Design on TV: Revealing Our “Private” Shame

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We can’t make excuses for why we occasionally spend hours watching Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice. Maybe it’s the fact that we feel superior when we can spot where the plot’s going. Maybe it’s because Kate Walsh’s hair always looks fantastic. Maybe we’re just masochists. It’s an unforgivable sin that speaks to something deep in the bottom of our souls, but it happened, and like a teenage pregnancy, let’s make the best of it shall we? Because the sets look pretty good, right? Shonda Rhimes’s redheaded stepchild focuses on the exploits of Addison Montgomery as she joins a private practice in California. Taye Diggs is also there. Besides the sunny locale, it’s just like Grey’s Senior — the doctors spend most of their time whining, having sex, and working on ridiculously comical medical maladies.

But unlike sterile (or at least formally sterile) Seattle Grace, Private Practice looks like a place you might want to get down. Swapping mint green-colored walls for exposed brick, vinyl flooring for what appears to be warm bamboo, and paper-swathed seating for velvet-slipper chairs, the office resembles no place we’ve ever been for a physical. With sophisticated lighting choices (not a single lamp looks like it came from Staples, in fact the sturdy lacquer bases are down right covet-worthy) and warm farmhouse tables for desks, it umps the ante on the cherry furniture of PhDs past. Thanks to rooms divided by windows (with blinds — doctor/patient confidentiality saved!), the feeling is open, natural and calm, but tempered with enough restraint to let you believe it’s real. Sort of. Think the earthy parts of a West Elm catalog; not exactly a room where you’d want to live, but a fine place to get your who-ha checked out.

This week’s episode centered on the opening of a rival practice, and besides being a feisty surgical nemesis, Charlotte proved quite the design foil to our dearest Addison. Drawing from the Ugly Betty school of thought, Charlotte believes all offices need to look like they were beamed from the future — blue-neon-lit rooms that could belong to Judy Jetsons’s OB-GYN. The place seems poised to resuscitate androids. There’s only one pro: her patients get free breakfast. Not. Enough. Addison wins when a patient decides to go with her opinion, and gets bonus points with us because her office doesn’t look like a spaceship. Charlotte cries.

All in all, Private Practice‘s design is nice, but not revolutionary enough to require TiVo-ing (that’s why we’re here). But if like us one night you find yourself too lazy to find the remote, or if you happen to be a doctor who enjoys pointing out medical errors on TV shows, there are certainly reasons to tune in.