As a kid growing up in the 1980s, I loved tuning in to my favorite sitcoms. My eight siblings and I would gather around the television at night and I’d watch the screen illuminate with images of beautiful TV apartments off in the big city. We lived in a ranch-style home my mom and dad built for our large family in Austin, and it felt like such a luxury to imagine having my own space—being able to choose the wall colors and buy as many bean bag chairs as I wanted. (I was a child of the 80s, after all.) Getting my daily glimpse into the world of TV apartments gave me the chance to imagine my life as a cool young adult working in the city and coming home to my magical abode in the skyline.
I am happy to report that I did get to live in the city apartments of my dreams. Having the opportunity to study and work in New York City for over 15 years provided the chance to rent interesting (and small) spaces across the boroughs. Each time I moved, I could change my identity, experimenting with different design styles, colors, and layouts. Since apartments are such a manageable scale, it’s easy and fun to plan new decor schemes for every lease, especially for an interior designer just starting her career.
Eventually, I left my apartment adolescence and moved to the grownup suburbs, but I still miss aspects of apartment living. Sometimes I drive past new high-rise complexes or renovated lofts in Austin and wonder what it’s like to live in these tiny communities nestled in the city. So, I go back to the world of TV apartments. In the age of Netflix, I don’t even have to wait for prime time! As I binge my latest sitcoms or dramas and admire the unrealistically spacious apartment interiors, I reflect on the TV apartments that inspired my interior design journey and influenced some of my earliest designs—my own apartments. My team of Austin interior designers and I have compiled a list of the 10 best TV apartments that have inspired and informed our interior design journeys. (Plus, these are some must-watch shows.) Happy binging and happy decorating!
Our Austin Interior Designers’ Top 10 TV Apartments
1. Monica Geller’s Apartment in Friends
Can you make a list of the best TV apartments without including Monica Geller’s pad in Friends? The Friends apartment—with its bank of windows, iconic purple walls, and spacious open-concept floor plan—is too good to be true. But, we can dream! New York newbies can even purchase their own Friends peephole frame to get a piece of the look.
2. The Ricardos’ Apartment in I Love Lucy
Lucy and Ricky Ricardo occupied the original New York City TV apartment. Rented from their friends and landlords, the Mertzes, their apartment featured wood paneling, a brick fireplace, and a pass-through kitchen window, all in stylish black and white. Many of the classic episodes even included storylines about redecorating the place!
3. Don Draper’s Apartment in Mad Men
While Don Draper occupied the same era as the Ricardos, his apartment features a much more refined midcentury modern design scheme. Wall-to-wall carpeting, an oversized sectional, and sliding doors out to the terrace defined the sunk-in living room and (spoiler alert!) made the perfect bachelor pad for this divorcee.
4. Will Truman’s Apartment in Will & Grace
Like Don, Will Truman had his fair share of girl troubles. However, Will’s mainly consisted of sharing his New York apartment with his bestie Grace Adler, an interior designer who, ironically, rarely had an interior of her own. Will’s apartment featured refined ‘90s luxury, with an open-concept kitchen, fireplace, and reading nook that spilled out onto a terrace.
5. Jerry Seinfeld’s Apartment in Seinfeld
Some of us prefer a more casual apartment, like comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Jerry’s small kitchen floor plan stocked with cereal boxes, irreplaceable couch, and IMB computer form a classic backdrop worthy of nine seasons. Plus, this is one of the more realistic-looking New York apartments, which has to count for something (even if it is a show about nothing).
6. Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment in Sex and the City
The winner of the most unrealistic New York City apartment has to go to Carrie Bradshaw. Her Sex and the City brownstone includes the perfect location, a spacious floor plan, and a dream closet (even by suburban standards). Her iconic space has inspired thousands of girls decorating their first apartments.
7. Shoshanna Shapiro’s Apartment in Girls
You don’t have to look far to see Carrie Bradshaw’s influence on apartment decor. In fact, you don’t even have to leave HBO! In Lena Dunham’s Girls, Shoshanna Shapiro takes a page from the Sex and the City apartment when designing her own, even hanging the poster in her living room.
8. Mary Richards’ Apartment in The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Not all girls move to New York City to launch their careers. Some find stylish (and larger) apartments in Minneapolis, like Mary Richards. The Mary Tyler Moore Show apartment features luxurious cathedral ceilings, a massive arched window, and classic shag carpeting in the living room. Many of these ‘70s and ‘80s trends are back in style, making this retro apartment very much on trend!
9. Frasier Crane’s Apartment in Frasier
Moving further west to Seattle, Frasier Crane’s apartment exudes class, elegance, and taste. Well, except for that recliner. But, we all have our roommate challenges when we are young and starting out! Anyway, I think that view makes up for the tattered recliner eyesore.
10. Jess Day’s Apartment in New Girl
It seems like most of our TV show apartments are located in NYC, but there are a few gems to look at in LA, too. Jess Day’s apartment in New Girl is a loft inside a converted warehouse building. It features exposed brick, hardwood floors, and incredible natural light. With aesthetics like this, who cares how many roomies you have to share with.
Why Do We Love the Idea of Apartment Living On Screen and Off?
Now, I live back in that sprawling ranch house I grew up in with my own smaller family of four. I love my spacious 2,600 square feet, complete with a formal dining room and eat-in kitchen which is bigger than some of my first New York City apartments! However, I do miss the sense of community and discovery that comes with moving into a new apartment at a young age.
Apartments, just like the ones on TV, provide a unique connection to your neighbors. You share walls, an elevator, a fire escape, and maybe even a courtyard. Whether you intend to or not, you connect with the people in your building. Perhaps you smell them cooking dinner or hear their music spilling into the halls. If you’re lucky, maybe you even walk down the hall in your slippers to your neighbor’s unit to watch your favorite show together. It seems like our sitcom friends always live just across the hall, after all. Designing a room is really about creating a space to form connections, and apartments are such an effortless place to develop them.
I look forward to my kids having their own apartment living experience, at least for a while, so that they can feel the wonderful and quirky connections that one can make in a fifth-floor walkup, too!
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.