How to Live Inside a Story
Recreating your favorite stories in real life is actually a simple process!
IMMERSION: When you read a book, or watch a movie, or even hear a story, the very best part of that whole experience is the moment that your consciousness of the real world turns off, and you feel as though you’re existing INSIDE the world of that story. You’ve left reality, and your mind is completely focused on the events happening in that fictional world. This feeling is why many of us read or consume stories -- it’s fun to mentally escape to a completely different place.
WORLDBUILDING: The process of creating a space that feels like a fictional place is known as worldbuilding. You'll be replicating the most evocative elements of a fictional world, so anyone in that space can recognize where they are. You won't be replacing everything that normally lives in your space, but instead, you'll add iconic visual connections to the fantasy world that will force the boring items from the real world out of focus.
THREE SIMPLE STEPS: Recreating your favorite fictional spaces in real life is actually a simple process! Just follow these three basic steps:
1) Identify the most iconic items from your world
2) Collect similar items from your house or friends, or create some yourself
3) Strategically arrange these into still-lives that evoke the feeling of your world
Before & After
Featuring Some of Our Favorite Room Redesigns
Back in 2016, I bought a commercial property that was once a Victorian home, right on the main street of my small Connecticut town. This house was built in 1891, and had bounced back and forth between being a residence and being a series of offices. When I took over, it was currently in use as a house, but I wanted to use it as a space for my literary-themed event business.
I spent the better part of 2017 redecorating the entire house, so each room had its own distinct theme that could serve as a backdrop for a variety of bookish activities. Within months, the whole house was filled with delighted book nerds enjoying enchanted activities like Harry Potter parties, Great Gatsby jazz supper clubs, masquerade balls, Jane Austen tea parties and even live murder mysteries.
The prospect of decorating an entire house in a highly themed way might sound daunting, but it was actually really fun, and because I ended up having to wait nine months for an unusually-long zoning approval process, there was no pressure to rush. I spent a very pleasant year building the essential background settings for all of these literary events, by sourcing used furniture and decorations on Craigslist and at the local thrift shop. I was able to furnish the entire 8-room house for less than it cost me to buy two new couches for my actual house. Never again will I buy furniture full price at the store!
Find Inspiration From Classic Spaces
Don't want to choose just one story-inspired theme?
Celebrate the bookish life with a room decorated for readers, writers or storytellers!
Tips and Tricks
From a Professional Decorator & Escape Room Designer
The first step in helping the guests in your fictional world block out reality is to surround them with visual connections to the fantasy world, almost like little magical talismans that take center stage, and force the items from the real world out of focus.
In any fictional world, there are iconic items that everyone recognizes. For example, lightsabers from Star Wars, or the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter. If you were to walk into an otherwise empty room and see the Sorting Hat on a pedestal, you’d know immediately that there’s a Harry Potter experience waiting for you.
Beyond this kind of specific symbol, we can also use more generic items to suggest certain worlds. For example, a medieval type of space would include a lot of candles in it, and crude wooden bowls and primitive metalwork. None of these are specific to any particular fandom. The trick to creating an immersive, evocative space without a Walt Disney World size budget is to combine a few iconic items with a good number of generic items, using mostly items you already have around the house.
Learn all the trade secrets for creating fictional worlds here:
LEARN ALL THE SECRETS
OF FICTIONAL WORLDBUILDING
Find items and inspiration for a dozen different themed rooms, from Sherlock's library to Victorian Night Circus