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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Desperate Housewives Decorating

Define your own decorating style with tips from the man who created Wisteria Lane’s signature look.

by Paula Hendrickson

Like the main characters’ homes on ABC’s Desperate Housewives, your home should reflect your unique style. The trick is defining who you are, what you love and what you aspire to become. That’s what production designer Thomas Walsh focused on when designing sets for each character on Wisteria Lane.

Rooms that Represent Character
On a TV series that quickly cuts from one scene to another, it’s crucial for characters to have distinct styles. “As you cut from one person’s drama to the next, you always know where you are at any point in time,” says Walsh. “It’s almost subliminal: ‘Oh, I’m in Susan’s world now,’ or ‘I’m in Bree’s world.’”
 Dedicated fans know the homes on Wisteria Lane have subtly evolved along with their residents. “The first year, Bree had a dead marriage. Everything was about form and presentation, but was devoid of passion,” Walsh says. “We used tans, beiges and strong contrasts of right and wrong.”
Just as Bree’s home initially underscored her repressed emotions and a desire to be in control, other characters’ homes reflected their own lives:
            • Susan (Teri Hatcher): creative, romantic, on-a-budget, shabby chic flair
            • Lynnette (Felicity Huffman): nice-but-worn furnishings, slightly chaotic, a little messy at times
            • Gabby (Eva Longoria Parker): nouveau riche, warm, sensual Mediterranean colors
Upon the arrival of Katherine (Dana Delany)—the only domestic goddess fastidious enough to overshadow Bree (Marcia Cross)—Walsh created a new set just as perfect as Bree’s, yet very different.
“She was going to be a counterpoint and competition to Bree,” Walsh says. “She was to mirror Bree in certain respects. There’s a certain control and power in her environment, but with enough different stylish elements to create an identity different from Bree.”
Katherine’s dark, wood-filled Craftsman-style home is in direct contrast to Bree’s more traditional house. “There was a sense of mystery about Katherine’s house and what happened in the past,” Walsh says. “We needed to support that and give the house more drama than a regular suburban home.”

Define Your Own Style
Walsh uses character’s back-stories when designing sets, something you can do, too, using your own histories, values and dreams. Walsh suggests the following questions:
         • What are my aspirations?
         • What do I want to project about myself through the choices I make for my home environment?
         • What colors are most important to me?
 “Start with the fundamental things: palette and which colors give you the most comfort,” Walsh says. Draw inspiration from artwork you admire. “Do a little scrapbook of things that really give you pleasure and of what you aspire to be. From there, start to do your own research. If you’re into the shabby chic thing like Susan, then the world of flea markets and thrift stores becomes a goldmine for a very wonderful creative journey of finding things that fit the scenario you’ve created for yourself.”

Details Count
On the set of a TV show or in your home, details complete the picture.
 “The details are very important,” Walsh says. “Often I’ll start with the details and work out to the bigger picture. But when laying out a new room from scratch, you always start with the larger key objects.”
 Next he adds accessories based on the colors, textures and patterns of the larger items. View each accessory as a way to inject your personality into the space. For Bree that could be an exquisite vase she’ll never use, whereas Susan would probably stick wildflowers in an old Mason jar. Gabby once had paintings of herself on the wall, now she might have her daughters’ artwork on the refrigerator instead.

Don’t Panic
Instead of worrying about decorating, try to keep it fun. Visit one of our showrooms, one of our Interior Designers will help you create the look of your dreams!

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