An Architectural Tribute to The Sims For Its 20th Anniversary

Updated April 20, 2020

The Sims is a virtual dollhouse that grows with its player.

A video game soap opera where you build the set and control the characters. The goal of the game is whatever you want it to be.

And the pleasure of the game?  For some, it’s the sense of control over their own personal melodrama. But for others, the joy of Sims is organizing, building, embellishing. The Sims player in full stride is a god of tiny furniture and a wizard of digital gardening.

We decided to honor the 20 anniversary of The Sims with a tribute to its iconic architecture. Here are our realistic renders of six of the game’s classic homes: original houses from across the series that make our plumbob glow green.

5 Sim Lane – The Goth Family Home

The Goth family’s original Addams Family-inspired home was at 5 Sim Lane. There’s plenty to inspire real-life, non-ghoulish families, too - from Cassandra’s dollhouse-within-a-(virtual)-dollhouse to the family’s clawfoot Sani-Queen Bathtub.

This two-story, Neo-Queen Anne-style house comes with the distinguishing feature of its own graveyard. We’ve tucked it out of sight, preferring to foreground Mortimer’s classical 3-tier stone water feature. And the signature single-story part to the right of the GIF contains a dining room to die for.

215 Sim Lane – The Pleasant Family Home

The Pleasants are Sim Lane’s own ‘Laura Palmer family’ – from the outside, they seem to be the perfect suburban upper-middle-class family but, behind closed doors, they’re highly charged and dysfunctional. The doors in question belong to a Tudor-style house with a Federal-style stone extension.

The home benefits from full-length portrait windows, including the beamed dormers on the top floor. The Pleasants have their master bedroom downstairs, leaving the run of the second floor for their rebellious children.

Sultry Springside – The Caliente Household

Sultry Springside is home to twins Dina and Nina Caliente and their bookish roomie, Luisa Libros. Never mind love triangles – the love geometry between these three women and their numerous shared lovers would be enough to fascinate any slide rule-wielding architect.

Their Mediterranean-style mansion has three double bedrooms upstairs and a single downstairs. This style of home originated in the 1920s, inspired by Spanish and Italian villas and funded by America’s booming economy. The Calientes’ terracotta tiled roof and stucco walls are typical of this house type and look great in the sun.

Affluista Mansion - The Landgraab Family Home

The palm tree-lined yard of the Landgraabs’ modernist complex ranch is bordered with tall fences. The high tops will discourage any intruder who fancies a swipe at the family’s massive wealth. The natural stone veneer of the house helps it blend into the landscape – as far as a three-story mansion can ‘blend in.’ This use of a natural veneer recalls the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra.

Indoors, the Landgraab home is notorious for its ugly patterns and strange layouts. In other words, it is ripe for a renovation. But follow the path outside and behind the house, and you might just stumble upon a forgotten grotto…

101 Road To Nowhere – The Smith Family Home

Strangetown’s resident family guy/alien, Pollination Tech#9 Smith, lives at 101 Road To Nowhere with his human wife and mixed-species children. Their home actually looks very down-to-earth. It’s a New England-style four-bedroom family house with traditional sash windows, finished with weatherboard cladding.

Pollination Tech#9 seems drawn to human distractions. There are a swimming pool and an ‘Execuputter’ golf putting machine in the back garden. But other than that, the Smith home is decorated modestly. There is perhaps no greater pleasure for Mr. Smith than lounging on the front veranda, clipping coupons, or chilling with his offspring.

150 Main Street - Don Lothario’s Home

The living quarters of Don Lothario’s condo, apart from the bedroom, cover the first floor. Don’s yellow couch, green fridge, and toaster oven yell “bachelor” and are a shameful use of a potentially stylish interior. Time for some new appliances, Don!

With so much going on downstairs, the only room needed on the second floor is Don’s bedroom. Outside the bedroom is a second-floor rooftop deck, the perfect place for Don’s all-important hot tub. There is also a staircase leading to a second deck: Don’s observatory, complete with telescope, perfect for gazing back up at the real world beyond the virtual dollhouse

As powerful as you might feel playing The Sims, you have to tip your hat to the game's real gods: designer Will Wright and his team. The Sims universe is exquisite. The houses and environments that have formed the game’s landscape over the past two decades have become as familiar as a real-life neighborhood. And is there any phrase more beautiful than “stuff pack” – the occasional delivery of new furniture, clothes, and other objects to enhance the game?

But every so often, it’s nice to return to your own home to try some of the renovation ideas you learned fixing up the Sims’ houses. Which Sims building do you find most inspiring for your next home project?