How to Design a Set

Mad Men
The Drapers’ Apartment in Manhattan, 1968 Set Decorator: Claudette Didul 1. Patio Furniture
The table and chairs cost $175 at Playclothes (, which sells mostly apparel. Didul covered the seats in oilcloth. 2. Couch
Show creator Matt Weiner “requested a sunken living room, “like a conversation pit,” Didul says. Production designer Dan Bishop custom-built a sectional to suit the space, drawing inspiration from books by interior decorator Betty Pepis. Photo: Michael Yarish/Courtesy of AMC

Mad Men Refrigerator
Tracking down this 1964 General Motors Frigidaire with a right-sided handle wasn’t easy (they are rare), but Didul managed it with the help of a local antique-“appliance dealer. “They found it”and in a great color.” Photo: Michael Yarish/Courtesy of AMC

Mad Men Television
Built-in TVs were “like the flat-screens of today,” Didul says. This set is from Harry Poster (, a vintage-television dealer based in New Jersey. Photo: Michael Yarish/Courtesy of AMC

The Americans
Richard Patterson’s Apartment in Washington, D.C., 1981
Set Decorator: Andrew Baseman 1. Silk-Screened ’70s Mirror: Baseman picked this up at a thrift store in New Jersey for $5. “You can’t assume Patterson redecorated in 1981. Like most of us, he did it five or ten years ago.”
2. Shiny Furniture: Patterson is a womanizer, so his apartment needed to look a little sleazy. Chrome surfaces and that front-and-center animal print suggest bachelor pad.
3. Vintage Television: “It came with the owner’s manual and the original clunky remote, which you see on the coffee table,” Baseman says of the 1979 set, which he found in mint condition at an antiques shop in Brooklyn. At $200, it was cheaper than renting a comparable model from a prop house for a week. Photo: Andrew Baseman

The Americans
Zhukov’s Bedroom in Russia, 1981 1. Tacky Wallpaper
Zhukov’s bedroom is actually a room inside a Brooklyn funeral home; the space had just the sort of garish wallpaper Baseman needed. “If someone called this tasteful, I’d be a little worried.” 2. Red Bedding
“We almost always use red for the Russians,” Baseman says. “I wanted the furniture to be over-the-top to show Zhukov’s wealth.” Photo: Andrew Baseman

The Americans
KGB Tearoom in Russia, 1964 1. Lenin Wall Art
“Anything you hang you have to get clearance for,” Baseman explains. “The exceptions are antiques, anything pre-copyright. So all the paintings that look antique are antique.” But this portrait of Lenin? It’s a blown-up image (purchased from a photo service) mounted on foam board. 2. Red Rug
This was another thrift-store bargain ($65), especially since Baseman can reuse it. “Rugs I’ll use over and over again. A lot of times you just see a little piece of it; it’s innocuous enough.” Photo: Andrew Baseman

Olivia Pope’s Apartment in Washington, D.C., year unspecified Production Designer: Corey Kaplan 1. Nonfamily Photos
We’re in the dark about Pope’s early life, and for now show creator Shonda Rhimes wants to keep it that way. “You don’t see baby pictures, a mother or father,” Kaplan says. The photos here are instead from Pope’s travels. “Shonda wrote, “Olivia goes into her apartment.’ And we were like, What? Olivia’s apartment? Hello! What do you want to see in there? She said, “Nothing personal. But parts of her travels around the world.’” 2. The Dining Room
“We also had many discussions about Olivia’s dining-room table. I said, “I’d love to see stuff there”her computer, her work.’ But Shonda believed that Olivia works right in bed.” Photo: Danny Feld/Courtesy of ABC

Scandal Grand Piano
Rhimes didn’t request the piano, but she approved it. “Shonda gives you one-word answers: Fine. Okay. No. I believe the piano was “Fine.’ And, believe me, it wouldn’t still be there if it wasn’t.” Photo: Danny Feld/Courtesy of ABC

Scandal 1. The Living Room
Because Pope is always working, “she doesn’t do much entertaining,” Kaplan says. The goal, then, was to keep her place simple. “She decorates for comfort. She isn’t that fussy.” As for why we rarely see Pope’s kitchen, Kaplan says, “Does she seem like somebody that hangs out baking?”
2. Pillow Conversation
“If Kerry Washington [who stars as Pope] walks in and says, “I don’t think that blue pillow is me,’ we’ll have a discussion about it,” Kaplan says. “When we did Olivia’s bedroom and put a wardrobe in her closet, we couldn’t really get the right wardrobe at that moment. But Kerry really wanted the types of shoes that Olivia would wear in there. She needed to know that that was her character’s stuff. So get the lady her shoes.” Photo: Danny Feld/Courtesy of ABC

How to Design a Set