TV Show Kitchens: Breaking Down Monica’s Kitchen Design

Written by Megan Gerdes

popular TV show kitchen design breakdown FriendsBecause we are 30-something females and this is what we do, and because we watched Friends with our moms growing up – you can quote me on this – Monica’s kitchen is #goals.

For a New York City rent-controlled apartment, Monica had pretty much the best kitchen you could ever imagine.

But what was it that made it so great? Let’s take a deeper dive into Monica’s kitchen and find out.

Open Design

The kitchen, while tucked into the corner, so it had its own distinct footprint, was open to the living room. It was big, too, especially considering that they’re living in Manhattan. The kitchen was probably about 25 percent of the whole apartment, which is kind of cool, if unusual. These days, that one apartment would likely have been turned into three smaller ones.

She had open shelving, which was nice, and a little peninsula.

The kitchen itself was very much like her personality. Though there is a lot of stuff in there, it is neatly put away, and there seems to be some order to it. Because of the open shelves, you could always see her cereal boxes and dishes, but she didn’t try to hide it, not one bit.

If you were to walk in there today and look at it, it would look like a young, hip girl lives there. The set designers really nailed it.

popular TV show kitchen design breakdown Friends

Stuff On Display, Mismatched Everything

There is this pot rack with little copper pots, but we never saw anybody actually using them, did we? When we saw her cooking, Monica seemed to always use those big stew pots, stock pots – and they’re not visible anywhere, so I don’t know where she would have put them. Maybe in the junk closet, but that’s something we don’t see.

Monica’s character was super neat and tidy, fastidiously clean, even; but still, you had open shelving, a curtain hiding the stuff under the sink, and mismatched chairs. It was normal, if a tad cute and girly. In some ways, it was even pushing the boundaries.

For example, most people wouldn’t have painted their kitchen cabinets that shade of blue. Even now that’s kind of pushing it, but especially in the ‘90s, when Friends was on TV, it wasn’t really a thing.

And the curtain under the sink? Pretty typical for the times. The apartment across the hall had one too. This was pretty common for a while in farmhouse-type kitchens. We’re not big fans of that, but it fits in its own way, it puts us into that era.

popular TV show kitchen design breakdown Friends

Mismatched Furniture

If you had to describe Monica’s kitchen in design terminology, it would be “country chic,” maybe shabby chic, Bohemian, eclectic.

The whole apartment is very mismatched. Mismatched chairs, nothing really matches at all. What they were going for – and they accomplished it quite successfully – was to make it look like it was a 20-something’s apartment, kids on their own for the first time who couldn’t afford anything new. Stuff’s been handed down, purloined from a junk pile or garage sale, found in the trash behind the building. Since it all kind of comes out of nowhere, it actually makes sense together.

popular TV show kitchen design breakdown Friends

The Layout

The cool thing about Monica’s kitchen is that there is really nothing wrong with it. Considering the space that it occupies, there’s plenty of ways the design could have gone wrong.

However, it’s got a proper work triangle. If it were poorly laid out, everything would be on one wall. But, putting a little space in between the three things (fridge, stove, sink) and putting them in a triangle, it functions very well, given the space that it is in. The triangle is actually quite well-defined, a perfect example of functional design.

The Color Scheme

The colors, on the other hand, that’s a different story. The whole apartment was a lavender color, and the kitchen cabinets were bright blue. These shouldn’t go together. In terms of what’s trending today, this kind of approach probably would never happen unless it was a mistake.

These colors are very kitschy. Today, we would be looking more at whites and grays and pastels. Or if we wanted to get moody, we could delve into deeper colors like navy and emerald, or even charcoal, deep wine, mustard yellow; really saturated.

The One About The Kitchen

Feeling nostalgic? Take a look at your old favorite TV shows and see how their kitchens stand up by today’s standards! And if you’re feeling like you want to get some of that for your St. Louis home, give us a call. We’d love to help. 

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