The 7 best and worst design features from the Friends apartments - from the glorious to the ugly

'It was always purple?'

friends cast
(Image credit: Alamy)

It may have wrapped in 2004 but the Friends mania never stopped. It’s been 17 years since Rachel got off the plane and now the cast is back for what's possibly the most hotly-anticipated reunion show of all time.

Ahead of Friends: The Reunion on HBO, we're looking at the best and worst design features from the show's homes. Calling on Real Homes editors and interior designer Claire Armstrong-Gautier, we decide what's aged well, and what should be left in the 90s.

friends apartment in new york

(Image credit: Alamy)

Monica's grandma's insanely spacious Manhattan apartment is of course where much of the Friends drama unfolded. From the moment Ross finds out Rachel was 'over' him to the mystifying 'they don't know that we know that they know' conversation. But how does it score design-wise?

1. Monica's teal kitchen

In-house lead designer at My Bespoke Room Claire says that the kitchen and bathroom are the stand-out features. 'Monica’s teal kitchen still feels fresh today,' Claire says. 'Leaning into the loft vibes, the exposed brick is extremely versatile and timeless.'

2. The open plan living room

Real Homes Digital Editor Camille Dubuis-Welch has a lot of good things to say about the open plan layout of the apartment. 'Monica's place has a really nice flow to it and sure it's got pretty good square footage, but they make good use of the space too,' she says. 

monica's apartment from friends

(Image credit: Alamy)

'The couch acts as a natural room divider between the kitchen and the lounging space, and I think the coffee table taking center stage is important here to create a really convivial setup,' Camille adds.

3. The purple walls

Did Monica commit any design crimes? For Claire, the purple walls are overpowering. 'Painted woodwork can be fabulous,' she admits, 'and the paneling detail had the potential to be a winner, but sadly all the purple in the apartment is too much.' 

It's not for everyone, but it does remind us of simpler times. 'It's such a nostalgic color for me personally,' Camille says, 'because who didn't have a purple room somewhere in the 90s?' 

Camille argues that purple could still work now in a snug room or as a feature wall. We love the idea of a luxurious purple reading nook with velvet cushions, a floral footstool and a vintage floor lamp.

joey and chandler's apartment from friends

(Image credit: Alamy)

4. The lazy boy chairs

Across the hall, there was a somewhat different aesthetic. We recall a lot of beige, a prominent foosball table, massive recliner armchairs, and the white ceramic dog. Let's call it... eclectic.

'There’s certainly a lot for the eye to take in at Joey and Chandler’s place,' comments Claire. She doesn't love their choice of furniture: 'the lazy boys are a no-no. They weren’t cool then and they’re not cool now.'

5. Phoebe's eclectic apartment

While we didn't often get to have a peek inside Phoebe's apartment, what we did see was very homely. 'Although Phoebe tried to hide her love of all things Pottery Barn, we can't! Her apartment was warm, eclectic and the green tones are super on-trend today,' Claire says. 

6. Ross's shelf displays

For us, Ross's apartment felt the darkest of all of them, with mauve walls, lower ceilings, and bulky furniture. Claire says that while his finishing touches were all dinosaur-themed, Ross showed some design know-how with his beautifully layered shelf display.

friends apartment season finale

(Image credit: Alamy)

7. The vintage furnishings

Although the lazy boy recliners have had their day, we can take inspiration from Monica's vintage pieces as a way to make our homes tell our story. 

'It's those standout pieces that I always notice whenever I'm watching a Friends episode,' Camille says. 

'That French Jouets poster, the dressers, quirky lamps, mismatched cushions, and that burnt orange velour 3-seater in Central Perk. They are the kind of decorative features that can add so much personality to a space.'

Monica's apartment gives us serious grandmillennial vibes - more on that in our piece on 15 interior design trends you need to know about.

Monica Geller: neat freak, chef, karaoke queen, and our unwitting interior design inspiration.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.