Movie Real Estate: The Proposal

I recently saw The Proposal. The movie content was fair, and starts out in some city, with pretty standard modern cityscapes and sets. Then….the house where the magic happens. I woke up during this shot.

The house in Alaska used in The Proposal.

The house used in The Proposal.

In the movie the family is well-to-do, self-made, has impeccable taste  — but I couldn’t keep from thinking how much nicer it would have been had this place been an Inn, a school or something serving the public good. It’s not so much to do with do-gooding, but the fact that I’m tired of over-the-top-Hollywood living.

Hollywood puts the main character family in an unbelievably huge house or it’s styled way over the top (same thing happened in The Women and Father of the Bride). I get the aspirational living bit, just don’t need to be hit over the head with it. There is so much distance between the characters, sometimes they appear to run out of budget and you’ve got characters standing in front of vacant hallways or rooms off in the distance which are empty. Even if the characters are close, because of all the room and square footage they have to traverse to speak with one another, there is something hollow (to me) about the set. Or, if they are in the same room, it really is by choice, because the house is so big.

In any case, that is what I would have liked to see with this sort of property. The living quarters in a place like this would still be spectacular.

The story is set in Sitka Alaska…but the movie was actually shot in Rockport, Gloucester, and Cape Ann – areas that I used to frequent every weekend when I lived in Boston. Needless to say, I became homesick and nostalgic. Large totem poles stood tall in Dock Square and the usual storefronts and street pole banners became signs or symbols from Sitka in April 2008. But parts of the film were shot in Gloucester as well as at a private seaside mansion in Manchester. Here is a short article from a local blogger with some city transformation shots and scoopage from the set.

One thing though, ANYONE IN NEW ENGLAND can spot a “motif #1” from a mile away and I had a hard time believing the Alaska bit. Quite frankly, I went to the movie interested to see what sort of architecture or unique aspects Alaska might bring to the set.

The iconic Rockport harbor image, was prominent but transformed with a Sitka sign in place of the lobster buoys that adorn its outer wall – but I could still tell. Snow-capped “special effect” mountain peaks became the background for the otherwise sea-level town of Rockport. Meh. Enos Marine across from 51 Parker Street in Gloucester, more photos here.

Motif #1 from Rockport, dressed for Sitka Alaska

Enos Marine in Gloucester, dressed for Sitka Alaska

Rugrag noted the beautiful rugs in the film, I had thought I was the only one to pick up on that. Here two gorgeous people who have worked out the better part of a year to look completely ripped on top of one another – and here I am staring at the rug! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who gasped (at the knot count and beautiful color combination). Here isa  little excerpt from the RugRag:

The first rug appears in Sandra Bullock’s characters office. It seems to be a hand knotted Modern design rug.  It could be a machine made carpet, although many of these are hand knotted in Nepal. The rug looks fairly large, perhaps in the 12’x15′ range. These Nepal design rugs are often earth toned, with subtle designs that may have a modern or abstract motif to them. Most commonly these types of rugs are often available in 60 or 100 knot, which indicates KPSI. For a 12’x15′ rug of this type you could expect to pay anywhere from $1500 for a machine made up to or even exceeding $14,000 for a hand knotted. We wonder if this office is what John Thain’s office looked like?

Rugs from The Proposal: City Rug

The second rug we came across was from when Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock are at a house in Alaska. The two fall onto the floor and land on what appears to be a Peshawar.  The earth tone colors and simplistic, loosely drawn design are all typical of a peshawar, which sometimes borrow from antique Mahal and Sultanabad rugs in and around the 4th quarter 19th century.The abrash seen on the rug could have to do with the use of hand spun wool.

Rugs from The Proposal: Makeout scene

I love-love-loved the bedroom. Everything about the set design expressed the back story of the characters beautifully: self-made, not professionally designed but thoughtfully styled.

A too-dark photo of the bedroom

A too-dark photo of the bedroom

Look at the chair, that is a piece that looks as if it was probably the subject of much marital debate, and came with the groom. It was never recovered, because that is his chair. And the beautiful stone fireplace (I have a thing for fireplaces). If only it could talk – about all the conversations it heard…

Bedroom: full view of fireplace

Bedroom: full view of fireplace

Bedroom shot with bed.

Bedroom shot with bed.

Awkward moment with a mom (and I don’t care how cool she is) standing next to couple in the morning – Hm. BUT, I loved this room for the male-female mixture of textures. The silk-covered sofa at the foot of the leather bed, the stone fireplace and wooden accent table – all my favorite materials! The rug of course, pulled everything together wonderfully.

Bedshot front view.

Bed shot front view, beautiful silk material.

The only thing professional looking about this shot is the symmetryof the lamps. In real life, I probably would have had two different ones, but only because I’ve not decorated for two yet, and only need one side of the bed to be lit.


Got some interesting questions on the fireplace. In particular, the firescreen pictured below (photo from IMDB).

Iron firescreen with leafy pattern.

I didn’t find an exact match, and honestly hadn’t considered firescreens much because (sadly) I do not have a fireplace (yet). I did, however find some lovely modern ones here. Custom fireplace screens might be had here. Personally, I liked the one photo’d below, which is an architectural vent, from a Baltimore, MD bank, converted to a fire screen (for a mere $4800). Photo from center 44. I do love clever re uses of found objects. I have a maple Catholic collection plate from the  40s as my entry way key collector.

Architectural vent, from a Baltimore, MD bank, converted to a fire screen. ($4800)

More information about the house and set from the NYT.

Saving a seat for you,



15 Responses to “Movie Real Estate: The Proposal”

  1. Christine Haskell Says:

    What a cool building! Looks like a perfect setting for a period piece or some hopeful couple looking to test their marriage with a remodel.

    If you like abandoned buildings, you’ll love these:

  2. Do you know who made the leather bed used in the bedroom scene?

  3. Lynn Pedrano Says:

    Okay, I had to laugh because I fell in love with the rug in the bedroom too. But I also wanted to find out about the couch at the end of the bed, particularly the fabric/print name and or who made it. On the off chance there was a beautiful screen in front of the fireplace in the bedroom as well and wondered if this was a one of a kind or if it was manufactured, if so does anyone know? Thanks

    • Christine Haskell Says:

      Oh I wish I knew…if you find out, share the info, I’d love to know.

    • I am also really interested in the fireplace screen. Almost to the point of obsessed! I have been searching for it, but I did find a picture at IMDb with ryan reynolds standing in front of it. If you find out who made it please let me know!
      Hope that helps!

      • Christine Haskell Says:

        Now you have me obsessed, and I don’t even have a fireplace! I dug around a bit and found some links that might help, but didn’t find an exact match. I assume this was a piece that either was already in the house, or was a local artist. The movie was shot in Rockport, so it’s possible it was from a local person there. I updated the post with some links that might inspire. Happy hunting and let me know what you find. I’d be most interested.

    • Christine Haskell Says:

      Hi there, you had some interest in the rugs, I updated the post to include some additional references and a link to a blog where you might be able to find more info – good luck!

  4. Tammy Sherman Says:

    I wonder if you might have any other information about what kind of stone was used on the fireplace in “The Proposal.” My husband and I have a fireplace store and we thought this fireplace was stunning. There was also another fireplace burning during the movie that was beautiful, we were wondering if it was gas and what make it might be. If you have any further info we would really appreciate it!

  5. Hi – I was wondering if you knew about the black and white photograph in Sandra’s New York apartment? I believe it is a close-up of a dahlia.

  6. Says:

    What about the bedding used, particularly the bedspread or blanket? I would like to know who made it and where it can be purchased. Thanks!

  7. wooden chairs…

    […]Movie Real Estate: The Proposal « Movie Real Estate[…]…

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