Longtime collaborators, Set Decorator David Smith SDSA and Production Designer Bill Arnold were a perfect team for Reese Witherspoon’s newest romantic comedy. They bring a sense of style to even the most mundane, and this certainly wasn’t!
From cottage chic to high-end NY minimalism, there is always a soupçon more that adds depth to the storytelling, visual clues to the characters’ personalities and history.
And it's always a delight to step into their sets!
David has generously given us insider bits in the gallery below.
Karen Burg, Editor
Set Decorator David Smith SDSA - gives us behind the scenes notes! Debbie’s kitchen looking into her backyard. Vintage stove, recycled Ethan Allen cabinet from the lost resource, Wertz Brothers, and the mock Ikea kitchen island. Mock because no island was in stock when we were shooting and Omega Cinema Props built this one for the show. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Debbie [Reese Witherspoon] and Peter [Ashton Kutcher] have been best friends for 20 years even though they are total opposites. In LA, practical, risk-averse accountant Debbie craves routine and stability with her son Jack [Wesley Kimmel], while stylish brand consultant Peter thrives on change in New York City. When they swap houses and lives for a week, they learn they haven’t told each other every- thing after all and discover what they think they want might not be what they really need.
Debbie and Jack in a symphony of blue, green and yellow. Showing Debbie’s control of life and environment. Wesley Kimmel & Reese Witherspoon. Photo by Erin Simkin 2023 © Netflix Inc.
From Set Decorator David Smith SDSA...
YOUR PLACE OR MINE is the 13th movie and my 21st collaboration with Bill. We have a wonderful ease working together. We were delighted to step up for this one. Bill really got excited when, very early in conversations, he learned that the Producers intended to build on stage in Los Angeles both Debbie’s House and Peter’s Apartment.
Aline Brosh McKenna, the lovely Writer/Director/Producer, and I had a great affinity working on the movie, which was based on her life and experiences, though not the romance! She was always eager and available to answer questions and to help narrow down choices. She wanted for both homes to feel real and lived-in, as written. We honored that as much as possible with working cabinets, filled drawers, shelves, niches and bookcases.
Looking from the front door through the living room and the kitchen, then the back entrance and breakfast nook out to the backyard. The whole backyard was on stage. The empty middle shelf in the corner cabinet is for the breakaway vase that Peter throws his phone into. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Debbie’s living room, small but with as many bookcases as possible. Backstory: I think she added the upper bookcases from Target to the existing built-in lower cases that are “original” to the house. I based Debbie’s character on two friends who always had a knack for finding thrift shop/flea market quality finds at really low prices. The assorted McCoy/Stangl and generic art pottery being one of the character’s choices. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Peter’s lifestyle by choice is minimal, while Debbie has owned her small house in the hills of LA for 20 years and has a son, it exudes her personality. Her choice is obviously maximal. Both, however, share a love for and live with books.
Two major decisions that played throughout the movie: The choice to embrace Aline’s love of color. As well as a choice to embrace the height difference between Debbie (5’2”) and Peter (6’2”)! The split screen sequences took a little while to work out, as the height differences had to be carefully calibrated. In fact, we expanded Debbie’s closet by about 2 feet after we filmed the first version of her split screen. For the split screen sequence, we also auditioned about 8 sheet colors and textures. At first we thought they would have similar sheets, but decided they had to be the same. So, I justified that Peter gifted Debbie her set after she heard about his lovely linen bedding. The split screen made for some fun challenges!
As always, working with Bill Arnold was terrific, a pleasure. My entire crew and I loved working on YOUR PLACE OR MINE.
Peter and Jack choosing ALIEN for dinner entertainment, definitely not on Debbie’s watch list! More recycled furniture pieces. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
The Bamboo blinds are a splurge for Debbie. These are from AMCO/American Screen and Window Coverings. The textured fabrics exude a chic earthiness. It is always difficult to get good clear photos of sets, and a lot of photos in this piece are the continuity shots to be used as set dressing re-set photos. Hence, the worklight stand and cable near the fireplace. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Debbie’s bedroom looking into the living room. Some of Jack’s childhood art appears throughout the house. The pieces are actually Wesley Kimmel’s [who plays Jack] childhood art, which was graciously loaned by his parents. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Debbie’s bedroom. Chinese art deco rug belongs to Writer/Director Aline Brosh McKenna, and was lent for the duration of filming. Debbie is loosely based on Aline and reflects some of her past and ongoing choices. Debbie’s former husband/Jack’s father brought back pieces from Morocco which are scattered about. Freely painted recycled finds such as the Heywood-Wakefield dressing table feature in Debbie and Jack’s bedrooms. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Debbie’s bedroom. Etsy art mixed with Art Image LA art (the woman in the blue dress). Mixing patterns and color on the bed along with the carefully curated sheets. More eclectic and less expensive bed linens than Peter’s. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Aline had a major input in art choices for the show and she found Etsy prints of female authors. I bought the prints from Etsy, communicated with each vendor/creator and paid additional for licensing rights for the movie. More books and art pottery. Photo courtesy of Netflix. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Debbie’s bathroom. The shower curtain is made from ikat fabric from Etsy. My first choice of three and the boldest that was offered. And Aline chose the boldest one as well. Gently-worn rented and purchased bath fixtures. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Debbie’s hallway looking into the kitchen from Jack’s bedroom with bathroom door on the left and out-of-frame is the linen closet. Bill’s to scale 2-bedroom bungalow [built completely onstage]. Photo courtesy of Netflix.
For more photos...Jack’s room, Peter’s New York apartment and more...Click on SHOW MORE PHOTOS below!
Set Decorator David Smith SDSA would like to acknowledge the SDSA Business members he worked with on this film, particularly:
Advanced Liquidators Office Furniture|AMCO/American Screen and Window Coverings|Enchanted Art/Enchanted Studio Props|Green Set|Hollywood Studio Gallery|Lawrence of La Brea|Lennie Marvin’s Prop Heaven|Omega Cinema Props|Sandy Rose Floral Inc|Town and Country Event Rentals|Universal Studios Print Shop|Universal Studios Property|Warner Bros. Property and Drapery|& the now-shuttered Wertz Brothers
Special thanks from David to:
Production Designer Bill Arnold|Director, Writer & Producer Aline Brosh Mckenna|Producer Meri Howard|Buyers Sally Baxter & Armen Khechoumian|Leadman Peter Dang|Gang Boss Samo Tusak|Gang Boss/Draper Bernardo Osario|Swing Gang: David Holowach, Ben Robertson, Christian Fritsch, Mykal Willams, Genevieve Liebowitz, & TS Pellikan|On Set Dresser Thomas Downey|Set Decoration Co-Ordinator Sarah Merchant|Graphics Designer Beatriz Kerti|Greensman Clovis (Kobi) Scott III|New York Set Decorator Susan Ogu SDSA|NY Leadman Victor Marrone|NY On Set Dresser Lopez Adrian
Don’t forget, for more photos... Click on SHOW MORE PHOTOS below!