August 4th, 2019 by Karen Burg

Main Photo
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

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!

Karen Burg, Editor


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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 details from other cultures, particularly from Tibet, Nepal and India... Photo courtesy of HBO

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Bonnie’s house... Bonnie’s house reflects her spirit... Zoë Kravitz. Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of HBO

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Bonnie’s house... Madeline stops by to check on Bonnie, in Season 2... Reese Witherspoon, Zoë Kravitz. Photo by Jennifer Clasen, courtesy of HBO

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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

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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

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Celeste’s house... Celeste will always protect her sons... Nicole Kidman, Nicholas Crovetti, Cameron Crovetti. Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle, courtesy of HBO

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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