joan watson apartment elementary cbs lucy liu

Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) in her new apartment in season 3 of Elementary

In three seasons on the CBS series Elementary, Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) has lived in three places. One of them we barely ever saw, the second was Sherlock’s (Jonny Lee Miller) iconic brownstone, and finally, in the current episodes, we see our doctor-turned-detective living in her very own plush New York City apartment.

Lots of the fans out there had some great questions about Watson’s new digs (including one of my own: how the heck does she afford such a nice place?!). So, I took them straight to Elementary Set Decorator, Carrie Stewart.

Below, she gives the back story on designing the character’s elegant, new home. And keep scrolling for a deconstruction of Watson’s entire apartment!

[Don’t forget! New episodes air on CBS on Thursdays at 10/9c]


ON SCREEN STYLE: Where did you get inspiration for Joan’s apartment? Did you draw any inspiration from Joan’s very sparsely decorated room at the brownstone?

joan watson elementary apartment new york city london terrace chelsea

The initial design inspiration for Joan’s NYC living space came from the London Terrace apartment complex in Chelsea

CARRIE STEWART: We based the apartment on London Terrace, which is a block of pre-war apartments in Chelsea. It’s on 23rd street between 9th Ave and 10th Ave. If you look it up, it’s a really beautiful apartment block. We basically went back to Lucy Liu’s character— we did Joan’s apartment in season 1, which we hardly saw any of. So, the only two pieces we did bring back were her desk and her desk lamp. Watson is similar to Sherlock that she’s no nonsense. She doesn’t have a lot of decorative objects. It’s a lot more about function. We really played it off her minimalism and the room that she’s maintained while living in the brownstone. Also, the look that Rebecca [Hofherr the Costume Designer] and Lucy have brought to Joan. It’s very elegant. Very well styled, well chosen pieces. We used that as our inspiration for her apartment.

So you brought the desk and the desk lamp over from her apartment in season 1. Did you bring anything from the brownstone into the new apartment, too?

No, we didn’t because the idea was she wanted to make a clean break. We never really specified whether her furniture went into storage, we sort of went off that based on the storyline, she had her landlord put her furniture in storage. I think she got rid of her sofa. We went off the assumption that some of the stuff came out of storage from her apartment. the rest of the pieces she purchased new or from antique stores.

Would you describe her home decor as vintage? Or mid-century modern?

It’s a little mid-century modern with a few contemporary pieces mixed in. Basically, what we like about mid-century is it has clean, elegant lines. We don’t feel like anything calls attention to itself.

lucy liu painting art elementary set joan watson apartment

Lucy’s own abstract silk screen art hangs above her character’s bed

Which room is Lucy Liu’s own painting in?

It’s the one over her bed.

Was that her idea or did you guys ask her to do that?

She actually thought of it. Once we saw her artwork, we really liked it. It has a really good graphical element. She suggested it to us and let us look at it. She really left the final decision up to us. She didn’t want to push it on us, but she thought it would be a nice piece for Watson. Andrew Bernard, who is the production designer, and I both thought it was a good fit. I really personally like her artwork.

Which came first: the bedroom set up or the painting?

We already had the room done, and it fit within the space.

Is there anything else that’s supposed to be sentimental in her apartment?

Lucy wants to play her character very neutral in a way. Nothing was specifically put in that was meant to be sentimental.

joan watson elementary apartment season 3 lucy liu living room

Watson’s “lighter, airier” place is meant to be a contrast to Sherlock’s darkly lit brownstone

Did you intentionally design Joan’s new place so that it would be lot lighter and brighter than Sherlock’s dark brownstone?

We did. Part of it is that she was making a break from Sherlock while Sherlock made a break from her. She was making a break by striking out on her own. So we did move her into a newer, lighter, airier place. Something that wasn’t over the top in terms of expense. Her space was designed to give it enough space visually so it has some depth to it. In the kitchen, the appliances are mid-to-lower range, which is what any landlord would put in an apartment like that. It was made to feel very well designed but ordinary at the same time.

I used to wonder this about Carrie Bradshaw, so you probably know where I am going with this question, but how is Joan affording this apartment in New York City? It’s huge and she’s not a doctor anymore!

There’s always an assumption that Joan has a savings and she is consulting on her own cases. There’s always just a bit of savings there — whether it’s family money, or someone who doesn’t have a crazy amount of money but they just have enough that they can spend wisely and supplement from their income. I don’t know if that’s the writers’ intention or that’s the official line, but that’s always what we’ve based it on. It’s a tough one, because it is New York real estate. In reality of it, it’s partly a function of TV because it’s shot in the appropriate size apartment, it would just be too small and there would be no depth to the space. That’s a bit of TV stretching it. We went as far as we could without it going too far!


joan watson elementary apartment living room couch decor chair lamp lucy liu

[psst… you can click the image above to enlarge it so it’s easier to read!]


1.) Artwork: The small ink drawing, which Carrie got from from an antique store in Brooklyn,  has since been switched out with an abstract piece by a friend of Lucy Liu’s, California artist Michael Dopp. “Our taste in art is in line with her taste in art. What we wanted for Watson was something that was graphic, nothing feeling too precious.”
2.) Side Tables: Have you noticed that Watson’s side tables (a matching set from an antique store in Connecticut) aren’t placed equally within her space? That was intentional. “One of the things that we go for on the show is a bit of asymmetry,” Carrie said. “Even with Watson, the whole idea about the character is she appears buttoned up, but she’s not necessarily completely buttoned up.  She’s not tied into a rigid structure that she would have everything perfectly symmetrical. So that’s why we did the floor lamp on one side and the table lamp on the other. One table is parallel to the couch, one table is perpendicular.”
Get the look with this Baxton Side Table or this Modesto Chairside Table
3.) Coffee Table:  The George Nelson-style accent table, which was picked up at an antique store in Brooklyn, has one very unique feature: “It’s expandable, so the flaps actually meet in the middle and you can expand it out,” Carrie said.  “It’s unusual; I’d never seen any in that style that are expandable like that.”
Get the look with this Kardiel Bench or check out this one from Joel Turner Designs on Etsy (update on April 28: Joel reached out to me and wanted all of you guys to know that all of his tables are made-to-order & there’s an expanding option as well)
4.) Couch:  The Avec Apartment Sofa from Cb2 is no longer available in the fabric “heathered,”  but “flax” is also a nice option if you like this look!
5.) Floor Lamp: This came from an antique lighting store in Manhattan.
Get the look with the Ikea Alang Lamp or the West Elm Telescoping Lamp

6.) Wood Arm Chair: Though this mid-century modern accent chair looks like it came straight from history (Carrie found it at a vintage store after all!), the Elementary production crew later discovered a Crate & Barrel label on it!
Get the look with the Specs Chair from CB2

joan watson elementary apartment kitchen lucy liu

 [psst… you can click the image above to enlarge it so it’s easier to read!]


These were picked up from a prop house in New York and then reupholstered by Carrie and her team
Linon Stool
Montego Bay Barstool

joan watson elementary apartment bedroom bed painting art lucy liu

[psst… you can click the image above to enlarge it so it’s easier to read!]


1.) Abstract artwork : The custom screen art was done by Lucy Liu.  “Once we saw her artwork, we really liked it,” the Set Decorator said. “It has a really good graphical element. She suggested it to us and let us look at it. She really left the final decision up to us.”
2.) Linen Bed Frame: This came from CB2, and I believe it’s the “Facade Bed” in a color that’s no longer available on their site
3.) Books: “We hand picked them based on her character,” Carrie explained. “It’s all based on the idea the that she’s been apprenticing with Sherlock. Some of them are crime books, some of them are psychology books, some of them are science books. Anything that would help her continue on with the whole idea of observation.Or maybe case histories from crimes. Anything that would help her in terms of her work and solving a case. Also there’s some art books, the whole idea that with Sherlock is he’s knowledgable about so many things. He’s like a sponge. We wanted the books to reflect that in her case, too. We put some medical books that she might’ve brought out of storage from her days as a doctor.”
4.) Embroidered Bedding: Carrie got this set on sale in 2014 from ABC Carpet & Home, which means it no longer available and I don’t have an exact product link …but it looks very similar to the Sefte Charcoal Bedding.
Or you can get the look with the Anthropologie Enmore Duvet, the Melange Home Duvet, or the Vera Wang Lattice Duvet
5.) Table Lamp: Ikea Tral Lamp
6.) Nightstands: Crate & Barrel James Nightstand (<– still available & on sale!)

joan watson elementary apartment office desk chair lucy liu

[psst… you can click the image above to enlarge it so it’s easier to read!]


1.) Desk: Carrie said this desk, which she thinks came from the used office furniture store Two Jakes in Brooklyn,  is probably from the late 70s early 80s. “We didn’t want all of her stuff to be stuck in the 50s, we wanted to bring in the mid- century and the modern feel, but to keep it spanning a period of time. There’s a little bit of contemporary in there.”
Want to get the look? Check out this Frank Desk or this Alba Desk.
2.) Desk Lamp: Carrie couldn’t remember where this desk lamp came from (perhaps another show she worked on in her past life?)!
You can still get the look with this Crate & Barrel version
3.) Green Swivel Chair: This vintage Herman Miller chair came from a used office furniture store in Mount Vernon.
Get the look with this Kartell Swivel Chair or this Cobi Chair in “Basil”
4.) Bulletin Board:  This is Joan’s version of a crime board where she keeps files/photos up to study a case.  “Usually it’s just a few pieces of paper up there and much cleaner,” the Set Decorator explained.
5.) Sideboard/Buffet: The mid-century modern piece, which came from the vintage furniture store RePOP in Brooklyn, has a dry bar on one side and was re-painted by the Elementary crew. Carrie said it’s meant to be Watson’s version of a filing cabinet/bookcase. “When you go to the brownstone, you see files, case histories, boxes, and stuff everywhere. With her, she only really has out what she’s working on and everything else is just put away. She only has out what she needs.”
Get the look with this Benton Retro Sideboard or this MASH Studios Credenza

Check out more on Elementary style on OSS by clicking right here!

Got an item you want to track down? A set you want deconstructed? Email me (findit@onscreenstyle.com), send me note via the contact page, or send me a Tweet

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