This is why Monica’s apartment was painted purple in Friends

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Kayleigh Dray
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Monica Geller’s apartment in Friends is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic in TV history – and it’s all down to that purple hue.

The entire series of Friends recently landed on Netflix UK, reigniting our love for the hit Nineties show – and prompting some serious conversations about the popular sitcom’s storylines (there are many who feel the show just doesn’t feel politically correct in 2018).

One of the most popular complaints, of course, is that Monica (Courteney Cox) would never have been able to afford her impossible, two-bedroom West Village digs. In fact, reporters at Bustle have worked out that an abode the size of Monica’s – which spans some 1,500 square feet – would cost an eye-watering $14,000 per month.

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that Monica inherited her “frikking steal” of a rent-controlled apartment from her grandmother. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Monica’s pad was never intended to reflect reality: instead, it gave us some serious #interiorsporn. Much like a Pinterest board, it inspired us to dream big – and anyone who has ever watched the show (aka everyone) will have, at some point, considered popping a frame around their peephole, hanging a big French poster up over their TV and starting up a ribbon drawer. 

Above all else, though, they will have thought a lot about painting their entire home purple. Which is why it comes as something as a surprise to learn that set designer John Shaffner really had to fight to get that lilac hue on Monica’s walls.

Speaking to Great Big Story about his thought process behind the purple walls, Shaffner revealed: “I said I think we should paint the wall purple. Everybody was really anxious about it.

“Nobody likes change until I painted the little model purple.”

Shaffner had a very good reason for fighting his corner, though: all it took was a few slicks of paint to really give that apartment an identity – and help it to feel very different from every other set on television at the time.

“Colour is really important in establishing the show identity,” he said, pointing out that just the sight of Monica’s apartment was enough to lift people’s moods and get them ready to laugh along with the sitcom.

“When you switch to Friends, you see that it is purple and you stay tuned,” added Shaffner.

The set designer also spilled the beans on that mysterious door in Monica’s apartment (aka the one that isn’t opened until the eighth season of Friends, revealing a giant mess of all kinds of crap).

Naturally, Shaffner had no idea that Monica was a secret hoarder when he popped the door into the apartment – so why did he include it?

“One of the responsibilities of a production designer is to look into the future,” he said. “If you can, anyway.

“We put a door all the way up this hallway and we really didn’t say where it went to. I said, ‘Why don’t we just wait and see where the story is taken?’”

So that’s another Friends mystery solved. Now we just need answers to all of these inexplicable moments and we’re golden…

Images: Getty


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.