On the Set: Penelope

On the Set: Penelope

Grace Shu
Dec 16, 2008

When we posted about the set of Pushing Daisies (R.I.P), we received a fair amout of emails asking us to please, pretty please also do a feature on Penelope, a movie starring a pig-snouted Christina Ricci in a modern fairytale about self-acceptance...and a shaggy-haired James McAvoy (...what? He's really quite charming in this movie...even without the Scottish accent...). Anyway, while we were watching this delightful little film, we couldn't stop commenting on the sets: they are brilliant. So, without further ado, we present the very clever set decor and production design of Penelope--and no, there's not a speck of mid-century modern anywhere...(Warning: some of these photos are a bit spoilery, so please proceed with caution if you intend to watch this movie).

Penelope's Room

Penelope's bedroom/playroom is pure, undiluted fantasy. Her room seems like it's a reflection of the character: Originally painted in cheery shades of green, red, and purple, the colors have faded as Penelope has grown out of her childhood fantasies. The lighting gives the space a moody feeling.

Terrariums and caged birds are visual metaphors to Penelope's life locked up in her home--but without the bitterness and resentment. We're particularly fond of the varying side tables holding her collection of terrariums. The one-way looking mirror allows Penelope the safety of being able to interrogate potential husbands without scaring them off initially with her snout (and offers a great view of gorgeous Chesterfields).

A nice wide angle shot of Penelope's room from the entrance. Two steps lead up to the main floor which features a swing and brilliant crimson tree with a library alcove and a bed alcove.

We pulled this shot from the Behind the Scenes featurette to show all the different levels and entrances of the room--and to get a great shot of the terrariums.

Penelope returns to her room after a brief stint in the outside world. The red tree seems to pop out from the background...

Penelope's bedroom. We love, love, LOVE her shades. If anyone has their bed in a bay window alcove like this and can't figure out window treatment for it, this is a cool idea. It's semi-sheer fabric in a deep violet to blue gradient that allows light to come through and you can see a faint outline of the cityscape. It's very whimsical and possibly not that realistic if you are, say, living street level, but the concept is clever.

Out of everything featured in this shot, the one thing that caught our attention was her chalkboard. Framed in a beautiful white frame with ornate scrollwork, this chalkboard adds a feminine touch to something ordinary.

The organized chaos of Penelope's desk.

Penelope's armoire looks like the ones that are always popping up on Craigslist, usually named something like "French shabby chic" or "Asian Armoire." However, what makes hers unique is the decoupage pattern of origami printed squares, and the moulding painted a solid crimson to emphasize the lines of this classic piece of furniture.

Miscellaneous Screenshots That We Also Loved

Unlike Penelope's room, the rest of the house is done up in strict black and whites, with a touch of navy here and there. The placement of furniture is often symmetrical. The overall look of the film is very Victorian-Gothic, so a lot of the props (like the candlestick shown here) echo that same style.

The kitchen/casual breakfast area.

The library has too many great things to point out, but we'll try: The subtle paisley pattern of the navy wallpaper, the antique leather Chesterfields, the black Bougie lamps on the end tables...and yes: James McAvoy.

Penelope's classroom. We love how she carries over some of the more unique aspects of her bedroom into the classroom, from her terrariums to the green-covered books in the built-in shelves.

Lemon's office at the newspaper. The newspaper offices are featured in dark green and blue tones, and have envious vintage details like their rotary phones, old typewriters, and classic file cabinets and card catalogues.

The exterior of the Wilhern home. Or is it a castle?

Set decoration by Bridget Menzies, Production Design by Amanda McArthur, Art Direction by Ged Bryan and John Reid

Got a movie or TV show that you want us to feature? Let us know in the comments!

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