Roman and Williams

Buildings and Interiors


Practical Magic


‘Practical Magic’ was Robin and Stephen’s second film with director Griffin Dunne. The house they built far transcended a typical film set. It was so real, in fact, that after the movie came out they got a phone call from Barbra Streisand. “Where is that house?” she asked. “I’m interested in buying it.” “It’s fictional,” Robin told her. “And unfortunately it’s been torn down.”

SA: We basically built a house from scratch. It was a magical version of a lighthouse-meets-residential, East Coast Victorian—a giant that a family owned on a fictional Massachusetts island. We built the interior in Los Angeles and the exterior on a beautiful lot on San Juan Island, Washington. We were camped out there for six months building it.

RS: It was the first time we made a vegetable garden together. I was so obsessed with it. I remember standing outside and saying, “One day we’ll have a vegetable garden like this.” It was very different from our Montauk garden, but the house in ‘Practical Magic’ gave us a glimpse of how great it would be to have our own house by the sea. When we worked on these projects, we felt they were ours.

SA: We took our inspiration from late nineteenth-century scrollwork and Victorian style. We researched it, we studied it, then we closed the books and did the home from scratch. The building team we worked with was incredible. It was an amazing exercise in highly detailed, complex domestic architecture. It was also when we started looking for architectural salvage, which is something we do a lot of today.
RS: It was another opportunity for us to have a laboratory and work on our own vernacular. We took an established language, a Victorian meets Arts and Crafts language, and developed it and shaped it in a direction that was our own


Practical Magic