The dwelling places of Europe have an air of inheritance, or cumulative possessionâ€”a hive occupied by generations of bees. In America, the houses seem privately ours, even when we have not built them up, in pine two-by-fours and four-by-eight-foot sheets of plywood, from a poured-concrete foundation. Houses are, as Newland Archer sensed, our fate. The houses we build in our fiction need not conform to a floor planâ€”indeed, the readerâ€™s capacity for visualizing spatial relations is feebleâ€”but they must conform to a life plan, feeding the charactersâ€™ senses whenever these turn outward, confirming social place with their walls and accoutrements, echoing in authentic matter the spiritual pattern the author intends to trace. A house, having been willfully purchased and furnished, tells us more than a body, and its description is a foremost resource of the art of fiction. Every novelist becomes, to a degree, an architectâ€”castles in air!â€”and a novel itself is, of course, a kind of dwelling, whose spaces open and constrict, foster display or concealment, and resonate from room to room.
John Updike on fictional houses. Found, about 5 links deep through twitter and web, here: Architectural Digest