Let’s go to the movies: Art and Design Inspiration

Ah cinema, one of America’s favorite pastimes (besides baseball of course…) provides us with the most ideal form of escapism as we are transported, for about 90 or so minutes, into a world of fantasy, drama, suspense, laughter and so on. One could certainly argue that literature wields this same power however, one thing movies have, hands down, over books are the visuals….

Set design is probably the most important thing in a movie besides the actors themselves, and at times it even steals the show. Do you ever find yourself looking past the people to check out the fabulous interior they’re in? I do all the time…for those who have a passion for art and design you know what I mean. More often than not I find myself wishing the the leading lady could step out of frame for a second so I could get a better look at the furniture behind her! So now, leaving the plot on the back burner and putting all criticisms of the films themselves aside, let’s take a look at 10 movies for their art and design influence. From Butterfield 8’s blue painted walls to the Shining’s iconic geometric carpet, your home now can look like those on the silver screen too!

Butterfield 8 (1960)

If you’re searching for the perfect shade of blue to paint a room in your home…look no further. The blue boudoir in the opening scene of Butterfield 8 is in my opinion the perfect shade of blue; one that sways between icy blue and seafoam green (or maybe that’s just the inconsistency of 1960’s film?) Either way here are three shades of Butterfield 8 inspired blues; and with names like Crystal Blue, Sea Kiss, and Aqua Chiffon they seem especially fitting.



Marie Antoinette (2006)

“If it ain’t baroque don’t fix it,” right? Wrong. Baroque art and architecture is fabulous, just look at the intricate white moulding on the light blue walls in this scene from director Sofia Coppola’s version Marie Antoinette…it’s like piping on a cake, it’s not necessary but it’s absolutely gorgeous! Every scene in the film is bursting with florals, ruffles, pastels, mirrors, satin, silk and of course cake. Really, what’s not to love? Below are a few Marie Antoinette inspired items for your own home. Oh la la!


Harry Potter (2007)

The second I saw the black tiled corridors of the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix I began to drool. Shiny black tiles + white grout = oh, so chic. Perhaps others have been inspired by this scene too? As black tile in the kitchen and bathroom has become quite the trend…On the floors or on the wall, shiny or matte, black grout or white here are a few ways to do black tile in your home.

ministry of magic black tile

The Shining (1980)

That carpet (it’s so bad, it’s good) is probably one of the most recognizable design elements of this cult classic psychological thriller. Departing from the 1970’s color palette of orange, brown, and red this iconic pattern has been redone in more contemporary color scheme by Cole & Son wallpaper company, perhaps more suitable for today’s home?


American Psycho (2000)

Almost anyone would swoon over the minimalist black and white design of psycho killer Patrick Bateman’s (played by Christian Bale) New York apartment. The sleek black leather barcelona chairs paired with the dramatic, yet slightly creepy, Robert Longo drawings of contorted figures are to die for. (no pun intended)

Amélie (2001)

This quirky French foreign film pulls out all the stops for great design inspiration. From its eye-catching, complementary red and green color scheme to the kooky art and accessories Amélie is sure to bring out the whimsical design side in you. Here are a few Amélie must-have design staples…

Atonement (2007)

Perhaps the epitome of English country grandeur (that seems like an oxymoron), the magnificent manor in Atonement is one of the most drool worthy “homes” I’ve seen in a long time, and what’s even more impressive is that it really exists. Though many would think that floral on top of floral is something their grandmother would do; the film proves that it can actually look quite elegant. Now for those of us who don’t have a sprawling 19th century English estate that looks like this, but would like one, here are a few items that can help get you started!


Down with Love (2003)

Mid Century Mania! That’s basically all I have to say. We know we all love it right now; however I have to give it to the directors of Down with Love, for doing it before the Mad Men trend/craze that really sent us into a Mid Century tailspin. But anyways, the set designers must have had quite some fun putting this groovy pad together, and you can too in your own home with some pink “womb” chairs, a bar cart and a “bubble” lamp or two.


Coco & Igor (2009)

 Chanel invented chic with her fashions so why wouldn’t her home be the same way? Black and white with a touch of beige, Chanel’s country home portrayed in Coco & Igor is pure reflection of the designer’s taste and inclination toward bold lines, geometry, and of course black. It amazes me how all the patterns of the bedroom shown in this scene flow effortlessly together. For those who want to try the all black and white look (I do!) this film should serve as your primary source. Here are a few ways you can bring Chanel’s sophisticated, yet bold style into your own home…


Julie and Julia (2009)

You may not have yet mastered the art of French cooking, but you can look to Julia Child for more than just how to make boeuf bourguignon! Though her signature white peg board is more for practicality than for looks, I’d have to say, that done the right way it can make a striking design statement. They say, “form follows function,” and isn’t it always that the best designs are the most straight forward? Now to finish off this culinary inspired look you’ll need a tasty paint color such as Benjamin Moore’s Pear Green and/or a few rolls of delft dinnerware wallpaper. Bon appétit!

Meryl Streep as "Julia Child" in Columbia Pictures' JULIE & JULIA.


3 comments on “Let’s go to the movies: Art and Design Inspiration

  1. This is great! Design isn’t “my thing,” but I can definitely appreciate it. I highly enjoy the references to film, which made your post intriguing for me. I cannot wait to be a homeowner now, as ridiculous as that may sound, but to design rooms to mirror films is a great idea.

    • Thanks so much! Like you said, I also can’t wait to be a homeowner either, or live in an apartment where I can do some serious painting/renovations; because I am itching to make some of these design inspirations a reality! Glad you enjoyed the post, I had fun putting it together!


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