'Sharp Objects': Designer John Paino reveals the inspiration behind the dollhouse

Amma's (Eliza Scanlen) little dollhouse was an exact replica of the Crellin mansion and was complete with the signature green wallpaper and the detailed white railings. 


                            'Sharp Objects': Designer John Paino reveals the inspiration behind the dollhouse

There are many things that fascinated us about 'Sharp Objects' - the insanity that ran in the family, Camille Preaker's borderline terrible journalism and almost all of Wind gap's residents. After the finale last Sunday, though, you cannot help but be intrigued by the sinister dollhouse with human teeth for a floor plan.

Amma's (Eliza Scanlen) little dollhouse was an exact replica of the Crellin mansion and was complete with the signature green wallpaper and the detailed white railings. Production designer John Paino, who was the artist behind these two houses that hid all the secrets, says that his inspirations for the Preaker manor and the dollhouse were born from the obsession with control all the generations of women within the Preaker family shared. 

 

The de Gourney wallpaper used in the entrance.
The de Gourney wallpaper used in the entrance.

 

Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson) had, for decades, inhabited the Stick-style mansion with her three children. The interiors, which were created at a studio in Los Angeles, are characteristic of Adora—an aristocrat in Wind Gap, Missouri, who continues to romanticize the Civil War South. Having flashbacks to the cringe-fest that was Calhoun Day and the way she shows off her ivory flooring to Detective Richard Willis? We are.

The photo, of socialite Pauline de Rothschild at home, that inspired the wallpaper used in Sharp Objects. (Horst P. Horst)
The photo, of socialite Pauline de Rothschild at home, that inspired the wallpaper used in Sharp Objects. (Horst P. Horst)

 

The miniature home was a re-occurring symbol in 'Sharp Objects,' the eight-episode HBO series based on the debut thriller novel of the same name by writer Gillian Flynn. It was what Amma played with when she was home, and we saw her numerous times just arranging the dolls, making sure everything was perfect. Even after her mama went to prison, Amma took the dollhouse with her to Camille's place in St.Luois.

When Mae, her third victim gets on Amma's bad side, she throws the mini comforter in the bin and moves on to strangle her in the alley. The comforter is symbolic of their friendship and once again, the dollhouse becomes a crucial part of the story arc. 

Paino felt that he wanted to stray away from the typical drab and grey setting and go with something as charming as Adora herself. "We wanted to make her interior very colorful and luxe and not the typical stained and faded look of a Southern Gothic place. We didn’t want her to live in a ramshackle place. Adora was fabulously wealthy, and she would probably hire an upscale designer from somewhere like Atlanta," he says. Paino also designs for two other HBO biggies - 'Big Little Lies' and 'The Leftovers.'