What do the wallpapers in "The Undoing" reveal about its story

What do the wallpapers in "The Undoing" reveal about its story

The hypnotic HBO miniseries "The Undoing", featuring a star-studded cast, caused a bit of a sensation upon its release. Based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s book “ You Should Have Known”, the series explores the lives of a wealthy New York City couple, Grace and Jonathan Fraser (played by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant). After a subdued start, it quickly turns into a psychological thriller, taking the audience on a suspenseful exploration of privilege and trust, punctuated by twists that question the truth behind facades.


Each episode immerses the viewer in an opulent yet foreboding atmosphere, where the wealth of Manhattan's elite is depicted not just through the luxurious lives of its characters, but through the truly stunning set design. Throughout the show, wallpaper is cleverly used as a subtle, yet effective storytelling device that reflects the protagonists’ inner turmoil. Each pattern, texture, and colour can be seen as a silent narrator, contributing to the unfolding drama and the psychological depth of the narrative.
At the heart of "The Undoing" is the Fraser family, whose lives spiral out of control when a violent death disrupts their seemingly perfect existence. The family's wealth and complexity are mirrored in the home décor of their townhouse, where the wallpapers become an extension of the characters themselves. Much of the storyline was filmed on location in an exclusive property located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Valued at over 30 million dollars, the property was empty and on the market at the time of filming, allowing the production designer Lester Cohen full freedom to paint the walls with atmospheric colours like warm reds, oranges, and mauves as well as wallpapering, i.e. redecorating the interiors without the usual constraints set designers face when filming in occupied residences. Being shot in a real house, rather than on a set, has a profound impact on the visual appeal of the space.
The series makes ample use of wallpapers as a visual metaphor for the characters' internal states, a facade that mirrors the public personas that the characters maintain. As their worlds unravel, so too does the illusion of the wallpaper's calm and ornamental nature. The walls become a canvas upon which the story is projected, with each room's design providing subtle clues to the viewer. Just as the characters slowly peel off their exterior appearances to reveal their true natures, the wallpapers uncover the deeper layers of the story, making "The Undoing" an aesthetic feast with a narrative punch.

A visual journey across the wallpapers in “The Undoing”

Opening credits


The role that wallpaper design plays in the narrative of “The Undoing” is clear from the opening credits, which do much more than just signal the start of another episode. Instead, they provide a plethora of clues woven into the very fabric of the show's aesthetic. Each frame is a meticulously crafted piece of art, revealing the series' central themes of opulence, illusion, and the unravelling of a seemingly perfect life.

Central to the enigmatic montage is a classic wallpaper design that harkens back to the styles popular in British homes in the 1970s. Known as Golden Lily, this model is the very first thing we see, as Nicole Kidman starts humming the song “Dream a Little Dream of me”. The intricate and flowing retro pattern makes it clear that we are presented with images of Grace’s childhood, evoking a sense of nostalgia and timelessness that aligns with her memories.


The 70s colours are muted with a focus on earthy tones, adding subtle depth to the design. The motif is also typical of a period that favoured organic forms inspired by the natural world, aiming to blur the boundaries between exterior and interior spaces. Interestingly, this model does not appear in any of the episodes of the series; it is only seen in the opening credits, together with a red-haired girl who we understand to be Grace as a child.

Juxtaposing the innocence of childhood against the sinister undertones that thread through the six episodes, the flowers in the pattern, while beautiful, are wild and untamed, possibly suggesting a world where things are not as controlled as they seem. It's a world of upper-class luxury, but the wildness of the pattern hints at the chaos lurking beneath the surface - a subtle foreshadowing of the story's central conflict.

The Frasers' Townhouse


Perhaps the most iconic and most recognisable of all wallpapers appearing in “The Undoing”, the model adorning the master bedroom had many enthusiastic fans of interior design scouting the web trying to find models that emulate its look. Showcasing a classic, elegant botanical design, it is characterised by a detailed pattern of stylised trees and foliage, with a muted colour palette that provides a sophisticated backdrop to the room.


Hand-painted in a sepia and grey colour palette on a silver background, this chinoiserie design is a modern interpretation of historic patterns, aiming to reflect the affluent and cultured environment in which the characters reside. This original version of this unique model is handmade and available in limited amounts at a cost of several thousand dollars per panel. In the bedroom, it adds a serene and organic touch, while its subdued tones ensure that it doesn't overpower the space.


In contrast to the chinoiserie motif of the master bedroom, the wallpaper in the bathroom features a modern and geometric pattern with an array of overlapping circles in a scale-like formation, creating a soothing, rhythmic visual texture. This motif, often referred to as a scallop or fish scale, adds both movement and depth to the room. The choice of a monochromatic palette in muted shades emphasises the modern aesthetic and ensures that the space feels cohesive and intentionally designed. The reflective quality of the wallpaper's surface which helps to bounce light around the room is a classic choice in a New York apartment where natural light may be limited.

The geometric nature of the pattern provides a contemporary contrast to the traditional elements in the master bedroom, striking a balance between modernity and warmth.

The Franklin’s family home

While appearing sophisticated and exclusive, the interior design of the Frasers’ home was created by production designer Lester Cohen to evoke a comfortable family residence, in contrast to the Franklin’s formal and aristocratic penthouse, home of Grace Fraser’s father (played by Donald Sutherland). All the wallpapers appearing in the house exude an air of traditional sophistication and understated luxury.


The wallpaper we encounter in the living room presents a subdued damask pattern in a neutral colour palette, the play of light and shadow adding depth and volume, underlining the overall sense of grandeur and formality in the room.


The motif appears to be a more stylised and modern take on the classic damask pattern, with a less dense distribution of elements and more abstract shapes, bringing a contemporary edge to the classic template. It is fitting for an aristocratic setting, bold enough to make a statement while subtle enough not to detract from the room's other elements, such as the ornate golden wall sconces, antique wooden furniture, and decorative mouldings.


Henry’s bedroom in Franklin’s house is adorned with a classic vertical stripe pattern that conveys a sense of the height and structure of the space. The stripes are of a muted teal or soft green shade, alternating in width to create a balanced and rhythmic pattern against an off-white or pale background.


A timeless design often used to add visual interest without overwhelming a space, it reflects a blend of a classic style with the desire to maintain a light and airy atmosphere. The colour choice is calming, and it pairs well with classic natural wood furniture and ornate picture frames, complementing the overall traditional aesthetic of the penthouse.

How can I replicate the look of “The Undoing” wallpapers in my home?

Are you looking to replicate the upscale and exclusive look of the Frasers’ Manhattan townhouse or the classical luxury characterising the Franklin’s penthouse? Look no further. Here are some models inspired by the TV series that will help you in your quest.

The opening credits wallpaper

Here the vibe is definitely vintage, so look for an overall muted colour palette with a yesteryear feel. For the bedroom, choose period-appropriate furniture, such as a Victorian or Edwardian-style bed frame, preferably in dark wood. Side tables and maybe a writing desk in a matching style would work well. When it comes to textiles, remember that they should complement the wallpaper without competing for attention. Heavy, textured fabrics like velvet or brocade that echo the era's opulence are a good option. Lighting is crucial in setting the right mood. If you want to go full vintage, why not look for wall sconces with a golden patina and frosted glass shades to provide soft, diffused lighting which emphasises the wallpaper texture? A table lamp with a fringed or beaded shade is also a great addition.
Choose artwork with care, so that it reflects the period's aesthetic; go for ornate frames and images featuring landscapes, portraits, or botanical prints. When it comes to accessories, scout second hand markets for antique clocks, porcelain vases, or candle holders and complete the look with a vintage Persian rug and heavy drapes in rich, complementary colours. Avoid over-cluttering - your goal should be to create a cohesive look that pays homage to the period without feeling like a museum piece.

The Frasers' Townhouse

If, like many, you have been mesmerised by the stunning sepia tones of the botanical wallpaper in Grace and Jonathan’s bedroom, you can consider one of the wonderful models shown above, some of which are offering a modern take on classic chinoiserie motifs. When it comes to furniture, opt for timeless pieces with clean lines and a traditional feel. A bed with a simple yet elegant headboard is a good match for bedside tables in dark wood and classic lamps, reflecting a preference for enduring design over passing trends. Bedding is extremely important to achieve a cohesive look, so choose high-quality linens in neutral tones, maybe even the silvery-grey variety that is adorning the Frasers’ bed. Consider a fabric with a subtle sheen, such as satin or silk, to add a touch of luxury.

Seek out golden table lamps with a similar traditional design as the one in their bedroom, perhaps with a ceramic or metal base, paired with a fabric shade to diffuse light gently and coordinate with curtains in a solid, neutral hue that matches the overall colour scheme. Go for heavy drapes that can be drawn to block out light, and complete the look with a soft rug in a complementary neutral shade to add warmth and texture. To make the room feel lived-in and cosy, choose some personal photos and artwork that reflect your style but keep the framing and presentation simple.

The geometric Art Deco wallpaper in the Frasers’ bathroom provides a more contemporary counterbalance to the style of the bedroom, and many readers have asked how to replicate the style. Above, we have provided models that feature a similar geometric pattern in soft, muted colours to create a modern yet subtle backdrop to your bathroom. As always, lighting is key, and it should be both practical and atmospheric. If viable and within your budget, the vertical, cylindrical light fixtures that flank the Frazer’s mirror are a fantastic option. Alternatively (or additionally), consider installing recessed ceiling lights with a dimmer switch to adjust the ambiance. For a more modern take, you could opt for an LED strip under the vanity to provide accent lighting emphasising the wallpaper.

Go for a large vanity cabinet offering ample storage to maintain a clutter-free countertop, while for the mirror, consider a backlit option that adds another layer of light, creating a focal point above the vanity. If you are also renovating the floor, you should choose high-quality porcelain tiles that mimic natural stone and accessorise with minimalist chrome fixtures to provide an elegant contrast to the wallpaper. Remember that you are going for a cohesive, posh look, so don’t forget to add high-quality towels and a bathmat in a neutral tone complementing the room. Let the wallpaper be the star of the show and keep the additional décor simple, limiting it to perhaps an elegant vase with fresh flowers or some small framed prints.

The Franklin’s family home

When looking to capture the essence of the majestic living room, the centrepiece of the Franklin penthouse in Manhattan, you need to approach the décor with a blend of stateliness and warmth, making sure your living room oozes sophistication and timelessness without feeling like a museum.
The furniture style should lean towards classic English or French styles, with at least one piece boasting rich wood carvings. A leather sofa with deep cushions would be a great focal point and convey comfort and elegance. If there is sufficient space, a table and side chairs would be a nice addition. Go large on soft furnishings in luxurious materials, with cushions and throws in velvet and silk, while for curtains opt for floor-length, perhaps in a damask fabric.
Proper lighting is essential; golden sconces, table lamps with silk shades and floor lamps with swing arms could provide direct light for reading, complementing the room's intellectual allure. Of course no aristocratic living space is complete without fine art. Seek some oil paintings of classical subjects or landscapes in gilded frames, maybe a small bronze sculpture, an antique clock or decorative vases to add personality to the room. To complete the picture you could consider introducing a personal touch, like a chess set on a side table, a well-worn leather-bound journal or a vintage globe.

If you are interested in recreating the classic yet youthful vibe of Henry’s bedroom, you need to first of all choose a wallpaper featuring a classic vertical stripe pattern which will provide a sense of spaciousness and elegance. For a similar effect to the one in the series opt for a model with alternating wide stripes in a subdued teal or egg blue paired with a neutral shade. For furniture, you should look into bed with a traditional style yet clean lines to keep the room from feeling overly ornate. A headboard in a neutral fabric can add texture without clashing with the wallpaper, while side tables in dark wood will provide a grounding effect.

As always, bedding is important. It should be simple yet luxurious, so choose sheets in white or cream to add a crisp, clean feel and layer them with a lightweight quilt or bedspread that echoes the colours of the wallpaper. You can add accent pillows to introduce a pop of complementary colour or a different pattern. Choose something a bit different, like a damask or paisley, so that it doesn't compete with the wallpaper. A woven or rattan lampshade similar to the one on Henry’s bedside table can provide an interesting tactile element, while for the curtains you can either follow the geometric pattern in his room or choose another small-scale pattern that frames the windows rather than being the focal point. It's a bedroom that should feel cosy and lived-in, so decorate it with some personal items like framed photos or a small stack of favourite books.

Echoes of elegance: customer inspirations channelling the aesthetic of “The Undoing”

Take a look at how our customers have introduced “The Undoing” aesthetics into their homes. Maybe you will get inspired to incorporate the show's décor into your own home!