‘Mad Men’: The story behind Don Draper’s new digs


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‘Mad Men’ returned after its long hiatus Sunday, earning record ratings and a host of Midcentury Modern design fans newly obsessed with Don Draper’s new Manhattan home. It’s June 1966, and though Draper (played by Jon Hamm) might be a newlywed, he’s traded in his dreary digs from last season for an Upper East Side spread complete with serious bachelor pad trappings.

Apartment 17-B, right, set decorator Claudette Didul said, is ‘in a high-rise that feels like it was built in 1960 with a white-carpeted sunken living room and a fascinating fireplace and a Case Study-style kitchen with two pass through windows.’


It also sports walnut cabinetry with a built-in television set and one of those new-fangled-for-the-time push-button phones.

Didul said Draper’s love of sleek modern lines and high-tech gadgetry and manly appointments (leather lounge chair, countertop cocktail bar with a drum-shaped ice bucket) is contrasted with his new wife Megan’s youthful taste and love of color.

‘I imagine she might’ve dragged Don through Bloomingdale’s to see the model rooms,’ Didul said.

The set decorator also took inspiration from two books by 1960s bestselling interior design author Betty Pepis and ‘Decoration U.S.A.,’ a 1965 collaboration between Jose Wilson and Arthur Leaman. ‘The colors of the rooms and furnishings are so vibrant in those books they almost make your teeth rattle,’ Didul said.

The kitchen has rich blue and blazing coral cabinets exhibiting ‘happiness and hopefulness,’ Didul said. ‘The pastels of the 1950s are giving way to brighter and earthier tones.’ She spotted the brown 1964 Frigidaire in a vintage copy of the Los Angeles Times Home Magazine. ‘It’s my favorite appliance in the whole show.’

Keep reading to see Don’s dining and living room and a list of Didul’s shopping sources ...


The Draper living room has grass cloth wallpaper and curtains with a matching valance made from retro material from Fabricut. Outside the window wall: a 1964 white metal patio dinette set by Samsonite that Didul purchased on eBay. The modular sofas and ottoman were designed by ‘Mad Men’ production designer Dan Bishop and built by Omega Cinema Props. Don’s Lied Mobler black leather lounge chair came from Galerie Sommerlath in Los Angeles; the magazine rack is from Amsterdam Modern, also in L.A. The glass-topped coffee table is from Deja Vu in Long Beach, and the counter stools are a vintage design by Erik Buk purchased on Craigslist from a Virginia seller.

The dining room has a strong Danish influence. The dining table set and credenza were purchased at Danish Modern Noho. The rug, designed to look like a 1960s rya, was created from shag carpeting at S & J Biren floor coverings in Los Angeles. The gray armchair is part of a pair purchased on Craigslist ‘because they reminded me of chairs I had seen on ‘Bewitched,’’ Didul said.

Custom-built kitchen cabinets have a handy pass-through window to the dining room, a built-in cook top and a revolving spice rack, far left, purchased on Etsy. Didul shopped for glasses, cookware and kitchen accessories at the antique malls in Orange and Pomona, and the Pasadena Antique Center and Annex and Novotny’s Antique Gallery in Pasadena.


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-- David A. Keeps

Photo, top: Megan (Jessica Paré) sits on the lap of hubby Don (Jon Hamm) in his new apartment in a scene from Episode 1, Season 5, of ‘Mad Men.’

Photo credits: AMC