The best interiors on film: from romantic Georgian decor to colourful PoMo, nine looks you can recreate at home

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  • Douglas Sirk
    Film director from Germany

Yes, the house in Parasite is amazing.

The Milan apartment in I Am Love and the summer houses in A Bigger Splash and Call Me By Your Name can battle it out for most stylish Italian holiday pad. And film-maker Wes Anderson is a reliable source of cool, symmetrical and just-the-right-side-of-twee home styles.

But you knew all that already. Here, instead, is a personal selection of (slightly) less discussed but equally incredible interiors in the movies.

And with Christmas 2021 looking like another one spent at home (potentially in Omicron isolation) you’ll have plenty of time to settle down and pick up some decorating tips.

All That Heaven Allows (1955)

Director: Douglas Sirk

The outdoor lunch. The rustic cabin. The converted mill. All shown in spectacularly vivid Technicolor. The interiors offset the melodrama perfectly. The stifling middle-class home of widow Cary Scott (Jane Wyman) is reflected back at her in the dead screen of the television set her children buy to distract her from her love interest, Ron Kirby, the gardener, played by Rock Hudson. Her uptight, small-town world is contrasted with the ramshackle, open-plan warmth of the country home of Ron’s bohemian friends and, ultimately, in the mill he renovates with the lightest of touches and a gloriously romantic, full-height window overlooking the snowy landscape, complete with friendly deer. This being Douglas Sirk the interiors are rampant with symbolism, but the old mill is a lustworthy home, with or without the psychodrama.

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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988)

Pedro Almodovar

All of Almodovar’s films feature fabulous interior decor — it’s something of a trademark for the Spanish director — but Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is our selection for its pitch-perfect portrayal of a fashionable late-Eighties city apartment. A lot of the action is centred around a gazpacho being prepared in the kitchen of actress Pepa (played by Carmen Maura) but it’s the jungle-planted balcony with views over Madrid’s skyline that is the real piece de resistance here.

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Barry Lyndon (1975)

Stanley Kubrick

Swoon and swoon again at the interiors of this film. Yes, The Favourite is impressive but this period drama, which won an Oscar for Ken Adam’s production design, is the real deal. Every scene is like a painting — quite intentionally; director Stanley Kubrick was heavily influenced by 18th-century artworks. The grand stately home rooms are ornate with parquet floors, gilding, chandeliers and clusters of candles (and babies wearing ostrich-feather hats) but the modest Irish farmhouse where the titular antihero starts his journey is perhaps the nicest, with its flagstone floors and bare wooden furniture.

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Beetlejuice (1988)

Tim Burton

A typical Connecticut house is given the ultimate postmodern makeover after the death of its original owners, Adam and Barbara (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis). In sweeps Delia Deetz (Catherine O’Hara) with her hip late-Eighties ideas about interior design — electric blue kitchen, grey terrazzo walls, glass brick fireplace, zebra-print napkins etc. It’s a sort of Memphis Group-plus look and definitely due a revival.

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Goldfinger (1964)

Guy Hamilton

Every iteration of Bond has its own sexy, modern look but we can single out Goldfinger for a great piece of design irony. Bond author Ian Fleming was a Hampstead neighbour of seminal modernist architect Erno Goldfinger and a vociferous objector to his introduction of modernism to the leafy streets of the area. So much so that he named his fictional villain after him. Looking at production designer Ken Adam’s sleek, modern sets for the adaptation filmed just five years later, you could say that the architect got the last laugh.

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Great Expectations (1998)

Alfonso Cuarón

Updated and transported from Victorian London to Nineties America, much of the action takes place in a crumbling, neogothic mansion in an atmospheric Florida backwater. Vines and creepers have taken over the decaying Paradise Perduto to dazzlingly romantic effect, in particular in the once-grand double-height ballroom with its coloured-glass windows, chandelier and viewing balcony, all now engulfed in trailing greenery. Even the modern-day New York scenes offer a feast for design lovers’ eyes, from the New York apartment of Estella (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) to Finn’s (Ethan Hawke) sketch-strewn studio.

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Performance (1970)

Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell

Forget Rhys Ifans being quirky in his underpants, Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg lying prone on a pile of hippy trail soft furnishings offer the original vision of Notting Hill boho. The house in the film is in Powis Square, now cleaned up and home to strait-laced financiers — but they might well have the odd Moroccan objet or rakish antique in a respectable nod to the heady sex and drugs and rock’n’roll-suffused styles of an earlier time.

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Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers (1993)

Nick Park

As comforting as your grandma’s house, the cosiest smart home imaginable is lived in by inventor, Wallace, and his dog, Gromit. The live-work space (there’s a studio workshop in the basement) is decorated with floral wallpaper, patterned curtains and comfy armchairs. Wooden floorboards covered with rugs, Roberts radios and a trusty Brown Betty teapot are straight out of Labour and Wait designer homewares shop in Shoreditch. A series of ingenious contraptions, from a lever to tip you out of bed and into your trousers, to a jam catapult for the breakfast toast - served on colourful mismatched crockery, of course - should make for a life of ease, were it not for the frequent disasters that befall the hapless pair.

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Ex Machina (2014)

Alex Garland

If the home/lab/robot sex dungeon of evil Tech-bro, Nathan reminds you of a boutique hotel, well, that’s because it is one. Although set in remote Alaska, the movie was actually filmed in the Juvet Landscape Hotel in Valldal, Norway, a luxe-cabin style modern build where you can stay - in more travel-friendly times — for around £250 a night. Nature and the man-made are combined (like in Ava, the AI, get it?) with some walls built into the raw rock and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the stunning forest scenery. It all gets a bit more sinister below stairs in the subterranean sleeping quarters but the concrete bedrooms and glassy corridors are still austerely stylish.

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