Do you get house envy when you visit a friend’s home for the first time? We’ve all gone positively green over the gorgeous pieces our friends seem to pick up from flea markets in Berlin, and each of us quietly weeps inside at the words “It’s just something I found by the side of the road”.

And sometimes even watching films can make you drool with jealousy over the stunning décor. Katerina Vasiliou picks six to-die-for celluloid Sixties apartments that could provide just the inspiration you’ve been looking for to entice a little house envy out of your guests.

A quintessential Sixties look sees minimalist decoration combined with smooth city-living, and with one or two key items you can easily evoke the Sixties style for your home.

L’elisse, 1962

Revolutionary Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni is well-known for documenting the pitfalls of contemporary life in his exquisite films. In L’eclisse (The Eclipse), Antonioni focuses on the stunning Monica Vitti as a woman unable to feel love or attachment for anyone, not the even the gorgeous Alain Delon. Her apartment is a fantastic example of how style was developing in the early Sixties.

The older characters, such as her mother and first lover, live in homes typically decorated with Italian classicism: huge paintings in ornate gold frames and sumptuous antique furniture, whereas Vitti’s apartment – the apartment of a modern young woman – is sparsely populated with clean lines, low furniture and the Sixties classic: the spaceship lamp. Vitti lives in a modern apartment block on a new development, and dominating the background, a domed water tower looms with a forboding modern spacecraft shape – a reminder that the times are changing.

The contrast between antiquity and modernity reflects Antonioni’s desire to explore the clash between old values and new.

Le Mepris, 1963

The French certainly know how to do style better than most, and the Sixties brooding Nouvelle Vague style is the absolute pinnacle of this. Super-chic Jean-Luc Goddard’s masterpiece about dissatisfaction within relationships, starring the effortless Brigitte Bardot, is set on the island of Capri and features the awe-inspiring Villa Malaparte.

The cavernous interior is stark, almost empty with single pieces making a big impact. Royal blue sofas contrasted with white walls, an enormous vase of flowers, and a relief from a Roman temple all make bold statements within a simple interior. The huge windows run from floor to ceiling, producing a goldfish bowl effect, which is reflective of the psychological landscape of the film.

Jutting out from the headland, the building has a gigantic stone staircase running across the whole exterior and up to a magnificent roof terrace. With the sparkling Mediterranean in the background, these desolate steps are the perfect setting for an existentialist crisis.


How to Murder Your Wife, 1965

Jack Lemmon stars as Stanley Ford, wealthy comic artist who has a New York town house to kill for and he almost does, to reclaim it from his wife, the stunning Virna Lisi.

Mixing majestic monochrome staircases with a maze of narrow corridors lined with luxurious wooden wardrobes, this is an interior of extremes. The living room has a very Sixties exposed brick fireplace, big boxy lamps, and animal skin rugs thrown over battered brown leather sofas.

Further up the stairs sliding doors part an image of a cathedral painted on them, to reveal a decadent granite bathroom, complete with a shower with powerful side jets. The Butler, expertly played by Terry Thomas, boasts that the shower is heated to his employer’s body temperature: “98.7”.

The house culminates in the attic studio where Lemmon works. It’s an enormous space overlooked by a beautiful iron bed sitting in the gallery. If ever you are looking for inspiration for Sixties luxurious living this film would be a great start.

Blowup, 1966

Another Antonini classic and his first set in the UK, Blowup depicts 24 hours in the life of  Thomas, a David Bailey inspired fashion photographer. Thomas’s world is a chaotic one, with everybody wanting him for something while he appears to want no one.

His living space reflects this chaos and it seems that the set dressers were influenced by Andy Warhol’s Factory. The warehouse-like building is littered with random objects d’art and choice pieces of Op Art decorate the walls. The boundary between studio and home is blurred with plastic sheeting, freestanding photography lights and drying photographs clipped onto washing line amongst the grey furniture.

Combined with the low intersecting beams this is a difficult space to traverse but is intensely chic, and adds even more expression to the artist’s temperament.

The Party, 1968

Although this film is hugely politically incorrect with Peter Sellars playing an Indian man who accidentally gatecrashes a swish Hollywood party, style-wise it’s an absolute gem!

The setting is a gorgeous Californian villa, which resembles an art gallery in its airiness and space. The décor is sparse and modernist: white walls, bamboo screens, tropical plants and limited angular furniture.

The focal point is the circular fireplace and conical chimney suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the room. The guests flit around to the sound of jazz flute and cicadas – very sophisticated. However, the pièce de résistance is the outdoor swimming pool, which extends under the glass wall and into the house so that the living room is a mixture of pools and platforms.

Everything in the house is electronically controlled and of course this causes no end of problems for Peter Sellars’ character and unsurprisingly, havoc ensues.

Barbarella, 1968

We couldn’t look at the Sixties without delving into their fascination with the future and the promises of a new technological era. Women in metalic jumpsuits, bounced around Sixties chrome interiors, and science-fiction inspired design. In erotic sci-fi classic Barbarella, Jane Fonda is charged with saving the Earth, and looks fabulous doing it.

Her ‘apartment’ is a weightless bubble, decked out in floor to ceiling brown shag, which Fonda revels in lounging on. The only decoration is a chrome communication device and a dressing screen painted with a copy of a famous work by 19th-century pointillist artist, Georges Seurat. The screen is seemingly an odd addition, but it is typical of the Sixties where the past and future continually met in the present.


6 Responses

  1. La Sweeta Deeva

    Great choices. Love the house in ‘The Party’! Mansions in the Hollywood Hills are really inspirational as they’re often filled with iconic pieces of mid 20th century design. Have recently seen a beautiful re-imagining of a 50’s Hollywood Hills home (on the iPad App Architizer. Its original footprint has been overlaid with 21st century sensibilities which has re-orientated it to respond better to the available light and natural beauty of the area. A delicious fusion, indeed.