The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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Mad Men And The Kitchen Set

Have you been watching Mad Men? I just started. I didn't see it last season, so I'm catching up and tonight will be the third episode of the first season I'll see. It's so cool, so chic, with such repressed people, no?

The kitchen is designed quite authentically, I think. Please see the kitchn's post on it. In fact, I think I had those same cabinets in my parents' kitchen when I was a child. I really recommend seeing Mad Men for interesting insight into the decor of the time, the primping and preening behavior most characters surround themselves with, accompanied by the contrast and juxtaposition of usually obnoxious and repressed behavior showcased in limitless variations. All this, just before all hell broke loose some few years later. Don't forget the raw egg in the caeser salad...

As a young (VERY young, I said) child during this period, here's what I remember. I remember my mother frequently wearing makeup and jewelry with short, curled (after curlers wrapped in a scarf) hair. I remember red lipstick, red cheeks and blue eye shadow. When she and my father entertained, my mother wore either a chic "shift" sort of dress to showcase her curves or one with a taut upper bodice and a full skirt...and always with the "good" apron as she flitted about the kitchen.  And heels of course. And, perfume, of COURSE. I'm sure it was a mix of high maintenance living and fun mixed in too!

As my parents emigrated from Denmark, the furniture in my home was Danish modern furniture, the real thing. The items we later threw away, I can't even think about, it pains me! Today, I use my parents' sleek walnut veneer dining room table for our breakfast table

Smoking was either a pipe or cigar by my father, but there was hard alcohol for social drinking too and of course, when my father returned from work. And, let's not forget Frank Sinatra playing in the background. Yes, life was very good. A T-bird in the driveway, a caddy, and everything. An American dream...until he cheated, he lost the business and they got divorced, but I digress! One thing that's worse than being repressed, is...guess, narcissism (probably rampant in the 60s!) You win the washer/dryer! Here's the set!

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Reader Comments (21)

Susan - I am totally into Mad Men! I'm also planning a post on the decor. This show really reminds me of my childhood. Although I was born in '62, the home life of the characters feels so authentic. The smoking and drinking, jacket and tie on Dad, dresses and cigarettes on Mom. (never an apron - horrors!), bridge games in the living room. I grew up expecting that kind of adulthood and I'm still in shock that adult evenings are so few and far between these days. Although I don't miss the cigarette smoke!!!

Linda, yeah, I just started my obsession! Please tell me when you do your post. I looked this morning, wondering if you did one, before you wrote. Oh yeah, it was a lot of entertaining in our house, there was a group of 4 couples who stuck together for years, which was fun to watch as a kid. All dresses, always, on a Saturday night.

August 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

Susan, I'm obsessed w/ Mad Men. I've been thinking about the sets obsessively. The kitchen seems like the room that has not been updated yet, while the rest of the rooms in their house are more polished. Or at least that is what I was seeing until I saw their rec room. The other way to think about it is that all the rooms in their house have different levels of formality. ONly the family, usually minus dad, would eat dinner in the kitchen. The formal dining room is for dining. The living room is for entertaining guests. The hallway in these more public areas are beautifully painted or wallpapered. The TV room and the kitchen tend towards casual brown and yellow plaid. It's fascinating to me.

August 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbecky

Becky, haha, you're so funny!!! You are right, I also briefly thought that it seemed to be incongruous with the rest of the house. And, yes, the living room's sole purpose is for guests, imagine that?? And, when we had a den, it was usually panelled as you still see in homes that aren't updated to sort of give that 60s clubby atmosphere maybe? Yikes!!

August 6, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

It's such a lovely warm thought thinking about my Mother in her apron, looking all smart underneath ready to entertain. She found it hard to keep her cool, always under pressure to perform, and she did!

The sets are wonderful in the 60's, so proper and perfect, but how kitchens have changed!

August 7, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKitchen Appliances

The Drapers' kitchen features classic '60s style – pine cabinets, plaid wallpaper, avocado appliances and graphic prints. Betty Draper prepares her family meals looking like she stepped off a page from Better Homes & Gardens, always perfectly groomed and dressed to the nines in full-skirted dresses, skirts and pearls. The dishes she prepares, too, are typically fit for a photo spread – hams covered in pineapple rings and studded with cloves, juicy pot roasts and giant pork chops

August 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercontract

I just discovered MADMEN about a month ago and I love it!
I love the authentic look and the red lipstick.!
I was born in 1954 so I consider myself an expert on the era and I found this site because I was not happy with the blue eyeshadow last night ! I thought blue eyeshadow came in mid 60s or later.
besides having a real mother named Betty and growing up with cocktail parties ( double Martina's) I looked liked Betty drapers girl, a little plump by the standards of the day with Capri pants. we also had danish modern furniture. I find the revival of danish modern rather upsetting because people a generation younger say snobbishly, oh it's mid-century. and the look of the 50's was swept away so suddenly. red lipstick became a sign of being old or wierd. I used sugar and ice pastel pink for years and I now cant stand the color.
You know women suffered in a different way for beauty then; iron maiden panty girdles and really tight uncomfortable clothes.
on the other hand , no liposuction or personal trainers!
It's fun to watch them smoke although I do not smoke .Its just so non-PC .
the blue eyeshadow has to go though.
I may have to buy the first season on amazon. I mean how did she have a baby and go back to work?
they may have more gadgets but my mother was gourmet cook in a kitchen that was small and anything but high class.

August 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

What a fun post. I am sooo hooked on Mad Men it isn't even funny. The hair styles, the suits and of course the sets...amazing detail. Thanks for putting this up.

August 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Whitmire

Love this post about Mad Men. I also am a huge fan. Surprise Surprise. I actually just posted about the Mad Men set on my blog today. Here is the link.

August 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachel Mallon

Hi Susan - I too am a kitchen designer, and imagine my amazement, when just last month, I was called into the home of a wonderful older woman whose house had been "done" in the high style of the 1950's. She had no desire to replace any of it, just wanted the 50's designer wallpaper repaired, the "new" vinyl floor tiles reglued, the pine cabinets refinished, and the appliances serviced! I felt like I had stepped into the set of Mad Men.
I became a fan of Mad Men when it first started. As a baby of the 50's, it brought back so many memories of my childhood - my father was a corporate executive and the characters in the show remind me so much of him and his business associates. I well remember the dinner parties, where everyone dressed up, smoked like fiends, and drank like fishes. As children, we too ate dinner in the kitchen or breakfast room, while Dad and Mom ate later in the dining room. So many memories!

August 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSue Manghelli

I, too, am a recent fan of Mad Men. I watched it for the first time over a week ago, when AMC was playing several episodes in succession. And yes, the sets, specifically the kitchens, are amazingly authentic--evoking pangs of nostalgia from within me. I, too, was a very, very, young child in those days. And Mad Men takes me back in a way nothing else has been able to do.

September 8, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterReal estate Jim

does anyone know what the dinnerware is in the draper household? the pictures above show the pottery...simple broad brushstrokes on the pots.

September 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkeith

i am a new MAD MEN obsessive and i HAVE to find out what the paint color in in the stairway/front hallway (remember when Don dropped the Mother's Day tray and fell down the stairs?) i want to paint my guest room that exact color! any ideas?

October 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStaci

You bet...childhood days were the best moments of life. Thanks for this post of yours.

October 20, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkid's angel


If you ever do find out what paint color that is in the Draper's front hallway/stairway, PLEASE tell me! I've been obsessing over it for months and would like to paint my living room that color.

November 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTamar


i did not but look at dunn edwards JADED CLOUDS - it's a good one...still hoping to find out on the hallway. if you hear about it...email me! happy hunting!


November 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstaci

I got it! I got the paint color! Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue - it's in the historical collection (HC - xxxx) - he did not know the number, but there it is! Enjoy!!!

November 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstaci

Hi there! I know this comment comes a long time after the original post, but I was wondering: How has your parents' table held up over the years? I assume you use it every day so it must get normal wear and tear. Do you eat on it without a table pad or tablecloth? I ask because I'm in the process of refinishing my parents' Danish modern veneer table, and I've been told to never eat on it without a pad and cloth. It's such a beautiful table I don't want to cover it up! Could you tell me your experience with it?

June 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Anne, it has not held up very well. I did get it refinished a few years ago and it came out well. This table was used in our kitchen. We had a table cloth on it nearly all of the time but occasionally hot dishes would end up on it, creating white marks.

I'm thinking that maybe a solution is to put glass on the table. This way, the table can be enjoyed. I would go that route.

June 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterSusan Serra, CKD

I'm a bit confused. As to Betty's kitchen; weren't avocado green and harvest gold appliances introduced in the LATE '60's.. and very popular in the early '70s? I was there.. I remember them starting around 1968 and later. Could someone confirm the date they were introduced...?

October 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

Betty's dinnerware is vernonware the pattern is raffia.

July 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLorenrene

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