BRING THE GOOD WIFE HOME – NY SET DECORATOR, BETH KUSHNICK SHARES SECRETS OF WHY THE EMMY AWARD – WINNING DRAMA’S STYLISH FURNITURE IS AS COVETED AS THE JUICY PLOT LINES!
BY LAURA GOLDSTEIN
If Alicia Florrick’s sea foam velvet living room sofa or Kalinda’s edgy, white leather wing chair studded with nailheads send you into a plot-induced swoon, don’t despair. Set decorator, Beth Kushnick of CBS’s wildly popular prime-time legal drama, The Good Wife has partnered with leading furniture manufacturer, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, (available online mgbwhome.com to Canadians and through select retailers) to bring The Good Wife Collection home to consumers. The chic yet comfortable line with new pieces and soft furnishings added each season, includes lighting from Interlude Home and affordable accessories from horchow.com. It’s the first licensed home décor line in television history!
The Set Decorator:
“When I look back at the last four seasons of The Good Wife, “ says Kushnick, “I realize that it was the power of social media- the design obsessed fans tweeting me during an episode – even sending me screen shots asking ‘how do I get that look’ – that led me to write a blog called ‘The Good Look of The Good Wife’” on CBS.com.
“TGW is the closest to my personal aesthetic of anything I’ve ever done,” admits Kushnick, a native New Yorker, whose 30 years of set decoration have included the iconic, Law & Order, Reversal of Fortune and feature films Jumanji, National Treasure as well as the critically acclaimed Costume Collection, The Model As Muse, for The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
TGW storyline revolves around defense lawyer, Alicia Florrick (Emmy Award-winner, Julianna Margulies), mother of two teens, who returns to work after her husband, Chicago state’s attorney, Peter (Chris Noth), is caught in a sex and political corruption scandal. Although the action is set in Chicago, the series is shot on a 3,000 sq. ft. soundstage in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I call it ‘reality dressing’ “says the designer dynamo, of her innate ability to capture the essence of a character through layering the most minute details of their fictionalized lives.
From visionary to vibe is a complex process beginning with detailed scripts every eight days; discussions with everyone from electricians to wardrobe to ensure that absolutely everything on set reflects the characters portrayed. Alicia’s apartment began with an intensely scrutinized back-story, that Kushnick and the team she has worked with for over 15 years, carefully developed. “We deduced that her character obviously had the means to hire a decorator and that with her outside world of high-pressured law, she would want a very relaxing environment to come home to. “
Alicia’s Apartment Set:
The secret of Kushnick’s design success is keeping a real sense of how people actually live. “Most people don’t live in mansions says the down-to-earth Kushnick. “My take on neutral is more beach glass than beige – what we see out the window and adapting that palette to make it livable.”
“I love eclectic – mixing modern and traditional with light and dark, ” says Kushnick. For Alicia’s Chicago apartment she created an elegant mix of antique and reproduction wood pieces and subtly patterned light wood floors; a colour palette of soft hues of greens, grey blues and dark burgundy; textured raw-silk draperies that whisper luxe and sophistication. Lots of plush pillows with pops of burnished gold and copper; an upscale, tufted sofa -The Alicia Sofa (bearing in mind there are two teenage children); interesting accessories (the blue Mahima twig boxes on the side table are a favourite of actress Margolies); a plush oriental carpet that entices padding around barefoot with a glass of red wine in hand, and wonderful mood lighting everywhere.
“I’m a lamp junkie,” laughs Kushnick and have thousands stored in my warehouse. They’re called practicals on set and for Alicia’s apartment I created so many layers of light from cool to warm- from the spot lights over the bookcases, moody wall sconces on either side of the fireplace to those that reflect Alicia’s collections of mercury glass pieces in the dining room’s breakfront. In Alicia’s bedroom we wanted to make a big statement after her separation that she sleeps on one side of the bed. ”(hence the large ceramic lamp for reading on the right-side of the bed only.)
“And yes, I’m the ‘Decorating Doctor’ on call- the actors are always asking me for tips for their own homes”!
INTEGRATE BETH’S DECORATING ‘SECRETS’
INTO YOUR OWN HOME
Using Beth’s technique of “reality dressing” means bringing your own personality and lifestyle into the mix. Think about the way you live now even if that means compromise. Love white upholstered furniture in the living room but don’t think your three-year-old twins would appreciate your choice of colour palette? Be realistic where it makes sense but take the risk elsewhere– a beautiful white textured duvet in the master bedroom- your own inner sanctum.
- View your rooms from all 4 corners and at different times of the day to see where you and your family need light and what kind i.e. reading, kitchen eating area, home office, mood–that’s what we have to do for camera angles on set, advises Beth.
- Mix your styles of furniture- I never buy a matching set of anything! Consider how you might alter its appearance with paint, new hardware, or mixing it with other pieces you already have so that it can assimilate into the personality of your own home.
- Layer in your own personal mementos, family heirlooms, photographs- never be forced to get rid of things you love!
- On a budget? Add little luxe surprises (Beth changed the knobs on Alicia’s bedroom vanity to jeweled ones) that won’t break the bank.
- Splurge on one big ticket item like a living room carpet or sofa- add inexpensive accessories like trays from Target in the bathroom.
- Be creative to get the look- Beth used linoleum floors that resemble inlay marble in Alicia’s foyer and reproduction botanical prints instead of antique in the dining room- design tricks we can all easily incorporate.
Trends to Watch… My clients seem to be drawn to unexpected paint colors these days. I think they feel comfortable taking risks with paint palettes because they aren’t permanent, says Beth.
Visit Beth on OpenSky.com a social network for shopping that helps people discover, buy and share unique goods that match their individual taste.
MITCHELL GOLD + BOB WILLIAMS FURNITURE LINE is carried at the following Canadian Retailers & TGW Collection can be custom upholstered and special ordered through them:
Elte: 80 Ronald Avenue . Toronto, ON, M6E 5A2 Canada. 416-785-7885
Kingsmill’s: 130 Dundas Street. London, ON, N6A 1G2 5. 19-432-7111
Celadon Collection: 186, Peel, Montreal, QC, H3C 2G7. 514-932-3306
Muskoka Living: 3655 Highway 118, West Port Carling, ON, P0B 1J0 Canada . 705-765-6840
203 Kenmount Road
. St. John’s, NL, A1B 3P9.
L’Atellier: 1224 Yonge Street Toronto, ON, M4T 1W3. 416-966-0200
Brougham Interiors: 1855 Fir Street, Vancouver, BC, V6J 3A9. 604-736-8822
Once A Tree Furniture
750 SW Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC, V6P 5Y5