Widows: Interior design tips from a millionaire crime boss

Widows: Interior design tips from a millionaire crime boss

We wouldn’t normally seek interior design tips from a criminal mastermind and his wife, but when your home décor taste is as refined as Harry and Veronica Rawlings from heist thriller Widows, we’re all eyes and ears. 

Based on the British 1983 TV series of the same name, Steve McQueen‘s 2018 film transposes London for Chicago and we find the Rawlings living in an impressive Mies van der Rohe apartment building on the Lake Michigan shorefront.

Full of Midcentury Modern furniture and sophisticated decor details, the apartment is a condensed interior design lesson in how to bring together eclectic Mid century pieces with style – and without looking like you’ve just walked into a furniture showroom.

It’s not surprising that the film sets are so captivating: The highly creative Adam Stockhausen was hired by McQueen as Production Designer for Widows. As well as working with McQueen on 12 Years a Slave, Stockhausen was also behind the inventive worlds inhabited in Ready Player One as well as being a long term collaborator with Wes Anderson on films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom and the forthcoming The French Dispatch.

Stockhausen worked with Set Decorator Elizabeth Keenan (SDSA) for Widows and she brought an inspiring and sophisticated interior styling to the Rawlings’ (played by Liam Neeson and Viola Davis) apartment. With floor to ceiling windows their living space affords a fantastic view of the lake: “The real hero of this set is the penthouse view of Lake Michigan. Veronica and Harry’s apartment is a haven from the harsh realities of Chicago” Keenan told SDSA’s Set Decor.

Let’s take a look around the film sets of Widows and gather some interior design tips as we go.

The Rawlings’ apartment lobby

The Rawlings apartment lobby in Widows

In the apartment block lobby (above) we find a pair of Mies Van der Rohe Barcelona chairs in tan leather, with a matching footstool between them. This creates simple modernist lines within the airy space and maximises the view.

Keenan told Set Decor: “Note how this simple set decorating with Lake Michigan in the background defines the place and social level for us. This is one of two apartment buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe, so this treatment seemed the obvious choice.”

The Rawlings’ living area

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The Rawlings’ living area in Widows

The Rawlings’ lounge area is an aspirational space furnished with a myriad of original Mid Century pieces such such as the statement black, leather (possibly Danish) vintage sofa (above left) and the blush leather pair of lounge chairs (above centre).

The pair of square, marble-based table lamps create symmetry within the room and the overall muted palette creates cohesion across the open plan space.

Find Mid Century furniture and lighting originals on the Etsy website or Pamono.

We get a good look at this space when Jamal Manning (from whom Harry stole £2 million) forcebly enters the apartment to threaten Veronica.

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The Rawlings’ living area in Widows

Whilst we were bracing ourselves with concern over Manning picking up Veronica’s cute Cairn terrier, we couldn’t help but notice the beautiful, sensitive painting above the marble-topped sideboard (above left). This painting is salt and ink on birch ply from Martha Mae in Andersonville.

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The Rawlings’ living area in Widows

Next to the hi-fi system we find a chrome Mid Century desk lamp (above right). We found very similar lights on Etsy.


The Rawlings’ dining area

The Rawlings apartment, dining area in Widows.
The Rawlings apartment, dining area in Widows. Photo ©2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

In the dining area we find a set of MR cantilever dining chair / side chairs in tan leather and chrome designed by Mies Van der Rohe around a dining table also by Mies van der Rohe.

Above the table hangs a saucer-shaped, low profile ceiling lamp called Neutra by Kartell. Although a contemporary design the Neutra light fits the Mid Century theme perfectly.

The Rawlings’ kitchen

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Veronica Rawlings in her kitchen in Widows

A bold coloured light in an otherwise monochrome kitchen makes a statement and adds a pop of colour.

This beautiful light is a red PH 31/2 – 3 Pendant Lamp by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen. This ceiling pendant light comes in various number of “layers” and colours. More often seen in white, the choice of a red suspension light works brilliantly here.

The Spa

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The spa in Widows

Veronica meets the widows of two of the men in her husband’s gang in a spa. This spa was filmed at Four Seasons Chicago and our eyes were all over the Saarinen Womb chairs.

Designer Eero Saarinen created the groundbreaking Womb chair at Florence Knoll’s request for a chair that was like a basket full of pillows – “something I could really curl up in”. Perfect choice for a high end spa (or your own front room)!

David’s apartment

David's apartment in Widows interior design tips
David’s apartment in Widows

Let’s end our tour of Widows on a high…

The MR Chaise lounger often makes an appearance in film to signify the owner has extremely good taste or is what we have come to describe as “a high net worth individual”. Hence, we find one in David’s apartment in Widows.

David is the ‘sugar daddy’ of fellow widower Alice. In this real estate executive’s apartment we find an MR Chaise lounger, in white.

The MR Collection represents some of the earliest steel furniture designs by Mies van der Rohe. The material choice was inspired by fellow Bauhaus master Marcel Breuer, while the forms are thought to be modern derivatives of 19th century iron rocking chairs.

Bad guys always get the best houses in movies!

Discover more Widows furniture and decor >

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