Sunday, October 18, 2009

Color, Cinema Style

As with film design, color can instantly create a mood and evoke images ranging from happiness to drama. It is used to portray a character, serve as imagery (whenever you see orange/red in The Godfather, look for a murder to follow) or set the overall tone of the film.
Perhaps one of the main questions posed to any set decorator about a film set they have decorated is “what color paint did you use?” And inevitably I get the same question every time I write an article on film interiors. So here are a few of my favorite film sets and paint colors I would select:
Gosford Park /Age of Innocence/Pride and Prejudice: From cerise to crimson, red is a popular color in period interiors and a natural backdrop for almost every historical a.k.a. period a.k.a. costume drama on the screen. (Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice is seen above)

Panoramic shot of The Netherfield from Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Red played a dominant theme in Robert Altman's Gosford Park
A lipstick red was used as both a costume and accent color as well as design scheme for The Age of Innocence (1993). Seen here is Michelle Pfeiffer as Countess Olenska.
and a few coordinating paint colors...

Pratt and Lambert Vintage Claret and Deep Cerise

Valspar Premium Ultra Classic Red

Behr Licorice Stick SG-170

Ralph Lauren Paints Duke Red
Benjamin Moore Holly Berry, Ladybug and Currant Reds

Gone With the Wind (1939): Period appropriate historical colors abound for the interiors of both Tara and Twelve Oaks:

Pratt and Lambert's aptly named Scarlet O'Hara

Benjamin Moore's Historical Colors

Top Hat (1935): The film is a study in black and white contrast with shiny high gloss metallic surfaces and these paint colors would be right at home:

Ralph Lauren Metallica - Wadsworth Grey

Sherwin Williams Whitetail and Darkroom

Porter Paints Silver Feather

Photo Credits: RKO, USA Films, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures and MGM

More next week!


  1. Would it be possible for you to do paint color selections like in this post for the movie Nanny Diaries?

    I'd really love to recreate the X's guest room and the kitchen.

  2. I will ask Andrew Baseman, the film's set decorator as to what they used.

  3. Oh, Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    I bet I'm not the only person wanting that information. I know so many people who want all the info on the X's apartment.

    Again, thank you!

  4. Here is some information from the film's set decorator Andrew Baseman- Thibaut wallpaper was used in the guest room- pattern Augustine color Beige. They chose the kitchen color at the last mnd used Benjamin Moore but did not record it. They suggested Misty Teal 2046-60 as a close alternative.

  5. Also - here is some info from Katie Spencer, set decorator on Sherlock Holmes:
    The set mentioned below was actually on location at a hotel in southern England called Cliveden.

    The paneled room was imported from France by Lady Astor who used to live there when it was a grand country house.

    It was an empty room and we had added all furnishings etc. The bed we adapted and painted and gold leafed to match
    the original paneling.

  6. Again, many thanks for contacting the set designer. This helps us out so much!