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Movies and Television as Design Inspiration

Right in the middle of awards season between the Golden Globes and the Oscars it comes to mind that as fans of great interiors frequently we are inspired by Hollywood. Have you ever watched a television show or movie and been more interested in the interior design of the space than the actual plot and actors? It happens to us constantly. Creative people are more likely to have some attention deficit issues but when the interiors are so beautiful or unique how can we not be mesmerized. Thank goodness someone invented the rewind button, and we use it frequently.

Is it that the entertainment industry selects the best interiors to film in or that they create the best interiors? Well, actually both are true. Historic settings serve as great backdrops and even characters in titles such as Downton Abbey, the Age of Innocence and Dark Shadows (the TV show). But in many cases the sets are designed from scratch and are actually imitated afterwards and end up influencing design. For instance the 28 James Bond movies have provided many great sets throughout the 50 years the franchise has been around. Remember Goldfinger’s recreation room, or any number of science fiction films, which have influenced contemporary design and industrial design.

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Most of us would not want to copy these rooms verbatim, but as fodder for the “visual”, we find them highly entertaining and stimulating to our senses. For instance, need a great staircase? Watch Sunset Boulevard, Gone With the Wind, Hello Dolly or The Sound of Music. We are sure you can name others. Want to see an overall great apartment? A Perfect Murder (1998). Want to see a cool mid-century modern home? Check out the cantilevered house in North by Northwest. A great library? My Fair Lady. A great kitchen? It’s Complicated or Something’s Gotta Give. In fact the kitchen in “It’s Complicated” has been our most requested kitchen from our clients. But each space is unique in size, shape and character, so we may incorporate one or two details inspired by the movie set like open shelving and the general feel of the room but it usually ends there as we wouldn’t want to do an exact replica. Although there are those that have copied the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

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And then there are those interiors that may not win any design awards but they are familiar to us and therefore comforting and welcoming in our memories of them. Some examples are The Brady Bunch home, Carrie’s apartment in Sex & the City, and even Archie Bunker’s living room.


Still it can be a lot of fun to covet these famous spaces. Just as one peruses the trade magazines to see what’s hot and what’s not, a movie or TV interior can be just as valuable a source to see what the big money and trendsetters are doing right now. Next time you watch a movie or TV show see if you notice the background. Also, tell us which are your favorites on our Facebook page.

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