to the dining room.
(The near wall, which is the left wall of the house, is removed).
Aerial shot of the kitchen. The window overlooks the front driveway.
This view is from the living room looking through to the dining room (and kitchen at back left). That’s Harry’s piano!
And on the right wall you can just see the French window going onto the deck.
A view of the living room from a high angle over the front door, looking into the house. The white door in the middle leads to the tower. The French window is on the far left.
This odd-shaped room isn’t used much because they have a more comfortable family room in the back extension.
Leading off the dining room is the corridor of the extension.
From the corridor, first door on the left is the laundry and a half-bath in the corner (which is the door on the left here; the plans have a different arrangement of these rooms).
The next door on the left is Indio’s design studio, which turned out about half the size I planned. The house is so long that I ran out of room on the lot! His drafting table is at the bottom of the pic beside the door.
Running along the right-hand side of this corridor is a long wall with the garden deck on the other side and the family room at the end, which we'll get to.
Between this room and Indio’s bedroom is the guest bathroom that he renovated to earn his keep when he moved in. The odd shape is because of the built-in-closet in the adjacent bedroom. I didn't draw the plan this way, but I like how it turned out in the Sims because that's the double shower that Indio and Jenny liked so much...
Last door on the left is Indio’s bedroom, looking rather minimal (Jenny’s influence?).
The corridor ends with the stairs down to the basement on the left. Opposite Indio's room is...
...the family room! Enter through the doors on the right. The French window at the back leads to the deck, and beyond that is the similar French window from the living room.
Entertainment is provided by a foosball table and pinball machine, in addition to the TV, crackling fire, and one of several random guitars distributed through the house.
Let’s take a quick look into the basement.
The first thing you see after rounding the bottom of the stairs is the control room overlooking the live room (for recording and band practice).
To the left in this picture (off camera) is the vocal booth for isolating recordings.
On the far right you can just see the half-wall overlooking the den.
Here’s the live room (for recording and rehearsals). Imagine those blue walls are actually Indio’s paintings, which serve as baffles and decoration.
Behind the control room, over the half wall, is the den – including kitchenette and bathroom right at the back. Later, Caleb will build out two small bedrooms on right side of the room (off camera) leading to a tiny sunken garden.
Here’s the layout of the basement to orientate yourself. It sits underneath the house's extension.
Up the main stairs, here’s Wynter’s room.
Because I couldn’t make L-shaped stairs in the Sims, the plan of this second floor isn’t correct – that’s why her room is an odd shape. At the back left is a walk-in closet (shown with a dark gray ceiling here) and the beyond that the door to her bathroom.
Caleb’s room (wall nearest the camera is removed), which Wynter desperately wants him to spice up to attract women.
And the small third bedroom, which for some reason is set up as a nursery (front and left walls removed). This room is directly above the front door, overlooking the driveway.
Let's venture into Jesse's precious tower. It has three octagonal floors, so fitting furniture is a bit of a challenge.
From the bottom up: here’s the study with some walls removed to see inside – Wynter’s desk on the right, Jesse’s at the front (overlooking the back garden), Caleb’s at the back right (overlooking the driveway).
The door to the main house is on the right.
The second story is the gaming room, including pool table, bar (at the back), chess table (and big bookcase out of shot), and the altar-table at the front for family boardgames and illicit liaisons.
At the top of the tower is Jesse’s medieval bedroom, complete with telescope and (for now) Dusk’s Wiccan altar.
Just out of view are the church lectern and kneeling stool, along with a room divider that may one day make way for the confessional box of Jesse’s dreams.
Finally, the backyard. Here's the view of "Wynter's garden" from a field further away, including the gazebo and orchard - which is bigger and further away than shown, but the Sims plot ended there. Indio's hammock should be in the orchard.
If you keep walking backwards from this point, across the paddocks, you'll evenutally reach the surrounding State forest.
Let's zoom in.
Here's the gazebo and Zen garden within the dry-stone walls, and the vegetable gardens on the other side - currently full of sunflowers. I was unable to add the physics-deying (but not really) arch into the wall, so you'll just see a gap in the next picture where it's supposed to be.
Moving closer, this is Wynter's vegetable garden - in reality it's bigger to feed a family of four - along with compost and hay for the goats. If we panned further right, the goat pen would be there, and the chickens all the way beyond that.
In the distance is the deck, and the "building" on the right is the outer walls and chimney of the family room. Wynter keeps all her gardening stuff here (probably in a shed!).
We've walked right up to the deck, adorned with fairy lights of course. That French window leads the living room.
And one last shot before we leave – this is the view as you’re relaxing on the deck. (I removed the living room wall and pulled the grill forward to get it in shot – beyond that is the picnic bench.)
In the misty background lies the forest and mountains.
A decrepit vintage caravan (camper trailer) was left behind when Caleb bought the property, and Indio renovates it. For an idea of the exterior, check out this video. In the Sims I was limited to this boxy shack.
Here are some interior shots. Again, the decor is not right as I just placed the furniture available in the program.
A view looking toward the bed area (behind the curtained archway). On the right is the kitchenette.
View from the same position, swiveling left at the fridge, cabinet, table, and chairs.
The bed is simply behind a curtain fitted into a wide frame, not a narrow arch like this.
Looking back from the bed alcove toward the kitchenette and front door (I removed the arch and curtains).
Plan view showing the tiny half-bath (toilet and basin) to the left of the front door, and the deck that eventually gets built.
That's it for our tour around Tiger Mountain!
Here's an article about Caleb's home in Seattle where Wynter showed up on a cold January evening.