I’ve been historically known as a TV binger. I once watched 18 episodes of a TV show in a row – in one day. It wasn’t this one, but back in my day (pre-kids) I could really do it. That is how I watched the first couple seasons of New Girl. I discovered it a year after it came out, and decided to give it a go. I just pressed play and watched until I had no more to watch. It used to be a dream of mine to decorate Zooey Deschanel’s house, and Lord knows I love Max Greenfield (previously from Veronica Mars). It was relatable, funny and charming and had a love story that I looked forward to following.
Last December, I was invited to tour the new set of New Girl to help promote their final season and you bet I carved out a few hours to head over. Visiting a Hollywood set is exciting, even for those of us who have experience on set. But I was especially excited to see this set in person. The actors wouldn’t be there – this visit was more about the set, the furniture, and getting a fun behind the scenes tour of one of my favorite shows and sets.
The set has always been iconic for it’s distinct style, but for their 7th and final season, they have jumped 3 years in the future and made some updates to the set. In the final season premiere, we see Jess and Nick returning from a European book tour, as Nick has become a successful writer. Schmidt and Cece have a daughter, Ruth. And, Winston and Aly are pregnant. Due to the time jump and the different places these characters are in their lives now, the designers were tasked with making it feel a bit more grown up. It was less ‘thrifted early 20’s’ and more ‘vintage inspired early 30’s. Both of which I can relate to, obviously. So many iconic pieces remained (the shelves, and the sectional, her bedspread) and it still had the same thrifty vibe, but there is more cohesion and it is a bit more pulled together.
However this post isn’t about the set itself, but more about the people who pull it together, on a daily basis – The production designer, set decorator and set dressers. Otherwise known as the hardest working (and least thanked people) in Hollywood (and every photo/video shoot). When I moved to LA there was way less editorial photography happening here (I trained as a prop stylist) and I was encouraged to get into production design for commercials (which would have led to TV, etc). It’s one of those positions where if no one notices you, it means you did a great job. But the sheer fact that your work goes so unnoticed is insane, because being in charge of the look and feel of a show’s environment, let alone the schlepping and inventorying of the props and furniture is an extraordinary amount of work.
Well, this is my ‘I NOTICE YOU’ to all of those out there who have ever responded to the call of ‘Art Department!’ to move a pillow 2 inches. Working on commercials is different than a TV show where you get really into the characters. You choose what a character would have put on their walls, for a reason, and while it may never be called out in the show, it’s something that informs our experience as a TV viewer, without us even noticing.
So with the season premiere of New Girl tonight I thought it would be fun to go behind the scenes and show you not only the set that they created for the new season but give you some fun insight on what the production designers do and how they design a space that is different for TV than us interior designers.
The ‘city’ is a fabric backdrop, the plants are often fake and that concrete floor was painted by a faux finisher. I can’t get enough of these fun facts.
That blanket is iconic and I wanted it SO BAD when the first season came out. For the new set, they upgraded to the bed and higher end nightstands, but it still has a lot of bohemian flavor.
The main loft space is full of this vintage, bohemian, industrial and very thrifted vibe. The new set did upgrade a few pieces, but again it still remains the same feeling, and still feels very “Jess”.
The backdrops really do look like a city, and are painted with the right effect to ensure that it looks like an out of focus ‘blurry’ city view. It’s LA – we have smog here, so painting a perfect blue sky is not exactly accurate, and this again is all part of the illusion that they create behind the scenes to make it appear as realistic on your TV when you view in every single week.
That bookshelf is totally iconic and it was fought over at the end of the show. It’s unique, visually interesting and makes styling a breeze what with the interest coming from the shelves versus the stuff that you have to put in them, no wonder they all wanted it. These are the types of pieces that make set styling and this set in specific so special. They give the space and the “loft” character and put a human decision and emotion behind every single piece that is in there.
On to the kitchen whereas you can imagine the food isn’t necessarily real, but it would definitely fool you.
The booze is normally just a brown liquid – and often in photo shoots we just use watered down coffee or a caffeinated soda for ‘whiskey’. And if you are wondering if ice cubes are ever real in TV shows or shoots, they are not. They are acrylic clear blocks and some of them are CRAZY expensive, but when you are shooting someone drinking you can’t stop the entire production to constantly refresh their drink and make it match the last take.
What you are about to see below is propriety and VERY SECRET. Consider yourself one of the few people who get to see the completely new rooms of the 7th season The New Girl set.
Below is Jess’ NEW sewing and crafting room. Obviously something that I could get very into and had quite a bit of fun in.
It is FULL of bohemian and vintage color and magic. My former self, the crafty, better version of me, would have LOVED a room like this. That brick is just a facade but it looks so real!! The production designer and set dressers added so much detail to really tell the story of what she does in here.
The boomerangs we created that day are really cracking me up today. The knitting boomerang screams ‘unsuspecting murderous housewife…’
Another new part of the set is Nick’s office, now that he is a successful author. If you aren’t up on what is happening – his first novel (full of ‘Jess’ but not) became a hit success.
It’s a fantasy writers’ space, with a serious desk and a lot of vintage fun paraphernalia.
So that is the new set. If you are wondering why there are new sets, why all of a sudden we have these new rooms it’s because – SPOILER ALERT EVEN THOUGH IT’S ALREADY PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE – We are jumping ahead in time and our friends are grown up. They are older. Children might be involved and the sets reflect their new lives.
So I don’t know what you are doing tonight, but I’d suggest planting your bum in your sofa at 9:30/8:30c and watch the premiere of the 7th and final season of a show that makes me feel happy inside and laugh out loud.
WILL NICK AND JESS GET BACK TOGETHER????????? I think we know the answer but it certainly doesn’t hurt to watch and witness it tonight. You know that’s what I’ll be doing.
Our friends at New Girl also gave me one very iconic piece from the set that I am giving away here, which you can spot below in the kitchen shot. It is the clock that hung above the little bar area for all 7 seasons and is quite adorable if I do say so myself. To enter the giveaway all you have to do is comment below where you would put it in your own house.
Thanks again for having me, ‘New Girl’.