Season 2 of Liz Feldman’s Netflix original series Dead to Me continues from the wreckage as Jen Harding (Christina Applegate) and Judy Hale (Linda Cardellini) deal with the aftermath of Steve Wood’s (James Marsden) death. Soon after, Steve’s twin brother Ben (also played by James Marsden), arrives looking for his brother to make matters more complicated. Much of the continuity and intricate details spring from set decorator Brandi Kalish as she was a major player in both seasons, while she applied her creative touch on the set decoration for all 20 episodes.
Staying true to the continuity from season to season is a vital component for the believability of every show. The set decorator mentioned, “Even though it had been technically a year later, I had to put myself in that position to think back to a year ago and the story of season one, what the sets looked like, what Jen’s house looked like, and really stay exactly true to that continuity as if her house had just evolved that day or two later cause the show had picked up that night of. We wanted to make sure that the continuity is correct, but then evolved the characters as they’re living in that house.”
Some of the newer additions to season 2 were the arcade and mansion. “We did a lot of research on what these cool arcades nowadays look like and just used a lot of reflective Mylar on the ceiling and neon lighting. We rented 20 different neon signs that did a lot of graphics. The bar that’s in the arcade, we made from scratch, brought in all that furniture and everything, and a lot of arcade machines. The arcade colors were those neon, periwinkle, hot orange, rocket red, neon green, and brilliant blue. The mansion for Steve and Ben’s parents was maybe the second oldest house ever to be built in Beverly Hills. The mansion palette were mustards, burgundy, and golds in that dark burnished oil rug, very regal. We really had to decorate that place to show these people have money and they have old money,” Kalish detailed.
The interior design trends included all things Laguna Beach. “The trends that I had to bring forward for the décor of Jen’s house was that very high end, clean, contrast color such as the white sand colors to really subtly show that we’re at Laguna Beach. A lot of beautiful sea glass greens and blues. I custom made all the colors on the sofas because I couldn’t find that sea glass green; that beautiful squashed up color that’s in sea glass are all those pillows on that huge L-shaped sand cream colored sofa. We created and built the coffee table that was in Jen’s living room. It is a cross hatch base, that’s very difficult, but super cool to look at, very beachy with reflective tempered glass. The same goes with art. We’ll see a piece of art and oftentimes I’m quite good at hunting down the artist. We’ll reach out to that artist and then get their piece. Which is what we did for the blue piece, that’s in the living room. Same with the dining room table, very much like beechwood, sand, beiges, blues, beautiful creams, those are the trends that are very aspirational.” Kalish charmed.
“The process in general is that we start with the bones of the set, the bigger pieces, the sofa or the bed. Next, we move to the medium pieces, the side table, the lighting, rugs, or art. Then we move to the layers or smalls, which is the character layers; the type of small perfume bottle she might have on her nightstand, stuff from her pocket, purse on her dresser, or the type of earrings laying there. Those are the character layers that are super important. No detail is overworked, we literally do a deep creative dive character wise for every single detail, no matter how big or small. All of the sets have their own unique challenges.”
Dead to Me’s set decorator Brandi Kalish recreated the exact set décor from season 1 with perfect intricate details from the smallest item to newer decorations showcased in season 2 from the arcade, mansion, and a variety of other sets. Brandi Kalish has previously been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and the Art Director’s Guild (ADG) for her outstanding set decoration collaboration within the production design team for Silicon Valley. Other notable set decoration television series credits include You’re the Worst, White Famous, Teen Wolf, Wilfred, and Legit.
For more information on Emmy nominated set decorator Brandi Kalish, please visit http://brandikalish.com/