It seemed that everyone (or everyone on Twitter, at least) was glued to their television screens this past Sunday night, when the final episode of the HBO miniseries The Undoing aired. Of course, we at House Beautiful were captivated by as much by the interiors as the drama. The Undoing is essentially a more upscale take on the whodunnit genre, filled with equal parts opulent and rustic interiors thanks to numerous Upper East Side townhouses and penthouses, and even a beach house on the North Fork of Long Island. Below, take a look inside the many homes seen in The Undoing, along with commentary from the show’s production designer Lester Cohen and set decorator Keri Lederman.
*Some spoilers ahead!*
The Frasers’ Townhouse
In just about every episode of The Undoing, you’ll see a townhouse that the Fraser family—played by Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, and Noah Jupe—calls home. In both this series and in real life, this building is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was on the market at the time of filming and has since taken a price cut of $1.5 million, bringing its asking price to $30 million. Production designer Lester Cohen tells House Beautiful, “This worked quite well for us as we were able to paint, wallpaper, and decorate freely without the constraints that occupied residences often present.” To make the townhouse feel more rustic and cozy, faux wooden beams and a faux brick wall were added to the interiors, and paint colors like warm reds, oranges, and mauves were used. And if you’re lusting after the scenic wallpaper in the master bedroom (pictured), it was hand-painted by Gracie Studio, and Cohen says he came across it in a design magazine while prepping for his role as production designer. As for the bed itself, that was designed by Mark De La Vega at DLV designs. Overall, the interior design of the Frasers’ home was meant to evoke an approachable family-style residence, in contrast to the more formal penthouse that belongs to Grace Fraser’s father, played by Donald Sutherland.
Franklin Reinhardt’s Penthouse
Franklin Reinhardt, Donald Sutherland’s character, is very much a patron of the arts. He frequents the Frick Collection, an iconic Upper East side home-turned-art-museum that belonged to industrialist Henry Frick, and Franklin’s own residence reflects this passion. The Undoing had its very own art consultant in Fanny Pereire, who also worked on shows like Succession and Mrs. America. For this series in particular, Periere obtained the rights and permissions to feature reproduced artworks by numerous famed artists, including ones by Diego Rivera, Willem de Koonig, William Kentridge, Gerhard Richter, J.M.W. Turner, and Giorgio Morandi, to name a few.
Production used three locations to bring this apartment to life: “A private residence on Fifth Avenue served as Franklin’s informal living room, dining room, bedroom, and balcony. Up the road, our locations department found a lobby that we utilized as ‘Franklin’s Lobby’. The salon, Grace’s childhood bedroom, guest bedroom (Henry’s room), hallways (some replicated from the Fifth Avenue location), foyer and elevator were all miraculously built on one stage at Kaufman Astoria Studios,” set decorator Keri Lederman reveals to House Beautiful. What is noticeably different about this home versus the Fraser residence is the darker color palette—and that was done intentionally, to “convey a colder, more ominous feel,” according to Lederman. The furnishings further conveyed Franklin’s appreciation for finer things, as seen through “a mix of neoclassical pieces, as well as some mid-century, to emphasize Franklin’s wealth and a life well lived.”
In the true style of a whodunnit, don’t believe everything you see, because, as Lederman reveals, “the imposing size of the salon was exaggerated by the enormous tapestry, sourced from Newel Props, and 16’ custom-made window treatments were also helpful in making Grace appear small and lost. Most of the pieces were sourced from Newel Props in Long Island City and Greenwich Living in Stamford, Connecticut.” Cohen says he found inspiration for the design of this townhouse from a 1968 copy of Vogue’s Book of Houses, Gardens, People photographed by Horst P. Horst, and New York Splendor by Wendy Moonan.
The Frasers’ Beach House
The Greenport, Long Island home that Grace and Henry Fraser escape to may look familiar to you—it was also featured in another HBO show: Girls. And, it’s available to rent on Airbnb, so if you need a place to get away to after your husband has been accused of murder, look no further! This home was built in 1893 as a “coast guard life saving station,” according to its Airbnb listing. For its appearance in The Undoing, the home was digitally altered to remove the tower that appears in the center of the structure. Fortunately, not too much of the interior had to be changed for the show, being that “the house was furnished in a way that reflected the comfort and history we wanted to convey,” says Cohen. “Our work for this location consisted of changing all of the artwork, adding window dressings, and providing furnishings specific to the scripted action. We also did a tremendous amount of greens work on the exterior to mask the onset of spring.” Adding to Cohen’s sentiments, Lederman shares that she built upon the already “existing mix of mismatched furniture” by adding cushions and linens from ABC Carpet & Home, and Ruby Beets in Sag Harbor, in addition to “other vintage furniture, decorative items, family photos, and art.”
Sally Morrison’s Townhouse
Given the many Upper East Side residences featured in The Undoing, this series could double as a grownup (albeit murderous) version of Gossip Girl. The apartment of character Sally Morrison (played by Janel Maloney) certainly fits that grandiose aesthetic perfectly. Although we only get to see this home in the very first episode, it leaves a lasting impression for many reasons. It is one of the only locations where we see a certain soon-to-be murdered character, and its decor is undeniably chic. Located just off of Fifth Avenue, this townhouse “is owned by a serious collector of fine art and antiques” in real life, shares Cohen, and “we kept some of the existing art, adding in our own touches to make it feel as though an actual family lived there,” including family photos, plants, artwork, and less formal furnishings, says Lederman.
So, which home is your favorite?
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