Cinematic House – “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”

In some movies, the set’s design is just as important as the characters and actors in it. As a cinema-loving designer, some movies are always on my mind and fill me with inspiration thanks to their amazing houses.

Therefore, I decided to start a (inconsistent) series of posts about various cinematic houses which enchanted me and filled me with inspiration thanks to their unique design which represents style, era or geographic location.

This time I will present the luxurious art deco London apartment from the film “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”, an excellent acted, light-hearted, British comedy from 2008.

The phenomenal movie recreates not only the design and fashion styles of the 1930s, just before the second World War, but also the glamorous style of the Hollywoodian film of that time.

After Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand), a middle-aged British nanny, is repeatedly fired from her job for her assertiveness, she finds herself on the streets with no money or social connections. In her sorrow she discovers in herself resourcefulness which surprises even herself. She decided to seize the moment and finds herself pretending to be a social secretary for her new employer, the American actress and singer Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). Their encounter expose Miss Pettigrew to the glamourous and full of pretense world of London’s high society in the late 1930s. She’s cast into the center of the social and romantic whirlwind of her new employer, who tries to navigate herself between three lovers, and the inevitable choice she will have to make, which will define her life.

Delysa lives in a luxurious apartment given to her by one of her lovers, the owner of the club in which she stars. The spacious duplex is designed in the art deco style, glamourous and sophisticated.

The design keeps on creating additional drama, by moving through contrasting spaces. From the dark and intimate entrance hall, we move to another hall, brightly lit, and covered with gold leaves.

The geometric shapes which characterize the art deco style can be seen on the stairway, the ledge, the furniture and the affixing of the building.

The geometric shapes which characterize the art deco style can be seen on the stairway, the ledge, the furniture and the affixing of the building.

Plenty of statues fill the space.

On the second floor we enter the glamourous and dreamy bedroom of Delysa. Walls covered with silver silk with a pluralist pattern of birds, a wall covered with capitonnage for the bed’s heading, spilling drapes, mirrors and plenty of smooth and soft textile.

Delysa, who lives in a movie of her own, rises from the bathtub as if she is in “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli. And with this kind of bath, who can blame her?

In a sharp contrast to the glamour and grace of the house, when you enter the kitchen it is a different story altogether. As befitting the time and social class, the service room where hidden and functional and where for the use of the house workers only.

At this point you can already recognize the full metamorphose dear Miss Pettigrew goes through in this film, who like the rest of the film’s protagonists manages to lose everything, win everything, let go and return to the starting point when she found everything she dreamed of and got what was really important, all in a single day and night.