You Can Build Your Virtual Dream Home Without Leaving the House

Why I’m getting back into The Sims.
Exterior of house with lush greenery

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The more time you’ve been spending at home, the more you’ve probably thought about all the ways you’d like to change your space. Maybe you’re feeling like your bathroom could use some fresh wallpaper or your backsplash is overdue for replacement—yet many (but not all) home renovations require at least one, if not several, trips to the hardware store, and some might even require the help of a contractor. But you can still build your dream home—at least, virtually. All you need is a download of The Sims.

Trust me, I would know. As a teen, I was a devoted player of The Sims 2 and 3—it was the thing that comforted me most on sick days or lonely evenings, even if my bulky laptop threatened to burn my thighs after hours of game play. I bought The Sims 4, the game’s latest version, a year and a half ago as solace during a tough time. Now that I’m quarantined in New York City, I decided to return to it. I’m not alone: Verizon reported that video game usage has increased 75 percent since quarantine went into effect. Add in the fact that the game is on sale for about $5 and instantly downloadable, and there you go: My evening plans are sorted.

I’ve always been more of a player than a builder (someone who prefers putting my efforts into my Sims rather than focusing on creating their houses), but this time I decided to do something different: I would build my Sim home from scratch.

Exterior of green Sims home
Courtesy of Electronic Arts

The process took about three deeply satisfying hours (with the help of the “mother lode” cheat code that ensured my Sim had enough funds to go all out). I wanted something modern yet cozy, earthy but not totally bohemian. I’d always found Sim architecture to be a far bigger challenge than decorating, so I settled on a simple one-floor structure—but then added on a glass pane angled roof because…why not? In a simulated world, anything is possible. 

Living room in The Sims
Courtesy of Electronic Arts

Once the structure was set, I toyed around with the exterior design. I tried three different stone finishes before settling on the perfect one, and complemented it with some green tiling. Then I realized that the grassy lot it sat on felt barren, so I devoted 20 minutes to landscaping: piling up hydrangeas and wild grasses and dropping in two big cypress trees. I hadn’t left my Brooklyn apartment for more than a week, other than the few times I’d taken out the trash. Creating a lush, green world for my virtual self was the salve I didn’t know I needed.

Corner with chair and lamp in The Sims
Courtesy of Electronic Arts

The most important part I saved for last: crafting the interior of my perfect one-bedroom home. In previous gaming sessions, I admittedly focused more on supplying my Sims with the best-quality items—the fancy fridge that wouldn’t break, the nice bed that improved their mood—instead of considering all the visual possibilities the game offered to me. This time around, I carefully selected my wallpaper and flooring—a retro tile situation in the kitchen and a Kelly Wearstler–inspired print in the bathroom. I pieced together gallery walls. I made sure no seating area went without a rug. Bit by bit, it all came together.

Green bathroom in Sims home
Courtesy of Electronic Arts

By the time I deemed the house complete, I had no interest in setting my Sim about her life. I didn’t care, like I usually do, about making her progress through her career as rapidly as possible. Instead, I just sat a while. As my Sim toyed around on her computer, I did the same on mine: Looking at the home I created just for myself, full of all the possibilities that I could imagine in the span of a few hours. If only for a moment, I felt at peace.

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Rebecca Deczynski


Rebecca is most often found digging through troves of vintage treasures, both in-person and online. Ask her to recommend a good book to read or an obscure Instagram account to follow, and you won’t be disappointed.