Skip to content
When your home becomes a tourist attraction

(CNN) – Have you ever looked at a nice little mews house in London and thought “it must be so amazing living there?”

If so, you are not the only one. But for the people who actually live in these homes, social media photography has changed what it means to live in a scenic location.

Alice Johnston is a longtime resident of Notting Hill, the area of ​​London famous for its pastel painted townhouses and for being the setting for the Julia Roberts / Hugh Grant film of the same name.

Johnston, a journalist, has complicated feelings about her beloved Instagram hood. She lives on Portobello Road, one of the capital’s most famous streets, and has witnessed all kinds of crazy behavior in search of the perfect snapshot.

Once, she and a friend were walking her French Bulldog when a tourist asked if they could “borrow” the puppy for a quick photoshoot. The friend and the dog agreed, the Instagramer posed with the Frenchie in front of a bright blue door then handed out five pounds as a thank you.

Private lives, public places

In this story, everyone had a great time.

But there can be a darker side to living inside what some people think is movie set.

“I was once woken up at 6 a.m. on Easter Sunday by French teenagers taking pictures outside,” says Johnston.

She shares another anecdote: “Once I was changing after I got out of the shower and there was this old man taking a picture (of my windows) with an iPad.”

Although the shutters were closed at the time, she was understandably shaken by the experience.

When private homes – and the people who live in them – become tourist attractions, clashes can occur. In more rural areas, people can put up fences or other barriers to access them, but when these private homes are on the public streets of some of the busiest cities in the world, what should a resident do?

Different communities have taken different approaches. In Hong Kong, a cluster of five interconnected housing estates dubbed “The Monster Building” has become a huge selfie spot after being featured in several Hollywood films, including “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

The mega-building is in Quarry Bay, a relatively quiet area on the east side of Hong Kong Island that most travelers ignore.

Residents of the working-class community cannot block the building due to the fact that there are public enterprises on the ground floor. Thus, some have taken matters into their own hands by posting signs inviting visitors to be respectful.

A sign in Hong Kong’s Yick Cheong Building, aka the Monster Building.

Lilit Marcus / CNN

A sign in English and Chinese erected by residents of the building reads “This is a private domain. Trespassers are strictly prohibited from all kinds of activities (including, but not limited to, photography , gatherings, use of drones and shouting, etc.). We will not take any responsibility for property damage and / or bodily injury caused by an accident. “

However, many visitors ignore the signs or simply take them as suggestions, and a quick scan of Instagram shows many recent images taken there.

Johnston says a pale pink house near her has become such a popular photo site that residents have given up on trying to keep people away. Instead, they set up a donation box asking people to donate money to charity in exchange for a photo.

When your home is history

Chuck Henderson’s grandmother, Della, was an architecture lover – so much so that she was able to commission a house in California built by world-famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Mrs. Clinton Walker’s house in Carmel-by-the-Sea was completed in 1951 and passed into the hands of Henderson and some of his relatives upon Walker’s death. No one lives there full time, but different family members and their guests take turns staying there.

Wright fans will come from all over the world to try and get a glimpse of some of his masterpieces. While some, like the famous Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania, are year-round attractions, others remain private residences.

Many homeowners listed in architectural textbooks have to add the cost of security measures to other expenses such as utilities and home insurance.

“We installed these security cameras after they were vandalized about six or seven years ago,” Henderson said. However, the vandalism in question was not graffiti.

He explains, “We have this large wooden remnant of a tree which is placed as the centerpiece of the garden by the original landscaper. Someone cut a notch in it. doors – between the carport and the main house – has a bunch of nautical cork discs in a rope net and is the counterweight for the door.

Yet Henderson and his family have the final say on the cork disc thieves – these were not designed by Wright and are of little to no value.

“We have people walking right by the sign ‘private property, no trespassing’. We saw people dancing in our carport. We have a few people wandering around by surprise, and until they do. do nothing wrong we don’t try to call the police We are on a beach surrounded by road and have no lawn, but we had a family of deer.

Come to a compromise

When it comes to living in a heavily photographed place, some people try to take the good with the bad.

Johnston tries to be sympathetic to travelers coming to her hometown, remembering how much she enjoyed taking photos of historic neighborhoods like the Marais in Paris and Alfama in Lisbon.

In fact, she recently found photos of herself as a teenager at the Notting Hill Carnival, years before she moved to the capital herself.

“I love to travel, so I have to be pretty understanding when people travel to where I live, and I feel lucky that it’s pretty cool that people want to come to where I live.”

Henderson and those close to him made compromises in order to let design enthusiasts explore the house while still maintaining their privacy. They rent it occasionally for photoshoots, most recently a campaign for eyewear brand Oliver Peoples.

In addition, they open the house to the public one day a year for the benefit of the local Carmel Heritage Society. In 2021, 657 people came to buy tickets and tour the property.

“For us, it’s a huge pleasure to be able to share the house and to see so many people happy and excited about it,” said Henderson. “And that allows us to be able to tell people when it’s open. It gives them an option (to visit) and we don’t have to be the Grinch.”

Portobello road photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images / Sipa USA



Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.