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Let popular TV show's inspire your decor


TV shows to use as inspiration when decorating your home

We all love a good TV series. But, have you ever sat back, watched a show and found yourself thinking, "I love that design"? Here's a few tips on our favourites.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is set in Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England towards the end of the Edwardian period. While the series may begin with a look at post-Edwardian life, the castle is decorated in Victorian style and enriched by heirlooms from centuries past. The saloon, for example, was designed by Thomas Allom in the gothic revival style of the 1860s. Gothic revival sees dramatic architecture and elaborate carvings with classical Greek columns and Italian arches creating the medley that is Victorian style. The saloon’s wallpaper dates back to the 17th century; the third Earl of Highclere acquired the exquisite gold-embossed leather while in Cordoba, Spain. For those unable to acquire the ancient leather wallpaper, a richly patterned wallpaper, damask wallpaper, creates an air of royalty.

Damask wallpaper paired with an equally ornate Victorian era style rug (characterized by Turkish influence, bold colors, often with a floral motif) has the cluttered, busy feel of Victorian decor.

Pile on the richness and detail by furnishing a Victorian style room with lounges and chairs of the late-Baroque period, a period known for its whimsical interpretation of grandeur and asymmetry.

Decadence is the theme of the Downton style. With a gold and pastel color palette, some Rococo furniture, damask on the walls, an oriental rug on the floor, and the popular Victorian trend of oversized potted palms sporadically placed, decadence, or the look of, can be achieved.


HBO's Boardwalk Empire takes place in the 1920s, prohibition era Atlantic City. Production designer Bob Shaw is responsible for creating the immense outdoor set, as well as the detailed interior. The creative team for Boardwalk Empire won seven Emmy's at the 2011 Creative Emmy Awards. Because most of the reference photographs used by the creative team were in black and white, Bob Shaw says on, "My research was almost like archaeology. I found bits of old paint on old columns, color on tiles - there were a lot of blues and aquas." Alongside the blues and aquas, deep browns are used to create a neutral background. The Boardwalk Empire restaurant and nightclub, Babette's, is designed like a steamboat, with white and brown railings, low lighting, and a dusty teal wall colour.

The 1920s saw Victorian decadence tempered by sleek lines, and the Art Deco love of geometric shapes. The Hoover Building in West London, is a picture perfect example of the Art Deco style that began in the 1920s and flourished throughout the 30s and 40s. The lines are sleek, geometric, and dynamic. The 1920s heralded in the dramatic Art Deco, with a foot firmly planted in the Victorian/Edwardian past. Potted palms and black birdcages in one room,  teal walls and marquee style lighting in another. The 1920s were the clash of tradition and rebellion, drinking and teetotalism, jazz and classical. Decor that reflects the age revels in binaries: dusty pastel walls and dark wood furniture upholstered with velvet.


Through smoky filters and the shadows of venetian blinds, the mid-century modern style of Mad Men has drawn acclaim from designers since its debut on AMC in 2007. The retro decor is meticulously chosen by set decorator Claudette Didul and production designer Dan Bishop, who used 1950s and 60s design books, and vintage magazines, like House and Garden to create the look. Mid-century modern, a recognized design period spanning a 30 year period, from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, was influenced, in part, by the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, who preached a philosophy of organic architecture, an integration of nature and design, materials and functionality, and an overall integrity of space and design. Architecturally, mid-century had a strong focus on open floor plans and window space, in an effort to bring the outside in.

Mid-century colours are based in neutral, earthy tones, with bright accents through bold signature pieces. Wood veneers were key to the look of the time; and that eye on nature, grounded design in browns, greens, and beiges. However, mid-century is nothing if not innovative, a look that refuses to be left neutral; the penchant for mixing bold colors and patterns with earth tones characterize the era.

A little paint and a sunken living room go a long way in recreating the Mad Men look.  With the addition a few accent pieces and some wood veneer wall panelling, mid-century comes alive. Herman Miller, American manufacturer of office furniture still produces furniture designed in that innovative design period. The Eames Chair, introduced by Herman Miller in 1956, is an iconic piece of mid-century office design, and is still in production.

The sofas in Don Draper's apartment were made by Omega Cinema Props, and while searching DIY couch may yield results, there is no shortage of furniture designers who currently specialize in creating that Mad Men look. Tapered legs and sleek functionality are the hallmarks of 1960’s furnishings.

Essential to the Mad Men style, is drinking. Don Draper's office is equipped with a bar. His drink of choice, the Old Fashioned, is served in silver banded lowball glasses. Results abound for vintage bar sets on Etsy and Ebay.

Mid-century modern design is about class (though some would argue kitsch). The simplicity and the design principle that form follows function allow a transition into a mid-century aesthetic to reduce bulk and clutter. With the emphasis on integrity, we tend not to see the hardware in mid-century designs, allowing the piece to appear as a whole, rather than an assembly. Starting with a few signature pieces, vintage or otherwise, can dramatically change the feel of a room. Take a look at Mad Men Interior Design on Pinterest if you're looking to pay homage to your favorite TV show, or just your favorite design era.

By Sarah Bon

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