ow have we not talked about the home decor on Sex and the City yet? Man Repeller has broken down everything from the big stuff, like the Aiden vs. Big debate and Miranda’s potential as a protagonist, to the minutiae, like Carrie’s penchant for excellent knee sock-centric ensembles. We’ve shared our Secret Single Behaviors. We’ve investigated the D’Orsay shoe. We’ve recreated the series’ most iconic scenes. Man Repeller is practically a Sex and the City encyclopedia and yet, there has been no discussion of the apartments in which these beloved characters’ lives unfold — apartments that beg to be unpacked like an overstuffed carry-on suitcase.
Let’s start with Samantha’s. The rent-controlled, Upper East Side apartment where she lives in early seasons of the show looks like something that was airlifted out of Gothic literature, replete with giant dripping wax candles, bizarre lamps, heavy red curtains and a red velvet duvet strewn across a mahogany four-poster bed that would make Edgar Allen Poe proud. The vibe, in sum, is dim, thick and claustrophobic. Even though I’m curious why the show-runners were somehow led to believe that a woman who enjoys sex hates natural light, I’ll admit the overall “creepy-sexy-boudoir” element is conceivably Samantha-esque.
But then! Samantha infamously relocates to the Meatpacking district in Season 3 after feeling judged by her elderly neighbors for making out in the building elevator. (“They’re a bunch of dried up old farts who haven’t had sex since Eisenhower and I remind them of what they can’t have.”) If I’m being honest, her new studio looks kind of like an AirBnB — sparse, barely decorated and completely cookie-cutter. There is zero evidence someone lives there permanently. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that Samantha, who has personality in spades, would reside somewhere with so little? The blue kitchen counter and stools are cute, sure, but even that setup could be ripped straight out of a decorating catalogue. Where is the Samantha Jones flare? Where is the home decor equivalent of her signature statement earrings and charismatic shoulder pads? Why is a red velvet duvet the only evidence of her true self on display? And why isn’t there a plot thread wherein Charlotte tries to burn it? To be clear: I am duvet-neutral, but I imagine Charlotte York is not.
Miranda’s Upper West Side apartment (which she moves into early on in the series) is noticeably more decorated than Samantha’s studio, but not in a way that feels distinctly Miranda. I’ll allow this logic considering she hires someone else to decorate it in Season 2, but I’m curious if she truly felt at home around her purple and lilac throw pillows, or among the framed black and white photos of flowers that seem to be on every wall.
Miranda’s most notable home decor moment occurs in Season 2, Episode 16 when she decides to purchase a set of salmon-colored bed linens. “If my bed is a place I want to be, maybe others will feel the same way,” she says. And then: “If you build it, he will come.” Ha. Ha. Ha. Classically terrible SATC sex puns aside, I have so many thoughts about this particular bedding incident. Of all the colors Miranda Hobbes could choose to make her bed more inviting… salmon? Amidst the many urgent questions I need to ask the four women on this show, my curiosity about why she associates my favorite fish with irresistible sensuality is perhaps the most pressing.
Also pressing: Why is Charlotte York’s Upper East Side apartment truly the only apartment on the show that actually makes sense? Maybe because she essentially risks her relationship with her mother-in-law during her multi-episode mission to control its aesthetic, so it BETTER MAKE SENSE? I can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly Charlotte to a T — creamy and sophisticated, with the occasional whisper of tasteful floral.
From my expert analytical standpoint, I only have one qualm: Considering it is owned by the most kid-obsessed character on SATC who is actively trying to conceive while occupying it, this apartment is notably kid-unfriendly. So much so that I would have loved to watch an episode devoted to how exactly she kid-proofed it after adopting Lily. Even though creamy and sophisticated don’t jive well with potty training and jam fingers, I wouldn’t put it past Charlotte to come up with the perfect solution. A creamy and sophisticated hand-washing station in every room, perhaps?
I saved Carrie’s apartment for last because it is quite possibly the most contested of the four. I won’t bother poking holes in the notion that a newspaper columnist with a penchant for expensive shoes would be able to afford a comfortably sized studio apartment in a brownstone on the Upper East Side with a walk-in closet, because that hunch has already been entertained by many. I will bother admitting I have pretty much nothing to say about Carrie’s apartment, which is surprising, right?
Everything else about Carrie’s life is utterly memorable — her clothes, her hair, her relationships, her go-to spots around New York, her Carrie-isms — which is why fans of the show have sought to imitate them in various ways for decades. Never, though, have I ever heard someone say “I bought this chair because it looks exactly like the one Carrie Bradshaw had in her apartment,” or “Isn’t this wallpaper so Carrie?” Not once.
It seems like a missed opportunity considering how many scenes take place there — an empty coloring book waiting to be filled in with the creative synergy that flows throughout the rest of her fictional world. I think the fact that it isn’t is even more unrealistic than her walk-in closet or her rotating supply of Manolos.
What do you think Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment should have looked like — or any of the other characters’ homes, for that matter? Let’s continue this long-overdue discussion in the comments.
Illustrations by Emily Robertson.