Nancy Meyers is one of my favorite filmmakers for the insightful and intelligent way she explores relationships, and the way her interior sets capture romance. My favorite movies of hers— The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated—are written, directed and produced by her. Since we are celebrating all that is merry and bright, I thought it would be fun to revisit her Christmas story The Holiday through the design of the movie sets that placed two dynamic women in two very different venues nestled within two distinctly different locales. The film is a perfect example of how design heightens romance in movies.
Nancy Meyers’ The Holiday
One of the things I enjoy the most about this film is how the essence of each woman is reflected through the fashion she wears and through the design of her home. Amanda Woods, played by Cameron Diaz, never loses her chic façade even though she is trekking around the snowbound countryside of Surrey where she has landed after swapping her LA mansion with Iris Simpkins’ cottage. Iris, played by Kate Winslet’s, shows some growth through her appearance, as she becomes more sophisticated as she navigates the lauded canyons of Hollywood.
Costume designer Marlene Stewart dressed the cast in the film and Jon Hutman was the production designer who outfitted their homes with some advice from Los Angeles interior designer James Radin. Hutman also worked with Meyers to create the interiors of two other movie residences I adore, not just for the aesthetics but for the fact they held up as backdrops for seriously actualized women—Meryl Streep’s home in It’s Complicated and Diane Keaton’s Hampton’s beach house in Something’s Gotta Give.
Design Heightens Romance
In each of these three films, romance is rendered quite intelligently through Meyer’s writing and the visual elements in them. As The Holiday opens, Iris—a journalist—is attempting to make deadline just before her heart gets smashed to bits by Jasper Bloom, played by Rufus Sewell. The voiceover has her quoting Shakespeare’s adages that “journeys end in lovers meeting” and “love is blind.” How dexterous is Meyers in summing up the romance to come and the heartbreak both of these women will leave behind!
The fact that both of these women are at romantic breaking points that will be put behind them in the comfort of such expressive homes is a fabulous example of how design becomes a character actor in films, and I believe Meyers does this especially well in her movies. Cecil Adams, our Vice President and Creative Director agrees: “Nancy Myers and her team created one of the most influential and now iconic movie sets ever with Diane Keaton’s Hamptons house in Something’s Gotta Give. Watch it again and you will see many trends that are still moving through the design world today. With The Holiday, she gives us just what we want for the season: warm experiences and romance. A cozy atmosphere can only exist with just the right lighting to set the mood. Who doesn’t love a well designed room for The Holidays?”
Hear, Hear! Cecil. In that vein, I thought we’d have a bit of fun with this post by presenting images of the homes these two women exchange as they try to come to terms with myopic moments in their past relationships, and identifying some products manufactured by Currey & Company that could so easily have had cameos in this film!
I’ve even chosen several different products for a few rooms so you can vote on which one you think would have shone brighter in these spaces! Let’s take a look, shall we?
Amanda’s home was trendsetting when it appeared in December 2006, the color pallet spawning a gray trend that lasted for several years. This particular home in the movie was a real residence where some of the scenes were filmed, though many of them were captured on movie sets, the building of which for all of the interiors in the film topped a million dollars. I think the Carlisle table lamp is a shoe-in for this room, but thought I’d let you vote as to whether you’d tap the Lilou or Lola table lamp for the space.
The Carlisle table lamp is one of Currey & Company’s best sellers. From beneath a harmonious shade of eggshell linen emerges a clean, unadorned column of Natural alabaster.
The Lilou is a classic white table lamp accented with brass metal fittings and topped by a contemporary drum shade in off white shantung, the entire composition one of romance.
The curvaceous Lola table lamp has an opal white finish that is ornamented with a polished nickel metal base and finial, and fitted with a white parchment shade.
Iris’ English country living room expresses the rooted intelligence of her character, a working journalist who commutes to London from Surrey five days a week. The large stone fireplace, comfortable furnishings perfect for curling up for an afternoon read, and shelves filled with books give us a clue that she is a mental explorer. For this welcoming space, I’ve chosen the Clifford table lamp and the Marseille wall sconce for the resonance both designs have.
The Clifford table lamp is made of alabaster marble—the off-white shantung shade a soft complement to the weighty base. The historical references this lamp conveys brings it the feel of crisp romance.
The Marseille wall sconce has an antique mirrored back-plate and a French black finish.
The kitchen in Amanda’s home served as the backdrop for a lovely celebration Iris had with a handful of new friends she’d met, including Miles, played by Jack Black; and Arthur Abbott, a role acted keenly by Eli Wallach. She uplifts the elderly Academy Award-winning screenwriter with her generosity of spirit—it’s one of my favorite relationships in the film. Don’t you think the Denison lantern would be perfect in this room?
Attributes of the Denison lantern include hand-finished construction in hammered wrought iron with a molé black finish.
Amanda has several pivotal scenes with Iris’ brother Graham, played by Jude Law, in the kitchen of Rosehill Cottage. For this space, I wonder whether you would choose the Clarion or the Hannah chandelier.
The Clarion chandelier has rounded shapes in wrought iron that are finished in Majestic Silver Leaf, which shines in the warm glow cast from its eight bulbs.
The Hannah chandelier has slender, rust-colored wrought-iron arms complemented by the unique Stockholm white finish of the hand-carved shaft and graceful wooden teardrops. It’s one of my favorites for the romance it exudes.
When Iris found the switch that lowered the blackout curtains and snuggled into the sumptuous king sized bed, it was one of those movie moments you could truly feel the weary traveler’s state of mind. For this spacious room, I’ve tapped the Spire table lamp for its lean profile. Don’t you think it would up the chic quotient in the space?
Spire table lamp’s base is made of ribbed cast aluminum with an antique nickel finish that is enhanced with texture and paired with an off-white shantung shade.
The architectural details of the ceiling in this space are beautiful. Despite the fireplace and the layers of woolens she slept in the first night in residence, Amanda didn’t warm up in this room until she and Graham took their romance into the bedroom! I found several Currey & Company contenders for this room: the Jardin and Caroline table lamps.
Crafted with metal and porcelain, the Jardin table lamp has an intricate pine and cherry blossom design inspired by 18th– and 19th-century Chinese Porcelain, and 15th-century Chenghua stemcup designs.
The Caroline table lamp has a pristine eggshell crackle finish that highlights its exquisite porcelain construction, the acrylic footing a timeless touch in keeping with its modernist feel. Can’t you feel the romance oozing from it?
Last but not least, peeking from the corner of this shot of Iris’ library is a faux bois table I believe could be a European cousin of the Hidcote console table.
The Hidcote console table is made when the traditional technique of faux bois is actualized. This involves hand-applying concrete over a metal mesh frame. This piece has been treated to a warm Portland finish.
And don’t you think the Val accent table with its solid metal bar base in an antique gold finish and clear tempered glass top would be adorable tucked next to the upholstered chair?
If you saw the film, you know that each gal got her guy in the end, which, of course, is what we all love about romantic comedies, right?
I hope you enjoyed this little foray into Currey & Company set decorating today. I sure had a blast infusing their products with romance. Happy Holidays, everyone!
Saxon Henry also blogs as The Modern Salonnière.