The TV show FRIENDS has enjoyed such widespread popularity. That is why many of its set pieces are instantly recognizable. A glimpse of certain features like the tiny yellow picture frame that hung on the back of Monica’s apartment door or the orange couch inside Central Perk still triggers fond memories of watching the show. Even now, after the pilot’s premiere in 1994, we can watch it regularly on Netflix. Not just the show but even the props used in the show hold a special place in our hearts.
Warner Bros. announced the auction of a few famous props for charity to mark the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the show. We all know and love some of the props that are used in the show. We also used that setting to decorate our home. What we don’t know, the inside story of those props that became famous and had significance in the show.
So let’s dive into the list of some famous props and their inside stories used in FRIENDS that helped to make the episodes hilariously memorable.
1) Monica’s Apartment Window
Throughout the show’s ten seasons, we see all the six main characters spend plenty of time gazing out Monica’s large apartment window. Whether to check in on Ross or it was to see what their pal “Ugly Naked Guy” was up to, they never missed out to look outside that window. According to Shaffner, the show’s production designer, it almost looked very different despite all the moments involving that window.
Shaffner explains, to inform the design of Monica’s apartment, he used his own experience living in New York City. He explains, “What we used to do in New York was visit ‘tar beach,’ which is a little section of roof that might stick out from your apartment.” He continued, “So, we made that little mini terrace that was only accessible by climbing through the window.”
Shaffner says that at first, viewers had a lot to say about those types of slanted windows but he proved them wrong. He said, “The next summer, I went to New York and walked up and down the streets and took pictures of lots of those windows on the tops of the buildings in the Village. I knew they existed.”
2) Monica’s Mismatched Kitchen Chairs
Monica lived in that spacious two-bedroom Greenwich Village apartment. FRIENDS viewers love to talk about how unrealistic it is. But Shaffner says the way they decorated it was very realistic for her budget. Shaffner explains, “Something that people don’t know unless they’ve lived in Manhattan is that the night before trash day is the time to hit the streets, especially on the Upper East Side.” He further added, “You can find all kinds of really good stuff that is often in pretty good shape.” According to Shaffner, “We decided she collected chairs, and then she just painted them all different colors in that little kitchen area.”
3) Monica’s Door Picture Frame
The iconic little picture frame that hung on the back of Monica’s apartment door is quite famous among fans of FRIENDS. That element was also influenced by Shaffner’s experience living in New York City apartments. He said, “One of the things about New York is that every apartment sooner or later gets a slab metal door for security and fire so it doesn’t get to have any panels in it. It’s not interesting.”
Shaffner and set decorator Greg Grande decided to add a row of hooks to the back of the door to combat the accurate door’s banal look but ultimately decided against that. Shaffner shared, “A couple of days later, I came on set and Greg pulled me aside and said, ‘John, what do you think of this?'” He further continued, “He held up that little yellow picture frame and put it over the peephole, and I said, ‘I think it’s wonderful. Nail it on, and we’ll see if they like it.’ Everybody loved it.”
4) The Orange Central Perk Couch
Central Perk was created because the creators wanted a place where friends could possibly hang out at any time of the day. Shaffner explains, “We all recollected an era of the fifties and sixties where there was a Bohemian sense about coffee houses.” He continued, “It was a spot where you went and hung out and sometimes you’d hear a poetry reading, and sometimes somebody would play the guitar.”
Shaffner and his team looked to a real cozy, brick restaurant along with the boho aesthetic in the West Village that had a corner door for inspiration. Grande found perfect pieces from the prop house with that feel in mind including the couch. Shaffner says, “That color orange went so well with all the oranges and rusts and browns that were in the bricks.”
5) Monica’s Purple Apartment Walls
The whole process of set designing starts on paper. During that paper model phase, Shaffner came up with the idea to paint Monica’s apartment purple. Shaffner shares, “We showed the model to Kevin and the team, and Kevin looked at me and said, ‘I just don’t want another white landlord apartment. What can we do about color?'” He further continued, “It didn’t take me long. It was very quick. We were sitting together, and I said, ‘I have an idea. I would like to paint it purple.’ They all looked at me like I was out of my mind.”
Shaffner had to prove it was a good idea so he took the white paper model and applied some purple paint, a little turquoise paint in the kitchen, and some green paint in the hallway. It surely sealed the deal. Shaffner didn’t just think about paint color when designing Monica’s apartment. He said, “The girls didn’t paint the molding different colors. They just painted everything the same color, the walls, the molding, and the trims.”
6) Boy’s Door Magna Doodle
Joey also had a recognizable door accessory that featured a subtle change in every episode. Shaffner told Refinery29, “That little doodle board became a real trademark of the show. Paul Swain was the grip on the show, which means he was responsible for making sure lighting got hung and backdrops got to put up and stuff like that.” He continued, “He just started writing on it one day, and pretty soon, that became his thing. Once a week, he’d come in and do the little drawing on that and it became an iconic moment in the boy’s apartment.”
7) Monica’s Jouets Poster
Rachel Green and Monica Geller’s shared apartment was painted in purple. When it comes to the living room, the walls were usually broken up with artwork to make sure that the apartment’s purple paint wouldn’t overwhelm TV viewers. If you haven’t noticed, there was a poster that used to fill up space between the television and 1930s buffet. Mr. Grande said in an interview, “I was scrambling, so I picked out this image of a French vintage carnival poster from one of my research books and had it blown up.” He further added, “It fit the apartment’s feminine, eclectic style, and it was believable for Monica(who is a chef) because it was a good design on a budget.”
8) The Boys’ Recliners
With their hulking leather recliners, Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani favored an unapologetically bachelor-pad vibe. Mr. Shaffner said, “Those chairs were about one thing: comfort and where to put your beer.” And, Mr. Grande admitted, “I looked for the most obnoxious ones I could find.”
9) The Apothecary Table
In season six, Rachel moved in with Phoebe Buffay because Monica and Chandler decided to move in together. To her counterculture roomie as an antique, she was trying to pass off a Pottery Barn table. The fib flew and thanks to the item’s apothecary mahogany finish, brass hardware, and drawers until Phoebe discovered Ross Geller owned the very same one. The product placement had an amazing effect on the apartments. The table was purchased by the fans in droves that Pottery Barn reissued.
10) Joey’s Pat the Dog
According to Joey, success looks like this molded-plastic greyhound statue. Joey walked out of a flashy new apartment after getting his first big break of a recurring role on “Days of Our Lives”. Mr. Grande said, “The only note I got was ‘Give it a little Italian flair.’ I went to a store called Italy 2000 and saw this dog. It had a seventies flavor and was too funny.” The piece took on a life of its own in the show.
11) The Boys’ Laurel and Hardy Poster
Joey and Chandler’s brown-and-beige lair was intentionally left under-decorated. According to Grande, “We wanted it to look a little barren and like they didn’t really care. Still, we had to fill the walls with something.” This black-and-white poster of the entertainers of early-20th-century, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy unframed and haphazardly taped up that fit the set perfectly. Also, it cleverly echoed the boys’ own buddy dynamic. “Part of Joey and Chandler’s charm was that, in their own way, they were a couple,” Shaffner said.
12) Phoebe’s Gladys portrait
Phoebe created her own three-dimensional Gladys herself. is a short-haired woman whose half head is tilted out of the frame. She is dressed in blue and doesn’t have a left hand. However, when Mike moved in, Phoebe had to clear out a bunch of her stuff including Gladys to make space for him. Rachel and Monica actually fought over who has to take possession of it because the piece was so hideous. It was just included in the show for fun but it became so successful that Pottery Barn recreated it.
13) Joey’s Hugsy
Hugsy was originally mentioned accidentally by Joey in the episode “The One Where Everybody Finds Out” as his “bedtime penguin pal”. It is at that moment that he tells Rachel how he stole Hugsy from a child, and also swallowed his button years back. Later, Hugsy is on the chair beneath the dartboard in the episode “The One With Ross’s Teeth” when Chandler and Joey talk at the beginning of the episode. Not just that, we noticed it in several other episodes as well. It was a fun addition done by Mr. Grande.
14) Rachel’s Dirty Book
The ‘dirty book’ Joey finds in Rachel’s bedroom seems to be a prop rather than a genuine book in FREINDS. And, Rachel’s love for adult literature was previously referenced in “The One With Mrs. Bing”. So, to spice that up Rachel’s dirty books were added to the show. Rachel comes in for a lot of clowning from Joey when he discovers that she had an erotic book. We can’t be the only ones thinking about its narrative arc, can we?
15) The Pulitzer Fountain On Opening Credits
This is the famous fountain where all the six characters danced around during the opening of each episode of the show. It is the most iconic symbol of the show. However, it was just a prop on the set and not the actual fountain in New York. Reportedly, the inspiration behind the fountain was from The Pulitzer Fountain in Midtown West’s Grand Army Plaza and many FRIENDS fan visits there.