Charming on-screen apartments we wish were real

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Anna Brech
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From Holly Golightly’s charming crash pad on the Upper East Side to Amélie Poulain’s whimsical retreat off the winding streets of Montmartre, we take a nose around the silver and small screen’s most delightful city homes.

Sixties swing

As featured in: Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)

Holly Golightly’s rented apartment on the Upper East Side is the ultimate dwelling for a single woman of leisure in the city.

Little flourishes, such as the random golden weather vane in the living room, are testimony to Holly’s happy-go-lucky, carefree existence. With no discernible source of income, it’s unsurprising she takes a few shortcuts when it came to storage solutions. Ballet shoes in the fridge? Why not.

And Holly was in on the upcycling trend way before the rest of us. You only have to look at her sawed-off bathtub-turned-sofa to understand that.

Bohemia in Paris

As featured in: Amélie (2001)

To cross the threshold of Amélie Poulain’s flat – tucked away in the winding, hilly streets near the Sacré-Coeur – is to enter her own personal universe of magic and delight. 

Vibrant, impulsive splashes of scarlet are interspersed with amber-gold hues. Dabs of deep, velvety greens and royal blues appear here and there. Aptly enough for an old-fashioned soul who believes in the power of love, Amélie’s accessories – such as the anthropomorphic pig lamp – are kooky and charming without being twee.

The various objects d’art that strew her apartment have nothing to with practicality or function. This is a flagrant celebration of style over substance.


London calling

As featured in: Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Few 30-somethings could bag themselves a neat little patch of real estate in London’s Borough Market these days. But the real appeal of Bridget Jones’ top-floor apartment lies in the way it is imbued with her particular brand of shoddy PJ charm.

Things here aren’t exactly ship-shape. The sofa’s a bit manky, the wallpaper’s dated and the shelving units are only half-finished. And yet – it’s the perfect, low-maintenance retreat for a singleton who lives life by her own rules. And the allure of it lies in its cracks.

Cheap fairy lights bring a cosy ambience to the place, which is enhanced by the romantic rattle of passing trains. The large Victorian windows could've been made for late-night smoking/brooding/spying on approaching dates (delete as appropriate).

Dreamin’ in Queens

As featured in: Julie & Julia (2009)

Julie Powell is so distracted by paying homage to her culinary hero Julia Childs in Julie & Julia, she doesn’t seem to notice how delightful her bijoux Queens, NY, apartment is. For one thing, it’s above a late-night pizza joint. What better saviour for when the boeuf bourguignon doesn’t quite work out?

For another, it’s filled with snippets of cool, mid-century furnishings. Like the curved chair that uplifts the otherwise unremarkable desk area, and the Parisian grey dresser in her kitchenette.

Perhaps the finest aspect of Julie’s city hangout is the incredibly large roof terrace laced with fairy lights, and with views of the glittering New York skyline in the distance.

Manhattan gem

As featured in: Sex And The City (1998 – 2004)

The woman who was once so broke she spent her money on Vogue rather than meals (“I felt it fed me more”) somehow magically stumbled upon a brownstone apartment on the Upper East Side – an easy skip away from all her favourite romping grounds.

We’re unclear which part of Carrie Bradshaw’s lodgings we love the best. It could be the elegant flight of steps where our favourite Manhattanite is often to be found, hanging in a series of fabulous outfits. 

It could be her walk-in wardrobe, spiritual home of her life-affirming collection of shoes, hats and all things wonderful. Or it could be her bedroom, where a free-spirited approach to design goes hand-in-hand with Carrie’s sense of sexual adventure.

Riviera chic

As featured in: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Let’s do a little hop over to south-eastern Italy in the Fifties now, for a peek at the stunning villa that belongs to Marge and Dickie – aka Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law.

This home radiates la dolce vita vibes at every turn (ignoring for a moment the creepy psychological undertones of the film itself). The garden is the stuff of Mediterranean fantasies, opening up sweeping views of the Bay of Naples. White yachts cut across a hazy expanse of turquoise ocean, broken up here and there by dramatic islands of volcanic rock.

The terrace area is a haven of romantic tendrils and vines that curve and fall over the ancient stone arches of the house. Indoors, the apartment is no less seductive, with an array of deep mahogany furnishings and a graceful whitewash curved ceiling that frames the entire scene.

Good times in Greenwich Village

As featured in: Friends (1994 – 2004)

Who could fail to love the familiar laid-back warmth of Monica Geller’s apartment in Friends? What you often forget about this snug NY bolthole is quite how spacious it is. As with Central Perk, it’s a home-from-home for all six of the Friends crew, yet it never feels crowded.

Its enormous window provides an evocative city backdrop, plus a front-row seat to the naked dude across the street. The teeny-tiny slice of outdoor balcony is a nook ready-made for confessions and chemistry, as Rachel and Ross can attest.

Sure, Monica is a little picky about her design – she’s not a fan of the racing car bed – but the colour theme is surprisingly exuberant for one so uptight. Remember the one where Rachel and Monica lost their apartment to Joey and Chandler in a bet? The boys were on to a good thing there…

Barcelona charm

As featured in: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

An artists’ retreat in Barcelona is a very apt setting for a tangled love affair, as depicted in Woody Allen’s rom-com Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The sprawling home of Javier Bardem’s character, Juan Antonio, is pleasingly ramshackle and brimming with character. 

A capillary of warm yellow arches creates an open, sinuous sense of space where boundaries ebb and flow. Shady courtyards lie here and there, next to alcoves filled with palm plants, vintage suitcases and sculptures.

There’s no rhyme or reason to the layout, but the balance between light and shade is masterful. The place is scattered with artists’ debris throughout, from clumsy jugfuls of brushes to paint-splattered pots and discarded trays.

All photos: Rex Features

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.