“The Nanny Diaries:” An Upper East Side Apartment and a Nantucket Beach House

by hookedonhouses on September 19, 2011

Nanny Diaries poster

Being wealthy and privileged in Manhattan–or a wealthy and privileged kid in Manhattan–isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And being that rich kid’s nanny can be pretty miserable, too. That’s what we learned in the 2007 movie The Nanny Diaries, anyway.

From what I can tell, the best thing about it are the digs you get to live in. In the movie, Annie the Nanny works for Mr. and Mrs. X on the Upper East Side in their luxurious 12-room apartment. Production designer Mark Ricker (who also worked on The Help) designed the look of both it and the X family’s Nantucket beach house.

Let’s take a look at the apartment first, where the tone is set with the front hall by the elevator:

Nanny Diaries apartment 3-Traditional Home

Rickman and and set decorator Andrew Baseman wanted the rooms to have an upper echelon, “old money” look, according to an article in Traditional Home: “The apartment had to feel traditional, comfortable, and inviting, but also look striking and modern, reflecting Mrs. X’s taste as a former manager of the Gagosian Art Gallery.”

entry hall

Scarlett Johansson played Annie, or simply “Nanny,” as Mrs. X charmingly refers to her.

Nanny Diaries apartment 2-Traditional Home

The Living Room:

living room-Scarlett Johansson

It may look like a real apartment, but Production Designer Mark Ricker says it would have been way too expensive and difficult to film in one. Ceiling heights are too low for lighting and the neighbors wouldn’t have appreciated all the noise and activity of having a film shooting in their building. So the apartment was a film set built on a soundstage at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

living room piano

living room fireplace

Nanny Diaries apartment 1-Traditional Home

The Kitchen:


Nanny Diaries apartment 5-Traditional Home

Nanny Diaries apartment 4-Traditional Home

Mrs. X’s Bedroom:

Mrs. X's bedroom

The movie is based on the 2002 tell-all novel by former nannies Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I read it when it first came out and thought it was pretty entertaining, but the ending was so sad that it kind of spoiled the fun.

The movie changed the novel’s ending to make it a happy one, with Mrs. X learning her lesson and (improbably) transforming into a hands-on mom.

Mrs. X's bedroom and bath

I like this photo of Laura Linney all glammed up as Mrs. X in a red dress (from Traditional Home):

Nanny Diaries-Laura Linney-Traditional Home

Mrs. X’s Closet:

Nanny Diaries-Mrs X's closet-Traditional Home

shoe closet

The Guest Room, which Annie initially mistakes for hers:

Nanny Diaries apartment 6-Traditional Home

The actual Nanny Quarters, which aren’t nearly as nice:

Annie's room

“The pleasures and challenges in designing The Nanny Diaries were tied hand-in-hand with the fact that it was based on an enormously popular book,” Ricker explains.

“Because there are extensive descriptions, readers have expectations of what the place will look like in the film. The set would be seen on film not just as a background for the action, but as a featured element that emphasizes the indulgent lifestyle and misery of these characters and the humor that results.”

The X Family’s House in Nantucket:

Nantucket house-beach

As nice as the apartment was, what I really loved was the family’s beach house. It was supposedly in Nantucket but was actually filmed in the Hamptons.

Nantucket house-Nanny Diaries

Annie makes breakfast for the family in the kitchen:

Nantucket house-kitchen 1

I just finished watching the John Adams miniseries, so I thought it was kind of funny to see that Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, who played John and Abigail Adams, had been cast as a totally different type of couple in The Nanny Diaries.

Nantucket house-kitchen 2

Nantucket house-dining rm

Annie shares a bedroom with her young charge Grayson while they’re at the beach house:

Nantucket house-Annie's room

Rumor has it that after the book came out, reading like a tell-all memoir by the two former nannies, Harvey Weinstein offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who could tell him who Mrs. X was based on. The New York Post suggested that it could be Lisa Birnbach, co-author of The Preppy Handbook, who once employed one of the book’s writers, but they insist that it wasn’t based on any single person.

Nantucket house-bathroom

Mrs. X confronts Annie on the porch and fires her, leading to the gut-wrenching scene where Grayson chases after her, crying for his nanny to come back:

Nantucket house-front steps

Were you a fan of this movie? Of the sets? To learn more, visit Traditional Home.


P.S. Visit Houses Onscreen to see more, including…

Eat Pray Love movie carriage house

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Luciane at Homebunch.com September 19, 2011 at 7:42 am


This post is FANTASTIC! I enjoyed every picture! I always have fun with your “movie houses”!

I hope you have a great week and as I said, you’re looking gorgeous! :-)


Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Brian September 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

Oh! How I’ve missed movie Mondays. Thanks Julia

Jared September 19, 2011 at 7:48 am

You can also see that very same Hamptons house in the film Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. It was featured in PlumHamptons as well. Heres the link: http://www.plumhamptonsmagazine.com/issue/38721

hookedonhouses September 19, 2011 at 7:53 am

I didn’t know that–thanks, Jared!!

CSD September 19, 2011 at 8:01 am

A friend in NYC publishing told me that one of the Nanny Diaries authors’ former employers was so mortified by the book that they moved to London.

handbright September 19, 2011 at 8:07 am

Thank you for these photos- they are wonderful! Its nice to see set that was decorated to be part of the story and where soothing traditional colours like soft blue and yellow have been used to give a feeling of warmth and “home”. I particularly liked what appears to be an abalone backsplash in the kitchen! Got some ideas from this one! (now off the play the lottery)

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints September 19, 2011 at 8:38 am

i read the book and watched the movie. it was SO sad. it’s beyond believable how people treat other people and their own kids for heaven’s sake. no wonder there are so many messed up people in the world. i definitely preferred the beach house. the manhattan house was stuffy, but very NYC.

Josanne September 19, 2011 at 10:14 am

I’ve never seen the movie, but enjoyed the photos! The apartment has GOT to be much bigger than my HOUSE! I’ve dreamed of having a home like that-fancy, yet the colors are inviting. But truthfully, I’m happy with my own home. Large enough for us and company, small enough that we don’t need an intercom system. =)

Kelly, Arte Styling September 19, 2011 at 10:25 am

I adored this film. So fun to read about the set design. Thanks, Julia. Happy Monday! (Love your new pic. )

Karena September 19, 2011 at 10:57 am

Julia this is great to see the settings and design. I read the book, however did not see the movie!


Art by Karena

Kim September 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I haven’t seen this movie, but I saw one that was similar. I absolutely love the style of the apartment. It’s very nice.

That house is very charming. It looks like a place I would feel right at home.

Mary September 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm

LOVE that kitchen in the apartment – the desk, the hanging pot rack and the cabinets – HATE the rest of the apartment though!! It looks SO formal and forbidding – certainly not a place to have young children crashing around!!
I loved the movie – found it really funny and absolutely heartbreaking…

Amanda @ Serenity Now September 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Gorgeous sets!! Love the “Nantucket” home with the cute little kitchen. I haven’t seen the movie, but I remember really hating Mrs. X in the book. I remember being unsatisfied with the end of the book too.

Janelle September 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I didn’t like the movie one bit. I looooooved the book, and they just changed so much — it was hardly the same story at all. Laura Linney was fantastically cast, though.

Deb in Oz September 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Love the movie…have watched it many times. I’ve never read the book though, should hunt it up! The NY apartment is gorgeous and I could easily live there. Not a huge fan of beachy houses, although this one is nice enough.

Bethany September 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I read the book (loved it) and was just “eh” on the movie. But isn’t that almost always the case!

Rebecca September 19, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I loved the book. I work as a nanny and I find it comforting to know that my horrible experiences are not unusual.

Jessica at Lavender and Lilies September 19, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I love this post. Everything in their apartment was so symetrical.

belledame September 19, 2011 at 10:30 pm

my company published the book. i don’t remember any particular anecdotes about it. i had a couple friends who babysat as a sidegig and they really loved it.

tangential, but i a few years ago i kept running into paul giammatti in my neighborhood. literally right outside my apartment building. a lot of celebs live in the general area (brooklyn). but he was the biggest surprise to date.

Riatta September 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Notice how completely symmetrical many of the rooms in the apartment are. The left and right sides of the rooms look like mirror images.

Jodi from New Jersey September 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Love this post! I love the apartment to look at, but the beach house is so much more homey and comfy -looking . It’s fun to see how the other half lives!

Amy from China Shepherdess September 20, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I love the details you highlight in these posts. Don’t remember the movie all that well, but you make me want to see it again.

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) September 21, 2011 at 2:04 am

Julia, I almost read the book…glad I didn’t if it has a terrible ending. Glad they changed it for the movie. Love that beach house!

E. George September 21, 2011 at 7:32 am

Hi Julia sorry to say have not seen this movie but now hubby will have to find it for me. Love the apartment and the beach house.. I don’t know if you have seen the movie No Reservations I thought the apartment in this movie was beautiful – is it what you guys call brownstone? We don’t have these kinds of builds here ours are called inner city terraces. Regards Esther from Sydney… PS movies with happy endings work for me too.

Bre September 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Love movie posts!! This movie, and book, was recommended to me by many friends as I am a former nanny. Thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with any of the craziness featured in the film! The apartment and beach house are absolutely beautiful. I can’t believe the apartment was a set, it was so believable! The kitchen is fantastic, I love the ladder! I still need to read the book, it would be fun to try and guess who Mrs. X could be based on.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman September 23, 2011 at 7:11 am

LOVED that book! I actually haven’t seen the movie though; interesting you said they changed the ending. Great, informative post as always!

Kiki Nakita September 25, 2011 at 11:51 am

I enjoyed the movie, it proves money cannot buy happiness!

I LOVED the dining room in Mr. & Mrs. X beach house, a completely different style than their apartment.

andre ocean October 11, 2011 at 3:09 am

Enjoyed the movie, pictures , excellent post..

Tara E October 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Read the book and hated it so much I couldn’t bring myself to watch the movie.

As a mom to two little boys, it broke my heart to read about how poor Grayson was treated as nothing more than an annoying inconvenience by his parents.

Liked the apartment/beach house pictures, though.

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