Inside the Homes Where Passionate Fandoms Come to Life

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From a distance, the wallpaper in Jennifer Peiro’s office might just look like a moody Art Nouveau–inspired print. But step a little closer, and familiar names start to appear: Sirius Black, Draco Malfoy, Bellatrix Black, and Lucious Malfoy, to name a few. Now step back again, and the whole picture becomes clear: It’s not a whimsical depiction of branches and vines, but a drawing of a family tree—the Black family from the Harry Potter series, to be exact. “The wallpaper is definitely the star,” she says.

Peiro, who is from Sweden, is what you’d colloquially call a Potterhead, or a member of the Harry Potter fandom. “I’m basically just a big nerd,” she says. “I found a fandom that is better than the real world, and just tried to cling to it no matter what.” Last year she spent three months traveling around the UK visiting different Harry Potter attractions, she’s stayed in different Wizarding World–themed hotels, visited most Potter pop-ups and theme parks, and when not working at her day job as software engineer, she’s creating Potter content for her 75,000 dedicated Instagram followers.

“A lot of people [in the fandom] have Harry Potter rooms where they display their merch, so I wanted to build one too,” she says. “But I didn’t want it to feel like a museum, I wanted it to be a normal room that actually serves a purpose.” So, she opted to create a home office since that’s where she spends many of her waking hours. “I wanted it to feel like a common room in Hogwarts,” she explains. The family tree wallpaper, a version of which was described in the books and is visible in a few scenes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, immediately become the foundation of the room. “I just knew I was going to build the whole room around it,” she adds. After two months of planning and another of execution, the magical space is now complete: Emerald green shelves hold countless collectibles, a crisply ironed Slytherin robe graces a wall near her workspace, and photos arranged like a collection shown in Hogwarts memorialize some of her fondest Potter adventures. “I just sit in my chair and look at all the details, and I never get tired of it,” she says. “Everything in this room just makes me calm and happy, and it’s wonderful being in here.”

For those deeply invested in a fandom, creating a physical space to honor their chosen idol(s) isn’t unusual. “Fans very often act in pursuit of feeling closer to the person, text, or universe that they are a fan of, and building fan-inspired homes can be a key aspect of that,” explains Dr. Lucy Bennett, a professor at Cardiff University who studies fandom and fan cultures. “These dwellings then are physical markers of their fandom—they express a sense of who they are.”

Though book-, movie-, or celebrity-inspired homes or rooms aren’t necessarily new, there has been an increased prominence of them in recent years. It’s no longer unusual to find a home inspired by Harry Potter, Friends, Star Wars, Disney World, or Lord of the Rings (to name just a few), which often make the rounds on social media or get picked up by a news outlets. Additionally, recent “core” trends—such as cottagecore, cluttercore, or carnivalcore—are fostering an era of homes that don’t just show off a certain style, but rather express the lifestyle of the inhabitant. In many ways, fandom homes offer this too.

For Azusa, a 41-year-old social media personality and nail artist who goes by the name Azusa Barbie online, creating a home based on a fandom couldn’t be more simple. “If we have a right to choose where we live, I want to live in the place that makes me the happiest,” she says. And nothing makes her happy quite like Barbie. “I moved from Japan to the United States because of Barbie,” she says. “I wanted to be closer to her.” For the past eight years, she’s been DIY’ing her apartment in West Hollywood into her own Dreamhouse, complete with countless shades of pink and an ever-growing collection of Barbie memorabilia. “Everyone who visits my space loves it,” she says. “It seems like it doesn’t matter if they’re Barbie fans or not. I get compliments on my ideas, especially those around organizing a small space.”

However, not every fan chooses to go bold when displaying their passions. Maria Volk, an interior designer and TikToker based in Northern California, has recently seen incredible success in a video series she’s put together called the NerdCore Home Series, which has racked up over 213 million views on TikTok. In it, she offers viewers ideas for honoring their favorite pop culture references in their homes in less obvious ways. “I love being able to help people incorporate things they love into other areas of their lives,” Volk tells AD. She’s created videos showcasing decor ideas inspired by a gamut of source material including Little Women, Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and even Winnie-the-Pooh. “For people who like to nerd out on things, there’s just this passion that is so much more than just a normal home design. When it’s connected to your fandom, there’s an added excitement to it,” she adds.

In her home, she recently redesigned her office using The Secret Garden as inspiration, though there’s also a gallery wall made up of “subtle nerd prints.” Here, she has references to Star Wars, The Royal Tenenbaums, and the anime series Fruits Basket stylized as graphic prints, sketches, and even oil paintings. Since starting the NerdCore Home Series, she says followers have begun reaching out to tell her they’ve incorporated her ideas into their own homes too.

“Fans tend to be very creative, and designing the spaces and emphasizing certain aspects of the text or universe in their designs would be pleasurable for many,” Dr. Bennett adds. “Some of the activities engaged in by fans can be deeply passionate, and work as a testament to the rich connections that many fans feel towards their favorite people or texts.”

Such was the case with Molly Swindall while building her Taylor Swift–themed merch closet. As she put together the space, she said a surge of emotions bubbled up—including nostalgia and surprise at the amount of items she’d collected—but, perhaps most notably, a feeling of pride. “I was proud—not just because of what I’ve amassed—but because I stayed with her throughout her entire career,” she says. Swindall has been a fan of Swift since 2007, and her merch room is a witness to that unwavering bond. “I’ve watched her grow as an artist and saw the fandom change right before my eyes,” she adds. One day, she hopes to have a bigger room to listen to her large collection of Taylor Swift vinyls as well as display posters and lithographs from the singer’s career. “You could hang out in it and listen to vinyl or CD…maybe it could even be an office space. I think that would maybe be the goal.”

Most people interviewed for this story noted that they’re aware these rooms—and even the creators themselves—can be misunderstood by those outside of the community. “This office is made for me specifically, so I don’t really mind people questioning it or thinking that I’m crazy,” Peiro says. “I probably am.” But, as many fans also added, being in a home that represents their truest loves offers intense satisfaction to them, which is what they care about the most. As Dr. Bennet says, “When fans join a fandom, there can be a sense of belonging fostered, or even a sense of ‘home.’” Only for these superfans, that sentiment is just a bit more literal.

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