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The Queen’s Gambit – The Stylish Return Of Retro Interior

The Queen’s Gambit, directed by Scott Frank, has taken the world by storm. This 2020 Netflix drama is not only full of jaw-dropping plot twists, constantly pulling you in and introducing you to the fascinating mind of Beth Harmon, but it’s also extremely aesthetically pleasing. All interior design lovers shall deeply appreciate the work of Sabine Schaaf, set decorator and the author of The Queen’s Gambit interior design.

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Anya Taylor-Joy sitting in her retro wingback armchair. The Queen’s Gambit (2020). Netflix
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Excited about the wallpaper in The Queen’s Gambit? This is how you get the look
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Pendant Lamp Queen’s Gambit (2020). Netflix

In today’s media world, amongst movies featuring minimalistic, urban, and modern furniture, The Queen’s Gambit proudly stands out. It showcases breathtaking retro pieces glazed with colorful patterns, framed by sumptuous fabric, thanks to the production designer, Uli Hanish.

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Beth’s Bathroom. Queen’s Gambit (2020). Netflix

He has made it his mission to create a truthful, inspiring, retro working environment for his colleagues, and according to the nine awards acquired by this show at the 2021 Creative Art Emmys, it was a job well done. So let’s dive deeper into the world of The Queen’s Gambit. 

Wallpapers and Alma Wheatley’s Home in The Queen’s Gambit 

Retro wallpapers. Queen’s Gambit (2020). Netflix
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 Floral sheets, wallpapers and lamps. Netflix
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Chess Openings – Walter Korn. Bet’s Chess Book

Beth Harmon is a young chess prodigy who had spent most of her childhood in an orphanage. At the beginning of the series, she finally gets adopted and arrives into a typical 1960’s American suburbia, presented very livelily and truthfully. We see Beth’s awkward adaptation process as she moves into the home of her new adoptive mother, Alma Wheatley. 

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Beth Harmon takes in her new home upon arrival. Netflix

Uli Hanisch explained how important it was for the home to resonate with Alma’s character, which is why the entrance to the house looks somewhat empty and lonely – it feels just like the character, blue. This is one of the few sets on the show that isn’t bizarrely overdone in the style of the 60s. 

If you want to recreate this perfectly balanced hallway, there is a perfect dupe for Mrs. Wheatley’s wallpaper. You can’t go wrong with a slightly ashy blue, green and yellow. The diagonal pattern easily catches one’s eye, and if you find some matching wall curtains, that’s a perfect combination.

If you’re much like Beth in her transformation in episode six, you can always rearrange the furniture and match the room to a warmer color palette. But, to stay true to The Queen’s Gambit, you’ll have to learn how to “layer textures” – decorations and fabrics go over patterned wallpapers, and there can never be too much “flat bling” (non-sparkly details).

In episode six, Beth tears down the curtains foreshadowing her approaching transition. Netflix

As our protagonist enters a new stage in life and switches up her clothing style, she also decides that it’s time to put a “modern retro” touch on her space. So she buys new furniture, incorporates a warmer look, and creates a more luxurious space suitable for an upcoming chess queen.

The funky wallpapers feature a messy pattern full of dull-colored square-like shapes, and the newly hung-up pictures don’t look as traditional. Instead, they often offer abstract geometry vibes, and although this combination of shapes may seem out of place, it all makes perfect sense in Beth’s genius mind. 

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…..and buys new furniture

A particular situation that is a true “sign of the time” is Beth’s trip to the furniture store – we get to see the ruling colors and shapes in this groovy era. One of the most prominent items on the set was the “Modern Living” decoration, put up on a pink Queen’s Gambit wallpaper covered in vertical brush traces.

On the other hand, the furniture is rather calm and luxurious, which is very typical of the era since materials like velvet often came in monochrome options only. To fully emerge yourself in the era, you’ll have to invest in many patterned cushions with tassels and layer them on your simple sofa.

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Beth’s Downward spiral. Netflix

Draped curtains, especially those with textile decorations on the seams, are one of the most prominent decorations in the series. Sometimes the fabric is floral and bright, but a piece that caught my eye was this hallway Queen’s Gambit curtains look-a-like. It’s so simple yet mesmerizing, giving dimension to the space.

hallway Queen’s Gambit curtains look-a-like available here

While watching Beth and her mother interact in the house, I was often distracted by the interior. Although the decorations were mostly simple, especially considering the era, the set looked very effective and cohesive. The green emerald tones overtook the room, and the neutral and blue tones of clothes on Beth’s mother conclude the story.

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Alma and Beth in the living room. NETFLIX

This scene is proof that one big piece of furniture is sometimes enough of a statement to make the whole place eye-catching. But, of course, I am talking about the famous, aristocratic-looking, posh wingback chair that comes in a beautiful shade of green – not quite emerald, not quite pine. 

I’ve found it quite brilliant that the only room in the house deviating from the classic, blue aesthetic is Beth’s room. Her adoptive mother had decorated it having a true girly girl in mind, which seems to be the very opposite of Beth. Still, it serves as a great inspiration for a nursery.

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Beth for the first time in her pink checkered floral room. Home sweet home. Netflix

The young chess prodigy enters a room full of plaid, textures, floral fabrics, as well as lots of small lamps – a classic in the 1960s. The room is fully furnished, and all of the shelves are filled with small, meaningful decorations – mostly random, shining figurines and worn-out books.

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Beth’s bedroom. Plaid pink pattern wallpapers.Netflix

A million shades of pink, lots of plaids and this phenomenal plaid picnic-like pink wallpaper give the space a maximalist look. I really enjoyed the pillow layering, as well as the fact that all the curtains have small tassels along one seam. It’s such a small detail, but it gives so much coziness.

Plaid pink wallpapers

Although it may sometimes seem like certain patterns don’t compliment others well, the big picture proves they are pretty charming together. You get lost in the jungle of visual stimulants – the rugs, the wallpapers, the tables, the fabrics. It really seems like more is more!

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Plaid retro wingback chair. Netflix

The lyrics “She’s Got It, Yeah Baby, She’s Got It” is what pops up in my mind whenever I see this small kidney-shaped midcentury table, as I picture the alcohol Betty would put on it while dancing in her music-filled, somewhat dirty living room. It’s a small piece of furniture, but such a statement.

small kidney-shaped midcentury table, 1950’s available here

Unlike in other main rooms in Mrs. Wheatley’s home, the bathroom is absolutely maximalist with no holding back. The small, square tiles in brown, green, and beige perfectly frame and compliment the botanical wallpaper. And naturally, there are draped curtains everywhere. The splashes of lime green we notice on the tub, the toilet, and the sink add a dash of liveliness to the space.

Mrs Wheatley’s Bathroom in The Queen's Gambit
Mrs Wheatley’s Bathroom in The Queen’s Gambit

For those brave enough to layer decorations over the botanical peel and stick Queen’s Gambit wallpaper, we suggest getting The Queen’s Gambit-inspired lights pointing towards the ceiling – they usually come in pairs. Stained glass is the right way to go for a more intense look.

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Flower Botanical Peel and Stick Wallpaper – The Queen’s Gambit. Available HERE

The interior design on the show is very exciting, especially because we see different aesthetics. As Beth travels, we unravel the fine world of hotels and bars. Some are extravagant, offering us gilded furniture and massive wooden closets that look like they belong in a French castle.

One of the unique decorations in the series surely is the dice-inspired decoration that hangs from the ceiling and separates the front from the back of a hotel room in hotel Mariposa, Las Vegas. Although the geometric patterns in the colors blue and green aren’t as feminine as Beth’s home and remind us of casinos, the silky fabrics and the studded headboard give it a cozy look. 

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Mariposa Hotel, Las Vegas. Anya Taylor-Joy on the set. Photo by Uli Hanisch. Netflix “The Queen’s Gambit,” 2020

The light in this movie is almost like an actress – she strolls around and creates drama! One of such beautiful installations was the gorgeous stained glass background in The Queen’s Gambit Mexico City’s Aztec Palace Hotel, a part of a Berlin theatre named the Friedrichstadt-Palast. 

Mexico City’s Aztec Palace Hotel in The Queen's Gambit
Mexico City’s Aztec Palace Hotel in The Queen’s Gambit
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Retro style interior . Las Vegas hotel room- The Queen’s Gambit. Netflix

It’s quite interesting how some scenes feature a more peaceful environment, yet the luxury still peeks through. The high ceiling, the textured wooden walls, and the sparkling lights combined with the quiet atmosphere truly make all introverts interested in the Moscow hotel.

Moscow Hotel in The Queen's Gambit
Moscow Hotel in The Queen’s Gambit

The same goes for the Panorama Bar of the Kino International – the extravagant play of light makes this scene such a breath taker, and the chandeliers play with the sun rays perfectly.

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Kino International, Berlin. The Panorama Bar

The rise of the chess queen can be seen through the hotel room upgrades, hence more luxurious spaces. I cannot be the only one that completely fell in love with this Paris hotel room that looks like it was drenched in gold. It is heavily maximalist and includes beautiful paintings of human figures, complex, baroque-looking dark beige wallpapers, and an enormous gilded bed. 

The Paris hotel room in The Queen's Gambit
Hotel in Paris. The Queen’s Gambit

For those who are not yet ready for great changes in their homes but want to honor the TV show and introduce a bit of the aesthetic, I suggest these beautiful Queen’s Gambit soy wax candles. These look warm, cozy, and retro – perfect to put on a shelf by the book or a chessboard!

Queen’s Gambit soy wax candles. Available HERE

This vintage-looking Queen’s Gambit poster featuring her in her white “chess queen” is a perfect addition to any space for those in love with the adventurous yet promiscuous Beth Harmon. It has a splash of red for dynamics, but it’s mostly minimalistic and retro.

vintage-looking Queen’s Gambit poster. Available HERE

Celebrating The Queen’s Gambit interior design may seem like a tough task for those with an untrained eye, but with the inspiration shared in today’s post, you’ll be like Beth playing chess – planning every move three steps ahead.

MOVIE:The Queen’s Gambit
DIRECTED BY:Scott Frank
COSTUME DESIGN:
PRODUCT DESIGN: Uli Hanisch
SET DECORATOR: Sabine Schaaf
YEAR:2020