This year, we teamed up with MTV's Real World to outfit their Seattle house in some of our favorite designs for Season 32 of the iconic reality show. We interviewed Jeff and Sue, this season's interior designers, to find out how they decorate for different personalities and how they used the Seattle counterculture as primary inspiration. This season, we can't guarantee that watching strangers (and enemies!) live together won't get messy, but we can guarantee that decorating your space with Society6 will always be drama-free.
The Real World has been on for so many seasons. 32! Is this your first season designing or have you been with the show for a while?
JEFF: This is my third time working on the show, but really my first time overseeing everything. I was the Set Decorator on Real World: Hollywood and the Art Director on Real World: Back to San Diego. This has always been a dream-show of mine and I am very excited to be a part of it so many years later.
SUE: I can't believe this is season 32, I grew up on The Real World! This was our first season designing for The Real World, but we would love to do many more! We had a so much fun doing it, and are really appreciative of our time in Seattle. I fell in love with the city and would definitely move there given the opportunity.
Did you meet the cast before designing the space? If so, did they inspire your style choices in any way?
JEFF: Believe it or not we knew very little, if anything, about the cast prior to the design process. The design consists of highlighting the many great elements of the city while portraying a current hip vibe that people can aspire to.
SUE: Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to meet the cast ahead of time, but that would be a really interesting project, building a space that incorporates all of those different personalities. Now that I mention it, that sounds incredibly challenging!
Knowing there will be so many different personalities and style affinities in the house, how do you go about choosing an aesthetic theme?
JEFF: It's important to have many distinct areas to the house. We want the viewer to know we are in the "grunge" room or the "sea" room, etc. We create these different themes and I hope that people will naturally gravitate towards what fits their personalities. The key is to be progressive in the way we approach the design and decor. We don't want to necessarily fit into someone's existing mold, but help to expand and build on it into something new and exciting.
SUE: Knowing the theme of the season ahead of time really lent itself to the end result, we knew there were going to be seven initial roommates and then a bit into filming they would be introducing seven more roommates, their rivals. To that end we really wanted to show contrast within the house without having it seem disjointed.
This year you guys are in Seattle. Did you pull any inspiration from the very specific vibe of the Pacific Northwest?
JEFF: We pulled ALL our inspiration from the PNW. A lot of the design ideas were pulled directly from us walking the streets of Capitol Hill. Seattle has an amazing community vibe that was hard to not fall in love with. We found inspiration literally on every street corner with the light poles plastered in concert posters. The overall counterculture nature of the city really put us in the mindset to deliver something that has yet to be seen on this show.
SUE: Definitely. We really wanted to draw upon the influences of the Pacific Northwest, and specifically the city of Seattle itself, for our inspiration. Music, art, the landscape, antiques, the culture, the people all contributed to the overall look and vibe of the house. We really wanted to support the arts community in the city and we got to meet with many creative and fun artists who wanted to work with us on this project. In addition to that, we had a blast visiting antique store after antique store, finding amazing pieces at every stop.
Designing for an entire house seems daunting. Where do you start? Mood boards? Winging it?
JEFF: The key is to get your mind in the right zone and really visualize an end result. Honestly a lot of the aesthetic comes down to the space itself. We can do all the prep we want, but if our initial ideas don't fit into the story that the space wants to tell then it's back to the drawing board. This particular project had a very organic process, we saw the space first and went from there.
SUE: It is a somewhat daunting task, building an entire house from the ground up that will be home to lots of people and be seen on camera by millions of people. For us, it started out with a brainstorming session about everything we think of when we think of the PNW, what was interesting to us at the moment, and how all of these ideas could play out in a house that would ultimately have 14 roommates living within its walls. From there, we put together one giant mood board and then began whittling it down until we had a couple of cohesive themes going on.
Are there certain colors or patterns that look better on camera? Any that you try to stray away from?
JEFF: Tight patterns are a big no-no. They make the camera go nuts in a way that is very distracting. Other than that I try to not think about colors in terms of camera. Obviously you need to take skin tones into consideration, as well as how the space is lit. You never want all white walls or all black walls. I like to focus on lots of texture and an overall color story.
Living with roommates can be awesome or awful or both. In your life have you had any roommates with interesting, terrible, or awesome interior design-sense?
JEFF: It's been about 100 years since I lived with any roommates, but I will say Sue and I had to live together in Seattle and there were definitely some questionable things happening in that bathroom!
SUE: My roommate sophomore year of college (and in our very first apartment) had offered to furnish the apartment as her grandparents were donating furniture to her as a gift. A generous gesture, of course, but little did I know the furniture (and corresponding pillows, linens, tablelamps, etc..) that showed up looked as though someone had gone to a retirement home in Palm Beach, FL and gutted it, there was wicker and bamboo everywhere, along with floral pattern upon floral pattern, mostly in those 80's pastel colors found all over The Golden Girls' house. It was hideous, but I couldn't complain one bit! I definitely didn't have the money to furnish an entire apartment, so I sucked it up until slowly we phased out some of those pieces in favor of more stylish ones.
What's your favorite S6 piece in the house?
JEFF: I love ALL the pillows. They are so fun and colorful and everywhere we used them added a huge jolt of personality to the space. We had the best time going through the inventory and picking out all the cool pieces of art, duvets, pillows, and what-not. So fun!
SUE: I was a fan of the duvets in general. I love to change out the duvet covers on my own bed often (an easy way to switch up your space), so it was nice to have such a wide variety of designs and colors to choose from when dressing the beds. And they're so soft!
Watch Real World Seattle: Bad Blood, Wednesdays at 10:00 pm ET and PT on MTV.
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