Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pasadena Prime Time: Brothers & Sisters

One of my favorite shows is  ABC's Brothers & Sisters, a drama about the trials and tribulations of the Walker family which can be seen on Sunday night prime time. While the all-star mega-cast and storyline are top notch, what I really covet is the house.

The exterior of the Walkers manse is actually a 1920's Mediterranean style house in Pasadena while the interiors are shot on the Disney Studio soundstage (and were built in just six weeks). The original design concept is the culmination of ideas from the producers, director and the creative team. The series production designer Denny Dugally explains, "We wanted the Walker family AND their home to be recognizable and inviting. We wanted it to be a home that you'd want to visit week after week, linger and have a glass of wine and talk."

Exterior of the Walker Family abode in Pasadena

The furnishings were chosen by the show's set decorator Bryan Venegas from a variety of low and high end sources in Los Angeles  that run the gamut from Barclay Butera and Baker Knapp & Tubbs to Target. The design duo wanted to make sure they did not create a showroom look with perfectly appointed rooms as they wanted to make sure it looked like a family lived there -- and with clutter.

Perhaps the most popular set is the Walker family kitchen where matriarch Nora Walker (played by Academy Award winning actress Sally Field) is holding court at the room's island. Dugally explains, "We also worked with some film and television promotional houses to secure product placement of some of the appliances including the Sub Zero refrigerator and the Wolf stove." All of the cabinetry is custom and the design scheme consists of cream colored tiles come (from Mortarless Tile in Glendale) and high gloss surfaces balanced with pale yellow grass cloth and dark ebony floors.

Walker Family kitchen

Walker living room above and below

Walker Foyer

Other sets of interest include the New York loft, Kitty's mid century house, kitchen at the Walker ranch house and some interesting bar designs. Looking forward to the next season of designs (and storylines) in September!

NYC Loft set

Kitchen at the Walker family ranch house

San Francisco Bar set

Set for hotel rooftop bar
If you are in the Washington, DC area, I will be moderating a panel with Denny Dugally of Brothers & Sisters and film production designer Kristi Zea whose credits include Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, The Departed and the upcoming Tower Heist with Ben Stiller. Both will share their behind the scenes tricks of the trade and I will show a few highlights from a century of Hollywood art direction. The event will be held on Thursday, April 14th, 10:00 am at the Washington Design Center's Capital Design Days. A book signing of Designs on Film will follow and it's open to the public. Hope to see you there! You can read more about the event here.

Photos: ABC

PS Many thanks for the Stylish blogger nod from The Fashion Historian. Check out her blog on fashion and film.


  1. I cannot sit and watch this show anymore as Brian enters the room about every five minutes and shouts out Ojai! That man can really put the damper down on a calm Sunday evening watching the tube. This post peaks my interest again. Perhaps I can find a secluded place to steal away and watch.

  2. Maybe you should put Brian is a special "time out" place on Sunday nights from 9-10:)

  3. I am so glad to finally have some insight to the design of this set (especially Nora's house)! It is one I have consistently noticed and appreciated!

    I have just started following your blog and want to tell you that I always look forward to your posts!!

  4. Thank you so much Emily! I have visited the set personally and it's wonderful. WhenI watch the show I completely forget that it is filmed on a soundstage which is the power of good design!

  5. looks like Lombardy Road in San Marino. Is it?

    Wondering who this VENEGAS is that you mention.


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  7. I will see the show's designer tomorrow night and ask about Lombardy Road. And my mistake - Bryan Venegas, the set decorator for the show! Thanks -- sometimes I need to edit myself!!

  8. I love this show. The exterior of that house is amazing, as are the sets for the interior. Thanks for this informative post.

  9. Thanks for reading and will pass along your comments!

  10. How can I contact Bryan Venegas, I was curious where he purchased various set pieces. Hope you can help?

  11. The cast and crew is on hiatus right now. If you know which pieces you are interested in, I will see what I can find out.

  12. I think I may have found the place to get my question answered! In the house that the Walker family buys and renovates for the mother's foundation, there is a tile panel (which appears to be Kutahya ceramics) that is revealed under the wall. How can I find the person who set that up/procured the panel for the set? I would love to know its origin and where it might be today. Thank you, Sato

  13. The Walker house is beautiful (especially that kitchen and the way they set it out for parties in the back). I have every episode on DVR, thankfully and can enjoy from time to time. Too bad it was cancelled. There wasn't a lousy actor in the bunch.

  14. this is probably a very long shot, but worth the try. there is a painting that can be seen from the kitchen (I believe it is a room or alcove off to the left) it is a landscape of some sort that is above a desk/table/cabinet. I would love to know the name and artist of the painting if anyone knows the info