Harry Potter was different from other children—magical and muggle—for many reasons: Obviously there's the whole "destined to defeat the Dark Lord and save the world" thing, but there are some other, less dramatic differences, too. Harry Potter did not look forward to his birthday and he dreaded coming home from school for the summer. Both of these facts make sense when you consider that Harry was (not) celebrating his birthday and living with the Dursleys. Eventually, he learns that birthdays aren't all bad when you're surrounded by people you love, that wizard chocolates and cakes are very good, and that there are some excellent places to reside outside of Hogwarts—free from the abuses of Number 4 Privet Drive.
To celebrate The Boy Who Lived's birthday this year—he's 38 on July 31—we're going to take a trip through five of the most wonderful wizarding homes Harry comes to know and sometimes love very much. To narrow it down, we selected homes showcased in the films that had some coveted real-world features (wizards love brick fireplaces!). We also factored in other elements like Harry's experiences there, and the general demeanor of its owners. Sure, Malfoy Manor is sick AF, but it is also cold—both temperature wise and emotionally—plus people were tortured there, so you won't find it amongst our top five (feel free to let your father hear about it, Draco).
5. The Lovegood House
True, there are some terrible memories here, since it is where Xenophilius Lovegood attempts to give Harry over to the Death Eaters in exchange for his kidnapped daughter Luna, but it is so well-suited for its owners (and Luna is the best!), it cannot be overlooked. The home, in the middle of a sprawling field, is the perfect space for the quirky family. When we first come upon it, the place is in a state: there are papers everywhere, stacks of The Quibbler piled up, and general clutter at every turn. If you look beyond the mess, however, you'll find a gorgeous spiral staircase running through the middle of the home and a hand-painted mural covering the kitchen. It's weird, wild, and colorful, just like Luna and her father. Plus, you get your fill of dirigible plums, and you should never discount the value of some good dirigible plums.
4. Hagrid's Hut
Okay, so this place is not clean by any standard—muggle, wizard, giant—and no doubt the place that houses Hogwarts' Gamekeeper and friend to all magical creatures must have an odor, but it has its charms, too. Hagrid's made great use of the vertical space in the hut (if Hagrid can comfortably fit inside, you know there's room), there's lots of DIY storage, and the oversized furniture is at once both a comfortable seating choice and a bold design statement. The real showpiece of the home, though, is the cozy hearth. It can keep you warm on a cold winter evening and also hatch a blackmarket dragon egg—a true luxury amenity. Most important, it was a place on campus where Harry could go to feel safe or spend time with his good friend Hagrid. Who needs cleanliness when you have friendship?
3. 12 Grimmauld Place
Was this place owned by an evil, bigoted wizarding family for many years? Yes. Is this place dark and drafty and a little unwelcoming upon first glance? You betcha. Are there holes burned into wall tapestries? Of course! Yet still, the short amount of time Harry spends with his godfather Sirius Black in his family's home is wonderful enough to wipe away any of its shortcomings (there should be a memorial in the spot where they have their last hug). And honestly, it earns a spot on this list simply for the way it appears out of nowhere on the street in front of Harry's eyes. (Some people may want hardwood floors and a farmhouse sink, I want a front door that magically wedges its way in between neighboring homes.) Heavy textiles and dark color palette isn't for everyone, but don't overlook the gorgeous (expensive) curtains, and the very on-trend patterned wallpaper in every room. Also: I'd give my wand for that giant, rustic kitchen table. Just kidding! Your wand is your most sacred possession—but still, that table is *chef kissing fingers.*
2. Shell Cottage
Is this heaven? With the wind chimes and sea glass and shells embedded into the walls, it must be heaven. If not, it is most definitely the wizarding world equivalent of the perfect beach getaway location. It's about as private as you can get (why else would the Order use it as a safe house?), and it is literally On The Beach. If it truly is all about location, location, location, Shell Cottage wins. Also, there's just something about a Weasley house (this once belonged to a Weasley aunt and was passed on to Bill) that makes it feel inviting. It's open and breezy and has a plentiful amount of bedrooms, which makes it the perfect place for family vacation or to recoup after being held hostage by Death Eaters. On the other hand, Bill's wife Fleur Delacour is there, and she seems like a pill so, maybe wait till they list it on Airbnb or something. But overall, the calming seclusion of this place must be a welcomed reprieve for Harry; he doesn't get to enjoy it much, what with having to save the world and trying not to die, but here's hoping he eventually went back for a little R&R.
1. The Burrow
The first time young Harry Potter steps into the Weasley home, his best friend and ginger hero Ron tries to make excuses for his less-than-upgraded house: "It's not much, but it's home," he tells The Boy Who Lived. But Ron shouldn't sell the place so short. Not only does it have self-cleaning magical powers (if only), but it also has some wonderful real-world features. First of all, the design of the multi-multi-level house may look a little, um, wobbly from the outside, but with that kind of height, think of the unbelievable views you'll get on the top floor. If that doesn't do it for you, the house also has some gorgeous stained-glass windows, a giant fireplace (perfect for traveling via floo powder), and lots of cozy handmade rugs and other various knits courtesy of head-of-the-house Molly. But the most important aspect of The Burrow is that to Harry, this is the home he always dreamed of—it doesn't matter what it looks like, just that it is filled with a loving family and happy memories. Harry's response to his sheepish friend is "I think it's brilliant," and we'd have to agree.