Last week was the premier of the fifth season of Mad Men on AMC. There has been lots of buzz about the plot line and the arising themes of this season, which did capture my imagination but what I was very much intrigued by were the set design and interior design choices. The office design and decor has been a topic of discussion in past seasons, but not so much the residential interiors, which is where I would like to focus my attention.
The first episode, A Little Kiss premiered new apartments for particular members of the cast. Don Draper and his newly wed wife Megan are living in a very large chic high-rise apartment in Manhattan. The décor is the epitome of modern, late-sixties decor with the cork wallcoverings, wall-to-wall carpeting, Florence Knoll sofas and a dropped center living area.
The decorating is even brought to viewers attention at the end of the episode when Don and Megan discuss her decision to install a white carpet. Although there’s a symbolic reference to her character and their relationship in this discussion, I love the reference to Décor magazines and how they affected decorating choices back then. Jack and I have had similar talks about choices I have made for vanity over functionality – and in many cases, I stand by those decisions because in sometimes beauty is more important when it comes to home design.
Even though I like aspects of the Draper residence, I feel strongly that these interiors are very specific to the late 60s. Currently, a lot of the furniture and details of 60s décor is in style but really when you put everything together, you can really tell which era it’s from. My favorite Draper designs are: the dining room drapes – which you can see through the kitchen, the Curtis Jere style sculpture over the bed, the front doors, and the entire credenza wall.
In contrast, Pete Campbell and his wife have moved their lives out of the city into suburbia to make room for an expanding family. He seems to have switched roles with Don when he was married to Betty. The only room we have visibility of, is the kitchen, but it is very much the opposite in design to that of Don’s current kitchen. The wallpaper, the cabinets and appliances all seem dated (for the 60s). If one were to base their opinions of life in the city vs the suburbia on kitchen design in Mad Men, surely we would all want to live to the city.
Lastly, my favorite home of the bunch that was featured in this episode was Joan Harris’ place. If I could choose to live in any one’s home on Mad Men, it would be in hers and I wouldn’t change too much about it, just maybe some of the furniture.
The walls in the living room are a rich, deep coral with contrasting teal, pinch-pleat drapes. I also love the touches of bronze and brass finishes. Her bedroom is a much more soothing tone of periwinkle blues with contrasting pops yellow. Again, the metal finishes are brassy bronzes. I particularly like the mid-century style bureau and the decorative Curtis Jere style sculpture above her bed. I’m actually going to begin a hunt for something similar for my bedroom now. I think it’s the answer to my dilemma of what can I place over the bed that is both abstract, beautiful and not the first choice of a sunburst mirror. Seeing Joan’s space has really inspired me to continue on the path creating a dramatic, richly colored home that looks timeless. Aside from a few pieces, her home could easily be featured in the decor magazines of today.
Photo Credits: Please note, all images are screen shots from Madmen Season 5 Episode 501 & 502 “A Little Kiss”