The dwelling places of Europe have an air of inheritance, or cumulative possession—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 plan—indeed, the reader’s capacity for visualizing spatial relations is feeble—but they must conform to a life plan, feeding the characters’ 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 architect—castles in air!—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