The Simpsons: first floor
The Simpsons: ground floor
Lorelei and Rory Gilmore residence (from "Gilmore Girls")
Chandler and Joey's, and Rachel and Monica's apartments (from "Friends")
Casa de Frasier
Eddie and Carl Fredrickson residence (the elderly couple from Pixar's "Up")
Jerry Seinfeld's apartment
Ted Mosby's apartment (the future father from "How I Met Your Mother")
Dexter Morgan's apartment (yes, that Dexter)
Sheldon and Leonard's, and Penny's apartments (from "The Big Bang Theory")
Carrie Bradshaw's apartment (from "Sex and the City")
Lucy and Ricky's apartment (from "I Love Lucy")
The house of "Two and a Half Men"
Will and Grace's and Jack's apartments (from "Will & Grace")

Co.Create

An Interior Designer Explains The Unlikely Apartments Of "Friends," "How I Met Your Mother," And More

Interior designer Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde creates floor plans for iconic TV homes and explains why Rachel and Monica’s apartment is even less believable than you thought.

It’s long required some suspension of disbelief to allow that the characters on most sitcoms could afford their relatively lavish digs. For every Dr. Frasier Crane or thriving Jerry Seinfeld comedian, there were several Rachels and Monicas scraping by while living high. It turns out, however, it’s not just the affordability of these places we should be skeptical about--it’s also the design.

Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde is a pop culture-enlightened interior designer, who has lately begun channeling both these passions into creating floor plans of the apartments of fictional characters. A few years back, Lizarralde decided on a whim to make the floor plan of the apartment featured on Frasier. "I really liked the series and his apartment, and I wanted to see him… molded," the designer says.

In less time than it takes to say How I Met Your Mother, friends were asking Lizarralde to create similar layouts of the apartments of their favorite characters, like Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw and Seinfeld’s Seinfeld. It turned out he was even able to sell them, too. But opening up Pandora’s Idiot Box has ultimately revealed some interesting details about the apartments of our fictional Friends.

"As an interior designer with years of experience, I developed my sense of space and ability to see sizes and proportions of architectural elements and furniture pieces," Lizarralde says. "The problem with the living spaces on TV shows is usually located in the secondary sets, such as the bedrooms and bathrooms. Almost all the shows have triangular proportions to lend the sensation of depth to the sets. Even the apparently squared sets are in fact trapezoidal (wider in the front part and smaller at the bottom part) and sometimes it’s very difficult to translate to a sheet as "real houses" because all the tricks of the set decorators are in evidence."

In other words, most apartments featured in sitcoms would have to have their own Narnias built into each doorway to fit all the space depicted. Lizarralde’s drawings make these incongruities a lot more noticeable than they are in casual viewing. Of course, a project like Lizarralde’s goes far beyond casual viewing.

The whole process of making a layout based on a show usually takes about 20 to 30 hours, though it can be much longer if it’s a series like Friends with a robust backlog of seasons. He prefers having the entire series run on hand, in order to access as much information as possible while drawing. In a matter of hours spent fast-forwarding through a series with a modest run, he can locate everything he needs.

After creating a first basic layout, Lizarralde refines and develops it with notes. Once a composition is in place, he starts a second layout to fit the final dimensions and proportions, and to place furniture and complete the final shape of the drawing. Just to be precise, Lizarralde then does a third and definitive floor plan, incorporating the colors, fabrics, and all the other details needed to make an accurate floor plan. At that point, the results look like an actual blueprint, albeit one that would probably look bizarre if actually acted upon.

"These sets are more theatrical scenographies than real houses," Lizarralde says. "I prefer a 'closed’ set without the contradictions of a sitcom set. The best example is the apartment of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City or the apartment of Dexter Morgan from Dexter. These are apartments entirely built in a studio; coherent and almost 'real’ apartments that I enjoy drawing more than the complicated and absurd distributions of shows like Two and a Half Men."

See all the floor plans mentioned here and more in the slide show above.

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31 Comments

  • Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde

    Not exactly...
    The question mark is a joke, a clue about the episode about the messy store room...

  • Kelvin Stiles

    Hey, what about the one for Big Bang Theory! That's like my favorte show. I doubt there have to be any flaws in there given how geeky they were.

  • Steven Reid

    The problem with Will's apt on Will & Grace is Mr. Zameer's apt. Unless he lives in Will's bedroom, the layout doesn't work.

  • Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde

    Don't try to find logic in a TV series.
    "Will & Grace" was not a documentary filmed in a real house.
    They are separate sets built in a soundstage and behind some doors there is... nothing.
    I am not the responsabile of all the mistakes and incoherences made by screenwriters and set designers/builders.
    I only draw what I see.

  • Kitekatze

    I always through that the main door to carrie's apartment opened onto her bedroomgiven the amount of times the men left via there.... gonan have to watch again.

  • Sam

    Everyone always seems to forget that Monica's apartment was originally her grandmother's- and rent-controlled. Monica lived with her Grandma before she died and was entitled to retain the same rent.

  • Guest

    Martin Crane's infamous chair is in front of the TV, not behind it! For me, that mistake throws off the credibility of all the other floor plans.

  • Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde

    I don't understand your commentary...
    Martin's chair is drawed just in front of the TV (the elliptical black furniture).
    I think you are not able to read a blueprint.
    So your comment has no credibility...

  • DC_Arch

    Some of the plans look incorrect- like Dexter Morgan's apartment (it's based on a apartment in Bay Harbor, Miami) This tv show floor plan thing has been done already - and much better here IMHO: http://fantasyfloorplans.com . This site gets the Dexter Apartment correct I think...

  • mikesty

    Cool Stuff. Seinfeld's is really the only one that is even remotely realistic, except 2.5 men because I think they were rich in that show?

  • Kristin Conner

    I disagree with the Seinfeld apartment. The bathroom was to the left down the hallway before Jerry's bedroom.

  • mikesty

    I was speaking more generally in terms of affordability/realistic for the character; however, you're actually incorrect: in almost every scene in Jerry's apartment you can see the bathroom sink.

  • Charles

    I sure would like to see a floor plan of the Van Der Woodsen apartment from the series "Gossip Girl". These are amazing.

  • Just Some Dude

    I don't get why that one room in Monica's apartment has a question mark. I remember in that one episode where that room was Monica's messy closet that she locked and didn't want Chandler to open, and the entire episode he was trying to figure out a way to see what was inside. Was it something else in another episode?