A.D. Thompson
lucille ball

Pop culture: the source of all things cool.

Well, some things, anyway.

But really, who doesn’t try to lift style points from cool TV apartments?

You may not be able to afford the upscale, mid-century modern piece you’ll see on shows like Mad Men or I Love Lucy, but TV apartments are great for inspiration – so you can keep an eye out at vintage shops and yard sales for furniture, glassware and other high-style home decor conversation pieces that will really pull your place together!

Here are a few ways you can recreate a handful of iconic and cool TV apartments.

Welcome Back, Kotter

This ‘70s classic was a style icon first and foremost for Marcia Strassman’s Julie Kotter – Mr. Kotter’s gorgeous wife – whose intellect, undulating brunette tresses, stylish pendants and boho leather purses were a direct contrast to Horshack’s off-putting guffaw.

But the Kotter’s tiny apartment, too, was noteworthy. With a cool, striped stencil detail that showcased the Bensonhurst flat’s ceiling angles and loads of ideas for small-space creative storage (hooks to display your funkiest coffee mugs!), this one wasn’t just a cool TV apartment, it was a rare, realistic portrayal of where someone on a New York City teacher’s salary might live.


I Love Lucy

Who didn’t love the clean lines of Lucy’s stylish Manhattan abode (or wonder about why she and her husband slept in separate twin beds)?

A fireplace, an exposed-brick wall and a sense of the coziness add a level of realism to a New York City apartment. Lots of antiques gave the home history, while clean-lined pieces like the sofa and coffee table made it an icon of ‘50s furnished fashion.

Mad Men

More ‘50s fabulousness – and beyond; the show lasted seven seasons – was on display on this AMC shows incredible TV apartments.

Most of us can’t quite afford what we saw on AMC. If you can, hit up the trendy boutique shops in your neighborhood. For everyone else, the easiest way to achieve Draper-level style is to combine Craigslist and yard sale snooping with a great eye for the little things: funky cocktail sets, cool clocks and of course – stylish glass ashtrays.


A backstory about Monica and Ross’ grandma (and her bowling alley-sized, rent-controlled Lower Manhattan apartment) helped bridge the realism gap in this ‘90s show that spawned a million purple-walled apartments.

Eclectic and comfortably cluttered, unmatched but neutrally colored sofas and chairs allow the quirky items around the space to bring it alive. Antique or antique-looking side tables and sconces, colorful pillows and rugs, and splashes of color that change (Monica loved fresh flowers and plants) can help you create the same look. We even spotted clones of that instantly recognizable peephole frame on Etsy for as low as $14.


Jerry’s neat, sensible Upper West Side TV apartment was tasteful and masculine: greys, blues and blacks, lots of clean lines and sharp angles.

Got an open kitchen? Get matching stools, for sure. This cool apartment probably wouldn’t appeal to people who tend to accumulate clutter, but if so – you might want to invest in a weekly cleaning service to get the angles right on your coffee table books and dust the place immaculate. Above all, kitchen shelving for your vast collection of cereal boxes is essential!



About The Author

A.D. Thompson

A.D. Thompson spent the first half of her 25-year career behind the editor’s desk, including time at Playgirl Magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Orlando Sentinel and a host of other publications, print and online. Now a full-time freelancer, she is the Orlando expert for USA Today’s 10Best.com and writes about everything from Mickey Mouse to marijuana-based tourism with equal levels of enthusiasm – and occasional bouts of the munchies.