At its core, Sex and the City was a rare (for the time) comedy unafraid to explore the relationships among four female friends and the men they loved. But the reason the 1998–2004 HBO series became an enduring pop culture phenomenon? Because everything that the heroines—played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, and Cynthia Nixon—wore, carried, and ate instantly became objects of lust for its viewers. Their lush New York City apartments were no exception: Each aspirational abode—exclusively built on NYC’s Silvercup Studios—featured stylish decor and furniture, bed linens, rugs, and lamps that managed to fit with the character’s individual personality. With recent news that the iconic Emmy-winning series is getting a 2021 reboot on HBO Max (the original is also available to stream there), we couldn’t help but wonder: What were the secrets behind some of the most fabulous interiors? Show insiders were happy to share.…
Carrie Bradshaw (Parker) didn’t always keep her junior one-bedroom on the Upper East Side tidy, but she did design with an eye for the unconventional. Early on, “she had a flea-market style that made sense for a single writer,” production designer Jeremy Conway tells Architectural Digest, noting that her walls were not heavily decorated except for her extensive magazine display. Many of the items—down to the bathroom medicine cabinet—were, in fact, picked up at downtown Manhattan antique and thrift shops. But along the way, “Carrie picked up more interesting objects as she experienced her life.” Indeed, set decorator Karin Holmes tells Architectural Digest that she purchased Jonathan Adler accessories, Calvin Klein bedding, and Marimekko curtains for the apartment. (And lest we forget, Carrie also received a custom-made chair from furniture designer boyfriend, Aidan.) As for the fashion maven’s walk-in closet with its own mini runway, Conway based it on one of his former apartments: “There was a hallway that led from a living room to a bedroom. We figured Carrie turned her hallway into a closet.”
Once buttoned-down WASP Charlotte York (Davis) wed a doctor, she promptly moved into his grand high-ceilinged apartment on Park Avenue and made it her own. (She also got to keep it after her divorce.) “We thought of Charlotte as someone in an ivory tower with a rosy outlook on life,” he explains. “Her style reflected that.” Think shades of cream and white, with touches of dark real wood to convey her wealth. Her elegant sensibilities were also illustrated via a custom-made headboard upholstered in silk, lamps from Bond Street Antiques, Bernardaud china, a desk from Barbara Barry for Baker and chair from Donghia, silver photo frames, and fresh flowers in nearly every room. However, the beautiful parquet floors actually consisted of gray contact paper sealed with a varnish!
“We tackled Samantha’s apartment like she was a big-game hunter,” Conway says of the Meatpacking District place that belonged to hard-charging, sexually adventurous Samantha Jones (Cattrall). He points out the dark, deep woods and “central shapes and materials” to fit the character. The focal point? Her master bedroom, of course. Her queen-size bed on castors was custom-built, and her sheets were custom-made. (Note the Costanza lamps by Luceplan by her bed.) “There’s a lot of open space, and it’s filled with sensuality,” he adds. Seconds Holmes, “It was perfect for her.”
Before Miranda Hobbs (Nixon) uprooted to Brooklyn with her husband Steve and son Brady in the last season of the show, she resided in a classic prewar apartment on the Upper West Side. As an accomplished lawyer, her taste was more upscale and put-together in comparison to Carrie’s boho-chic vibe. (In one episode, she snipes that her decorator stole her boyfriend!) Conway notes the no-fuss color scheme in neutral colors of beige, gray, and white with pops of lavender in her bedroom. For decor, “we wanted to keep things sharp and angular, just to kind of show the veil she would put in front of herself,” he says. “It doesn’t necessarily mean edgy.” This look was accentuated by a silver bed frame, a Jamie Young lamp on her nightstand, and the gold-plated sunburst mirror over the fireplace from Newel Antiques. The latter is “one of my favorite pieces,” Holmes says.
Alekandr Petrovsky’s Apartment
Carrie called him the Russian. Fans mostly called him a jerk who Carrie followed to Paris. But there’s no doubt that Alekandr Petrovsky (Mikhail Baryshnikov) had impeccable taste. When he lived in NYC, his two-floor downtown loft featured an ultrasophisticated Parisian flair and was spacious enough to hold his grand piano, his motorcycle, and a workplace art studio for his light installations. “It was obvious he was successful at what he did,” Conway says. The famed ballet dancer was so impressed—and felt so at home—with the constructed space that he personally brought artwork from his private collection to hang on the walls!
Carrie and Mr. Big’s Apartment
Carrie not only got her happily ever after with her Mr. Big (Chris Noth), the couple settled into a gorgeous high-rise uptown apartment, as seen in the 2010 film Sex and The City 2. “We wanted it to feel classic, like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and Bringing Up Baby,” Conway says. “There’s lots of beautiful fun in every space.” The living room includes a sofa by Montauk Sofa upholstered in blue wool-mohair from Donghia and a pair of midcentury side chairs. And though Carrie jokes that she’s more “Coco Chanel than coq au vin,” Conway designed an eat-in kitchen with aqua blue backsplash tiles by Heath Ceramics. And in the bedroom—a blend of pattern and texture—the custom headboard is covered in fabric by Kravel with bedding from Anichini, proving dreams do come true.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest