Updated: Apr 23
Before the popularity of hygge or resurgence of mid-century mod, before every Pinterest kitchen glorified open shelving and loooong before the shiplap of rustic farmhouse vomited all over HGTV, a quirky little apartment with lilac colored walls was the envy of every American yearning to be a big city dweller. Starbucks had barely made it out of Seattle when group of six friends sipped coffee on an oversized orange sofa in Central Perk. It was 1994, the Twin Towers stood tall, Gap fleece vests were all the rage and the mix and match flea market look reigned home decor. Every principle of interior design that I would learn years later in design school and throughout my career was evident on the sets of the most culturally important television show of all time...Friends.
The One with the Unrealistic Expectations
As a design enthusiast in my twenties (which was just a few short years ago, of course), I dreamed of having a 5,000 square foot loft apartment overlooking Central Park that I could decorate to my liking, just like Monica's super chic bachelorette pad. In reality, I lived in my father's home well into my mid twenties, and when I finally did move out, I was far too broke to afford even a bowl from Pottery Barn, let alone the Apothecary coffee table.
According to the New York Post, the two-bedroom, one-bath apartment with an open concept kitchen/living room and outdoor terrace in the West Village of New York City would have cost at least $4,500 a month....25 years ago! But ah-hah, the show did reveal that it was a rent controlled apartment passed down from Grandma Geller. ::::Eye Roll::: Convenient!
The One with the Quirky Statement Pieces
A pop of ironic whimsy will always be a great conversation starter and the set of Friends had many. A simple gold rimmed frame hung around the peep hole of Monica's door and instantly became iconic. In a 2012 auction by Profiles in History (of classic props and costumes), the notorious frame sold for $52,000!
But the peep hole frame wasn't the only home accessory that caught my eye, even at the age of 8. In season 2, after Joey lands the role of Drake Ramore on Days of Our Lives, he purchases a lot of unnecessary items for his new apartment, including Pat, a ceramic dog statue. In an unfortunate turn, Joey is later forced to sell everything in his home, but Ross buys him back the dog because it is the only thing he could actually afford to salvage. The dog makes many appearances throughout the show and ultimately is given to Chandler. We all make impulse buys for the home- for some it's a dog statue, for others it's a 300 dollar driftwood tabletop accessory (if my boyfriend asks, I am not "others").
But, nothing takes the creepy cake like Gladys. The 3 dimensional black haired woman escaping out of a frame was a coveted and sentimental art piece from the complex mind of of Phoebe. It always held a special place in her heart, although she tried many times to give it away, and it reminds me how emotionally valuable an art piece can be in the home. Art is highly personal and a direct reflection of the owner (case and point, Phoebe). Too often I go into homes that have what I call "hotel art" hanging on their walls. I too am guilty of owning a mass produced canvas from a big box retailer because, well, it's much less expensive than an original. But, I highly recommend everyone has atleast one investment, original artwork by a living artist (#SUPPORTLIVEARTISTS) in their home. Nothing can compare to proudly hanging something on your wall that you, and only you posses. And if it's a Gladys, so be it!
The One with the PIVOT!
The single most practical piece of information that I learned from Friends regarding interior design is to ALWAYS measure your points of egrees (entrances, staircases, doorways, etc) before buying furniture! In the episode "The One with the Cop" Ross, shopping for furniture for his new apartment, buys a new sofa, but refuses to pay for the delivery. He convinces Rachel to help him carry it to his walk-up apartment and the two hilariously get stuck in the stairway because Ross did not measure his points of egress! With the help of Chandler, the three try unsuccessfully to get the sofa up the stairs, and thus the "PIVOT" was born! If I had a dollar for every client that went and bought a piece of furniture on their own only to have it not fit through their doorway, I’d be rich enough to live in Rachel and Monica’s apartment.
And last but not least...
The One with the Purple Walls
You can NEVER go wrong with a bold color. While white walls are all the rage in the current ever so popular Scandinavian design, I will never say no to a colorful wall. I have been bored by mute and colorless interiors for far too long (thanks Joanna Gaines) and it’s time to make America colorful again! If you are looking to recreate Monica's wall color, I suggest Benjamin Moore's Crocus Petal Purple 2071-40.
Now, 25 years later, watching Friends is like going back to the home you grew up in. Mostly outdated, full of mismatched hand-me-downs, but familiar and comforting. Friends was much more than a Televsion show it was a way of life, it was our Thursday night home and we can all take a piece of that home into our own!