When the right actors, directors, and scripts come together, TV magic happens. But there’s another element to that equation that many people overlook—and it’s in every episode.
A show’s set design can contribute to its overall success. A good one should be memorable and complement the characters. Imagine your favorite TV family, for example. You probably picture them in their living room with decor that perfectly embodies their personalities. The more we fall in love with the characters, the more we want our lives to look like theirs!
Below, find a few of the most iconic TV sets and learn how you can get the look in your own home without a Hollywood designer.
Friends is an obvious show to include on our list, but choosing just one of the many unforgettable sets was a tough decision. We went with Monica’s apartment because its purple walls, teal cabinetry, and quirky tchotchkes make the New York City space a TV history icon.
Monica’s style is easily eclectic. Collected art and mementos cover her walls, and her furniture is pieced together in a perfectly imperfect way. To re-create this look, start with furniture. Shop for mismatched chairs at an antiques store, and pick up flea market paintings throughout the year. Add in a big, cozy sofa that invites your friends to sit down and stay awhile. Eclectic decorators don’t necessarily care if everything matches perfectly or pleases every guest. As long as you love it and it makes youhappy, that’s all that matters.
We don’t think it’s a coincidence that the rebirth of midcentury-modern style came so quickly after Mad Men’s successful eight-year run. The show takes place in the Big Apple in the 1960s and follows characters at a fast-paced advertising agency. Along with beehive hairdos and plaid suits, the show reminded us what it was like to live, work, and decorate in a midcentury-modern world.
Related: This Retro Pattern Is Making a Comeback
Midcentury-modern style is polarizing—you either love it or you don’t. Those who do are in luck because it seems nearly every major furniture retailer is going through a serious mod phase. Look for chairs with low, narrow wood legs and sofas with straight lines. Mix in rich textures like tweed, leather, and wood paneling. Of course, we can’t ignore the show’s retro color palette. Stick with neutrals but add pops of burnt orange, dusty blue, and lots of mustard yellow. Your new space will look as sleek as Sterling Cooper—without the cigarette smoke!
The Big Bang Theory
Few sitcoms have reached the same popularity as The Big Bang Theory. The comedy show features a quirky group of scientists and an aspiring actress who most frequently gather at the apartment of the two main characters, Sheldon and Leonard. The scholarly space—filled with telescopes, globes, a rolling whiteboard, and plenty of reference books—is now as recognizable as its eccentric characters.
It’s hard to pin down Sheldon and Leonard’s design aesthetic, but if we had to give it a name, we’d call it an intellectual bachelor pad. To re-create the look, start with a quality leather sofa, spacious coffee table, and sturdy bookshelf. Then fill the room with anything that sparks your curiosity—and remember the books! This style is perfect for a home office or craft room where your creativity and problem-solving can shine. Hang up inspirational cork boards, display your favorite memorabilia, and get to work—the world is your oyster.
Sex and the City
We couldn’t possibly mention Sex and the City and not talk about Carrie’s dreamy closet. Designed for a scatterbrained fashionista, this walk-in closet is packed with tulle, glitter, shoes, and more shoes. We are so jealous!
If you lack a spare room to turn into your personal fashion playground, you can still make a few changes to get the closet of your dreams. First, paint! Most people don’t bother painting their closet, but a pop of bright color will make the space feel extra special. Install a variety of storage options, including cubbies, drawers, jewelry displays and, of course, shoe racks. If you have a walk-in closet, add an ottoman or small island as a place to prep your look. Finally, use your closet as an opportunity to showcase a glam chandelier.
We love Modern Family because of its relatability. It shows parenting is not perfect, relationships can be tough, and one family can pack in a lot of different personalities. If you find yourself relating to almost every episode, you may also have the set design to thank. With the exception of Jay and Gloria, the characters’ homes are all very traditional.
Take the Dunphy family classic suburban home, for example. Its mix of traditional and contemporary styles is perfect for a family of five with little time to spare. With this classic aesthetic, you don’t have to worry about trends going out of style each season. White trim and a neutral color palette keep it simple and clean. Invest in comfortable furniture where you can binge-watch your favorite shows. Remember to add framed photos from your kids’ embarrassing years, and always leave room on the fridge for an outstanding test or book report!
In the comedy-drama Gilmore Girls, Lorelai walks to the beat of her own drum. We came to love her witty banter, coffee-fueled rants, and unconditional love for her daughter, Rory. And who could forget her casual decorating style? The Gilmore home is a cottage-lover’s paradise in the middle of Stars Hollow.
Although every room in Lorelai’s home is special, we especially love the kitchen. Cottage-style kitchens are so unique and often incorporate lace window coverings. Start with those if you want a Gilmore Girls-inspired space. Decorate with antique plates, wicker baskets, and a houseplant or two. Add in a few retro elements, like seafoam-green tile or midcentury-modern chairs, and you’re all set! Bonus points if you can bring a vintage stove or refrigerator back to working condition!