‘Why Women Kill’ Shows How the Decor of One Mansion Changes Across 3 Decades

updated Sep 9, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Ali Goldstein/CBS

“It’s lovely,” says a smiling Beth Ann as she arrives in front of her new home—a Mediterranean-style mansion—with husband Rob. Not only “lovely,” the property plays a central role in the dark comedy-drama “Why Women Kill,” now streaming on CBS All Access.

The new series from “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry follows the lives of three women from different decades: a subservient housewife Beth Ann (played by Ginnifer Goodwin) in the ‘60s, a self-obsessed socialite Simone (Lucy Liu) in the ‘80s, and a hard-working lawyer (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) in 2019. Though the ladies are separated by time periods, they share a connection: they have all lived in the same mansion and deal with infidelity in their respective marriages.

While the home is described as being located in Pasadena, production designer Mark Worthington reveals that the building featured on the show is actually in the Hancock Park, Los Angeles, neighborhood. Worthington and his team built three versions of the interior space on stage so they could easily “bounce back and forth” between the three decades.

Credit: Ali Goldstein/CBS

A stay-at-home wife in 1963, Beth Ann tends to her husband’s every need, from pouring coffee upon his command (which he does in the form of tapping on his empty cup) to preparing dinner for him every night. Beth Ann’s desire to be a so-called “ideal” wife is captured through the design of the house, starting with the muted colors.

“There were no accent colors or strong patterns. We wanted to lay back a bit. It’s more about her wanting to fit into the current style,” Worthington explains to Apartment Therapy. “It’s a house torn out of the pages of ‘Better Homes and Gardens’, not necessarily a high-end design magazine of the period—all with the idea of her being the perfect wife.”

Credit: Ali Goldstein/CBS

However, after Beth Ann finds out about her husband’s affair with a diner waitress, she sheds her beige outfits in exchange for more vibrant clothes, which contrast well with the interior’s dull hues. “The fun thing about the muted colors in the background is that she starts to pop off of those colors. She’s foregrounded more as she takes on more sense of herself as the story goes on,” says Worthington.

For Beth Ann’s mid-century furniture, set decorator Julie Smith sourced most of the furnishings from Palm Springs, the city best known for its mid-century modern architecture. Misty’s Consignments, Casa Moderno, and the Palm Springs Vintage Market were among the places Smith visited. Worthington and his team also built a few pieces for Beth Ann’s home, including the couch and two armchairs in the living room.

Worthington kept some of the original Mediterranean-Spanish sconces and chandeliers in the entryway because he believed “they would have kept some of the [home’s] original pieces,” he notes. “I think that makes it feel more authentic because sometimes if you do all from the period, it feels a little too art. We felt it needed to be a little more grounded.”

Credit: Ali Goldstein/CBS

In 1984, twice-divorced socialite Simone moves into the same estate with her third husband, Karl, who Simone soon discovers has been having secret affairs with men.

The opposite of Beth Ann, Simone’s character is as flashy as her space. “There’s a really wide range of styles in the ‘80s but we went to a more extreme set of ideas for her because she has a very bold personality. She’s very much putting herself out there,” Worthington points out. 

Credit: Ali Goldstein/CBS

To capture Simone’s excessive nature, Worthington was adamant about her walls being a deep eggplant purple, despite some initial worries from the studio that the shade might be too bold. “It just describes her character, which I held out for. I thought that was really important. It’s not like everybody has those colors at their house,” states Worthington, who complemented the striking purple with gold and shiny brass details.

Hard reflective surfaces like glass and mirrors were also incorporated throughout the residence. Emphasizes Worthington: “She’s obviously very narcissistic so that added to the metaphor of her personality.” Simone’s vanity is further emphasized with a big portrait of herself that hangs in the dining room area.

Credit: Ali Goldstein/CBS

Fast forward to present day, power lawyer Taylor dwells in the same place with husband Eli. The couple’s open marriage takes a turn when Taylor decides to bring home one of her past hookups.

Unlike Beth Ann and Simone, Taylor’s home is less of a reflection of her character and “more about what’s contemporary [in home design] now. What we see is not too cutting edge, but certainly what is current interior design colors,” notes Worthington. “There’s a lot of monochrome — lots of black, dark grey and charcoal in houses right now.”

Credit: Ali Goldstein/CBS

Taylor’s house, which Worthington describes as having a “casual sensibility,” is decorated with expensive, yet comfortable furniture that were sourced from contemporary shops all over the city. “They’re not so self-conscious about what the decorations are going to be. They’re going to get the house and they’re going to work on it. It’s more about ‘We want a comfortable home. We want to keep up with the Joneses. Show that we have money,’” adds Worthington.

Taylor’s space is also messier than the home’s previous owners, and according to Worthington, “A lot of it has to do with the fact that Taylor can’t be bothered. She’s very busy. She’s a high-powered lawyer.”