“Mad Men” is Back with More Retro Goodness

by hookedonhouses on July 27, 2008

By now you’re probably onto me and figured out I’m not one of those intellectual “I only watch educational programs on PBS” types. I love me some good TV. If there are fabulous sets involved with the show, all the better, which is why “Mad Men” is one of my favorites. Season 2 premieres tonight (Sunday) on AMC, and my DVR and I can hardly wait.

“Mad Men” takes place in the early ’60s–the so-called “good old days” when men were men and women knew their place (which was either at home or in the secretarial pool). I wouldn’t want to go back and live like that, but it sure is fun to watch.

Take a look at Don and Betty Draper’s retro kitchen:

Here’s Betty (on the left) chatting with her friend Francine in the kitchen. When I first saw the kitchen last season, it seemed wrong to me somehow. It just didn’t feel like a ’60s kitchen. I expected it to look cleaner and sleeker. Instead, it has lots of dark wood and an almost rustic look to it. All that dark wallpaper looked more ’70s than early ’60s to me.

But then I came across a photo of a kitchen in one of my old Better Homes & Gardens Decorating books from the late 1950s that was strikingly similar:

The kitchen’s floor plan is almost identical to the Drapers’. They enter from a back door to the right and the breakfast nook is separated by a similar peninsula with overhead cabinets and open shelves. They also have the same white appliances. The wallpaper is brown and plaid instead of blue like the BHG one, but they have the same overall vibe.

(Trivia alert! Betty’s friend Francine is played by Anne Dudek. Recognize her? She plays Alby’s creepy polygamist wife on Big Love.)

Here’s the Drapers’ bedroom. Look at the headboard on this bed (anyone who saw the premiere of Season 1 may remember they originally had Colonial furniture in here instead):

Now contrast it with the bedroom of Don’s mistress Midge, who’s a bohemian artist:

Are there any other “Mad Men” fans out there? Be sure to tune in to the premiere tonight. Season 2 will jump 18 months into the future, so I’ll be paying close attention to see if any of the rooms have been redecorated since Season 1.

For more information, visit the AMC website. You can read more about how the sets are designed and furniture for them is painstakingly chosen for each room in an interesting article here.

If You’re Hooked on Retro Rooms:

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Starr July 27, 2008 at 11:51 am

What a coincidence! I simply don’t have time to watch all the tv I would like to. But recently this series was recommended highly by another acquaintance as one to see. So me being me– ordered the DVD for the first season!

After your great recommendation, I am convinced that I will thoroughly enjoy this series. The plot and story lines were what motivated me to order it in the first place. Now you say that it also has fantastic scenery– well, I simply can not go wrong on this one!

As I said before, what a coincidence!!


Robin July 27, 2008 at 11:52 am

LOVE this show and my friend Mary and I are salivating for tonight’s premiere!

abbreviated July 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Haven’t watched this one. Might have to find something to supplement until LOST returns in 2009.

Tori July 27, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Lol, I’ll take the bohemian artist room minus the mistress and the bunny hoppers.

Nikki~ The Scarlett Rose Garden July 27, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Ah, I wish we had cable so we could watch this kind of stuff!! Since we’ve been renovating our home we just don’t want to spend the $$$ or time. I miss it!

Kellye July 28, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Ahhh…I love this show! I actually watched the entire first season via On Demand last week and couldn’t wait until last night for the season premiere. I cannot believe that Alby’s creepy wife is Francine! What a change. I cannot wait to find out what happened with the baby and to whom Don mailed that book–I’m hoping for Rachel.

As for the change in the headboard, isn’t that more Hollywood Regency that would have been more popular in the 30s and 40s and now, but not the 60s?

Kellye July 28, 2008 at 8:48 pm

I’ve been trying to find some sets from Bewitched online, as I thought it would be fun to contrast them with Mad Men. But, I haven’t been able to find much.

Bettsi July 29, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I was deeply hooked on that show last season! Very awesome stuff. I missed the premiere- I will have to check for the repeats. Creepy factoid about this time period- my parents and their friends got themselves all dressed up and got me all dressed up (I was just under two years old) and we all went for a fancy dinner at the Playboy Bunny Club in San Francisco! Different world back then, for sure!

Coco July 31, 2008 at 10:37 am

Mad Men is totally my guilty pleasure! Jon Hamm is scrumptious, isn’t he?

Susan August 2, 2008 at 1:28 pm

This is by far the best show on tv. I LOVE how incredibly detailed the sets and costumes are. I drool over Betty’s formal dresses and the beautiful shade of blue that is on the wall in her entryway.

mimi September 5, 2008 at 7:15 pm

to find Bewitched sets go to 1164.com/set/tv
its such fun!

Gretchen February 25, 2009 at 6:30 pm

This is my favorite TV series and I hate like everything to have to wait nine months between shows. Jon Hamm is absolutely gorgeous!


Tracy August 16, 2009 at 10:50 am

HI! Hooked on your site….love the hollywood homes!

I live in Pasadena – and have read that Mad Men does some filming here – and I often see film crews in the neighborhood – would you be able to find out if they do film here?

Can’t wait for Mad Men tonight!!

All the best – Tracy.
.-= Tracy´s last blog ..Channeling Julia Child =-.

Nita August 16, 2009 at 11:55 am

In 60s kitchens, it was more likely you had little coffee cups and kitchen appliances on your wallpaper in blues, greens and blacks and pinks than any plaids, but the wood kitchen cabinets is very right.

Kelly October 17, 2009 at 5:14 am

I don’t watch TV much but just got into Mad Men and LOVE it! I’m also a fan of Big Love and didn’t even recognize the chic that plays Alby’s wife!

Gretchen November 15, 2009 at 8:29 pm

I’d love to see some good photos of the original “Father of the Bride” with Tracy, Taylor and Bennett. That house was fabulous.

MissCaron December 17, 2009 at 9:08 am

Hey … I just re-read this post because I love Mad Men so much … and was wondering if you had done an update with Season 2 since they’re now on Season 3 :-)
.-= MissCaron´s last blog ..Five Fresh Gold Chains =-.

Meg January 6, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Re the kitchen- I read an interview either with Matthew Weiner or perhaps a set designer for the show where it said “essentially” (but way more articulately) that yes their kitchen is later 50’s, but it was done on purpose to show how American’s generally were less disposable with things and so Don and Sally wouldn’t just gut a still young and functioning kitchen. I think the article even mentioned the headboard change – that it may have been a splurge for them, to show Don’s income/career progressing.

Terry July 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I agree with Meg and I also read about the set decorating for Mad Men. I also remember well my mother’s 60’s kitchen. It is true, people did not rush to gut a functioning kitchen (or any other room for that matter). “Tract” homes were few and far between. Homes were what was available from the 20’s on. Furniture was something that also was slow to change. What people seem to remember are magazine ads for 50’s style Jetson’s kitchens. If you don’t believe me – watch any of the remodeling shows on HGTV. There are thousands of these old beauties out there that are a tad down at the heels but out there they are. Some how they have more personality than today’s cook-cutter granite and stainless look alikes.

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