Sunday, July 25, 2010

Design thoughts: the Mad Men master bedroom

I am counting the hours until the season premiere of one of my favorite shows, Mad Men.  In honor of the big event (Sunday at 10 pm on AMC), I am featuring the bedroom of Don and Betty Draper…perhaps in memoriam, as I have read that they are divorced in the new season.


The room from the Mad Men set actually feels quite familiar to me, as it looks very similar to the bedrooms in my husband’s grandmother’s home (which was built and decorated in the mid-60s).  Note the wall to wall carpet that flows out into the hall, the gauzy and frilly curtains, the tufted headboard, and the bedspread that fits over the pillows.  How many times have I made a bed with a bedspread like this – as a child of the 70s, my own bedspread was designed like this!

As far as the bed is concerned, many designers would consider it a ‘no-no’ to place the bed this way in a room – where the bed is to the side of the door.  When my designer and I were talking about furniture placement for the new house, my designer emphatically stated that she does not like to walk into a room and run into a bed; she prefers to have the bed placed so that you face it when walking into the room.


A view of the other wall…looks like a laundry hamper, and perhaps a vestibule with a closet?

A view into the master bathroom.   By today’s standards, this is a very small master bathroom.  I wonder if this is how most houses were built back then?  My architect actually prefers for master bedrooms and bathrooms to be ‘normal’  (even cozy in some situations); so many homes built in the past 20 years have cavernous master bedrooms and bathrooms that are simply not necessary. 

Personally, I could not deal with a toilet in right in the middle of the master bathroom.  Now that I think of it my parents’ master bathroom in Connecticut was very similar to this bathroom.


I searched and searched and had a hard time finding images of the other side of the master bedroom, and this is all I could come up with. It appears that a window is on the wall opposite the bed, and a dresser is on the other side of the door to the closet/bathroom.  If anyone has an image of the other side of the room, I would love to see it!

Don Draper and Betty Draper[1]

So, back to the bed wall.  I can understand now why the bed is placed this way in the room – with the windows and doors on the other walls, there really wasn’t  any other option. 


I can’t say that the Mad Men bedroom is my design inspiration, but for those who want to take it one step further, Club Furniture has created a Man Men inspired bed called the ‘Draper Bed’

It makes me wonder, what will Betty’s bedroom look like in her new home this season? All sorts of things to look forward to in the new season of Mad Men.  Will you be watching?  What do you think of bed placement in a bedroom?

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  1. I agree with having the bed placed so that you face it when walking into the room, but agree that it's also not always possible. The Draper Bed is pretty fabulous!

  2. For some reason my mother always, always places her bed the way the Drapers have it - so you walk in and the bed is to the side. I hate it! Even when they custom built a house, they made it so the bed wall is the same as the wall with the door on it. I never really put my thumb on why this bothered me so much, so I am glad that I am not alone!

  3. Yes, this bedroom looks very familiar although my parents didn't have that luxe headboard! Bed placement should be on the wall perpendicular to or opposite the door wall, when possible.
    I have never seen Mad Men but after all the wonderful things I have heard, will definitely tune in this season.

    (I have a giveaway on my blog.)

  4. I'm with you! MUST have the bed opposite of door. SO rubs me the wrong way: The Draper Way. I will be tuned in tonight! LOVE that show!

  5. Exterior of house


  6. I was 10 in 1960. The look is all too familiar. We didn't live nearly so large. The only place my parent's bed would fit is between the doors.

    But to me it's the clothes: Folks dressed well when they went out. When my mom went shopping in Greensboro she wore gloves and a hat.

  7. Interesting...makes me wonder if it was an interior design preference of the time. Making a broad, general statement, bedrooms in older houses were much smaller - enough room for a bed and a dresser. Closets of the time were small, as were bathrooms. It seems like there was rarely a sitting area in the bedroom.

    Also, houses were not as well insulated and the windows were single pane - maybe it was simply warmer not to have a bed on an exterior wall!

  8. Great show! my wife and I watch it religiously! Can't wait for the new season, and I never thought about the decor much, I'll have to start paying attention more this season!

  9. There are two windows on the front wall of the house (from the exterior photo) and presumably at least one on the end wall for cross-ventilation.

    But neither were interior walls sound-insulated for privacy. Not that it much mattered for Betty and Don at the end...

  10. I am practically panting in anticipation of seeing my old dysfunctional friends again! I was born in 1960 and am extremely familiar with this look. I love how in your picture, the spread has slipped to the floor in front; exactly how the beds looked after my cousins and I had jumped on them, usually while sharing a crunchy snack! And how about the ‘art’ over the bed? CLASSIC! It’s all of these quirky little nods to that era that keep me coming back. “ Sally, if I see the clothes that were in that plastic (that is now fully over her head) on the floor, you’re going to be in big trouble!”

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. We LOVE this series. Starts back tonight. Wonderful headboard. But....I don't like the decor of br. But it is true authentic 60's. Oh gosh.....the turquoise phone:-& Do we ever love the era we grew up in? Not me. But i do love the color turquoise. This show is amazing in it's authentic rendition of the early 60's.

  12. I've never watched this show but will definitely have to check it out. I actually like the headboard in your photos.

    According to Feng Shui a headboard should never be on a wall that is a rooms entrance. A person should be able to see the flow of energy coming into the room...and if they can't see through the door from the bed supposedly it means opportunities will be missed. I've also read that beds should face North/South. I can't sleep in a room unless the bed is in those directions.

  13. Waiting for Mad Men myself. Regarding bed placement. I am not big into "rules" I think it needs to go wherever it fits best. In the last two room We have had the bed have been best next to the door. In our current house the drafty window or bathroom light keeps me awake if it is any other place. Every room needs to function its best.

  14. Completely reminds me of my parents bedroom growing up, especially the bedspread! I love the aqua tufted headboard, but it is amazing how off the thin, frilly curtains seem.

    I too hate to see a toilet for a master bath sitting out in the open...so close to the sink and tub...ick! A seperate room is preferable or at least a pony/privacy wall to conceal the loo!

    We are in countdown mode here too!!!

  15. Oh, this is a really fun post! I have to totally agree with you on the placement of the bed, I really like to see the bed across from me when I walk into a bedroom, it makes it more of a focal point. And that tufted bed is quite pretty, do you think it was named the Draper bed after Dorothy Draper??

  16. so ironic as I just received (via Netflix) the first season yesterday. I watched the first 2 episodes and now i'm hooked. i was telling my husband that i'm surprised at times how difficult it is to watch. all of the backwards thinking done in the 50's is astounding! i loved reading today's post.
    could the bed be angled in the corner?

  17. In feng shui, I understand it's actually terrible for your sex life to have the foot of the bed facing the door. But who knows?

    I live in New York City, and I am lucky enough to have a big (by NYC standards) bedroom where we can fit a king, but that also definitely limits placement. I'd rather sleep comfortably, though, because my husband is very tall and I need my space, than have my design dictate my bed.

  18. Bed placement is just like it was in my parents bedroom, too. This may be an obvious point, but the Draper house was most probably built in the 1920s, as were many houses in Westchester county. The size of the bathroom is definitely in keeping with those of that era (and they weren't doing nearly as much remodeling back then close so it is probably to the original design).

  19. November 22, 1963 my bedroom was being wallpapered in pink ballerinas, and the downstairs bathroom in purple poodles. My parent's bedroom was powder blue, with 2 blue vinyl tufted footstools at the end of the double bed. Later, celery carpet blanketed the hardwood and met the sculpted gold carpet in the hallway that overtook the entire upstairs. Yep, so watching "Mad Men" and revisiting that era.

  20. Deja vu... those curtains, which you can actually still buy, are called "Priscilla" curtains... we had them in our house when I was young... I didn't like them then either... yuk!

  21. 1 hour and counting. The summer just got better with the return of Mad Men!! xo Elizabeth

  22. The polyester quilted spread tucked around the pillows is so very 60's! Off to watch Mad Men.

  23. Great post!!! Love that headboard and the bathroom tiles! And Betty's dress where she's sitting on the tub?! I can't handle it!

  24. I'm a big fan of this design era and am often inspired by it. I have a bedspread in my house right now that folds over the pillows. Is there any other way? :*D (My grandmother taught me how to make a bed just so.) ***I love this post. How telling to see Betty so distressed in each instance - NOT the way any wife wants to feel in the bedroom. If these two reconcile (which is my wish) then perhaps it's time for a revamp of the Draper master suite. A romantic/lush/sensual rebirth - which honors the past and embraces the future - now THAT would be a treat!

  25. I noticed an earlier commentor asked if the Draper Bed was named for Dorothy Draper...the last name for the characters is actually what's an homage to Dorothy. I read an interview with the show's creator, Matthew Weiner, somewhere and he said he intentionally chose the name because he liked the illiteration with "Don" and because he wanted to reference a creative, stylish person of the era.

    For my part, I designed a very large tufted headboard last year for a home and I know that I was channeling Mad Men to some extent when I did so!

  26. Personally, I think upholstered headboards are luxury personified! The headboard in the Draper's bedroom is no exception. I noticed in the season premier that Betty has replaced the headboard with a wood one. Too bad!

  27. Love all of the discussion over the placement of the bed. This is the first time I have been on your blog and it is fabulous! Loved looking over your previous posts. So pretty!

  28. Is is possible that the bed was placed on the same wall as the door for the sake of the camera shot? One way to show the disfunctional relationship is to show hubby walking out of the room while the wife sits pouty on the bed. Just a thought.

    I enjoy your blog every time I stop by. I grew up in ATL, but now live in the Pacific NW. I MISS Southern homes and love getting a peak at my old hometown when I visit your blog.

  29. oh God I can't live without Mad Men. It's such an awesome show! I've only just watched the first episode of the season this afternoon and can't wait to watch the rest! love your blog! first time here :)

  30. I adore the style and color of the tufted headboard. Classic and fabulous! As for the bed placement, I agree that it is much better, if possible, to face the bed when walking into the room. I have tried placing beds like this before, and although sometimes it is necessary to do so, I always feel like the room feels much smaller. This arrangement cuts you off from part of the room and requires you to walk around the biggest piece of furniture in the space to get to the other side. It just seems awkward!? Thanks for sharing these photos. Great point!


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