The Houses in the ABC Family Series “The Lying Game”

The Lying Game houses set design collage

Each episode of the ABC Family Channel series The Lying Game starts with a voice-over from Emma, who explains, “A few months ago I discovered I had a twin sister. Then she asked me to take her place, keep her secret, and try to stay alive. Put yourself in my shoes. How long could you keep up the lying game?”

Not only do the unraveling mysteries about the twin sisters keep me watching, but the great sets have me hooked. Let’s take a closer look at the houses on the show…

The Mercer Family House:

The Lying Game-Mercer family house exterior 5

Emma has grown up in a series of foster families. When she discovers that she has a twin that she never knew about, they arrange to meet in her sister Sutton’s hometown in in Scottsdale, Arizona.

But at the bus station, Sutton gives Emma the keys to her car and says, “I’m leaving town to search for our birth mother. Go back to my house and pretend to be me for a few days.” And then she disappears.

wide shot of entry hall Mercer house Lying Game

Emma, who has never had a real family and has struggled her whole life, can hardly believe it when she pulls up to this beautiful house and meets her sister’s wonderful adoptive family–parents Ted and Kristin, and sweet sister Laurel.

Mercer house-double doors

The double doors in the entry make a dramatic statement.

Lying Game-Mercer house-stairs

Although the house is only one story, there appear to be several levels. They’re always walking up and down steps from one room to another…

Lying Game-Mercer house-living room

Allie Gonino plays Sutton’s sister Laurel. Like her character on the show, Allie’s a singer and violinist in real life. She’s in the band The Good Mad, which makes frequent appearances on The Lying Game as a band called “The Strangeworthy.” I love their music. She has a beautiful voice.

Mercer house-Emma and Ethan

leather sectional in Mercer living room

The show is based on the popular Lying Game book series by Sara Shepard.

The Lying Game book series novel cover Sara Shepard

The novels are a little darker, though, and some key details have been changed for the show. For one thing, in Shepard’s books Sutton is dead and following Emma around as a ghost, watching her try to solve the mystery of her disappearance and murder.

Lying Game-Mercer house-red sectional

The Mercer house has a contemporary vibe to it with big, open rooms and concrete floors. They have a couple of large sectionals in the house like this red one off the kitchen. And the stone fireplaces have a cool mid-century modern vibe.

Mercer house-concrete steps

Andy Buckley, who I will always think of as David Wallace on The Office, plays their dad. He has some big secrets he’s keeping from them…

Mercer house-stone fireplace

It’s fun to see Helen Slater playing their kind-hearted adoptive mother Kristin. (Raise your hand if you remember her from the ’80s in roles like Supergirl!)

hearth room off kitchen-Mercer house

The Kitchen:

Mercer kitchen in the pilot-Lying Games

The kitchen looked slightly different in the pilot (above) than it did in later episodes–for one thing, the steps leading down to it were in a different spot. I suspect it was initially filmed in a real house that was recreated later on a set as they often are after a show is picked up.

Mercer family kitchen island Helen Slater Lying Game

Lying Game-Mercer kitchen 3

Lying Game-Mercer kitchen 4

Alexandra Chando plays both sisters, Emma and Sutton, and is so good at it that you can usually tell which one she is before she even says a word. Emma is kind hearted and vulnerable, but Sutton is tough and manipulative.

Lying Game-Mercer kitchen 5

Lying Game-Mercer kitchen 2

The Lying Game-Mercer house kitchen 3

Philip Toolin is credited with the show’s production design. He has also worked on shows like No Ordinary Family and The Starter Wife (great houses on those, too!).

Mercer house-Sutton

Sutton stands in front of another big fireplace in the house:

Mercer house-stone fireplace 3

Sutton’s Bedroom:

Sutton's purple bedroom The Lying Game

One thing I’ve learned from the show: never put a window big enough for people to walk in and out of in your daughter’s first-floor bedroom. More characters use that window to get into the house than they do the front door! They’d have a much harder time keeping up “the lying game” without it…

Sutton's bedroom on The Lying Game 10

In the first season, Sutton’s bedroom had lavender walls with a white bed and window treatments.

sutton's bedroom dresser and painting

In the novel, Emma comments that Sutton’s bedroom is bigger than some of the houses she’s lived in.

Sutton's bedroom on The Lying Game 8

Sutton Mercer's bedroom The Lying Game

After Sutton returns and reclaims her life toward the end of the first season, her bedroom is decorated a little differently. There are new pillows on the bed, different lamps, and the wall color is now blue:

new pillows and lamps in Sutton's room Lying Game

 Sutton’s Closet:

Sutton's closet on The Lying Game

Sutton’s closet is huge and impeccably organized. Fashion is her thing. I haven’t figured out why there’s a door opening into the living room on one side of it, although it does come in handy for when she’s spying on her parents’ conversations out there…

The Courtyard:

Mercer house-courtyard

Here’s how the house looked in the pilot when Emma drove up to it for the first time. I wonder if this is the house where the pilot was filmed. The exterior looks like it would match the interior sets from it.

real house from The Lying Game ABC Family

The Family Cabin:

Ethan and Emma in the cabin-Lying Game

What would they do without the family cabin? Emma and Sutton take turns hiding out here in the woods so no one will discover that there’s actually two of them.

The Lying Game-cabin 1

Ethan and Emma in the cabin-Lying Game 2

This season Alec and his new bride Rebecca had their honeymoon at the cabin:

Alec and Rebecca in the cabin-Lying Game 2

Charisma Carpenter plays the scheming Rebecca, who we just learned is…well, maybe I shouldn’t spoil it in case you haven’t seen it yet. Let’s just say she has a few secrets (and lies) of her own. (When I see her in any role, I figure she’s probably up to something. Anyone else remember her as Kendall Casablancas on Veronica Mars?)

The Rybak Family House (Alec, Mads and Thayer):

Mad's house-The Lying Game 5

For some reason we always see the back of their house with the pool in exterior shots.

Mad's house-The Lying Game

Adrian Pasdar plays Sutton’s godfather Alec Rybak. His daughter Mads is her best friend.

Mad's house-The Lying Game 2

Alec and Sutton’s dad Ted have been best buds since high school and they share some big secrets that are just now coming to light.

Mad's house-The Lying Game 3

Alec Rybak's house-The Lying Game-fireplace

The kitchen always looks like it has more wine in it than food.

Adrian Pasdar Lying Game Madeline's house

Charlotte and Rebecca’s House:

Char's first house on Lying Game-The Holiday

In the first season, one of Sutton’s best friends was Charlotte (Char), and this is the exterior they gave her house. Look familiar?

If you recognized it as Cameron Diaz’s (Amanda’s) house in The Holiday, you really are hooked on houses. :-) Here’s how the pool behind that house looks in that movie:

The Holiday movie Amanda's house pool

But I digress! By the end of Season 1 on The Lying Game, Char had gone to live with her father and her aunt Rebecca had moved into the house. They started showing this as the exterior instead–at least some of the time. Now and then the Holiday version popped up into an episode. Anyone else notice that?

Char's house on The Lying Game

They mostly just showed the pool in back of the house for scenes with Char when she was on the show. Love that striped wall.

Char's house on The Lying Game-pool

It always looked to me like they shot the pool scenes on location behind a real house…

Rebecca's pool-The Lying Game

But this photo from behind the scenes shows that it’s just a set built on what used to be a parking lot, according to Allie Gonino (watch her set tour video here):

Rebecca's pool set behind the scenes Lying Game

In the current (second) season, as Rebecca has become a regular character and her new husband Alec moves into the house with her, we’re getting more glimpses of the interiors:

closeup of Rebecca's front door-Lying Game

Rebecca's house-foyer

I’m kind of fascinated by the open staircase in the entry. I’m always trying to get a better look at it…and wondering how Rebecca keeps from falling over the side of them in her stilettos…

open staircases in Rebecca's house-Lying Game

Although the setting for the show is Arizona, it’s actually filmed on sets built in Austin, Texas, at Austin Studios.

Rebecca's house Lying Game liv rm

Is anyone else watching this show or reading the books? 

Julia-simple teal signature

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  1. says

    Good morning, Julia!

    I haven’t seen this show, but the houses are definitely fun and full of color.

    Great post, my friend.

    Have a blessed week!


    Luciane at

  2. Sara says

    I watched the first season, but need to catch up on this one. I love Laurel – I have 4 sisters and I would have loved one more like Laurel!!

    I’m always thrilled when Charisma Carpenter shows up. It was great to see her on Veronica Mars playing someone so different from Cordelia on Buffy / Angel.

  3. Kym says

    This is another show that I got hooked on while watching Pretty Little Liars, ABC Family knows how to get me. It’s a really good show and I was very happy to see your post about the character’s home! I really like the contemporary look of the Mercer’s home.

  4. Mary says

    Having recently watched watched most of the Australian tv series McLeod’s Daughters, I saw a lot of the kitchen in the main house of Drover ‘s Run. There seems to be a pantry with individual, many glass-front doors, a work table, and some kind of utility room off the kitchen, Do you know anything about the show and house?

      • stef says

        “McLeod’s Daughters” was an award wining series on TV Nine, an Australian tv network.
        The first three seasons were pure magic, with every character cast to perfection. The series was shot on a real property which included a marvelous stone house called ‘Drover’s Run’.
        The story line centers on two half-sisters, Claire and Tess, who endevour to run a working sheep and cattle ranch left to them upon the death of their father, Jack McLeod.
        There is not a false note anywhere in the sets or the casting. The house, built out of soft, grey sandstone, with its thick walls and cools interiors, is as much a character in the storyline as any of the human participants. Whether heated by the harsh noon sun, or the golden glow of late afternoon, or in the dew of the first cool rays of the morning, the house stands solid and secure; weatherbeaten but unbowed.
        The interiors are built to human scale. The room most often shot is the kitchen with its large, rough table, cluttered sink and shelves, where the women gather to hash out (sic) their conflicts or foibles at the end of a work day. There are also Claire and Tess’ bedrooms and the separate cottage on the grounds, shared by housekeeper Meg Fountain and her spoiled teenage daughter, Jodi.
        Season three closed with the harrowing death of one of the leads, and I promised myself never to get that emotionally involved in a tv program ever again.
        It is worth while to look up some of the episodes, which are readily available on you tube. After the end of season three, the story lines lost touch with reality and the plot convolutions (from what I have read) descended into the realm of the ludicrous. But seasons one through three were untouchable as far as character development and incredible camera work, both of the landscape, the house and its interior and the realism of the activities on a working Australian ranch.
        You feel the heat of the harsh summer sun, and the refreshing coolness of a dip in the water reservoir. You take part in the shearing of sheep and the conviviality of a meal around the rough kitchen table.
        The series was shot on location and none of it rings false.
        Added to the excellence of the writing, acting and camera work were some haunting songs by Australian musical artist, Rebecca Lavelle. The song, “My Heart is Like a River”, poignently evokes the pull of home…wherever that may be.

  5. Jen says

    Is it bad looking at this makes me want to watch the show
    I love all color beautiful

  6. says

    I haven’t seen the show, but I will have to check it out. I grew up in Scottsdale, and my parents still live there, so reading that the story takes place there peaked my interest. I was looking closely at the pics to see if maybe the pilot was filmed there, but the view from the kitchen definitely look more California than Arizona. The mountains in Scottsdale would be covered in boulders and cacti, not scrub cedars! This looks like a good one to check out on Netflix!

  7. Billy says

    Interior of the Rybak house looks like Mike Brady designed it for some reason.

    ABC Family’s shows all seem to have well done set design.

  8. Aisha says

    I LOVE the lying game I’ve been hooked since season 1. They took a long time to bring back season 2. I always hoped you would feature Sutton/Emma’s house and my wish has been granted thanks!

  9. says

    Okay that was crazy and I haven’t heard of the show. YAY. A two-fer. Awesome post and a new TV show to watch. Well maybe a three-fer because it was modern! That is why I keep on coming back. :) And, what is wrong with a kitchen that has more wine than food? I was watching Castle the other night and thought to myself, “Julia should do their Manhattan townhouse.” Not a ton of rooms but very well done.

  10. Jane says

    Adrian Pasdar! That is reason alone for me to check out this show. It turns out that I keep up with “houses” and “shows/movies I need to be watching” when I check out your blog Julie — thanks!!!!

  11. says

    i had no idea charisma carpenter was ever on “veronica mars.” she got famous on “buffy the vampire slayer” and “angel.” helen slater will always be the folk hero of “the legend of billie jean” to me.

    that girl’s closet reminds me of the two sisters’ shared bedroom/dressing room on “privileged.”

    • says

      I never got into Buffy so I didn’t know she was on that show. What kind of character did she play? I never saw “Legend of Billie Jean,” either!

      • N.C. Lisa T. says

        “Legend of Billie Jean” is a classic cheesy 80’s movie. I loved it!! You have to see it Julia, but for the life of me, I can’t think of any houses in it that you would want to feature. The kids spend a lot of time outdoors on the run, lol!!

        Love the main house. I appreciate other styles, but I think this might be “MY Style”.

      • says

        carpenter played the high school queen bee on “buffy” then she moved over to it’s spinoff “angel” where she was the same person but the secretary at angel’s supernatural detective agency. and they grew her character quite a bit from there. she had a baby and was written out of the show. but they brought her back in the final season for a superb farewell episode.

        i saw “billie jean” as a 14-year-old. my friends hated it, but i kinda loved it. it’s also christian slater’s first movie. (there is a mansion in it.)

  12. ShabbyChick says

    Julia, I will say it again….you MUST watch When A Stranger Calls (2006). The Mandrackis’ house in that movie reminds me so much of house #1 here. That house is killer – I know you would love it! The movie itself is meh – but the HOUSE!!!!! Pretty please let’s see that one! 😉

  13. Lisa says

    Did you see the exterior of Rebecca’s house in season 2, episode 6? At 11.58, right before Alec and Teresa talk, you see the house exterior and it’s the house from The Holiday, but with the door with stained glass in it. Am I the only one who’s extremely confused by all this house switching?

    • says

      Yes! It’s like they digitally combined the two houses for that episode. So strange. I guess they don’t think we’re paying attention! Ha.

  14. Kim says

    Although the story is set in Scottsdale, AZ, the pilot was shot in Albuquerque, NM in Dec 2010 which is why the house exteriors and scenery outside the windows are different from the rest of the season. Those poor actresses had to do the pool scenes in the freezing winter weather in mile high altitudes. After the pilot, NM got a new governor and she restricted the NM film rebate incentives, the series went to Austin, TX instead.

  15. Payton says

    In season 2 where do you get the butterfly cussions on suttons bed?

  16. lilkunta says

    another great show you watch, me to! It too is ratigns challenged so spread the word.

    I def have a problem with Sutton’s large step through windows. I def think her parents and any parents would have had them sealad/fixed in a way to that one cant just wlk through.

    I think Sutton’s walk in closet used to be a bedroom or den so that is why it has a door that open to the liviing room. I cant believe a TEEN has such an expansive bedroom, her own bathroom, AND walk in closet.