The interior design of The Queen’s Gambit
My new favorite TV series: And stan for midcentury modern coolness
Everyone I know is obsessed with The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. Great acting, tearful moments, the excitement of competition and the way Beth redecorated her living room—mod baby, mod! There are several takeaways from the redecorating montage in which super-sweet midcentury modern chairs and a bright coral, period Frigidaire figured prominently and thereby entered my modern-boho aesthetic dreams.
Recreate that oh-so-stripey gold chair
Listen—we don’t all like the 60s mod aesthetic featured in the show but many aspects of the style can be incorporated into nearly any home. Remember the cool, goldenrod/rust chair Beth’s sitting in at the end of the montage? The World Market Rose Pink Tyley Upholstered Chair ($179.99) in a millennial pink can capture that hep-cat vibe without overdoing the well, um, goldenrod effect. The swoop of the backrest allows you to channel the Danish modern feel without the Danish modern price. Fair disclosure: I have never ordered from World Market and don’t know how high quality the chair is but the price suggests not very, so buyer beware.
Wayfair has some other cool “statement” chairs that Beth would have definitely used in the show. The Evandale Balloon Chair ($869.99) would look great in the lounge of the Mexico City hotel Beth stayed at when she loses to Borgov. The design progression covered during the years of the show, roughly 1963-1969 includes some hippie-chic pieces, too—and bubble chairs of this metal-and-bright-cushion style would become popular throughout the 70s and well into the 80s.
Dang but that wallpaper!
Beth is shown ripping down the corny tasseled curtains her Mom had up to decorate the arched entry into the living room and pulling down all of those admittedly somewhat cool animal prints but not the roses-that-threw-up wallpaper. Why?
My guess is the set was a real home (I can’t verify online) and the set designers couldn’t montage long enough for Beth repaper or repaint the entire home. She does choose some new, cool geometrics which are still in style and coming back with a vengeance for 2020.
There are signs that the original floral extravagance from the series wouldn’t be out of place in certain circles of design: Notably the designer home show this year featured feathery shapes and nausea-inducing repeating patterns— complete with 60s-era colors like puce, metallics and electric pink. And the crowd went wild. For my money, the Tori Teal Wallpaper ($140) from the acknowledged masters at Graham & Brown can get you there with a little less chance of a case of wallpaper vertigo.
Megan Reynolds writing for Jezebel calls the before-Wheatley home “covered in the deranged wallpaper” and the aesthetic “very sad and dark” which the writer assures us is “just the way I like it, baby.” In her article “The Queen’s Gambit Has Me Reconsidering Wallpaper” Reynolds describes feeling like “she’s going to lose her mind” while faced with the matching walls and bedspread. The glass and rattan coffee table and the rugs upon rugs in Beth’s room are also called out and for good reason. Both are staples of 2020 style—the high/low mix of faded chintz and gleaming glass evokes the science-as-comfort we all looked to in the time of plague, er pandemic. You won’t believe me but you can find a very similar table on Walmart.com. Yup, SK New Interiors Pelangi Coffee Round Table in Natural Rattan is a steal for just $179.99. Wallyworld, we hardly knew you’d be the place to source cool for 2020, now did we?
Last but not least, retro styles can be eased into if you’re not into totally upending your current décor. Walmart has several styles available (search “retro” and you’re in for some pretty decent pillows and drapery options) with not-too-cheap looking patterns that resemble the Tribbles from Star Trek. Society6 has 70s Retro Flower Power Curtains ($83.29 pair) should you want to channel the groovy party Beth goes to while studying Russian at Lexington Community College. But as for the mod look, I’d stay with the Mid Century Modern Abstract Funky Cool Minimalist Pattern Blackout Curtain ($83.29 pair). Home Depot actually has a bright red Galanz 7.6 cu. Ft. Retro Mini Refrigerator with Dual Door and True Freezer in red ($298) to keep the fixings for a frosty Gibson: Make that martini-like drink Beth favors as you dream of a midcentury modern makeover of your own.