Interiors in House of Cards

March 11, 2014

We just finished a marathon session of House of Cards, Season 2 – and there are two things I love about this show – the story and the interiors from the set. Netflix sums up the plot best: “Kevin Spacey stars as ruthless, cunning Congressman Francis Underwood who will stop at nothing to conquer the halls of power in Washington D.C. His secret weapon: his gorgeous, ambitious, and equally conniving wife Claire.”

Devious, calculating, manipulative, yep, that would be the Underwoods. In the show, their schemes take place in various locations throughout Washington D.C. and in their townhome. House of Cards uses shots of Washington D.C. in the opening credits but the show itself is filmed in various locations throughout Baltimore, Maryland and on a sound stage in Joppa, Maryland.

capitol dome

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT with references to the plot below!

The Underwoods townhouse living room is elegant and neutral, filled with dark wood trim, a camelback sofa, wingback chairs, a dark stained fretwork hutch, and simple but stylish accessories like crystal candlesticks and glass hurricanes. No one ever drinks out of paper cups in this show, there is always a formal coffee set waiting.

underwood living room house of cards

underwood living room

 

My favorite interior is their classic black and white kitchen, with Shaker style cabinets, subway tile, metal counter stools and fixtures, sleek appliances, and black countertops. The windows are covered in dark wood traditional shutters by Horizon Shutters.

underwood kitchen house of cards

house of cards kitchen1

underwood white kitchen

For the most part, their townhouse is dimly lit, I’m sure it’s to create a mood for the story but also because the Underwoods are at home only in the early morning or late evening as both work full time during the day wielding power and manipulating anyone who gets in their way.   

Their townhouse formal dining room is also very traditional. We don’t see much of it in Season 1 but get a few more glimpses in Season 2. 

dining room house of cards

 

The Underwoods’ bedroom is also tasteful and elegant, but more transitional in style with black and white photography on display and modern geometric prints appearing in pillows and on Claire’s vanity chair.

underwoods bedroom

claires vanity

 

We get a glimpse of Adam’s NYC urban loft in both Season 1 and 2 with its giant windows and industrial touches throughout.

adam loft 1

adams loft

  

The Oval Office is another part of the set, decorated in traditional damask print sofas and a brass coffee table in between. Long drapes with swag pleated valances cover the windows, striped chairs flank the marble fireplace and GW is framed above.

oval office house of cards

oval office wide shot

house of cards oval office fireplace

oval office first lady

I’m looking forward to any furniture changes made by Francis and Claire in Season 3.

The Cabinet Room is seen a lot in Season 2, in this scene Francis is sitting alone, his plans unraveling, and he must make another manipulative play to regain power. I love the pendants suspended over the long meeting table.

cabinet room

 

Claire’s office in Season 1 is light and bright with French doors and arched windows throughout.

claires office

claires office 2

 

In Season 2 she trades for a more traditional setting due to her new role as wife of VP to an office with black and white checkerboard floors and silk drapes with tassel tiebacks.

claires office season 2

claires office 2 season 2

 

Francis’ office as Majority Whip in Season 1 displays dark wood furniture, a navy striped sofa, and brass lighting, appropriate in the halls of Washington, and always there is a formal pot of coffee waiting.

frank underwood office

 

In Season 2 his new office as VP shares the same Washington DC aesthetic, complete with traditional mahogany furniture and office accessories, brass fixtures, a Jefferson bust, and historic prints and oil paintings. 

vp underwood office

vp office in season 2

    

House of Cards uses the aside technique, also known in theater as “breaking the fourth wall” where the main character speaks to the audience at different moments throughout the episodes.

breaking the fourth wall

The technique makes it harder to despise Francis Underwood and it draws us into his ruthless schemes, but as creator Beau Willimon explains:  

“It’s not our goal for viewers to like Francis, or even care about him in the traditional sense…We want you to root for him despite yourself, to be complicit in his schemes even though his behavior might be outside the limits of your own ethical boundaries.”

Such an interesting approach to an evil character! Read the full Q&A with creator Beau Willimon here. It’s a great show if you love political dramas, it’s definitely for adult and mature audiences due to sexual content and language but I did enjoy the story and the sets/interiors. Both seasons are available on Netflix, all images from Netflix.

Have you been watching House of Cards

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34 Responses to “Interiors in House of Cards”

  1. LindsayH says:

    Is it wrong to say I want to be Claire when I grow up? Maybe without her questionable morals, but her clothes! Her hair! Her home! Sigh.

  2. Heidi says:

    I have fallen down the House of Cards rabbit hole! It’s so good, but so evil at the same time I question why I get enjoyment out of watching the destruction!

  3. Amber says:

    I had to call my husband in here to read this!! He’s obsessed! This show IS the definition of a guilty pleasure!!

  4. Eileen says:

    Love HOC. Season 2 was amazing. My husband and I watched it during a marathon session. After watching Claire Underwood, I am seriously thinking about cutting my hair short!

  5. Michell says:

    Love this show – no one does evil but somehow you can’t completely hate him like Kevin Spacey. That last scene of the last show of Season 2?? Stop.

    Our family is visiting DC right now and it definitely brings the show to mind!

  6. CentsationalGirl says:

    Exactly Michell – he really is perfect in the role, and that last scene! What will Season 3 bring? I can’t wait.

  7. CentsationalGirl says:

    Yep it happened to me too Heidi – HOC = rabbit hole! Couldn’t stop watching!

  8. Elizabeth H says:

    Love this show and can’t wait for Season 3.

  9. We watch this show on Netflix in England, I think due you your suggestion last year. I’ve been a fan of Robin Wright since ‘Princess Bride’ – always so elegant. Adam’s loft is my favorite.

  10. Gina says:

    Love House of Cards! Haven’t finished Season 2 yet but soon. My son told me about HOC so I watched Season 1 in a marathon session last summer then had to wait until February for Season 2. Kind of hate to finish it as I’ll be waiting so long for Season 3. May go back and start over and try to get my husband hooked.

  11. Susan says:

    Huge fan of yours and House Of Cards, just finished season 2. Love Claire’s style, hate to day love them both, no all the characters. Thanks for sharing the sets they are amazing!

  12. My husband and I are hooked! We only let ourselves watch 1 or 2 episodes at a time-don’t want it to end. The cast is just topnotch! Whoever thought that Major Dad and Princess Buttercup could be so evil!!!

  13. Lily says:

    I have always thought the same things watching the show! I love the design!!

    xo Lily

  14. Steffanie says:

    I am addicted to HOC! I finished season 2 the first weekend it came out. Totally agree with LindsayH, I want to be Clare. Her look, she knows what she wants and she finds a way to make it happen. She is a strong woman. Let’s just overlook the whole morals thing for now….

  15. susan says:

    Hi … loved this post, but sadly, I think there are only two seasons since he achieved his objective. So sad. Susan

  16. Madi says:

    I love HOC. I think Francis Underwood is one of the best characters ever created. Although most of us would never go as morally afoul as he does there is a part of us which secretly desires to be more like him. His willingness to do ANYTHING at ANY cost in order to succeed is a powerful and appealing trait. The creator of this show hit the nail on the head in regards to human nature.

  17. Gray says:

    Omg – watched season one over a month. Watched season two in one week…..I love the show and I loved this post!!! Great work! I saw things that I never noticed when I was entrenched in the evil Francis. The sets totally set up the mood for the show and everything is always neutrals. No color. Claire never wears color and everything is always so sexy but totally covered…..

  18. Gray says:

    PS – Did you notice Francis’ initials when he received the cufflinks!!! ;)

  19. CentsationalGirl says:

    I read there is a Season 3 coming Susan! I think there is some issue with tax credits in Maryland but they definitely have plans for one more! We will see if all his actions stay hidden or if they’re revealed… oh the suspense!

  20. Laura says:

    Where did you get the square hooks used on the board and batten?
    Thanks!

  21. Maureen says:

    The settings *are* beautiful, but I can’t even be in the same room as the show. It leaves me feeling like I’ve been slimed! I quit about 3/4 of the way through Season 1.

  22. KarinK says:

    Oh goody – this is the perfect place to ask this question: Is it just my tv’s, or does anyone else think the indoor scenes – especially in their house – are very dark? As in, poorly lit? I can’t figure out if there’s something wrong with my televisions, the equipment we’re streaming through. or if it is intentional. And yes Gina – I noticed the cuff links! LOL!

  23. KarinK says:

    Sorry -Gray, not Gina!

  24. Okay, I didn’t read passed “Spoiler Alert” since I’m still in Season 1. But the other thing I love is Claire’s fashion!!! :-)

    East Coast architecture and design is some of my favorite. I’m so out of place in So Cal. Ha!

  25. susan says:

    So happy to hear that there’s a Season 3. Best news of the day!!!! I’m eager to see how a few unresolved issues progress … I watched the BBC series of this a couple years ago and loved that too, though it’s a bit dated and, of course, British. :)

  26. I really love the NYC loft and Claire’s outfit. She always looks stunning.
    ~FringeGirl

  27. I am OBSESSED with this show, it is so enthralling, when watching it I cant stop thinking about it. the marathon viewing is a must. I’m so happy netflix releases the full season at a time. I can’t wait until season 3!

  28. Virginia Mom says:

    Well, the show does illustrate D.C. political lives in true colors (dark, stuffy). The suffocating conformity of the Foggy Bottom/Upper Northwest crowd kinda stifles interest in a fantasy version for … some. Just would love to see a Senator’s wife buy a chair at Good Will and paint it bright yellow, but it’s not how they roll. Sorry — don’t mean to spoil the mood, but, gimme an old thrift store dresser and a can of chalk paint and they can keep their toney Georgetown antiques. Anyway, enjoy looking, but remember who these folks are.

  29. Denise says:

    Can’t wait to start watching this show. I’m in the middle of Season Two of “Homeland” and it is sooooo good…one of the best shows since “Breaking Bad”.

  30. MrsPanic says:

    I love Francis with a capital L! I don’t care how evil he is. I watched the entire second season in 3 days.. Who needs sleep. The Underwoods kitchen is my favorite space! And I want their rowing machine. Sigh… Le envy.

  31. Maria B. says:

    Oh, I just did a marathon with House of Cards. Love Clair’s wardrobe, but don’t like the very low lighting!

    I love the Beads All Over stencil at Cutting Edge Stencils. I did my daughter’s room with one of their stencils. It was so easy and turned out beautifully. Now I want to do our master bedroom with the beads stencil so I hope I win!!!

    Great blog too.

    -Maria

  32. This is such a great show. One thing that does stand out to me is that gold satin couch. I just don’t see Claire buying a couch like that. I have her down for more of a linen look. Still formal, but linen instead of satin. Would go so much better with the kitchen too :)

  33. Lindsay says:

    Ok my friends and I lived in Capitol Hill and never once saw a kitchen even half the size of their’s! But wherever this supposed kitchen is, I want it!

  34. Marc says:

    OMG reading everyone’s comments was great! I LOVE HOC and also watched season 2 in a weekend. I couldn’t stop. Trying to get my friends hooked. To Gray’s comment…I didn’t notice Clair doesn’t wear color until you said it. She is so elegant and her wardrobe is beautiful. I did notice the cuff links and loved that! So Frank! Wish I had that kitchen too and I love the private garden area too. Great pics and blog. Thank you! :)

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