Silver Screen Surroundings: A Visual History of Sitcom Sofas

HomeAdvisor recently put together this compendium of Sitcom Sofas (and chairs) that I thought would be fun to share, as part of my long-standing Silver Screen Surroundings movie and television set design series.

A-visual-compendium-of-sitcom sofas

If you click here you can see a bigger version of this.

I’ll admit that I haven’t seen many of these shows, but certainly the Central Perk sofa from Friends is iconic:

And who can forget the infamous: “Pivot! Pivot!!!” scene:

And of course, there’s the iconic striped ugly recliner beloved by Martin on Fraser, sitting amongst Fraser’s tasteful decor:

And just when we want to make fun of the ugly striped chair, Martin reminds us of all the special moments invested into those pieces (even the ugly ones).

Do you have a favorite furniture moment from television or the movies?

Thanks again  HomeAdviser for the trip down upholstery lane!

xoxo Linda Would you like my Favorite Tips for a Well-Decorated Home? Click here!

18 thoughts on “Silver Screen Surroundings: A Visual History of Sitcom Sofas”

  1. Hello Linda, I have not seen a single one of those shows, but don’t forget that most of the time, television shows are not attempting to create very attractive or classy interiors, and even when they do, they are often making fun of them, so I would be very careful about getting decorating ideas from TV.

    Besides, this chart forgot the most iconic sofa of all–the Munster’s couch that had clouds of dust coming out of it whenever anyone hit it (as for example to pat the cushions or make an emphatic point) or sat down in it. Come to think of it, maybe I did get some decor advice from that show!
    –Jim

    • Ah, the Munster’s sofa was iconic! But, I would say there have been many shows with lovely set decorating. The Good Wife apartment was fantastic, as is the set decor of Grace and Frankie. Telling a story is the purpose, which these both do quite well. As did the Munster’s house!

      • Hello Linda, Of course you are right. Shows are just like real-life houses; you can see how the sets fit their ‘owners’ and either enjoy them as is, or get ideas to copy. Since I have not seen these shows, I was hitting the keynote of caution.

        Another interesting thing about most tv/movie sets is that they often are not internally consistent architecturally. The interiors may have no possible floor plan, and the exteriors rarely match the interiors. So I do observe them carefully! –Jim

        • Hi Jim – ph, the architectural inconsistencies drive me crazy! I did a post on this year’s Outlander about all the inconsistencies of the plantation house. It’s was like the TARDIS – much bigger on the inside!

    • It is! Set decorating has to be more than about pretty interiors, they have to advance the story or visually describe the characters in the spaces. So yes, Martin’s lounger, Frasers tailored and slightly uptight sofa and Niles fainting couch were all just so perfect!

  2. This was a super-fun post! Set designers tell a story and often designers are helping clients tell the story of their own lives. It’s quite a special talent to have the interior be a supporting character in a television show or movie! You can sometimes tell the entire story from the set. The Petrie’s were young, modern and professional, The Bunkers, working class and of modest means. Fraiser and his dad at odds in their values and outlooks. Thanks for the fun walk down memory lane

    • Thanks so much Amy! I love set design a lot and did the set decorating for some high school and college musical productions. Loved it, but it was way,way before I thought about going into design as a profession.

    • Hi Lora – thanks so much for reading and commenting. And yes, many tv shows have only had a couple of main sets that all the action takes place in. But we sort of forget that if they are funny enough!

  3. Linda ~

    What I took away from your fun post was what a smart piece of visual content the Home Advisor team created, showing us all of these sofas!

    And these comments are so educational re: what the differences + similarities are between what set designers do for a show and what interior designers do for a real family — in every case, great design helps tell the story of the home’s inhabitants through visual cues and mementos.

    • Leslie – yes! There are so many cross overs between interior design/decorating and set decorators do. One thing people don’t realize though, is that in the world of sets design, the set decorator is a bigger role than set designer. The production designer is responsible for the whole visual look of a production (costumes, sets, color palettes) and the set decorator brings the sets alive. The set designers are actually more like the architects who build the structure, but aren’t instrumental to the “look”. When a set design wins an award, it goes to the Production Designer and Set Decorator as a team.

  4. This post is sooooo much fun! It’s so interesting to see how the sofas here exemplify the characters on these shows: the fussy Victorian chaise from Niles on Frasier, the fabulous custom choices at Will and Grace, and Arrested Development? LOL!! More proof positive that design tells more than a pretty story, it gives clues to ones personality as well. 🙂

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