amy merrickliving in

living in: benny & joon

by amym

While Benny & Joon is technically an early 1990s rom-com — a time and genre not necessarily known for quality — it packs a wallop of charm and oddball sincerity. It’s the only love story I know that rivals Harold and Maude in kooky sweetness, and it’s impossible to pass the two hours without wanting to jump into the screen. The house by the river, filled to the brim with paintings and vintage quirk, almost steals the show from a young Johnny Depp. Almost.

1. Wool Felt Fedora, $36; 2. Milkshake Maker, $46; 3. Vintage Mid-Century Lamp, $38; 4. Windsor Paintbrush, $2; 5. Tapioca Pudding, $5; 6. Hanging Geranium, $50; 7. Canvas Wingtip Oxfords, $25; 8. Silver Heart Locket, $105; 9. 1940s Bar Stool, $1200; 10. Judy Jackson Vases, $38 each

The second set of stills and another roundup continue after the jump…

It’s not just a love story between a Buster Keaton wannabe and a mentally-ill painter; it’s a match made in heaven between mid-century and 1990s goodness. Once it all goes through the paint-splashed crazy cycle, it comes out all the more covetable. But an ironed grilled cheese made by the loving hands of Mr. Depp? I’d pay any price.

1. Studio Days Easel, $2100; 2. Alvin Oil Paints, $13; 3. Factory Pendant, $298; 4. Grilled Cheese, $13; 5. Black and Decker Iron, $25; 6. Pinched Vase, $16; 7. Windsor Chair, $130; 8. Boombox, $45; 9. Wooden Palette, $5; 10. Deck of Cards, $1.25

Suggested For You


  • I freaking loved that movie as a teen! I never understood what a “smail” was supposed to be. Caretaker I guess, but why the weird word for it?

  • This movie shaped my college decorating sensibility. My friends and I rented a house together the summer after it came out and our decor definitely influenced by Benny and Joon (which is good if you’re college kids on a budgets!) All those windows are still magical.

  • I recently discovered that this movie was shot in Spokane, Washington. I lived there for four years and just moved away. This movie makes me a little homesick for the little town that I love. I just watched it the other day, what a coincidence!

  • This is one of my favorite movies. I used to watch it every year on summer vacation growing up. Now I have a bit of a craving for grilled cheese …

  • I have not seen that movie, I do love the studio and all the windows. I will have to look up the movie to watch and get the full view.

  • Duh should have had a V8, simply inspiration. Simple,understated, the grill cheese says it all.

  • I totally had an obsession with the window filled with colored glass bottles. I still think about it. I need to watch this again, I think. Thanks!

  • Omg, that’s so funny! I just watched this movie for the first time this past Sunday and now you’re featuring it!! Awesome! :)

  • Living In is always my favorite post of the week, but this one I extra love. I just saw this movie for the first time this year and fell in love with that house, the windows looking over the river so dreamy. Now I’m inspired to bring a little bit more magic into my own home!

  • i am going to have to rent this. I love Johnny Depp in anything! Don’t we all? My 16 yo daughter and i fight over him all the time, but I tell her that since he is closer to my age he is all mine :) I have loved him ever since 21 Jumpstreet and that is way before she was ever a thought. So that means I win :) This movie looks fabulous – I can see what you mean by wanting to jump into the movie. i would LOVE to have a house like that!

  • I have been waiting for this Living In! This is one of my top 5 faves… and the products you chose are evidence! The oxfords, the geraniums, the easel and windsor chair, the pots, the boombox, the paintbrushes! LOve it.

  • FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME!! i’m so glad you featured this. if there is ever a “living in” of something i haven’t seen, i see it right away!
    great recommendations, overall!!

  • love this one! my freshman year of college there was a johnny depp movie club. we watched all of his films but i have to say this was a strong contender for my favorite. maybe as a fellow painter… great “living in”!

  • I have loved this movie since I was a little kid. Mashed potatoes with a tennis racket? Yes!

  • LIZ B – Mrs. Smail was her caretaker/housekeeper at the beginning of the movie. Once she left, Joon was asking who would be her “next Smail”.


    Benny: What happened between you and Mrs. Smail?
    Joon: She was given to fits of semi-precious metaphors.

  • This is my number one favorite movie of all time! I have it on VHS and DVD. I think this movie was the reason I developed my life-long crush on Johnny Depp.

  • Wow I’d forgotten this film even existed. Its the first film I ever saw on my own! I can’t remember what happens but thanks to this blog post I’m going to watch it again.

  • *sigh* the fedora! the two most important guys in my life wear fedoras…thatnks for all the happy romantic memories!

  • You forgot the forks, the little nod to Chaplin… ;)

    Saw this several times in the theater when it came out. Sigh.

  • One of the best living in selections according to this girl! I love love love this movie and all the props you picked from it. I was bowled over when I saw the grilled cheese and iron!

  • i looooved this movie when i was little…now i think, how odd, and why did my mother let me watch it?! but maybe it’s one of the reasons i went into psychology…?


  • This movie makes me tear up a little, every time. It brings up *such* a childhood memory (watching with my big sister). And, the weirdest part about this for me, is that i recently watched Marie Antoinette because of the “Living In” post here, and then a week ago, because my boyfriend had never seen it, we watched Benny & Joon! Trippy. i clearly need to intern for you gals. ;)

  • I am going to blame this post for the dorky grin I’ll be wearing all day. Johnny Depp can use the rayon setting on my grilled cheese anyday!

  • I almost moved to Spokane after I saw this movie! That’s how influential the decor & setting can be!

  • best. movie. truly.

    thank you! melts me every time.

    “have we an internal sequin issue to deal with, benjamin?”

  • Yippy Skippy, this has long been one of my top five favorite movies. Johnny Depp shines so nice and oddly in this film. It’s styling is wonderful. If you ever find yourself up a tree, simply stop and ask yourself, Is this my tree? I adore the opening music and my DH abhors it. I have it on my iPod, my guilty little secret pleasure. Thanks Design Sponge.

  • Literally just saw this movie and thought the exact same thing about the house!! Who was in charge of set production did a job well done!

  • I was born and raised in Spokane, this movie was filmed in the neighborhood under the Monroe St bridge when I was a kid. A bunch of boys I knew would go down to the set a perform skateboard tricks for jd, who sounds like a good sport. I wish Spokane was like it seems in this movie, I’d still live there!

  • oh yes! i did a mini Benny & June home decor feature on my blog a week or 2 ago and i’m delighted to see your “living in” ideas here! you come up with the most lovely combinations that are spot on! i love this, thanks for posting it!! B & J is maybe my all time favorite old-school movie. i am planning to name our baby Juniper if it’s a girl, and call her Juni :)

  • This was also one of my fav’s! The part I loved the most in the decor was the door knobs hanging from the ceiling – I always wanted to do that!

  • I love Benny and June. I have always loved the quirky style of the not just the characters but the home June and Benny live in as well! So adorable. The best line from that movie is when they are playing poker and the one guys puts in “One soap on a rope…slightly used” BWA-ha!

  • I love Joon’s workspace in this movie. Always have. Those windows. The river behind their house. The paint everywhere. I just noticed the little figures she painted above the window. And man, do I love her style! If this isn’t on Netflix Instant I’m going to have to go buy it ASAP.

  • I live in Spokane and have seen the home that was the location for Benny & Joon’s house many times. Here is a link to it on Google Maps, street view. It’s at Water & N. Cedar and it is close to Monroe Bridge in Peaceful Valley http://goo.gl/maps/znf8Y Oh and Benny’s auto shop is on Market near Queen I think.