They've Gotta Have It

Liz Livingston of McLean and son Kilgo, 17, in their kitchen, which she modeled after Diane Keaton's kitchen in the movie
Liz Livingston of McLean and son Kilgo, 17, in their kitchen, which she modeled after Diane Keaton's kitchen in the movie "Something's Gotta Give." (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
By Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 22, 2007

The 2003 comedy "Something's Gotta Give" starred Oscar-winning legends Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. But for lots of moviegoers, the most memorable role was played by the house, especially its big, light-filled kitchen.

The airy, shingled Hamptons beach house is walled with windows and built-in bookcases. The rooms are open, the furniture slipcovered and the walls and fabrics awash in creamy blues, whites and tans. The kitchen gleams with white glass-front cabinets, vintage hardware, a commercial-style range and dark soapstone counters.

With a backdrop like that, who cares if Keaton and Nicholson find midlife love?

Even when a movie's stars seem dim and the plot is plodding, those of us who can't get enough of interiors can wallow in the set designs. When poor Cameron Diaz began to feel sorry for herself (yet again) in the otherwise forgettable Christmas release "The Holiday," at least we could look past her to the delicious English cottage beyond. (Both films were directed by Nancy Meyers, with production design by Jon Hutman.)

But the "Something's Gotta Give" house sparked interest of an entirely new intensity.

Designers started getting requests to re-create the house's interior or to plan an entire remodel around it. Clients carried in the video to show designers and contractors what they wanted. The president of Williams-Sonoma Home, David DeMattei, created a custom-upholstered headboard collection after seeing the bedrooms. A New England decorator blogged about how to achieve the look and got more hits on that entry than she'd ever had. A rug manufacturer in the Midwest produced a version of the living room's carpet and has sold 65 in the past two years. One overzealous fan rented a helicopter and flew over Long Island until he located the actual house -- then offered to buy it, Meyers told the Los Angeles Times. The house, whose owners were not identified, was not for sale.

"There are catchphrases that we often hear about what people want: comfortable, warm, welcoming, open and light-filled," said LuAnn Brandsen, editor of Renovation Style magazine. This movie set, she said, has all of that: "It's informal and casual, not too over the top, but very nicely done." Two years after the film came out, the magazine featured a story-and-photo layout of a remodel in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., based on the "Gotta Give" kitchen.

The appeal of the space, designers say, is its old-fashioned styling, modern conveniences and classic look.

Two years ago, Harriet Finder of Stuart Kitchens in Bethesda helped design a front-window display for her firm that was modeled after the movie kitchen. It's still up and continues to draw clients. "We have people coming in, stopping in that kitchen and saying, 'This is what I want,' " Finder said.

Susan and Myron Myers were building their Rockville house in 2004 when Susan saw the movie. She bought a copy of the film as soon as it was out. "I would play the DVD, stop it and look at it," she said. "My husband noticed the [kitchen] cabinet doors and the inset hinges right away." Before the next meeting with their designer, Susan tucked her laptop under her arm, movie loaded.

Liz Livingston of McLean also wanted to replicate the design. "I saw the movie, and that was it," she said. "I had found my kitchen. . . . It wasn't fancy and it wasn't too casual. It was the kind of kitchen that made you want to hang out there all the time."

But it's more than the kitchen that enthralls fans. They covet the whole house.

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