The interiors come to life in this movie adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull

From the dark wood furniture to the pleasantly surprising bright suede tones and the perfect place that would do justice to Chekhov, Jane Musky can really pick the right spots! 


                            The interiors come to life in this movie adaptation of Chekhov's The Seagull

The stage has been set for a little family drama - 'The Seagull', the film adaptation of Anton Chekhov's iconic play just hit the screens on May 11 and it looks great.

Set in the 19th century, this story is based on the Russian playwright's comedy (in the classical sense) of the same name.

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening, Corey Stoll, Billy Howle and Elisabeth Moss, the film has its aesthetics on point - the look and feel of the film is very vintage and it clearly has a lot to do with the expertise of production designer Jane Musky.

From the dark wood furniture to the pleasantly surprising bright suede tones and the perfect place that would do justice to Chekhov, Musky can really pick the right spots! 

An interior shot from The Seagull. (Abbott Genser)

An interior shot from The Seagull. (Abbott Genser)

It wasn’t that hard to find just the right place to shoot, she remarks, she simply looked back to her childhood. Musky found the perfect location in the picturesque Arrow Park Lake and Lodge in Monroe, New York, just a 90-minute drive from Manhattan.

Now a wedding venue, Arrow Park was once a Russian cooperative that Musky's family actually belonged to in the 1970s.

"It was basically a Russian socialist camp. The FBI would be camped outside the entrance. We called it the Russian Farm."

Actress Annette Bening, who plays Irina Arkadina agrees and adds that she almost couldn't believe how perfect it was for the film.

"When I first saw it, I almost couldn’t believe the setting and how apt it was for what we were doing. It did give me a kind of chill driving up and seeing Russian statues outside. I remember we had a champagne get-together on the terrace or, as we say in the Midwest, the porch, the first day. We had a little ching-ching. It could not have been more inspiring really. It was perfect."

Walls were painted and furniture was sourced from staging companies and flea markets, but structurally the house remained the same. (Abbott Genser)
Walls were painted and furniture was sourced from staging companies and flea markets, but structurally the house remained the same. (Abbott Genser)

The estate, built in 1909 by Schuyler Schieffelin and his wife, Julia Cooper, boasts a 15,000-square-foot Italian villa, landscaped grounds, and a pristine lake. It was sold to the American Russian Organized Workers in 1948. 

The property that already had beamed ceilings and tilework in the hallways, needed a touch of romanticizing, said Jane. "It was beautiful but it had become sort of a sterile catering kind of place. So we took everything out of the house. It was basically a redecoration."

Both soft and strong wall colors, like this blue in the living room, were chosen by the production designer. (Abbott Genser)

Both soft and strong wall colors, like this blue in the living room, were chosen by the production designer. (Abbott Genser)

All the woodwork and furniture you see in the shots were sourced locally while some had to be brought in from Eclectic Encore Props in Long Island City, New York. There are bearskins used in the interiors that were bought locally and layered to give it the rich 19th century Russian home feel.

While the rest of the house appears to be in shades of nude and peach, the dining hall is mint green. It was Jane's idea, she said, to give it a brighter feel.

"That was a big choice of mine," she said, "Michael was like, What?! But Russians would come to these places and they’d do blue, mint, peach, or a pink. It was about fun and keeping it lively. The mint green worked well in contrast to the dark furniture."

Her risk-taking has definitely paid off, the film gives one major interior goals.