Along with the luxury and glamour of the L.A. lifestyle, Hollywood made every aspect of filmmaking famous—including the set designs that would inspire Storybook architecture. “The way the sets were built look exactly like how the Storybook houses were built later on,” Gellner explains, “it’s the same workmanship.” Certain techniques used on the homes, like artificial aging and intentional cracks and curves, came directly out of Hollywood set building methods.
The content of films also played a role in the Storybook style. At the time, filmmakers were looking to the events of World War I as fodder for their movies. They took cues from soldiers, who shared their harrowing war stories, but also recalled Europe’s medieval architecture—the quaint, rural structures seen from Flanders to France and Germany.
Those structures were part of the revival of medieval architecture and the rise of “picturesque” style in Europe that began in the late 18th century. Back then, this style returned due to architects rebelling against the standard Romantic Classical style, and a general nostalgia for handmade craftsmanship after the mass production of the Industrial Revolution. The most famous example is perhaps Marie Antoinette’s, the Hameau de la Reine in Versailles. A similar sentiment, and a departure from the more rigid Craftsman style architecture, ushered in the 20th-century heyday for revival architecture in the U.S.
Additionally, Gellner explains, the upsurge of revival “came because all of a sudden there was photography, which hadn’t existed before in magazines.” Photographs that appeared for the first time in magazines like National Geographic and American Architect and Building News would contribute to the soaring post-war popularity of European vernacular architecture in the U.S. Soon, French rural, Spanish revival, and medieval English styles would proliferate.