TV-inspired art

Designer turns on-screen sets into floor plans

 

Akron Beacon Journal

Even as a little girl, I was captivated by the homes I saw on TV.

I remember puzzling over what was behind the fireplace wall in the Ricardos’ apartment on I Love Lucy.” I thought the Stephenses’ house on Bewitched was the epitome of ‘60s suburban chic, especially that oven with the pull-up door — even if it did once open to reveal the creepy image of Paul Lynde’s talking head in a pot.

Even now, I find myself fixating on the architecture of the houses I see on the screen. Where does the first-floor hallway lead in Ray and Debra Barone’s house on Everybody Loves Raymond? What’s with that alcove with the cool library card catalog in Big Bang Theory?

Apparently Inaki Aliste Lizarralde and I have a lot in common.

Lizarralde is an interior designer from the Basque Country of northern Spain with a quirky hobby: He loves to draw floor plans of houses and apartments from TV shows and movies. He sells his original drawings on the online marketplace Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/TVFloorPlansAndMore) as well as prints through the website Deviant Art (http://nikneuk.deviantart.com).

The pastime started four or five years ago when, just for fun, he created a floor plan of Frasier Crane’s apartment from the sitcom Frasier. “I really liked the series and his apartment and I wanted to see him … molded,” he told me in an email interview sprinkled with delightfully peculiar phraseology. Lizarralde does not speak English, so I was impressed by the pains he took to answer my questions using translation software.

Some time after his Frasier drawing, a friend who was a huge fan of Sex and the City asked him to re-create Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment, and then the apartment from Friends. He’s since drawn floor plans of at least a dozen more on-screen homes — among them, Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment, the house from The Golden Girls, the home of Marge and Homer Simpson and Dexter Morgan’s apartment from the series Dexter. He even drew Lucy and Ricky’s apartment, confirming my suspicion that the hallway to their bedroom was behind that fireplace.

Creating floor plans isn’t as simple as you might think. Sets are often built to fool the eye, Lizarralde explained, so many of the rooms are shaped like trapezoids — wider in the front than in the back, creating an illusion of depth.

And particularly with sitcoms taped before audiences, the rooms on the set aren’t necessarily attached to one another the way they would be in reality. They might be scattered around the studio, and their proportions or elements might not fit together coherently or logically.

Sometimes the set changes over the life of a series. Sometimes the complete house or apartment is never shown, so Lizarralde has to engage in a little creative license.

Typically, he said, he starts his research by downloading a movie or an entire series. Then he spends a couple of hours fast-forwarding through the scenes to find all the information he needs to re-create the set.

He draws an initial rough layout, then refines it using the notes he takes. Once he’s figured everything out, he creates a second version that has the proper dimensions and proportions and contains the furniture. Finally he creates the finished floor plan, complete with details such as colors and fabrics.

The whole process takes at least 30 or 40 hours — “or more,” he said. “In fact I’ve never counted.”

Lizarralde makes handmade reproductions of his floor plans for his Etsy customers using ink, markers and colored pencils, sometimes customizing a drawing according to the buyer’s wishes. Prices range from about $55 for Lucy and Ricky’s apartment to $205 for the house from the movie Up and the home of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore from the TV series Gilmore Girls.

Mostly his customers are avid fans of shows or movies, or people buying gifts for those fans. He’s not aware that anyone associated with the productions has bought his floor plans, but he said he has received orders from the office of the writers of the CSI shows, two from the building of BBC Australia and one from a higher-up at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

He has a long list of projects on the back burner, including the houses from Roseanne and Married … With Children, the bachelor pads of Don Draper of Mad Men and Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother, and Tony Soprano’s house from The Sopranos.

He’s often asked to re-create the castle from Downton Abbey and the Hogwarts School from the Harry Potter films, but they’re too massive and complex. “Only I have two hands (and usually only draw with the right one),” he said, “and the day has only 24 hours.”

He does, however, intend to take on the house from Bewitched.

I wonder if he’ll include the oven.

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