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The memorable colour palettes of 8 TV living rooms

by Greg on September 5, 2018

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Striking the balance between ‘memorable’ and ‘tasteful’ is no easy feat in home décor. When so many of our homes look the same from outside, it’s not unusual to want to create something with a strong identity indoors.

Go too wild and you can expect forced grins from your visitors as they compliment you on your ‘interesting’ choices. Even if you don’t care what other people think, you may find yourself regretting a colour scheme that seemed a good idea at the time, but whose unexpected clashes give your kids nightmares!

The solution may come from an unexpected source: the world of TV sitcoms and dramas. This doesn’t mean you should knock through your walls and replace them with wobbly sets and a space for three cameras and a lighting rig. Rather, it is to suggest taking inspiration from television’s unsung aesthetes: the production designers.

The living rooms of our small-screen heroes remain etched in our memories for years, because they are deliberately designed to have a strong visual identity and to welcome us in. Indeed, TV viewers invite those lounges into their own front rooms by switching on the box every evening! So let’s take a look at some of the most commonly trod floorboards of TV-land and see what effect their colour palette can give your newly-decorated living room.

Seinfeld
Seinfeld Living Room

While Jerry is hardly known as a fashion guru (Kramer is a much better influence), the understated style of his apartment has become emblematic of ’90s normcore. Meticulously neat, Jerry’s belongings were carefully shelved in the background allowing swathes of cooling gray and blue to dominate through his furniture choices. Try it for a sun-facing room to make a pleasant place to rest on a summer’s day!

Friends
Friends Living Room

The grandeur of Monica’s enormous apartment was off-set by a shabby-chic look that made a bit more sense in the home of two struggling waitresses. Lavender and green woodwork brought the room to life, with splashes of red and gold helping to break up the huge space. You can use bold colour like this to bring a pulse to an otherwise shabby room, but be careful to choose your palette first (or borrow Monica’s) to ensure the results don’t provoke laughter.

Mad Men
Mad Men Living Room

By season five of Mad Men, Don Draper had abandoned his “haunted mansion” for a chic Manhattan apartment designed with the kind of modernist restraint that characterizes his ad campaigns. Autumnal olive greens and browns warmed the somewhat impersonal space, though if you’re brave enough to go with a white carpet like Don, you’ll want to break up the monotony with a shag on the living room floor.

Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey Living Room

Downton’s drawing room takes the strong and vibrant colour scheme of Friends and makes it “posh” by toning down the shades and adding baroque swirls, and favouring silk wallpaper rather than painted walls. The result is calming and classy – though its imitators will need to be careful not to head too far into kitsch territory.

Big Bang Theory
Big Bang Theory Living Room

Dark room? The Big Bang Theory offers an explosion of colour: matching bright, interesting shades of green with strong geometries freshens things up without become a style tragedy.

How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother Living Room

The well-worn sofa added character and coziness to HIMYM’s somewhat cluttered living room. The deep shade of red warms up the entire space, and its chequered throw combines with wooden motifs to create a look we’ll call the ‘urban lumberjack.’

New Girl
New Girl Living Room

The earthy themes of Jess’s sofa and cushions set the tone for her living room, but it’s lifted by the metallic shades of her kitchen furniture and that bright blue door – bringing Seinfeld’s look right up to date.

Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad Living Room

Walter White’s living room takes the urban lumberjack and gives it a more mature, family spin. Checked curtains make short work of a wide window. Earth and olive shades are given relief by a splash of burgundy that completes the comforting suburban aesthetic.

Have you spotted the shades you like?

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John Cole

John writes on behalf of NeoMam Studios. A digital nomad specializing in leadership, digital media, and personal growth topics, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in the UK, Norway, and the Balkans.

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