BIG LITTLE LIES

  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Set Decorator Amy Wells SDSA generously takes us through the sets...enjoy!

    Blissful Drip Café, Season 2...
    “I love this shot of the 4 of them, and it is such a beautiful shot of Renata/Laura - she looks like a Botticelli!

    I had all of the bent willow furniture made by a man in Ohio that I found on Etsy. He has a company called 'Around the Bend’. We wanted the feel of The Blissful Drip to be VERY MONTEREY very natural. I was really pleased with this entire set!”


    Nicole Kidman as Celeste, Reese Witherspoon as Madeline, Laura Dern as Renata, Shailene Woodley as Jane.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Blissful Drip Café, Season 2...

    “That was the most stupendous location!!! My crew and I just could not believe we actually got to spend 2 days creating such a lovely little coffee shop.”

    Filmed on location at Lovers Point, Pacific Grove, Monterey Penninsula...
    The set was dismantled, then donated to the city, complete with the plans of how to reassemble it!

    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Blue Blues Café, Season 1...

    Then we step back to when they first met, the quaint coffee shop at the wharf...
    Amy points out,
    “This quaint coffee shop is actually on a stage in front of a GREEN SCREEN - no wharf.
    We had the most amazing Visual Effects team led by Marc Cote. The guy is a genius and just makes our sets look better and better!”


    Shailene Woodley, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman.
    Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Blue Blues Café, Season 1...

    “We had a blast doing this entire set...lots of detail. Everything, from the lighting to the bulletin board, was curated and curated again...the mixture of the chairs, the colors, the balance of old and vintage to new and vintage.

    My buyer Wendy Murray spent ages looking for the right color of blue coffee mugs, which we finally sourced from Australia!! Ditto on the salt and pepper shakers, the right silk flowers for each milk bottle vase, the sugar holders, everything...”


    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Blue Blues Café, Season 1...

    “Very few people realized that this was a set.
    I found a man named Pat Hathaway in Monterey who had the rights to a historic photo collection of the entire area from way back in the cannery days. I used many of the photos in this set to establish the Monterey setting...”


    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Bonnie’s house...

    “As much as I love the other houses because of their ocean views, THIS location has a deep soul and it is the house I would most like to live in.
    It's like a retreat in the woods. So much heart to it.”


    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Bonnie’s house...

    Since Bonnie teaches yoga and is committed to meditation, and her husband is a landscape architect, Wells added natural elements and handmade pieces...plus details from other cultures, particularly from Tibet, Nepal and India...

    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Bonnie’s house...

    Bonnie’s house reflects her spirit...

    Zoë Kravitz.
    Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Bonnie’s house...

    Madeline stops by to check on Bonnie, in Season 2...

    Reese Witherspoon, Zoë Kravitz.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    Amy notes,
    “This is so Celeste - she loves her sons!”

    The set conveys the fog and feel of the area...and her life, hard edges, but beautiful...
    This was the only house filmed in the Monterey area, in the Carmel Highlands...

    Nicole Kidman, Nicholas Crovetti, Cameron Crovetti.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    Celeste’s husband, Perry reflects the area...beautiful, alluring, but rocky, with violent waves...

    Alexander Skarsgård.
    Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    Celeste will always protect her sons...

    Nicole Kidman, Nicholas Crovetti, Cameron Crovetti.
    Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “One of the main things that Set Dec needed to keep in mind was the lighting!

    Jean Marc Vallee and his wonderful D.P. Yves Berlanger rarely used any type of film lights they relied on our department to provide lighting. I finally was able to find battery operated candles with a warmer light that looked natural enough to pass muster...”


    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “We also added quite a bit of lighting to the exteriors so that there was enough light to shoot with.
    This style of shooting is quite unusual and we had a full time electrics person with our department, Ryan Weiss. We considered him one of our department!!”


    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “We also added quite a bit of lighting to the exteriors so that there was enough light to shoot with.
    This style of shooting is quite unusual and we had a full time electrics person with our department, Ryan Weiss. We considered him one of our department!!”


    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “We always strived to make the house looked lived-in and real. Easier said than done!! Lots of toys, kids artwork, things scattered around, as it is in real life...”

    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “Love the solitude of this corner of the house.
    I rented very few pieces, we mostly bought everything, but I could not resist these chairs and the dining chairs from Objects!! We used them on both seasons and they were essential to the feel of the room.”



    Photo courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “I can hear those waves crashing on the rocks outside...
    Such a dramatic view from almost every window!
    I loved the way this dining area came together, and that was my favorite rug of all!
    Here are the dining chairs I mentioned, and of course the Jonathan Adler chandelier, which helped with both the look and the lighting. We put all of the lights on dimmers so the lighting could be controlled.”



    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...
    By now, everyone knows about Mary Louise and her effect on Celeste's life, so we chose this poignant shot to bring us into the now empty bedroom...

    Wells smiles, “What can I say? Working with Meryl Streep was a dream come true. She’s as eloquent and grounded as I imagined she would be, and was very straightforward about what she thought her character would and wouldn't like, which I appreciated!
    I like collaborating...it's always so interesting to participate in a dialogue about the set.”


    Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep.
    Photo courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “This was the only part of Celeste's house that was on stage in Los Angeles. We needed the closet and bathroom for the scripted scenes, and the location didn't really have any of that.
    Production Designer John Paino is intensely detail oriented, and this set really shows off his skills.”


    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “My key Buyer, Jill Rolie December, had a blast finding all of this bedding and the pillows!”

    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Celeste’s house...

    “Once again, the ocean outside was a GREEN SCREEN brought to life by Marc Cote...and, again, we had interesting interplay of the lighting practicals...”

    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Madeline’s house...

    “Madeline’s house was supposed to be a bit more ‘middle class’. Hmmm, I don't really think it feels that way. She is certainly a Martha Stewart/Pottery Barn kinda girl.”

    Kathryn Newton, Darby Camp, Adam Scott, Reese Witherspoon.
    Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Madeline’s house...

    The reverse shot looks into the family room, which overlooks the beach off to the right...

    Darby Camp.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO




  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Madeline’s house...

    “This is such a nice shot of Reese at Madeline’s dressing table!
    We tried to ensure that her corner reflected her personal feminine style...”


    Reese Witherspoon.
    Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Madeline’s house...

    “Reality and mess is part of telling the story.”

    Reese Witherspoon.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Jane’s house...

    “We all spent many hours putting this location set together, creating art for the character. I have so many gifted artists on my crew that relish making things for the set! We truly had fun putting this together.”

    Shailene Woodley.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO




  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Jane’s house...

    The two mothers with their boys from the same father...
    Who knew???

    Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Iain Armitage, Nicholas Crovetti, Cameron Crovetti.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Jane’s house...

    “This shows the care that Jane put into Ziggy's room...”

    Photo courtesy of HBO


  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Jane’s house...

    “Jane wanted things to be as good as possible for Ziggy, no matter what. She gave him his own room, and slept in the living room...”

    Shailene Woodley, Iain Armitage.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO




  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Jane’s house...

    “This, too, was a stage set that John Paino designed to match the exterior in Pasadena. I tried really hard to make it real!! It so needed to feel like a young mother with almost no money put it together through her wits and creativity...”

    Photo courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house...

    “Everyone fell in love with the rug!!”

    Ivy George, Laura Dern, Jeffrey Nordling.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house...

    When we come in closer, we see the mother-daughter story here.
    They are completely reflected in this set!

    Ivy George, Laura Dern.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house...

    When we come in closer, we see the mother-daughter story here.
    They are completely reflected in this set!

    Ivy George, Laura Dern.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house...

    “We completely changed the living room furniture for the 2nd Season. The reasoning was that Renata was always trying to show off her money. We chose sofas and chairs from Ligne Roset, which went well with the house.”

    Laura Dern, Jeffrey Nordling.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house...

    Renata learns her husband has gambled their fortune...

    Laura Dern.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house...

    Amy points out,
    “We built these tables that John designed.”

    Laura Dern, Jeffrey Nordling.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house...

    Suddenly more minimalism than even Renata would want!

    Laura Dern.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house, Gordon’s man cave...

    “We had this train set built specifically for this set, THE MANCAVE!
    There were so many details to bringing this about...I put together collections of vintage trains and train accessories for the shelves, as well as vintage planes to hang from the ceiling...and of course his fabulous collection of single malt scotch.”


    Jeffrey Nordling.
    Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Renata’s house, Gordon’s man cave...

    “The shelves were all breakaway so that Renata could smash them all with the bats you see displayed on the wall. It was quite an undertaking...”

    Laura Dern.
    Photo by Merie W. Wallace, courtesy of HBO



  • Set Decorator
    Amy Wells SDSA
    Production Designer
    John Paino
    HBO


    Therapist’s office...

    “This set was on stage. It was supposed to be the interior of a Monterey Craftsman cottage filled with the art and collections of the therapist, Dr. Reisman. We loved pulling this together. My crew made art for the set, including lino block prints to put on the wall. Thanks, Joe O'Neill and Hugh Pritchard!”

    Photo courtesy of HBO



We know you already miss it, so we’re giving you an in-depth look at the fabulous sets that helped define the wondrous Monterey Five of BIG LITTLE LIES !
 

Set Decorator Amy Wells SDSA and her teams have brought us into the mid-century world of MAD MEN, the abnormal normalcy of a small town in SHARP OBJECTS, and too many strong films to list here – check our Film Decor section, you’ll see several!
 
So it’s no wonder that we dove deeply into the delicious pleasures of the sets of BIG LITTLE LIES and the lives they reflected...
 
With its glacial blue palette of sea and stone, Celeste’s [Nicole Kidman] home offers a visual metaphor of her life... the crashing waves on jagged rocks below, obscured occasionally in both sight and sound by the mysterious play of fog...
 
Madeline [Reese Witherspoon] assiduously applies herself to becoming the West Coast Martha Stewart/Perfect Mother, in her California Cape Cod-style beach house, a paean to Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn.
 
Renata[ Laura Dern] sits atop an ocean side crest in her grand contemporary mansion with its sweeping staircase and minimalist furnishings.
 
Jane [Shailene Woodley], a struggling single mother, devoted to her son and his well-being, using creativity to compensate for the lack of funds the others have.
 
Bonnie, the somewhat detached yoga instructor, meditator, lives with her landscape architect husband...not by the water but on a sun-dappled wooded mountainside, embracing nature and the cultures of Eastern spirit.
 
The women meet at their children’s school, but come together over coffee/tea at a café on the wharf [Season 1] and a charming outdoor coffee café at Lovers Point overlooking a tiny pocket beach to the hillside houses beyond, and windswept dunes in the other direction [Season 2]... 
 
In the photo gallery above, Amy gives us behind-the-scenes notes on the splendid world of BIG LITTLE LIES she, Production Designer John Paino and their teams brought us into...and made us not want to leave!

Enjoy!
Karen Burg, Editor

Objects



television decor archives

THE POLITICIAN 2019-12-04
YELLOWSTONE 2019-06-23
WHAT IF 2019-06-13
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT 2019-06-05
SUCCESSION 2019-05-31
The OA 2019-05-09
THE ACT 2019-04-23
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL 2018-12-20
BEST. WORST. WEEKEND. EVER. 2018-11-13
SNOWFALL 2018-10-25
TIMELESS 2018-07-05
LEGION 2018-06-21
MINDHUNTER 2018-06-14
SILICON VALLEY 2018-06-11
SENSE8 2018-06-08
THE MIDDLE 2018-05-23
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: CULT 2017-11-07
THE CROWN 2017-06-09
ONE DAY AT A TIME 2017-05-25
THE MINDY PROJECT 2017-04-28
HELL'S KITCHEN, MASTERCHEF & MASTERCHEF JUNIOR 2017-04-19
GOLIATH 2016-12-07
OUTLANDER 2016-09-30
GREASE: LIVE 2016-08-11
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL 2016-08-11
TRANSPARENT 2016-06-26
VEEP 2016-06-19
ROOTS 2016-05-30
GOTHAM 2015-11-17
HOUSE OF CARDS 2015-10-01
THE KNICK 2015-06-18
DANCING WITH THE STARS 2015-04-06
CHANDELIER 2015-02-12
THE STRAIN 2014-12-14
DA VINCI'S DEMONS 2014-10-02
MASTERS OF SEX 2014-07-31
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS 2014-03-08
CASTLE 2013-11-04
VIKINGS 2013-07-13
SMASH 2013-06-19
2 BROKE GIRLS 2013-06-03
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA 2013-05-29
SHAKE IT UP 2013-03-26
HEMINGWAY & GELLHORN 2012-06-21
GCB 2012-04-09
JUSTIFIED 2011-09-23
MODERN FAMILY 2011-06-14
GLEE 2010-12-14
BONES 2010-08-22
UNITED STATES OF TARA 2010-04-20
THE GOOD WIFE 2009-12-03
TRUE BLOOD 2009-08-21


Share This Page ▼