The Real Story Behind the Most Iconic Teen Bedrooms in Pop Culture History
From "To All The Boys I've Loved Before", to "Mean Girls", we speak to the professionals behind some of the most iconic bedrooms ever committed to film.
L-r: a still from 'Mean Girls', a still from 'To All The Boys I've Loved Before'
As we brace for 2019 and stack up our resolutions, Broadly is focusing on finding motivation for the hard tasks that await us—like getting out of bed. So, throughout January, we're rolling out Getting Out of Bed, a series of stories about all things related to rest and resilience. Read more here.
Before I ever had a bedroom of my own (I shared with my big sister until I was ten), I knew how it would look: like Cher Horowitz’s gilt-and-pink brocade bedroom in 1995 classic Clueless. I’d have a computer-operated walk-in wardrobe of my own, complete with virtual reality outfit-matching system. That dream never came to be, but that was chill—my 11-year-old self was just overjoyed to finally have my own space.
The teenage bedrooms we see depicted on screen define our expectations of what adolescent life looks like. Would I have begged my parents for a string of lights around a vanity mirror if screenwriter Amy Heckerling hadn’t created the character of Cher Horowitz? Probably not. Later, I watched Cruel Intentions and invested in shag rugs and a purple satin bed throw.
We rarely think about the effort and consideration that goes into creating the fictional bedrooms we see on the big screen. The hours spent tacking band posters to the wall; the piles of clothing arranged just-so; the artful arrangement of a pair of cheerleading pom-poms, or a guitar. This is the work of production designers, the professionals who painstakingly design and dress the sets you see in your favourite high school films. We spoke to the ones behind some of the most iconic on-screen bedrooms.
Paul Joyal, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
We didn’t want Lara Jean (Lana Condor) to have a regular teenage bedroom, like, let’s just stick up some posters and give her a bedspread. So we went through the script and highlighted anything that gave an indication of what her character was like—her likes, dislikes, and past.
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We wanted to bring some magic and fantasy to her room, because Lara Jean’s room is her world. Everything outside her bedroom—her family, her house, school—they’re all outside her sphere of control. But she feels comfortable in her room and spends a lot of time there, so we wanted to draw the viewers into her world.
Lara Jean is a really creative, imaginative person, and she loves all these romantic novels, so we wanted to bring that energy into the room. Color-wise, we didn’t want it to look like Disney—I hope I’m not offending anyone here!—so we settled on a turquoise-blue palette.
Lara Jean comes from a Korean background (her mom, who isn’t depicted on screen, is Korean, and her dad is white), and we wanted to bring in various elements from Korea. At first, I was thinking about putting some calligraphy up on the wall, but in the end we created a beautiful Asian-inspired mural across her back bedroom wall. I wanted the space behind her bed to be more than just posters, prints, and postcards. Because Lara Jean is a creative person—I could imagine her painting a mural across her bedroom wall.
It was difficult to get the balance of how messy to make Lara Jean’s bedroom right. Because in the film, there are frequent references to her messiness—but you don’t want a scene to appear too jumbled or busy. We worked from the principle, we can always edit, but we can’t add. I wanted Lara Jean to look untidy, but not like she’s a slob.
Sharon Lomofsky, Bring It On
Because Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) had a working mother, not a soccer mom, we wanted to make the house and her bedroom feel slightly more modern. I watched a lot of teenage movies at the time, and they all parodied suburban life, and felt extremely kitsch. None of the homes were particularly good looking. But finding an uber-modern house was really hard—they didn’t seem to exist at the time.
Before the internet, it was really hard to research the cheerleading world. I found literally one little book that had black and white pictures of cheerleading teams. The rest of the world sees cheerleading as so iconic, but we had to come up with a look that didn’t exist. That was really fun. We got to be super creative.
For me, actually the more iconic bedroom in Bring It On is Cliff’s bedroom (Jesse Bradford). In the script, he’s a musician and had posters on the wall, so you think that would be easy. But it’s not because of all the clearances. We had to get permission for everything! At one point we called Elvis Costello and said, "Do you want to be in a cheerleading movie?" He said yes, which was great!
No-one bothers with securing clearances now, because it’s so hard and expensive. To me, that’s really sad—you end up losing the texture and flavor of everything. Cliff’s room now would be totally unaffordable with all those posters.
Patricia Cuccia, Mean Girls
I recently interviewed a designer and he said to me, “Oh my god, I hate doing kid’s bedrooms!” But I love them! They’re really fun. Because you’re telling a story about that kid, using their bedroom.
With Mean Girls, we didn’t have a big budget, so we had to be really careful. For Regina George’s (Rachel McAdams) bedroom, we found this giant room with a raised platform for the bed, and we put curtains around it and filled it with expensive furniture. We wanted to make the bedroom really over-the-top compared to the other kids in the movie—like the most spoiled girl in the world’s bedroom, which Regina kind of was. In terms of the colors, right away we knew it had to be pink, especially because there was that day where all the Plastics wore pink.
With Cady’s (Lindsay Lohan) bedroom, we wanted it to reflect the fact that her parents were anthropologists and travelled so much. So we had Indian and African fabrics, and much more wood compared to the metal you see in Regina’s bedroom. And there are all those pictures on her parents on safari, and things like that.
Recently I had a client ask me if I could do her bedroom like Regina’s bedroom. That was pretty funny.