Find Out How I Decorated A $250 Talk Show Set

A $250 Talk Show Set

I recently worked on a talk show titled Spoken For. I had worked with the Director / Producer / Host ( talk about superwoman! ) on a different project and she reached out to me to see if I would like to be the Decorator for her talk show set. My answer was a tremendous “Yes!” and we got right to work.

She gave me some specifics as to what her style is like for example “luxurious and classy, but not too feminine”. Got it! She even sent over a photo of some décor she had seen that she absolutely loved. She had seen the picture on the account of Instagram user @Nikkichu. Here’s that picture:

Tres cute right!

Now that I had a pretty clear-cut idea of her style and what she wanted, I asked her about color palette. Looking at her reference photo I came up with a palette of Black, White, Gold, and a pop of Yellow. She loved it! Now my next and most important question was “What is my budget?” The answer…. $250?! Well, I definitely had my work cut out for me, but I was determined to give this amazing woman the talk show set she had been hoping for and do so within her budget! ( Fingers corssed )

First and foremost, I had to come up with a general layout of the talk show set. This step brought on some more questions, for instance, how many people was she planning on interviewing at any given time? Therefore, how many chairs did I need to be planning for? Once I had those answers from her I was able to develop a layout. This is where my handy dandy Neybers app came into play.

One thing that I knew for sure from the beginning was that she had the intention of utilizing a “black box studio” for filming. And let me tell you, it is exactly what it sounds like, a small filming space within four black walls. Sometimes these studios even had audience seating available, but I knew that whichever studio she ended up deciding on, my talk show set would need to be versatile enough to fit into many shapes and sizes of studios. Versatility… check!

Another fact that I knew, I would want drapery to cover up the more functional than appealing black walls of whichever studio we ended up in. This is exactly where I started when I first opened up my Neybers app and began to create the space. I knew from the reference photo she had sent me that she would prefer a black and white background, however the Chevron pattern can sometimes play terribly on camera so I wanted to avoid it as much as possible. The drapes simply needed to act as a minimal background. I chose to use solid off white and solid black drapes. Then I decided to hang some large black and yellow empty frames right in front of those drapes and let the frames be where the color and character comes from for the background. Minimal background… check!

Next step? Seating. My first attempt at her talk show set layout is pictured first below. This was prior to my knowing that she planned on interviewing up to 3 people at once. Clearly those 3 people could not all fit on the armchair I had selected. Second attempt here I come! So I decided on using a couch for the guests while having a nice accent chair for her to host from. In the app, I added a cute coffee table next to bring the space together as well as a side table next to her chair to somewhat balance out both sides of the set. In terms of color, so far all of the seating I had selected in the app was a light color, either white or beige, while the two tables accented the space with darker tones. Seating arrangement… check!

First Draft

Final Draft

All that was left was to add a few gold, white, black, and yellow knick knacks and vases to really make the space feel cozy and put together. I saved my design in the app, and sent it right over to her to see what her thoughts were.

Best answer that I could have received, I got. “Victoria! This looks amazing!! I love this direction!” Phew! She loved it. Now the next step was finding the pieces to create this talk show set under budget. She and I had agreed on two shopping days, so I had just those two days to make it happen ( no pressure right? ).

Typically, as a Set Decorator, I prefer to utilized prop houses at this point, like Universal Studios or Warner Brothers, and rent furniture from them. This way I could get the exact look I want without overspending or having to find a place to store it all between episodes. With the timetable that we had for this project, we just did not have enough time to get all of the paperwork in for this to be an option. So plan B it was.

First thing that I did was hit up a couple of local thrift stores to find all of the small knick knacks. My thinking was “these are items that I can easily make work and not worry about going over budget”. In hindsight, I probably should have started with the larger of the set pieces since they would eat up the majority of my budget and I could then use what was left to find the smaller decorative items. Definitely, keeping that in mind for future reference.

Anyways, I went to just 2 thrift stores the morning of my first shopping day and found a ton of decorative pieces. Here is a picture of everything I picked up, all for $34.89 ( talk about a steal ).

  • (6) Assorted Vases – $10.34
  • (5) 8″ x 10″ Frames – $4.95
  • (1) Table Lamp – $14.99
  • (1) Ornate Bowl – $2.99
  • (3) Coffee Mugs – $2.67
  • (4) Assorted Large Frames – $7.96
  • * Fun Fact: Many thrift stores offer a discount to their first customer of the day! I made sure to be the first in at both of the stores I shopped at and received a discount from both totaling out to $9.01 making my total here just $34.89*

After the thrift stores, I wanted to start pricing larger items. My plan was to go to as many stores as possible, take notes on what I could find, take pictures, and then sit down and figure out which option would be possible budget-wise. Once I knew what I wanted I could go back out on the second shopping day and purchase the items. On the second shopping day here is what I purchased:

  • (1) Beautiful White Accent Chair From A Fellow Decorator – $25
  • (1) Couch From Moveloot – $75.90
  • (1) IKEA Coffee Table – $24.99
  • (6) IKEA Drape Panels – $64.97
  • (1) Thrift Store Side Table – $10.90
  • (48) Yellow Roses From Downtown Flower Market – $12.50 ( I seriously love that place! )
  • (2) Wooden Letters Of Host’s Initials – $6
  • (1) Spool Of Wire To Hang Large Frames – $1.99

The complete total for both days…. drum roll please… $257.14. Just barely over the budget! I definitely consider that a win!

Now that everything was purchased, it was time for me to bust our my spray paints to create a cohesive color palette across all of the decorative items. I separated everything by what color I wanted them to be and set to painting.

 The end result was a talk show set that Chundria Stanback, the Director / Producer / Host absolutely loved and that I hoped screamed “luxurious and classy, but not too feminine”.

Curious why I have not mentioned that gold frame, the rug, or even the throw pillows?
( So not like me right? ) Well, truth is I added some of my own items to this talk show set. They seemed like they would go perfectly with what I had in mind and I had to include them! But in all seriousness, if you really want to know where you can find that beauty of a frame for yourself, you can find it at IKEA for just $24.99. It comes in white, but I decided to spray paint mine gold.

Have some thoughts or questions about how the talk show set turned out or the set pieces I used? Leave them in the comments, I would love to hear them!

Happy Decorating

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