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The Meaning and Symbolism of Houses in Dreams

Updated on October 29, 2017
Sue B. profile image

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

A house in our dreams is often a symbol of our own inner psyche.
A house in our dreams is often a symbol of our own inner psyche.

How often do we find ourselves dreaming of a house? 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 tend to have common meanings. Dreams of houses or specific rooms are one of the most common dream themes.

The Dream Meaning of a House

The number of things a house could symbolize is limitless. Besides reflecting our own thoughts and ideas of our own house, past house or dream house, a house tends to relate to our physical body, our mind, and/or the dwelling of our soul. While our house dreams could reflect our desire to purchase a house, they are often a reflection of internal, and often unconscious, experiences we may not be aware of or considering during waking hours. House dreams often beg the question, "What is living in my heart and mind?"

Dreamers are ultimately the experts of their own dream and may know a unique personal association to houses that others may not know. Receiving feedback on a dream and exploring alternative meanings can only enrich dream exploration. Dreams cleverly have layered meanings and could 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, "how did this experience or image resonate with me that it made its way into my dream?"

Size and Condition

The size and condition of the house in our dreams can help us understand it's meaning. It is interesting to track our dreams over time and recognize the change in size and condition. This could help us monitor how we are doing and direct us to the best solutions in a given time.

Was the house rundown or neglected? Perhaps this reflects that we too are rundown and neglected right now. We may feel physically energized but may recognize that our dream is showing us that we are neglecting a specific part of ourselves that needs our attention.

Was the house too small or too big? The feeling in our dreams are often more indicative of their meaning or purpose but an exaggeration could help us pick up on an important symbol. Feeling as though the house is too small would relate to feeling small or weak or not having enough room for growth and development and otherwise feeling stifled. 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 and well as explore what seems to be a significant large unknown in our lives, often residing within ourselves. Finding a mansion in our dream could have similar meaning to a house that is too big.

The type of house may also be significant. A house that seems outdated or lacking functionality may show us that we are overdue for a change, an overhaul or a less drastic "makeover." I ask myself, "What do I want to do to this house in my dream?" my answer may lead me to what I need to change within myself and within my life.

Dreaming of three houses may symbolize the dreamer's past, present and future.
Dreaming of three houses may symbolize the dreamer's past, present and future.

Dreaming of Many Houses

When we dream of many houses, we are often aware of the possibilities that are before us as we explore and decide where to go next. Just as a house often symbolizes the inner self, the street or road the house is on often represents one's life path. The many houses may symbolize different time periods in the dreamer's life as well as the infinite options for future change.

Dreams of a grandparent's home or a childhood home on a street we live presently is common and often reflect how our childhood, upbringing and past influence the way we live now. These types of dreams often increase our awareness and allow us insight into what is influencing our decision making and behavior day to day.

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

Dreaming of Extra Rooms in a House

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

This bathroom gives me the impression I have been neglecting my emotions and may not have the space I need to manage them effectively.  The happy face makes me wonder if I am putting on a happy face and masking the  deeper feelings I have.
This bathroom gives me the impression I have been neglecting my emotions and may not have the space I need to manage them effectively. The happy face makes me wonder if I am putting on a happy face and masking the deeper feelings I have.

Dreaming of a Bathroom

Dreaming of a bathroom often relates to how well or not well we are letting go of what no longer serves us and cleansing self. 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, enough privacy or enough of an opportunity in some way to properly use the bathroom in our dreams, it allows us to understand we are burning out and 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 bedroom is the most private and intimate part of a house.  In dreams, a bedroom is often symbolic of our most private and intimate parts of self.
A bedroom is the most private and intimate part of a house. In dreams, a bedroom is often symbolic of our most private and intimate parts of self.

Dreaming of a Bedroom

Bedrooms in our dreams can help us understand our most intimate and private aspects of self. The bedroom may reflect thoughts, feelings, desires and aspects of who we are we keep close and may not 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 self 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. This is often referred to as an anima or animus. The opposite sex is often viewed as the traits we possess but have somehow disowned and associated with more appropriate for the opposite sex. 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 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 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.

The living room is a more social part of our home.  In dreams, the living room often reflects our social self, what we portray to others, or how connected we feel.
The living room is a more social part of our home. In dreams, the living room often reflects our social self, what we portray to others, or how connected we feel.

Dreaming of a Living Room

Although still personal in nature, the living room is the room of our home where we bring others. Reviewing the many we use a living room such as entertaining, relaxing or unwinding, watching TV or playing with kids can help us determine what this room means to us. Although the house could represent the person, the living room could represent the part of ourselves we invite others to experience or allow others to see.

What is in the living is very important to note what is in the room- 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.

In our dreams, preparing food in a kitchen could symbolize what we are preparing for in our waking lives, what we are putting energy into and how well we are taking care of ourselves.
In our dreams, preparing food in a kitchen could symbolize what we are preparing for in our waking lives, what we are putting energy into and how well we are taking care of ourselves.

Dreaming of a Kitchen

In many ways, the kitchen is the heart of the house and has many functions. 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 preparing spiritually and what is nourishing our minds, body, and soul.

The kitchen leads to many idioms and symbols often have multiple meanings. What plans does your kitchen "cook up" for you? Here are a few sample idioms to review when reflecting on your dream:

  • "Everything and/but the kitchen sink" - having everything in excess
  • "Too many chefs/cooks in the kitchen or too many cooks spoil the broth" - too much outside influence is having a negative result on the final result/goal.
  • "Stay out of Hell's Kitchen" - staying away from crime and seediness.
  • "The President's Kitchen Cabinet" - president's unofficial group of advisors- often the people he/she would trust more than those in official positions.
  • "Everything from soup to nuts" - everything that you can think of.
  • "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" - If the pressures are too much in a situation, leave the situation. This may relate more of a challenge and prompt one to ask themselves, "Do I have the ability to withstand the pressure to deal with this?"
  • "What's cooking?" - what is going on?
  • "Cooking the books" - falsifying records and being dishonest.
  • "Cook up" - to devise a plan.
  • "Cook your goose" - to ruin something.

In dreams, the dining room reflects relationships and the information or ideas we are taking in or accepting.
In dreams, the dining room reflects relationships and the information or ideas we are taking in or accepting.

Dreaming 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 minds, 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.

In dreams, a basement is often symbolic of the unconscious. A cluttered basement may symbolize the emotions, thoughts or memories we have not sorted through or let go of.
In dreams, a basement is often symbolic of the unconscious. A cluttered basement may symbolize the emotions, thoughts or memories we have not sorted through or let go of.

Dreaming of a Basement

Basements are very common in dreams because they often represent the unconscious mind. The characteristics of the 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.

Dreams of the attic may reflect childhood or past influences.
Dreams of the attic may reflect childhood or past influences.
A cluttered attic in our dreams may reflect feeling overwhelmed and having many thoughts or ideas on our mind.  Clutter in general may show us that we are not processing or letting go of things and are, instead, storing and compartmentalizing.
A cluttered attic in our dreams may reflect feeling overwhelmed and having many thoughts or ideas on our mind. Clutter in general may show us that we are not processing or letting go of things and are, instead, storing and compartmentalizing.

Dreaming of an Attic

While the basement is a place we store unconscious emotions, the attic is often 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 go.

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

Dreaming of Windows

When windows are the focal point of our dreams, the dream often reflects our outlook and perspective. For example, window tightly closed with blinds and curtains could give us the impression we are closed off to the outside world or outside information. A window open and visible may give us hints at the information coming to us and what we are opening up ourselves to next.

I have found the following true for myself:

  • Seeing pitch darkness through the window may reflect lacking awareness right now. Something is out there but it is unconscious for us.
  • Seeing the moon may reflect emotions and feminine energies.
  • Seeing the stars may reflect hopes and great potential.
  • Seeing the sun may reflect enlightenment or cheeriness.
  • 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 make a change to our view and improve.

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.

Dreaming of a Hallway

Many dreams of houses include walking down a hallway, often filled with doors. This hallway often reflects our exploration of self and our potential options. Finding ourselves unsure which door to choose may help us identify ambivalence or uncertainty in our waking lives. The hallway could symbolize the major arteries of our internal home and can reflect the overall health of our internal world. A run-down hallway may show us we have not "sat with ourselves" in awhile and 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 of self 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 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 identifies our need to get to know ourselves more.

A porch swing and an overall active porch in a dream reflect an active, playful and upbeat social life.
A porch swing and an overall active porch in a dream reflect an active, playful and upbeat social life.

Dreaming of a Porch

The porch is a social part of the house, greeting the world and welcoming 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 reflect our playfulness. The presence of many chairs on a porch may give us one impression of how open we are to socializing whereas a porch without chairs may show us we welcome others but prefer to limit social interactions.

Closets in our dream show us what we fear others will notice about ourselves.
Closets in our dream show us what we fear others will notice about ourselves.

Dreaming of Closets

We often refer to our closets as a place to hide things 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 for unconscious storage, the items in our closet are often things we consciously hid from view but are within our awareness. 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.

The roof in our dreams reflects the separation between ourselves and the outer world.
The roof in our dreams reflects the separation between ourselves and the outer world.

Dreaming of the Roof

A roof in a dream is what separates us from the outside world and often has can show us how well we are sheltering ourselves from our spiritual, psychological, social or physical environments. A leak in our roof can show us something is "getting to us." Some dreams may reflect negative elements while others may reflect receiving outside information. In their most powerful forms, roof dreams can reflect the spiritual and a general sense of wonder and increasing insight in spirit.

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

Ceilings and floors in our dreams reflect the limitations and boundaries we perceive within ourselves.
Ceilings and floors in our dreams reflect the limitations and boundaries we perceive within ourselves.

Dreaming of the Floor or the Ceiling

Dreams that emphasize the floor or the 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 rather 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 seeing 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 to manage. 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.

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?"

Dreaming of a Backyard

When our dreams focus us on a backyard, it can be associated with the unconscious mind, our inner life, information we choose to hide from others' view and/or safe haven to the outside world. The objects found in the backyard 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 based on the condition of the fence. Objects from our childhood could be found in the backyard. 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 show us we have neglected developing something within self or have failed to continue to support a dream or passion. 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.

Dreamer's Poll

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© 2017 Sue B.

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