The 2003 comedy “Something’s Gotta Give” starred Oscar-winning legends Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. But for lots of moviegoers, the most memorable role was played by the house — especially its big, light-filled kitchen.
The airy, shingled Hamptons beach house is walled with windows and built-in bookcases. The rooms are open, the furniture slipcovered and the walls and fabrics awash in creamy blues, whites and tans. The kitchen gleams with white glass-front cabinets, vintage hardware, a commercial-style range and dark soapstone counters.
With a backdrop like that, who cares if Keaton and Nicholson find midlife love?
Even when a movie’s stars seem dim and the plot is plodding, those of us who can’t get enough of interiors can wallow in the set designs. But the “Something’s Gotta Give” house sparked interest of an entirely new intensity.
Designers started getting requests to re-create the house’s interior or to plan an entire remodel around it. Clients carried in the video to show designers and contractors what they wanted. The president of Williams-Sonoma Home created a custom-upholstered headboard collection after seeing the bedrooms. A New England decorator blogged about how to achieve the look and got more hits on that entry than she’d ever had. A rug manufacturer in the Midwest produced a version of the living room’s carpet and has sold 65 in the past two years. One overzealous fan rented a helicopter and flew over Long Island until he located the actual house — then offered to buy it, the movie’s director, Nancy Meyers, told the Los Angeles Times. (The house, whose owners were not identified, was not for sale.)
“There are catchphrases that we often hear about what people want: comfortable, warm, welcoming, open and light-filled,” said LuAnn Brandsen, editor of Renovation Style magazine. This movie set, she said, has all of that: “It’s informal and casual, not too over the top, but very nicely done.” Two years after the fi lm came out, the magazine featured a storyand-photo layout of a remodel in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., based on the “Gotta Give” kitchen.
The appeal of the space, designers say, is its old-fashioned styling, modern conveniences and classic look.
Two years ago, Harriet Finder of Stuart Kitchens in Bethesda, Md., helped design a front-window display for her firm that was modeled after the movie kitchen. It’s still up and continues to draw clients. “We have people coming in, stopping in that kitchen and saying, ‘This is what I want,’ ” Finder said.
Susan and Myron Myers were building their Rockville, Md., house in 2004 when Susan saw the movie. She bought a copy of the film as soon as it was out. “I would play the DVD, stop it and look at it,” she said. “My husband noticed the (kitchen) cabinet doors and the inset hinges right away.” Before the next meeting with their designer, Susan tucked her laptop under her arm, movie loaded.
Liz Livingston of McLean, Va., also wanted to replicate the design. “I saw the movie, and that was it,” she said. “I had found my kitchen. … It wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t too casual. It was the kind of kitchen that made you want to hang out there all the time.”
But it’s more than the kitchen that enthralls fans. They covet the whole house.
“It’s got to be the most popular interior ever,” said Linda Merrill, a designer based in Duxbury, Mass. An entry she posted on her blog earlier this year about the movie’s interior garners as many as 30 hits a day. People from Australia, Canada and Africa check her blog in search of rugs, artwork, lamps, furniture, fabric.
When Merrill found that Aspen Carpet Designs carries a blue-and-white-striped rug inspired by the movie, she mentioned the Chicagoarea retailer on her site. Jerry Krull, the company owner, said one of his customers had “actually tracked down the set designer of the movie to find out where the original rug had been made.”
When the price of the original proved too steep, she asked Krull to design something similar. He has sold 65 of the cotton dhurrie look-alikes in the past two years without advertising or a storefront. Customers find his Web site — www.aspencarpetdesigns.com — by searching for information about the movie.
“Almost every single sale is based on the movie in some way,” Krull said. “I told my wife, ‘Selling these rugs has the possibility of paying for our kids’ college.’ ”
Some designers are somewhat mystified by all the fuss.
“When you really study ‘Something’s Gotta Give,’ you realize that the interiors verge on almost being impersonal,” Washington designer Skip Sroka wrote in an e-mail. D.C. designer Lisa Adams is a fan of the kitchen but agrees: “In and of itself, (the design) doesn’t make a statement. It’s a background.”
That might be exactly what makes the interior so attractive. “It isn’t so personal that you couldn’t imagine yourself in it,” said Brandsen of Renovation Style. “People look at it and say: ‘I can see myself in there. I WANT to be there.’ ”
It might surprise (and disappoint) fans to learn that the exterior of the Southampton home was the only part of the set that was real. The interior and backyard were built on a Hollywood soundstage, and set designers created much of the furniture. The islands were built on casters so they could be wheeled out of the way as needed. The countertops were plywood painted to look like soapstone. And when the filming wrapped, the entire set was dismantled. Props were auctioned on eBay for charity.
So the ideal is gone, but the kitchens it inspired have taken on a real life of their own.
Deconstructing the appeal
• White painted cabinets
• Window-pane cupboards
• Islands (two!), one with stools
• Soapstone countertops
• White subway tile backsplash
• Stainless-steel appliances
• Brackets beneath the cabinets
• Oil-rubbed bronze door hinges
• Bin-style drawer pulls
• Farmhouse sink
• Commercial-style range and hood
• Open access to family room
• French doors with transom windows
• Built-in bookcases
• Detailed woodwork, bead board
• Dark wood flooring
• Linen upholstery and draperies
• Washed-out blues with cream and tan
• Blue-and-white-striped rug
• Beach paintings by Edward Henry Potthast; reproductions at www.allposters.com
Some people go to movies for the stars or the stories, some for the car chases or special effects. But some of us go to ogle the rooms where the action is set. Here are a few Washington Post Home staff picks of films with starring interiors.
The main setting for “In the Bedroom” (2001) was a New England house of charming simplicity: screen doors, worn quilts. During one pivotal scene, I was completely distracted by a Moravian star lantern hanging in the dining room. After months of searching I found one, covered in years of dust, in a local antiques shop. It’s in my upstairs hallway. — Terri Sapienza
I have rented (and re-rented) “Parenthood,” the 1989 comedy with Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen, just to have another look at that sunny yellow and white living room: comfy couches, kid clutter, framed photos — an ideal meld of pretty and imperfect. — Belle Elving
“Curse of the Golden Flower” (2006) unfolds in splendid Tang Dynasty excess. Yimou Zhang’s murderous 10th-century soap opera is awash in silk, gilt and brocade; columns and windows appear neon-lit. The Forbidden City meets Vegas. I want to book a room. — Annie Groer
Despite the suicidal darkness haunting “The Hours” (2002), the houses of the three female stars offer consoling relief: the 1923 English country house of Nicole Kidman’s Virginia Woolf; the circa-1950 L.A. ranch house, complete with bananaleaf wallpaper, of depressed housewife Julianne Moore; and the pleasantly cluttered contemporary townhouse of New York editor Meryl Streep. — Jura Koncius
“Hannah and Her Sisters,” Woody Allen’s 1986 romantic comedy, was shot in Mia Farrow’s fabulous book-filled, high-ceilinged, lushly rumpled apartment on Central Park West. Intellectual aspirations, eyecandy appeal. The movie was pretty great, too. — Belle Elving