The design of the house to accommodate Meryl Streep’s character from Season 3 of Only Murders in the Building was the ultimate dream of designer Rich Murray. “The story I told myself was that she had lived in this apartment for thirty-five, forty years,” Murray describes Meryl Streep’s character Loretta Durkin. A struggling actor who appears to have finally received her breakthrough after being part of scandalous Broadway Director Oliver Putnam’s (Martin Short) comeback production. Then, the show’s main character, Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd), died on stage during the opening night, and a police investigation began. It’s only murdering inside the Building, of course.
The fifth and final episode of the series, “Ah, Love!” (aired on the 29th of August) We finally get a glimpse of Loretta’s apartment. “Welcome to my slice of New York,” she tells Oliver when he arrives to meet for their first date. The meal she makes at home is a pork chop cooked in her seldom-used oven. “It’s itty bitty.” The spacious but cozy studio is reminiscent of your slightly stressed great aunt or grandma. There’s a reading area decorated with fairy lights that overlook the living and kitchen and scarves hanging from the rear of the Murphy bed that slide onto a sofa that is upholstered and built-in shelves for books with items that are stuffed into every corner and crevice, along with old-fashioned lamps and wallpaper throughout. “There’s a place for everything,” Murray states of the layout. “Every drawer opens, and everything in there is practical.”
In the third episode of the Hulu series only murders inside the Building, Meryl Streep appears as Loretta Durkin. Loretta is a forgetful, struggling actress. Loretta Durkin is an actress who lives in the cramped New York studio.
Murray decorated the apartment of Loretta with things he imagined Loretta would have collected from her numerous activities through the years, like origami paper swans and paper swans from her phase. They are scattered over the room–and there are multiple star designs in a nod to Loretta’s work at Macy’s, even though the show could not get clearance to use Macy’s actual logo. “That was the joy of that place. There was no edginess, snark, or sarcasm. It’s all face value,” Murray states, explaining how he imagined Loretta as vice-mayor of her neighborhood. She’s not the first person that people think of, but she’s someone that everyone recognizes.
In the fifth season, Martin Short’s Oliver visits Loretta’s house to meet for their first date.
George and Willy’s signage and displays are minimal, practical, fun, and functional. The same is true for their brand-modern offices located in a remodeled warehouse. Zero seconds in 3 minutes 27 seconds volume 0 percent
“She lives her values in a New York-y way,” Murray continues. The set decorator imagined Streep’s character’s desire to be as waste-free as she can and use as little plastic as possible in her apartment. To demonstrate this, he put glass jars stuffed with beans and oats over the kitchen countertops made of wood and open cabinets painted green. Murray was also convinced that Loretta would embellish her walls with repurposed artworks by female artists. This starkly contrasts Ben’s masculine, self-centered penthouse that we witnessed during the final episode.
Murray and his crew did not just design Loretta’s house with details referencing Streep’s character. They also included references to the actress’s long and storied career. In the Easter eggs found in the home are the Margaret Thatcher teacup, a tribute towards The Iron Lady; an ottoman constructed from burlap bags that were used to transport Kenyan coffee beans, hints at Streep’s character on the set of Out of Africa; a frame-mounted tea towel with an article that was written by the real-life activist Streep portrays in Suffragette and an armoire painting depicting the Irish countryside to commemorate Dancing at Lughnasa as well as the watercolor of the Broadway theater that has a Prom marquee. Some scripts hanging on the walls of films Streep has appeared in, and most of the titles found on Loretta’s bookcases are adaptations of films Streep has appeared in. “There’s a lot of stuff going on,” Streep laughs. “It is chock-full.”
Decorator for the set, Rich Murray made some of the interior decor of Loretta’s studio: paintings and an ottoman, as well as teacups–a nod to Streep’s vast collection of work through the decades.
“We have to put something on the walls and bookshelves, so why not make it right for [her]?” Murray states. “Now and again, the director will say, ‘Too much, too big,’ but often [we] leave stuff in, and you never know what you’ll see.” This is a part of the appeal with only murders inside the Building. The clues are usually within the walls of the places in the places where the characters reside. The problem lies in the small details, after all.