The Meaning and Symbolism of Houses in Dreams

Updated on August 28, 2018
Sue B. profile image

I am a mother, social worker, writer, and dream interpreter.

A house in our dreams is often a symbol of our Self.
A house in our dreams is often a symbol of our Self.

What Does a Dream About a House Mean?

Our dreams about houses—and the rooms in them—can have many significant meanings. The structure of the house itself tends to symbolize our Self while the rooms of that house tend to symbolize specific aspects of selfhood. The meaning of your specific dream about a house depends on the message your subconscious Self is trying to send you.

How often do we find ourselves dreaming of houses? I have yet to find anyone who has not experienced a house dream. These dreams can range from terrifying to enlightening. Houses are part of our everyday experience and show up often in dreams. While we, as dreamers, are the ultimate experts when it comes to the meaning and personal significance of our dreams, houses and rooms as symbols within our dreams often have common meanings.

Dreamers are ultimately the experts of their own dreams. Only dreamers know their unique and personal associations with houses. However, researching interpretations of a dream and exploring alternative meanings can only enrich your understanding. Below, you'll find ideas for how to interpret many different dream houses.

How to Interpret the Meaning of a House in a Dream

Below, you'll find several questions to ask yourself to help you interpret your dream house.

  • Besides reflecting our own thoughts and ideas of our own house, a past house or a dream (as in ideal) house, a house tends to relate to our physical body, our mind, and/or the dwelling of our soul. While our house dreams could simply reflect a desire to purchase a house, they are often a reflection of internal—and often unconscious—experiences we may not be aware of during waking hours. A house dream begs the question, "What is living (or hiding) in my heart and mind?"
  • Dreams have cleverly layered meanings and can have both a literal and symbolic meaning. If a dream reflects a daytime experience, a memory, or media watched prior to bedtime, one would wonder, "Why did this experience or image resonate with me so that it made its way into my dream?"

What Was the Size and Condition of Your Dream House?

  • Was the house rundown, dirty, under construction, or neglected? Perhaps this reflects that you, too, need some care and attention. You may recognize that your dream is showing you that you are neglecting a specific part of yourself that needs attention.
  • Was the house too small or too big? Was it a cell... or a mansion? An exaggeration like this could help us pick up on an important message. Feeling as though the house is too small could relate to feeling small, weak, cramped, or stifled or not having enough room for growth and development. Ironically, a house that is too big can also give us that too-small feeling, depending upon the perspective of the dream. A house that is too big may also reflect our feelings of overwhelm regarding the need to grow and develop further. Our dreams help us explore the vast unknowns in our lives, including those that reside within ourselves.
  • What is the style, fixtures, color, or decor of your dream house? Each of the details of the house in your dreams can have meaning. A house that seems outdated or lacking functionality may show us that we are overdue for a change, an overhaul, renovation, or "makeover."
  • If you ask yourself, "What do I want to do to this house in my dream?" your answer may lead to what you need to change within yourself and within your life.
  • How do the houses in your dreams change over time? It is interesting to track our dreams over time and recognize the change in our dream houses' size and condition. This may give us insight into how we are doing and direct us to the best solutions for our current state of affairs.

Dreams of a backyard could represent our childhood memories.  When we find a childhood bicycle, we may wonder, "What direction this memory is taking us?"
Dreams of a backyard could represent our childhood memories. When we find a childhood bicycle, we may wonder, "What direction this memory is taking us?"

What If I Dream of a Childhood Home?

Dreams of a grandparent's home or a childhood home on a street we live presently is common and often reflect how our the past carries over into the way we live now. These types of dreams often increase our awareness about how our childhood affects our current reality and allow us insight into what is influencing our decision-making and behavior today.

New House Dreams

What Does a Dream About a New House Represent?

Dreams of new houses are not uncommon when dreamers are experiencing dramatic transformations in their lives: physical, emotional, professional, or spiritual changes might be represented by a new house.

What If I Dream About Building a New House?

If your sleeping mind is busy pouring a foundation, putting up walls, laying tiles, painting, and hammering, one possible interpretation would be that your subconscious is working, planning, designing, and envisioning a new reality for you, either literally or metaphorically. Your psyche is moving forward with and putting into action big plans for positive change in your future. On the other hand, it might indicate a desire to do something different, make something new, start from scratch, or make something bigger and better.

What Does a Dream About an Unfinished House Mean?

This dream may mean that you have some work to do. It's important to note if the house is half-built or half-demolished, as this will give you insight into the unfinished task before you.

What Does a Dream About an Old House Represent?

An old, dilapidated, or outdated structure in a dream might represent an old and untouched idea, belief, or thought pattern that has been standing in your mind for years an years without any conscious attention. The condition of the old structure might be less important than your feelings about it. Sometimes, the old house is friendly and comforting, but other times it makes us feel oddly ashamed, unsettled, or trapped.

What If I Dream About a Haunted House?

A dream or nightmare about a scary or haunted house often represents fears, worries, and unresolved feelings of hatred, anger, despair, or rage that haunt you. Fears of the past, present, or future can all be represented. Maybe something or someone scared you and you never had a chance to work through your fear or find comfort. This dream is your subconsciousness giving you another chance to work through scary emotions or memories you haven't faced or fully processed.

What If I Dream About a House That's "Mine" But I've Never Been There Before?

In dreams, we may find ourselves in houses that are "ours" but don't feel like it. Sometimes the entire structure, setting, and furnishings of a house feel unfamiliar and strange, but other times a familiar house may sit in an unfamiliar location. Since our dream houses usually represent our selves, this dream may be drawing your attention to the fact that there are unseen and unexplored parts of yourself that you don't know very well, or perhaps something about you or your life is changing so dramatically that you no longer recognize it. The dream might symbolize a disconnect between who you are and what you think you are.

What If I Keep Dreaming of the Same House? Recurring House Dreams

If you have a recurring dream about a house, it can be easy to see how that structure might represent your Self and your evolution over time. Via this dream, your subconsciousness is revisiting this construct of who you are and giving you the opportunity to see it anew, with fresh eyes, each time. Maybe you keep having the same dream because you have not seen or understood something about yourself that the dream is trying to tell you, perhaps this is an opportunity to recognize the small changes occurring over time, or maybe this is a chance to approach an old pattern or problem in a new way.

What about your recurring dream?

Does the house in your dreams change?

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If your dream house is so shrouded in fog that its details can't be seen, this can indicate truths that you hide from yourself or are afraid to see.
If your dream house is so shrouded in fog that its details can't be seen, this can indicate truths that you hide from yourself or are afraid to see. | Source

What Does a Dream About a House Flooding, Burning, or Being Destroyed Mean?

Dream of a House Flooding

In a dream, water most often symbolizes emotions, so a dream about a flood or tidal wave can indicate being surprised and overwhelmed by feelings. If the water engulfs your house, it can indicate immense, powerful, and unruly emotions that threaten to swallow and suffocate everything in their path. However, flooding can sometimes be a positive dream symbol if the dreamer feels invigorated, cleansed, or released by the water.

What If the House Is Floating?

If your dream home is not destroyed by the water but, instead, floats on top of it, this can mean that the dreamer is able to safely and happily ride the tide of emotion. The whole world is swallowed up but the dreamer is able to remain safe, whole, and untouched by the destructive emotions swirling around them.

Dream of a House on Fire

Since fire often symbolizes passion, desire, anger, destruction, illumination or enlightenment, purification, or transformation, to dream that your house is burning may indicate any of these things, depending on the dreamer's feelings about the fire. If the fire feels destructive, then it may represent negative and out-of-control passions. If it feels positive or hopeful, the burning might indicate an impending personal transformation or cleansing.

House Being Destroyed by Earthquake, Demolition, Wrecking Ball, Termites, or Other Means

A dream that your house or property is being or has been ruined or lost due to damage often indicate that you feel threatened, vulnerable, or attacked. You may feel like outside forces conspire to knock, eat, smash, or whittle you down.

What Does a Dream About Someone Breaking Into My Home Mean?

If we remember that the house represents ourself, this dream might be interpreted as a straightforward indication that we feel as though someone or something were trying to break in, steal, burgle, vandalize, or lay claim to ourselves without our invitation. A forced entry is, by definition, destructive. Perhaps your body, mind, life, time, consciousness, or psyche has been encroached on by someone or something without your permission, and your boundaries have been breached against your will.

Moving Houses in Dreams

What If I Dream of Moving?

This dream might indicate a need for change in your life or a desire to start anew. It can mean the end of one situation or relationship and the beginning of another. In the dream, do you know where you're moving or is it a mystery? Is the move positive or negative? Your answers will help you interpret what your subconsciousness is trying to tell you about how you can handle change in your life.

What If the House In My Dream Can Move?

Sometimes, you might dream of a house that can move by itself. Maybe it has legs of its own, or maybe it moves via forces of nature, like the wind (a la Dorothy's house in The Wizard of Oz) or on a tidal wave. Like hermit crab, the world outside changes, but your existence inside your mobile home can remain the same. In this case, the dreamer's attitude toward the house's movement is important to consider: Is the movement fun or terrifying, frustrating or easy? This can give you insight into your feelings about change.

What Do Dreams About Many Houses Mean?

Viewing many different homes in a dream may be confusing, but the dream experience could allow further reflection on current choices, the influence of others on one's life, and how changes have occurred over time in one's personal experience.

Just as a house often symbolizes the inner self—and the street or road the house is on often represents one's life path—a row of many houses may symbolize different time periods in the dreamer's life as well as options for future change. Each of the houses might represent a different aspect of your Self, one that feels somehow separate from the other parts of your psyche. Dreaming of three houses may symbolize the dreamer's past, present, and future.

A bathroom dream might indicate cramped and stopped-up emotions.
A bathroom dream might indicate cramped and stopped-up emotions.

What Do Dreams About Specific Rooms In Houses Mean?

A Dream of a Bathroom

Dreaming of a bathroom often relates to how well we are cleansing ourselves and letting go of what no longer serves us. The bathroom is often a place where we "let go" and allow ourselves to be our most authentic or vulnerable selves. So many of us dream of a rundown or abandoned bathroom, one that is not working, or one that is occupied or otherwise not leaving us room. When we do not have enough room, privacy, or opportunity to release and cleanse ourselves, we can see this as a sign that we have residual emotional build-up that needs our attention.

Being in a beautiful, well-functioning bathroom may give us the positive imagery of self-care, lightening our emotional load, and emotional or psychological cleansing. This type of dream may leave us feeling rejuvenated and prepared to face life's stressors and obstacles.

A Dream of a Bedroom

Bedrooms in our dreams can help us understand our most intimate and private aspects of self. The bedroom may reflect those intimate thoughts, feelings, desires, and aspects of who we are that we don't share. This type of dream may help us identify either our insecurities or authentic aspects of self we may not openly share with others.

Who is in the bedroom often brings greater meaning into our dream. Although the other people may symbolize themselves or our feelings about someone else, other people are often symbolic of an aspect of ourself we associate with this person and have not readily integrated into our own personal identity. This is often true when we dream of the opposite sex, often referred to as an anima or animus. The opposite sex often represents the traits we possess but have somehow disowned. For example, it is common for men to struggle with emotional expression due to societal/cultural norms. This may lead to a woman symbolizing their emotions in dreams. In the other hand, it is common for women to struggle with assertiveness or aggression due to societal/cultural norms and this may lead to a man symbolizing these traits.

The bedroom may also reflect a dreamer's sexuality. Dreams located in this part of the house may reflect sexual desire and sexual identity. Sex in dreams is often less of a physical symbol as much as it is reflecting an emotional or psychological union of opposites.

A Dream of a Living Room

Although still personal in nature, the living room is the place where we interact with others and may represent the more public, shared, and collaborative parts of our lives. The living room could represent the part of ourselves we invite others to experience or allow others to see. What is in the living room is very important to note—or what is missing from the room. These details can show the dreamer what is being worked on socially and what is being revealed to others.

A Dream of a Kitchen

In many ways, the kitchen is the heart of the house. It is the place we prepare meals, store food, clean, and informally gather with friends and family. Dreams of the kitchen often reflect our heart and soul, how we are fed and what we are preparing spiritually, and what is nourishing our mind, body, and soul.

A Dream of a Dining Room

The dining room can relate to both the kitchen and the living room. It is a social area of the house. It is also a room we associate with food and nourishment. This area of the house in a dream is often associated with what we are nourishing our mind, heart, and spirit. Dreams of the dining room may show us when we are feeling disconnected (lacking guests) or deprived emotionally/psychologically/spiritually/physically or working on meaningful and deeper connections (many guests with plenty of food) with others and ourselves.

A Dream of a Basement

Basements are very common in dreams because they often represent the unconscious mind and may represent what exists at the lowest level or base of our consciousness. The basement is the foundation that everything else is built upon, and it's where the deepest and darkest thoughts, emotions, and memories might hide.

The characteristics of the dream basement can give us some clues. A very dark basement gives us the impression that we need to "shed light onto something" and are not able to see something just yet. Exploring a basement in a dream can be very cathartic, allowing us to discover what has been untouched, stored away, and ignored for some time. The objects in the basement often symbolize what is just bubbling up to the surface of our consciousness. How a basement is organized can give us clues how we manage our emotions. Finding many boxes or many separate areas could reveal to us a tendency of compartmentalization. A cluttered basement could show us our tendency to avoid emotions and dealing with our past resulting in an overwhelming build up.

For some, the basement may be symbolic of hitting "rock bottom" in some way or starting at the beginning, building a foundation or building from the bottom up. For others, the basement may reflect retreating into oneself and protecting oneself from a potential threat such as an emotional storm or conflict.

A Dream of an Attic

While the basement is a place we store unconscious emotions, the attic often represents the symbolic storage of our unconscious thoughts. Many may associate this part of the house with what is "in the back of their mind" or possibly the thoughts and memories they try to avoid. The messages we receive from others we have internalized and retell ourselves may also be reflected in this location.

After dreaming of an attic, it is helpful to review what your attic is actually used for and how this could affect the personal meaning for you. Sorting through our attics or other storage spaces in our waking lives is often a walk down memory lane. Dreaming of an attic could reflect this type of experience and need for review. Often crowded attics beg us to take a look at what we have ignored and either make better use of it or find a way to let it go.

A cluttered attic in our dreams may reflect feeling overwhelmed and with thoughts or ideas. Clutter may indicate that we are not processing or letting go of things.
A cluttered attic in our dreams may reflect feeling overwhelmed and with thoughts or ideas. Clutter may indicate that we are not processing or letting go of things.

Dreams of Extra or Hidden Rooms in a House

Dreaming of extra rooms or other spaces that do not exist in reality may be symbolic of new developments in our lives or discovering a part of ourselves we did not know existed. These dreams can feel exciting, confusing, or even alarming. This dream space can prove a useful way to safely explore something new and gain insight into ourselves.

Dreamer's Poll

What room did you dream of most recently?

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Windows in dreams show us our point of view. A window may reflect our perception of the outside world, while looking into a window from the outside could hint at self-awareness.
Windows in dreams show us our point of view. A window may reflect our perception of the outside world, while looking into a window from the outside could hint at self-awareness.

Dreaming of Windows

When windows are the focal point of our dreams, the dream often reflects our outlook and perspective. For example, a blackened window or one tightly closed behind curtains could indicate we are closed off to the outside world or outside information. A window that's open and clear may show what we are opening ourselves to next.

I have noticed the following to be true:

  • Seeing pitch darkness through the window may reveal a lack of awareness right now. Something is out there, but it remains unconscious for us.
  • Seeing the moon may reflect emotions and feminine energies.
  • Seeing the stars may reveal hopes and great potential.
  • Seeing the sun may represent enlightenment or cheer.
  • A broken window may show us that our view is distorted right now or that we are vulnerable and in need of healing. A broken window is an opportunity to change to our point of view.

Dreaming of a Porch

The porch is a social part of the house, the place where you greet the world and welcome visitors. The presence and condition of a porch in our dreams may reflect how extraverted we are and our overall tendency to socialize. A porch swing may represent our playfulness. The presence of many chairs on a porch may give us an impression of how open we are to socializing, whereas a porch without chairs may represent a preference to limit social interactions.

Dreaming of Closets

Our closets are places to hide or store things. This is a very personal space. When a closet presents itself in a dream, it is important to review one's "skeleton's in the closet." While the basement and attic may be spaces for unconscious storage, the items in our closet are often things we consciously hid from view but are within our awareness. Closets in our dream show us what we fear others will notice about ourselves, and the items of clothing hanging in the closet represent the other personas or selves inside of us. In closet dreams, we can often identify a sense of anxiety related to the closet and the potential discovery of our secrets. Sorting through a closet would likely be a positive dream reflecting our willingness to begin to sort though what we have hidden or felt ashamed about and possibly reconsider accepting and expressing.

Dreaming of a Hallway

Dreamers often find themselves walking down hallways, sometimes a hallway filled with doors. This connecting passage often reflects our multifaceted selves and an exploration of self. If the dreamer is unsure which door to choose, this may help identify ambivalence or uncertainty in our waking lives. The hallway could represent the major arteries of our selves and can reflect the overall health of our internal world. A run-down hallway may show us we have neglected to explore and embark on an inward journey. A neglected hallway may also reflect our perception that we are lacking options for growth and development and may need to focus on self-care.

When a hallway presents itself in our dreams, it is helpful to explore where the hallway is leading, where we perceive obstacles, and where we want to go next. If we are not sure where we are going as we walk down this hallway, this may reflect our lack of self-awareness and identify our need to get to know ourselves more.

Hallways in dreams connect us to different parts of self.  A neglected or rundown hallway hints at a need for self-care and increased self-reflection.
Hallways in dreams connect us to different parts of self. A neglected or rundown hallway hints at a need for self-care and increased self-reflection.

What Do the Roof and Walls of a Dream House Represent?

A roof is what protects us from the forces of nature and can show us how capable we are of sheltering ourselves from spiritual, psychological, social, or physical environments. A leak in our roof can show us something is getting to us. Some dreams may represent negative elements while others may reflect receiving outside information. In their most powerful forms, roof dreams can reflect our spiritual lives and our openness to communication with mystery.

The roof and walls can give us insight into our personal boundaries. If we dream of a fortified house that is very closed, we may recognize feeling closed off from others and rigid boundaries that not only keep others out but imprison us within ourselves. If we dream of a drafty house with many leaks or breaks, we may recognize feeling vulnerable, and the existence of boundaries that are too loose. Both dreams prompt us to re-evaluate ourselves, seek actions that will restore balance, and increase our overall self-care.

Dreaming of the Floor or the Ceiling

Dreams that emphasize the floor or ceiling can help us identify what is influencing us. A leak in a ceiling, for example, could show us that something we have attempted to keep out (memories of the past, thoughts) are inescapable and are bleeding through, demanding our attention. The ceiling may also reflect a limitation and could symbolize things like a "glass ceiling" or other limits within ourselves. It is helpful to review if these limitations are self-imposed, natural to the environment, or societal in nature.

The floor can often reflect how grounded or stable we feel. Finding holes in the floor, and exploring what is in these holes, could help us identify the unconscious emotions that are influencing our thoughts and actions in our waking life. For example, finding bugs coming up through the floor may relate to an unconscious emotion that is "bugging us" that needs our attention. We can imagine what would happen to our homes if we did not fix leaks or address an infestation, and this applies to our internal homes as well.

Dreaming of a Back Yard

When a dream focusus on a back yard, it can be associated with the unconscious mind, our inner life, information we choose to hide from others, and/or safe haven from the outside world. The objects found in the back yard and the condition it is in can help us gain further insight.

  • A fenced-in yard may relate to our boundaries and could either leave us feeling imprisoned or vulnerable, depending on the condition of the fence.
  • Objects from our childhood could be found in the back yard. This typically relates to our childhood memories and playfulness and how our past and development influence us now.
  • A garden could help us gain insight into our personal development. What are we growing? A neglected garden could represent something we have neglected within ourself or a dream or passion we have failed to continue to support. In contrast, a garden that is overgrown or wild may show us we simply cannot contain something anymore and may need to find new ways to express or manage our drives and ideas.

© 2017 Sue B.

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