living in: chinatown


Gather your favorite boys close because they will not want to miss the miserably delectable fun that is Chinatown. A film that harkens back to the glory days of noir, Chinatown has enough grimy yet glamorous juice to keep everyone riveted to the screen. Polanski’s vision of 1937 Los Angeles is heart stopping — the dusty deco city aches from every corner and yet somehow, you find yourself longing for a spin around the streets with Jack Nicholson as private detective at your side.

1. Venetian Blind, $20; 2. Parker Fountain Pen, $23; 3. Vintage Italian Pendant, $1800, 3. Horn Magnifying Glass, $42;  4. Pocket Watch, $150; 5. Desk Fan, $48; 6. Cigarette Case, $9; 7. Hawthorne Wingchair, $2700; 8. Silk Pocket Square, $7; 9. Snake Desk Caddy, $48; 10. Chameleon Heels, $90

CLICK HERE for the second roundup and set of stills after the jump!

The lure of LA is legendary, and Polanski plays it up to its best advantage. Bungalows with teams of house keepers, palm trees, drinks before noon, convertibles, intrigue, infidelity and a bright, blistering sun to bring it all to a boil. Sounds scandalously tempting, especially to a born-and-bred East Coaster like myself. California dreaming — murder not required.

1. John Robshaw Striped Pillow, $85; 2. Yellow and White Striped Market Umbrella, $204; 3. Dwarf Orange Tree, $5; 4. Vintage Veiled Hat, $40; 5. Replica M1911, $107; 6. Antique Breakfast Table, $1895; 7. Recycled Glass Jar, $28; 8. Deco Garden Chair, $350; 9. Reading Glasses, $10; 10. Champagne Bucket and Glasses, $49


One of my favorites! It touches on a very dark but true part of Los Angeles history.

I wish I could have a wardrobe as amazing as Faye Dunaway had in her movies…she always looked gorgeous!


A terrific movie with brilliant style! Chinatown is my husband’s favorite, and one of my top film noir picks as well.


Loved that movie! You have such a great selection here (I’m biased as it pretty much matches my taste).
I really hope you’ll do a bollywood movie once! (Devdas is my favourite)

Stephanie Press

Yes! The set and wardrobe styling in this film is amazing. I’ve been thinking about this as an “inspired by” for awhile now. Thanks!


um i loved this. not only is chinatown one of my favorite movies EVER, you can never have too much jack nicholson! so slap on the jacky-boy, nice and thick please!


i have never seen this but is definitely one of my father and ed’s favorites! looks so masculine with yummy interiors.


I simply ADORE your “Living In” features. Love them. Please continue them! And if you’re taking requests, I would love a Living in Sherlock Holmes!!!


hi amelia

so glad you enjoy them. amy posts a new “living in” every tuesday at 1pm :)


Katie (australia)

I just watched China Town again recently & was taking notes of the wonderful costumes & interior design, so stylish.


This is probably one of my favorite categories of d*s! I love getting inspiration from movies, especially old movies or movies set in an older time. And you all do such a great job with it!



I love love love this series!! Chinatown is a great choice, also was obsessed with Secret Garden as a kid so adored that one too. There are so many stylish movies that would be fun to see in this way – Talented Mr. Ripley, Chocolat, Annie Hall – ooh, anything by Wes Anderson!


There should be a living in contest sometime… in which we have to answer which movie(s) is/are!

It is so much fun to see so many films synthesized through beautiful objects


I held off posting, but. I have to say, I am disappointed that you are celebrating Roman Polanski. I love this site, and this feature, but it saddens me that your copy about this movie is all breathless praise and not even a note of concern or criticism about supporting this person.


i am currently obsessed with the HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce… this was a perfect fix. the architecture, the clothes, the hair, the town, the gentlemen (i use this term loosely, but boy did guys pay attention to the details back then)! thanks!!!!


Anna, you can see all of the LIving In…” features in the Categories tab up top. You’ll find Annie Hall, Wes Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited and many, many, many more.

Alice Baxley

I am so obsessed with this series. I mean Chinatown + Annie Hall? the classics!
You make me want to live in the movies.


I had to watch this movie this morning for a film study class I am taking – was so surprised to come read your blog today and see this! Faye is stunning in Chinatown, and I definitely fell in love with the movie.
Love this!


I am addicted to this section of designsponge! You have an excellent eye for these details. I can’t help but ask that you consider the following: Daughters of the Dust, Sherman’s March, or something Charlie Chaplin. I wish there was a less annoying way to suggest that, but I can’t think of it. Regardless of what you do, I am devoted to this part of the site. Keep it up!

Karen Longo

Why oh why don’t people wear hats anymore? Sigh…