An Anatomy of Mary Richards’ Iconic Studio Apartment

published Sep 13, 2020
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“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” the sitcom that revolutionized women on TV, celebrates a major milestone this month: its 50th anniversary. The series, which ran for seven seasons between 1970 and 1977 on CBS, starred the late Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards, a single woman in her thirties focused on her news producer career. Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama are just a few of the women who have cited the series as formative to their careers. Perhaps more influential than Mary Richards herself, however, is her studio apartment—one coined “the epitome of single girl cool” by our news and culture editor. 

Mary moved into the studio located on the top floor of a Queen Anne Victorian in the pilot episode, after she arrived in Minneapolis to start her life anew. With its high-beam ceilings, carpet floors, and Palladian windows, the space quickly became one of the most iconic spaces in the TV landscape. The WJM-TV producer (sadly) moved out of the studio and into a high-rise by the sixth season, but the apartment is forever cemented in the pop culture landscape. (I still think about it a lot.) So, in honor of the sitcom’s 50th anniversary, let’s revisit the charming features that made the space so iconic. 

1. Striped wallpaper and eclectic wall decor

Striped sage-green wallpaper and eclectic wall decor—such as Mary’s famed brass “M” wall mount, colorful wall art, and an antique cuckoo clock—cover the walls of the single large room that also doubles as a bedroom (via pullout couch).

2. Shag carpet 

The light brown shag carpet in the studio is perhaps the most obvious indicator of the sitcom’s time. Considering how well it compliments the wallpaper and white wall trims, though, it still manages to look charming rather than outdated.

3. Stained glass kitchen windows

Arguably the most eccentric feature of the studio, Mary’s kitchen was separated from the rest of the living room with a door and a colorful stain-glass window that could be lifted open or closed for privacy.

4.  Raised floors that double as storage

Every space counts in a small single-room studio, and Mary incorporated the raised floors that separate the studio’s entrance point and living room as storage shelves for books. The design decision is both clever and pleasing on the eyes.

5. Exposed brick wall

While much of the walls are adorned with sage-green wallpaper, there’s an exposed brick wall next to the kitchen behind Mary’s fireplace. A dramatic design statement, it also gives the space a rustic and elegant feel.

6. High-beam ceilings and Palladian windows 

Saving the best for last, the Palladian windows and high-beam ceilings offer dramatic design features that make the studio seem much larger and spacious than it really is. (A must for all those dinner parties.)

All seven seasons of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” are currently available to stream on Hulu.