Jess Bacon is a writer, blogger and freelance journalist, having written for Huffington Post and Refinery29, focusing on mental health, feminism and its conveyance in film and television. She’s also a dab hand at creating film and TV inspired capsule wardrobes. Here, Jess considers the homes of one Wanda Maximoff, in this protagonist’s search for a place to belong. (Please note, this feature may contain spoilers as we delve in – we’re sorry!)
Along with its impactful one-liners and analysis of grief, WandaVision followed Wanda Maximoff’s (Elizabeth Olsen) search to find and make the perfect home.
The limited series follows Wanda and Vision’s (Paul Bettany) fabricated domestic life in an American suburban home, reminiscent of TV shows throughout the decades. Each house was an extension of Wanda; she created the exterior and everything in it – from the floorplan to the books on the shelf – in a way that to her, felt like home.
In Episode 8, Previously On, Agatha takes Wanda back through her memories to confront her trauma, revisiting each of her homes in the process. Wanda’s childhood in the war-torn Sokovia was spent in a greying tower block apartment. In spite of her worn surroundings, Wanda is happy in her simplistic family home, which houses not only her family, but their contraband – American TV box sets hidden in compartments in the walls. Wanda is shielded from the unrest and her own poverty through the escapism provided from her loving family and the 1960’s standing TV.
From the moment the bomb hits and destroys Wanda’s home and parents, her search for a safe place to call home begins. As an adult her city is destroyed by the Avengers in Avengers: Age of Ultron and she “goes up in the world” to live in the Avengers compound; a base reminiscent of a military compound.
Her bedroom, the only space that is entirely hers (as the house is shared by the entire Avengers team) appears to be designed as a comfortable hotel room for two; with white and blue patterned bedding, matching white bedside tables and white lamps. The only possession Wanda has is an old-fashioned TV set to play her favourite DVDs. It’s as though Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) designed this as a guest room for anyone to stay in with the neutral colours on the walls and bedding. It lacks personality with no photographs or artwork and only functions as a temporary, albeit luxury (thanks Stark), refuge for Wanda. Still, it doesn’t feel like her home and herein lies one of her most potent conflicts throughout her character timeline.
After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Wanda travels to Westview to the plot of land that Vision had bought for them to build a house to “grow old in.” The bitter-sweet realisation that this would have been the family home she’s been searching for – if Vision hadn’t been taken from her – leads Wanda to (unknowingly) create the home and life she feels she deserves; an idyllic, American, traditional family home. Picture perfect suburbia.
By recreating popular TV show homes from the 1960s to the present, Wanda hopes to imitate their happiness so she too will live in a world where “where nothing bad happens.” As WandaVision charters its course through the decades, the framework of the house is essentially solid and unmoving, the décor merely adjusts to reflect the time-period and Wanda’s state of mind.
The broadcast begins in the 1950s, in a modest bungalow with a pristine interior. It’s almost a show home to help the couple ‘fit in’ to the neighbourhood with patterned matching duvets tucked into their single beds and decorative plates lining the open shelving.
Moving through to the 60s and then 70s, the interior becomes a vibrant hive of design with exposed brickwork, patterned sofas, contrasting cushions and dark mahogany fixtures providing a warmer accent to the room. There’s more expression in the abstract, bold artwork reflective of both the time itself and Wanda’s blooming belly. But it still feels like a tribute to the 70’s than a lived-in home.
From the 80’s onwards, the house becomes more relaxed, which coincides with the arrival of the couples’ twins, Billy and Tommy. The environment shifts as the show home becomes a family home; the couple paint a mural in the nursery, colour pops throughout the lounge in stain class windows and a yellow velvet sofa.
The house is full of activity with an overbooked family calendar on the kitchen counter as well as the twins’ drawings on the fridge. This twenty-first century home is far from the organised 60’s bungalow, but it reflects the contemporary view of an idyllic life – a vibrant, family home, that’s filled with memories and subsequently mess.
As Wanda struggles to cope with the reality of a contemporary family, strained relationships and energetic twins abound, she begins to unravel; the milk carton glitches turning into a glass milk bottle in black and white, before the entire lounge furniture becomes unstable returning to every former TV show it’s imitated. Wanda is no longer in control of the design of her home and her picture-perfect life shatters.
It takes the whole series for Wanda to realise that recreating the perfect home (in any decade) doesn’t equate to happiness. Wanda’s grief inevitability returns and she once again has to lose another family home and her fictional life in Westview. She relinquishes her self-made happily ever after to accept reality and let go of her childish dream to have the American ideal of a perfect family home.
Wanda’s final place of residence in the series is a remote wooden cabin on the bank of a vast lake at the foot of a mountain. This rustic home is striped back to basics inside with a bed, a fire, and an old-fashioned metal stove. Whilst the ornately carved porch and engravings on the earthy wooden exterior are reminiscent of Scandinavian design. Wanda has found her safe haven, cut off from the contemporary world, hidden in nature to confront her problems and make peace with who she was and who she will become with the help of the Darkhold.
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Design facts and credits:
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Production Design: Charles Wood
Art Direction: Ray Chan
Set decoration: Sheona Mitchely and Richard Roberts
Captain America: Civil War
Production Design: Owen Paterson
Art Direction: Greg Berry
Set decoration: Ronald R. Reiss
Production Design: Mark Worthington
Art Direction: Sharon Davis
Set decoration: Kathy Orlando