Room Inspiration via Television

By Kate Riley October 13, 2011

Hello all, today I’m happy to welcome back a monthly contributor, Michelle from Ten June.  After all that fall decorating and crafting, I’m in the mood to take a break and read about great design, so Michelle’s article couldn’t have come at a better time.  Today she’s bringing you her perspective on how television influences her design style, take it away Michelle!

“They say that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, but what about inspiration? Where does it lie for you? While I spend my fair share of time perusing shelter magazines, design blogs and creative websites like Pinterest, I also like to find design inspiration in unusual places. One of my favorite places to seek out unique home décor ideas is right in my living room – on the television!

brothers and sisters kitchen

Nora’s kitchen from Brothers & Sisters, via Hooked On Houses

One benefit of using television to inspire home design is that, as a viewer, you are automatically granted access into a million different scenes- homes of the rich, the poor, the old, the new, the traditional and the glamorous. But did you know that when you pull home design ideas from television, you can add a lot more to your design knowledge than just a few pretty, inspiring images? In fact, you can learn a lot about the way design works, just by turning on the TV.

The creators of television shows use set design to help to define and shape what you watch, such as the time period of the event, the tone of the show and even the personality of each of the characters.

In the same way that audiences understand television characters based on set design, one of the ways that visitors learn about you and your family is based on your home décor.  As Nate Berkus says, “Your home should be a beautiful reflection of who you are and what you love.” 

Just like in our homes, television sets allow us a peek into a character’s life and permit us to understand a little bit more about who we’re watching.

Take this living room for example. Does it look familiar to you?

friends living room

Living room from Friends, via Grande Design

We all know and love this iconic Manhattan apartment living room, “owned” by Monica but frequented by the entire cast of Friends.  This living room was the gathering spot for a group of young, hip city dwellers. Both the elements of Monica’s personality and the function of the space are captured in its design.

The fun, spunky colors and random, eclectic assortment of furniture reflects the young, cheerful personality of Monica (and of course her fabulous roommate, Rachel) while the worn, comfortable-looking couches, soft rug and addition of informal pillows and blankets scattered around the room give off a relaxed vibe. I can just see Chandler, Joey, the chick and the duck in there now.

Here’s another living room, but one that gives off quite a different vibe.


Draper family living room from Mad Men, via

This 1960’s era living room sets the tone on the set of Mad Men, the mid-century drama that highlights American society and culture during the 1960’s. This living room, which belongs to the Draper family, is traditional and conventional with a touch of mid-century flair.

Mrs. Draper, in an attempt to add a contemporary touch to the room during the third season of the show, makes over the style of the living room, as seen below. She adds lighter curtains and carpet, an orange sofa and patterned chairs which brighten the room while maintaining the family’s traditional vibe and reflecting the evolving society of that era.



What about this closet? Recognize it?

carries closet sex and the city

Carrie’s closet from Sex and the City, via Hooked on Houses

Doesn’t it just scream “I belong to a frenzied fashionista, couture-wearing writer whose wardrobe should not be crammed into this tiny New York apartment?” Oh yes it does. Hello, Carrie Bradshaw!

I think we all cheered out loud for Carrie once she landed her dream closet, as seen below, in the apartment with Big. As odd as it sounds, these spaces define Carrie’s character and sets the tone for her personality; as she grew from a twenty-something single girl into a mature, accomplished married woman, Carrie’s closet evolved and matured with her.


Carrie & Big’s closet from Sex and the City, via Hooked on Houses

One of my favorite shows on television right now is the hilarious Modern Family, a show which highlights three related families and their day-to-day trials and tribulations. The Dunphy family lives in a beautiful suburban home that is designed to characterize their traditional, middle class American family. With a touch of crazy, of course.


Dunphy family home from Modern Family, via Hooked on Houses

One of the best elements of the Dunphy home is the gorgeous blue entryway. The bold wall color greets guests at the front door and carries its way upstairs along with a gallery wall of family photos. In my opinion, this area truly defines the family – bold and loud, but always centered around family.


the Dunphy entryway from Modern Family, via Hooked on Houses


Dunphy family entryway from Modern Family, via

These are just a few examples of how you can pull inspiration and design knowledge from television shows. Isn’t it fascinating to realize how much design shapes and molds your perception of a place or the people associated with it?

While it is true that television set design teaches us a lot about designing your own home, it’s sometimes just as fun to sit back and admire the beautiful sets on television.  All of these images below are in my inspiration file and for good reason – they capture gorgeous design in a space.


Carrie & Big’s apartment from Sex and the City, via Hooked on Houses


Addison’s beach house from Private Practice, via


Serena’s bedroom from Gossip Girl, via Christina Tonkin Interiors


Nora’s backyard from Brothers & Sisters, via Hooked on Houses

Thanks so much Michelle, like you I’m a huge fan of the Modern Family and Brothers and Sisters houses.  Be sure to stop by and say hello to Michelle at her blog Ten June.  



What’s my favorite you might ask?  Oh you didn’t.  Well, I’ll tell you!  Currently, it’s the Chicago apartment in The Good Wife.  Inside you’ll find classic styling that creates a timeless elegant interior, one filled with traditional wainscoting and fabulous use of color.  Here is the entry:

good wife entry

Foyer from The Good Wife, Designer Dad

The master bedroom, her vanity, and the dining room

the good wife rooms

images via Casa Sugar

To see the full tour of the set of The Good Wife and read a fascinating interview with Set Director Beth Kushnick, visit Stephen Saint-Onge’s blog and read about the styling that goes into the sets on a great TV show.

What is your most favorite “home” on television, past or present? 





  1. These are all great! I think one of my all time favorites is Meryl Streep’s house in the movie It’s Complicated – especially the kitchen!

  2. The home in “It’s Complicated” as well as Meryl’s bakery/shop has been my fav since seeing the movie! The Mediterranean style of her home just grabbed me (we live in our own Mediterranean) and who wouldn’t want to stop at her bakery for a coffee every day?

  3. Interesting to note the changes between what was clearly a shot from the pilot of “Modern Family” and then the later shot of the foyer from an actual episode.


    And I agree with the previous comment of loving both homes in “The Holiday”! And I love love love Carrie and Big’s apartment in SATC2.

  4. Carrie’s apartment before she did the big makeover has always been one of my favorite TV home sets ever. And of course I love Monica’s apartment. It’s not something I would do for myself (given the color pallet) there were so many elements that are easily incorporated into my own decor – if only I had an open living space like that. Another show that I think has great sets that really help set the tone for the show is Parenthood. It’s almost like the homes are characters in the story, helping to push the narrative along.

  5. Jules’s house in Cougar Town is fantastic! It’s been blogged about on several sites. It has a nice coastal feel to it. I also love the Dunphy house from Modern Family, which has a completely different vibe to it. I hadn’t seen that view of Addison’s house (Private Practice) before. It reminds me of the Something’s Gotta Give house which has always been a favorite of mine. I wish they’d show more of her home. But I think if forced to choose, I’d go with Jules’s house.

  6. I really enjoyed this. Especially since I don’t watch a lot of television. There are really some amazing sets out there. Sometimes, I feel I pay more attention to the sets in movies than I do the characters. It would be so much fun to do set design. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. My Favorite is actually a movie house…The Beach House in “Somethings Got to Give”. A close second is Amanda’s house in “The Holiday”. Great post, I love the houses you have featured. Cheers!

  8. I think inspiration comes from all over. I have pinned pictures of Nora’s backyard from Brothers and Sisters and the backyard from Parent hood as wedding inspiration. Gotta love great lighting.

  9. great post but there’s an error. Carrie was never 20 in Sex in the City. the show started with her in her mid to late thirties.

  10. What a fun post!! As an avid Friends fan since the 1st episode, Monica’s apartment always seemed like the coolest place ever to live—loved the door with the gold frame around the peephole.

    I am in love with the blue entry on Modern Family. Sometimes I want to pause my DVR so I can just stare at it a little bit. That’s not weird, is it? ;)

  11. I totally get inspired from tv and movies. When I watch a movie on the big screen I am always looking at the rooms behind the actors, love what they do, make them pretty but lived in. As for Modern family, I think Phil and Claire’s room is Tom Cruises house from Risky Business, looks alot alike!

  12. What a great post!

    I LOVE Ellie’s house from Cougar Town – the green damask wallpaper she has is just stunning! In fact I’m just realizing now that I’ve been searching for a similar pattern for my living room; hmmmm, very interesting how inspirational television can actually be!

    I also do adore the entry way from Modern Family’s Dumphy household.

    Take care,

  13. One of the best on TV right now has to be Will Shuster’s apartment on Glee. That molding is fabulous!! I guess it help when your ex works at BB&Y…

  14. Nothing says casual like Modern Family’s Dunphy home! I love everything about it, and would so love for my house to look like that.

  15. I second Trista…Adam and Kristina’s craftsman style home on Parenthood is cozy, fun, and sophisticated. Love it!!

  16. Haha. I totally had half a post written about this sitting in a drafts folder. I’m glad you posted it. I lalalove the boys’ apartment on Big Bang. Room for inspiration everywhere.

  17. Everytime my girls put on the show Good Luck Charlie….I find myself really loving their home. So lived in…full of kids, chaos and very quirky. Real life! My it

  18. I have always liked Bree’s house on Desperate Housewives – especially its most recent make-over.

  19. I never realized how much tv could influence design until this post. So many incredible examples. Great round up Michelle!

  20. Kristel, you rock! I read these comments solely in hopes that someone would give the MF foyer paint color. Thank you!!!

  21. The houses on Parenthood are great. Also loved Nora’s on Brothers & Sisters. And although not a set design I liked the reveal of Nate B’s new digs in New York — very classy!

  22. Such a great post! I’m always looking at homes on television and pay special attention to the designs–and even though I’m 30 something, I’m drawn to old fashioned homes. I watch a lot of old movies/sitcoms.
    My absolute favorite home and dream home by the way is the second house that the Cleaver’s owned on Leave it to Beaver. I just love everything about it, inside and out!!!

    Thanks for the great post–really neat!

  23. I love Modern Family and all of the houses! Mitch & Cam’s dining room (with drum pendant) and the open cookbook storage in Phil & Claire’s kitchen (complete with the same fiesta stripe pitcher I have from Crate & Barrel). Can you tell I just watched the whole series a couple of weeks ago? :)

    My favorite movie house, possibly of all time is the one in Knocked Up, which my husband so kindly went through and pulled out our favorite rooms… :) There are so many others that I can’t even think of right now!

  24. I’m not a fan of Parenthood on NBC – just not my cup of tea – but I watch it from time to time just to get a look at the characters’ houses!! The shows creators have definitely designed some cozy, warm living spaces for its characters. I love the colors and the design features. Modern Family also is a favorite with me. Favorite show and favorite living spaces. I also love Phil and Claire’s dining area with the plates on the wall – very colorful, eclectic, and fun.

  25. I loved the Hamptons home in “Something’s Gotta Give.” It was all fresh and airy and beachy and wonderful.

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