This week, we’re discussing one of our all-time favorite comfort watch movies for decor and home inspiration. This is an ongoing series for us, and this week’s selection is Knives Out!
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- It’s a brick mansion with lots of green detailing.
- It has a lot of custom stained glass.
- The house is filled with props and antiques.
- There’s a hidden window.
- It’s a little bit gothic and spooky.
- There’s a chair with prop knives all around it.
Favorite Wardrobe Piece:
- The sweater Ransom is wearing at the restaurant with Marta
Other Cozy Inspiration:
- Vintage games
- Ransom’s mid-century house
We mention Emma’s blog post: 5 Ways to Make Invisible Ink
Rate the Movie from 0 to 5 Prop Knives:
Emma – 10 out of 5 – Favorite movie of all time!
Elsie – 10 out of 5 – It’s the best movie!
- Miss an Episode? Get Caught Up!
- Episode #181: Organizing Your Home (Deep Dive)
- Episode #180: Selling Our Home Full Furnished
- Episode #179: All Things Self-Care
Episode 182 Transcript:
Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort listen. This week we’re discussing one of our all-time favorite comfort movies for decor and home inspiration. This is an ongoing series for us, and this week’s selection is Knives Out written and directed by Ryan Johnson. Hell yes. I’m so excited.
Emma: It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Actually, I think it is my favorite movie.
Elsie: Yeah, I think it’s my favorite movie of all time, especially since I watched it yesterday and now I’m like all seven out about it. It’s everything to me. Okay, so can you describe the movie to those who haven’t watched it before?
Emma: Yeah, so it’s a murder mystery and they do a fun thing where you see the murder in the beginning or manslaughter or suicide, you sort of have to uncover that. And then throughout the movie, you realize that there’s a lot more to it, and that’s sort of the mystery that you’re uncovering. So it’s about a wealthy crime novelist named Harlan, and he’s invited his extended family. So all his kids, their loved ones, their wives, their husbands, their children for a big birthday party, and his mom is also there. Who seems to be much, much older than him, she’s a little old lady in a chair who never really speaks. They’re all gathered for this big birthday dinner together and throughout the night you see that he has a little, not really fights, but like they each have a motive for murder, basically. And they’re having some kind of tiff with Harlan. So he also has a young lady who works for him as a nurse, I guess, you would say, so she helps give him his medication and different things like that, and she’s with him when he dies. It seems like he’s overdosing on a drug that she’s given him, and then he kills himself. I guess, so that she wouldn’t get in trouble, that’s the idea. The detective who shows up doesn’t know who’s hired him, so he’s sort of figuring out two mysteries in a way. And he also has the most hilarious accent of all time, and he just has a lot of weird colloquialisms.
Elsie: There’s a fake American accent from movies that is like Kentucky Fried Chicken accent or whatever.
Emma: Yes, it’s very foghorn, leg horn. I do declare kind of thing.
Elsie: It’s very fun. I’ve never heard of a real person who had that accent. But I love that it’s a trope or whatever.
Emma: Yeah, they do a lot of that because the main character who dies is a crime novelist. So I think they’re kind of trying to give us like the classic detective and his whole house is decorated and we’re gonna talk about his house a lot, but his whole house is decorated with things from his books. So there’s a lot of murder weapons around seemingly because he’s a crime novelist.
Elsie: Yes. It’s magical. From the very opening scenes of the movie, they’re showing the house. They show the house like crazy, it’s not like that in every movie. There are so many movies with great houses that you kind of barely see. You really get to see lots of angles, lots of shots. A large part of the movie is filmed in the house, so that’s really fun for us to geek out on. Let’s get into the decor inspiration.
Emma: Wait, I wanna know your memories from when you first saw this movie. Do you remember the first time? Did you see it in theaters?
Elsie: I didn’t, I saw this movie for the first time at the beginning of Covid in our house, so it wasn’t really that long ago, and I remember immediately, obviously I felt obsessed with it. I really like old movies and it really captures the spirit of old movies, like Clue. A lot of people would say it’s inspired by Clue. I watched The Clue from the seventies recently also, and I will say, it’s not even close to this entertaining, but they’re both really entertaining it. It kind of outdoes its own category. It’s just a shining star, it’s an A plus. And then on top of it all, it gave me the house inspiration of a lifetime because truly I think from this movie I discovered a part of myself because I was still in my mid-century era and I started to realize, I think I’m in love with dark wood and carved wood and big curtains and rugs and just like antiques. I didn’t know that was a style that I would personally like for my own home at the time when I first watched this movie. So it’s kind of life-changing.
Emma: Yeah, these set designers, we bow down because they love all of the sets in this movie so much but Harlan’s House in particular. I didn’t watch it too much before you then, because it actually came out in November, or December of 2019. So it hadn’t been out super long before 2020, it was the very end of the year of 2019. I saw it in theaters and I remember when it was over I just had the feeling of, I could watch that whole movie again and that’s pretty rare for me. That’s happened three or four times in my whole life. So I knew it was just one of those movies that I loved that I would watch again right now. If they were gonna play it again and I was allowed to stay in this theater. I was thrilled about finding out the mystery. I also just loved watching everything and the moment that the detective comes on with his crazy accent, I was like, what are we doing, and by the end of the movie, I was like, I love him. I wanna see a whole series where he does murder mysteries. I really need to see more. I need to know where he came from. I needed everything about this movie I love.
Elsie: 10 out of 10. Okay, so let’s start breaking down the decor inspiration. There’s so much, so it’s loved, hated, strong reactions, anything you have. Let’s start with the mansion. So Harlan Thrombi’s mansion, it’s kind of like both of our dream houses in our special neighborhood in Missouri. There’s this one house that kind of resembles it.
Emma: I call it the knives outhouse.
Elsie: Yeah. It’s kind of elusive because you can’t really get a good look at it from the street. And there are no pictures on Zillow, believe me, we’ve tried. Anyway, it’s just a type of house, it’s a brick mansion. Just Google Knives Out house if you haven’t seen it so that you know what we’re talking about. As we go through this, but yeah, starting with the exterior, it’s just like a stunning, gorgeous, but very weird and creepy mansion cuz it’s like a brick mansion but with lots of green detailing and I think a green roof. I need to look at it.
Emma: I feel like it has a green roof, but also I know the house that I call the knives outhouse has a green roof so I’m like, have I just put these houses together? So much on my mind. It also sits on, I don’t know how big the land is, but it sits on a piece of land. They do a few drone shots of this house in the movie, and it just looks like in some ways a tiny castle but not. Not like an actual castle. It’s just a very big home and looks a little bit gothic. A little bit spooky. It’s lovely.
Elsie: Okay, confirming that it has a regular shingled roof and we were wrong, but it has a lot of green on the detailing. Anyway, it’s spectacular, it’s a spooky mansion, a dream come true. So some of my favorite things about it, it has a lot of custom stained glass. Not in just one place in the house, just kind of everywhere you look it’s lots and lots of stained glass. So that is really magical. And then in every room, it seems to be that everything is either an antique or a prop. You would imagine it’s from some of his movies because he’s a famous writer and he would have many of his novels made into movies. There are just lots of relics in the house. There’s this chair with prop knives all around it. There is a giant dollhouse, I’ll never, ever, ever be able to forgive that it doesn’t show the inside of the dollhouse. And I’m like mad about it till I die. I wanna see that dollhouse. And then, just so many rooms with candles and sconces and every little gothic detail that you can possibly imagine.
Emma: Yeah. It’s also a house that just has tons of rugs and tons of wallpaper. So many books, books, books, books everywhere.
Elsie: There’s a two-story library.
Emma: Yeah. And then lots and lots of framed photos and artwork. And they do the thing where the matting is kind of different. It’s not like a wall where it’s like, plain black frames with perfect matting and it’s very eclectic. The set designers did such an amazing job because it does feel like a house that someone has lived in for decades and decades. It feels like a house where someone has collected so many things and loved so many things. And they explained throughout the movie that many of the things are props he’s had made from his books or whatever, or just things he bought from Spirit Halloween and made look like his book or whatever. He’s just a collector of things, he’s a very dramatic older man because he likes to write dramatic murder mysteries. And there’s not any particular wallpaper in the house that I’m like, that one wallpaper, I want that in my house, or that one statute. Just the whole thing just feels like I would love to walk around this house. I would love to look at everything. I could probably spend hours walking around this person’s house and looking at all their little collected things. In some ways, it reminds me of our grandmother, our late grandmother, Karina because she was quite the collector of things. She even had these spooky masks that she had hung up above the bunk beds when we were kids. Now that I’m thinking about it, and that’s really weird. That was actually really spooky now that I’m thinking about it. But they were cool. They were just like,
Elsie: We liked playing with them.
Emma: We liked playing with them, yeah, we liked it and they were weird and in some ways it made me feel that it was just a person who could appreciate lots of different styles.
Elsie: Let me say one thing about our grandma so everyone will understand. She had a taxidermy blowfish, blown up with spikes all over it and it was one of my favorite things to play with. You could hold a blown-up blowfish.
Emma: There was also a piranha and you could see its teeth, and it was dried out. It was the stuffed piranha. We would play with that all the time. Why she had this piranha, I don’t know.
Elsie: It’s everything though, for sure. By those two things, you can get a picture. I think what I aspire to about the house is the level of detail. To have a house that’s thoughtful of memories and relics and details that have some kind of story or meaning just to the owner is the most special thing in the world. I can’t imagine anything better.
Emma: One of my favorite little spots in the house is his study, which is the room where he dies early in the film and it has this built-in arch that seems to have all artwork and books all around it.
Elsie: Kind of like a rounded ceiling. It’s a very unique-shaped room, and if you’ve ever tried to build a room like I’m doing right now in an attic, you understand that it’s necessary thing that you have to do is be very creative with angles. Yeah, they made something in the tippy top of the house that optimized the space. I love that room and I also love the hallway that has a trick window. And they say at one point in the movie, one of the detectives, this is one of my favorite characters, is there’s a detective that’s a mega fan who’s read all the books. And through the whole movie, his function is pretty much just calling out things that are from books, which I love and it was very nice. Anyway, he says, that’s the trick window and he says what book it’s from, from some famous novel and I just thought that was amazing. And it’s also used in the movie as a part of the mystery. So yeah, hidden doors, I have a thing, an affinity for hidden anything.
Emma: Hidden windows, hidden doors. If you don’t like that, get outta here. I also think whoever did the sound editing or, I don’t know what their title would be, but there are so many little creeks and it feels like an old house because it sounds like an old house. There’s one particular scene where the creeks wake another character up and so she’s giving an alibi for certain people cuz she was awake cuz she heard all the creeks in the floor. But even throughout the movie, they do such a great job. You can’t smell a movie but other than that, everything about it to me is like this is an old house. This is someone’s real old house that they’ve lovingly curated with spooky stuff for years and years and years.
Elsie: Yes, it’s incredible. And one last thing I wanna mention is when you’re watching the movie, just pay attention to the rugs because his rug collection is a 10 and those types of rugs, you can really buy them on Etsy for a couple hundred dollars. It’s not an unattainable thing and they’re so beautiful and so inspiring. So I am like filling my Etsy cart right now. It’s so cool. And then, we wanted to mention, there’s also a beautiful restaurant where Ransom and Marta eat lunch. And it’s very beautiful. It’s very cozy. If it were a restaurant in my town, I would go there every week probably. It’s gorgeous.
Emma: What they serve her is like this very rye bread, it’s very brown bread. I’m assuming it’s rye, I don’t really know. And it’s like coming up the sides of a bowl and then a bunch of beans in the middle, and that’s the meal they serve. It’s something about this restaurant and the meal and just everything. It might also be the sweater that Chris Evan’s character Ransom’s wearing. It’s a cable knit cozy, it feels like Norway or Sweden or something. Something about it just feels a little bit international to me, in such a cozy, happy, cold way. A cold place is what I mean.
Elsie: I’m glad you mentioned it because that sweater is my favorite piece of wardrobe from the movie. It is what everyone wants from a false sweater. Now, when you all watch the movie, you’ll see it too. It’s like the perfect fall sweater.
Emma: It looks like it is a pleasant amount of itchy, you can’t wear it on a warm day. It’s gonna be too thick, but it’s the coziest thing on the perfect day.
Elsie: Yes. Okay, so other cozy inspiration, there are so many things. I feel like this is a movie to watch if you’re about to go antique shopping or if you’re ever about to for a big antique hunt, definitely watch this movie first. But I wanna get some vintage games now because there’s a scene with that where they’re playing a game together and it’s so sweet and it’s just everything, I love how everything in the house looks old because one of my things, this is definitely one of my toxic traits. When we watch tv I’ll be like, that glass is from Creighton Barrel, that’s not what a billionaire would have. I just know things about houses and call them out. But this set is so authentic, every single thing looks like an antique. I can’t spot a single thing in it that I believe is from Amazon. Which is so cool.
Emma: The only thing, and I think this makes it good, is there’s this coffee mug. The servants bring his breakfast in the morning and that’s when she discovers his body and the mug says something like my house, my rules and then at the very end of the movie when Marta is taking over and her character has risen as not the murderer, and it wasn’t her fault, she’s holding that mug, watching the family leave from the house and that mug again says, my house, my rules. But it doesn’t look like an old mug. It does look like something newer, but it’s very poignant why they’ve included this mug, feeds into the story because you see the mantle has been passed literally because this mug has been given from Harlan to Marta.
Elsie: I love it. Oh my gosh, I’m so high off this movie. I feel like I’m being kind of annoying.
Emma: We probably are. I’m not sorry.
Elsie: Any other cozy inspiration you can think of?
Emma: I was just gonna say, I do love Ranson’s house. They don’t show it a ton, but it’s this boxy, modern-looking house, but it doesn’t look necessarily brand new. It looks like it was modern.
Elsie: It’s a mid-century house for sure. It’s gorgeous, but it’s very out of place it fits his character really well. Mm-hmm.
Emma: Yeah, because he’s the whole family’s kind of odd. It’s not like they’re all the same except for this one, and he’s the black sheep. It’s like, well, I don’t know if I would even say that, but. It kind of shows the difference between him and Harlan. Because in some ways I think they are so similar and even Harlan says that they’re very similar people, but there are these kind of major differences, kind of like what’s in their heart. And I think they’re showing that through architecture a little bit in a way because this is a very different style of home. And it really looks kind of like a bond villain too. I dunno if villains are always in these modern houses like they don’t care about the world.
Elsie: That’s true. Yeah. Like why is that? That’s funny.
Emma: They’re sterile, they’re not warm and cozy. I don’t know.
Elsie: Too many windows. Something suspicious about that.
Emma: Very suspicious.
Elsie: The last thing I wanted to mention is there’s this scene in the movie, it’s from the party where they’re all sitting in the living room and the fireplace is going. There are candle sconces and there’s a lamp lit, but it’s very dark. And that was probably my ultimate, I wanna be in that room. I want to live in that house type of moment.
Emma: They’re all like magic birthday cake too, cuz it’s at his family dinner. So they’re just eating birthday cake around this fire and talking, I think about politics like families do you know? And fighting a little bit and it just felt magical.
Elsie: Also, there’s a part in the movie where he does invisible ink for his daughter and she reveals the ink by holding a cigarette lighter behind the letter and sort of like warming it up, not burning it, but warming it up and I love that part so much. His character is like living all of his little mystery things, which makes me so happy.
Emma: And she played lots of games with her father and it was clear that she knew right away like, oh, this will be invisible ink. And I will read what my dad loved me and is just really sweet to think about that kind of relationship that’s sort of like playful and whimsical and I don’t know, meaningful. And he’s passed, he dies early on in the movie and so it’s very special. Also just mentioning this for funsies, I recently did a post on childhood magic that’s five ways to do invisible ink. And three of them you have to heat up the paper underneath, just like she does in the movie. And I was thinking about her when I was photographing it. I think I made a little video for it too, so you can see how it reveals the message, but it’s fun.
Elsie: Incredible. That’s super cool. I love it. Okay, so trivia time. Should we go back and forth and read some trivia?
Emma: Yeah, let’s do it.
Elsie: Several artworks and window designs in the mansion feature the Motif Memento Mori depicting scenes of everyday life populated by skeletons or skulls. The motif, which roughly translates to remember, you are mortal in popular and Victorian times and used to remind individuals that death comes for all people, whether rich or poor. I love it. I’m screaming. I love it so much. I wanna make a stained glass window that says that. That’s so cool.
Emma: Yeah. And the movie is one of those kinds of themes, I suppose it is a little about class and wealth. He has a lot of fights with his family about money. There are a lot of fights about money. And so wealth and wealth within a family definitely is a theme. Another piece of trivia, the director Ryan Johnson, kept strict control over how much each actor knew about the script to make sure those playing characters in the dark were as confused as the people they were portraying, which I think would make it so much easier as an actor. If you didn’t know who the murderer was, that would make your job easier now because you don’t have to even act. You really don’t know. That would be fun.
Elsie: This is my favorite one. The portraits of Holland changed to reflect the situation, culminating at the end with a satisfying smile. I was screaming when I first read this because I never noticed that before. But they showed the portraits close up so many times. It makes so much sense, but I never noticed it. I’m so happy.
Emma: I definitely saw the portraits of him and I was like, how cool to have portraits of yourself up in your home? I wanna do that. And I never even noticed that they are changing throughout the movie to tell us what chapter we’re at, which is very cool.
Elsie: It’s magical. Oh, I love it. That’s so cool.
Emma: Despite playing his mother in the film, Kay Kellen, I think that might be how you say her name is six years and 27 days younger than Christopher Plumer, who plays her son. This is kinda like Golden Girls. The golden girl who is supposed to be the oldest was actually I think the youngest actress out of the group. Have you ever heard that? Anyway, that’s really funny because they really do go outta their way to make her seem very old in the movie, very feeble. She’s always in kind of a cloak and always sitting down and she has these huge glasses and she barely talks. So it actually kind of surprised me because I feel like you couldn’t even tell how old she is. They’re trying to make her seem like she’s a hundred years old.
Elsie: Well, to have an 85-year-old whose mother is at his birthday party, I think is pretty rare. And she would be a hundred years old, right?
Emma: Yeah, I guess so.
Elsie: More than that probably. So it’s pretty amazing. I thought it was, I thought that was a fun fact too. I wouldn’t have noticed really, but it’s definitely funny. Okay, according to Ryan Johnson, while making the film, he discovered that Apple has a rule of not allowing villains to use iPhones on camera, presumably talking about Jacob’s phone in films where the said product appears. Out of fear that doing so would hurt the brand’s image of their product. So they’ve apparently made this rule that extends to any movie involving their product. That would be annoying. I have to say, that would be annoying because if you’re going to make a modern movie, you kind of have to put iPhones in it. I always notice when they put the prop phones. I just think it’s more natural to put iPhones in modern movies. But if in a murder mystery like this where any character could be the villain and they all kind of seem like a villain at some point, that’s a little confusing. I don’t know what the rule means for a movie like that.
Emma: I also think some of my favorite characters are villains, so I might like iPhones more because the villain’s using them.
Elsie: That’s true. Yeah. I think we should do villain costumes when we’re doing our Halloween videos this year.
Emma: So now we’re gonna get to rate the movie. Maybe we should do 10 out of five prop knives is what I’m gonna give it. It’s amazing. The most amazing movie, my favorite movie of all time.
Elsie: 10 out of five, I agree. It’s the best movie. And I will say some people have messaged me about like, what do you think about Glass Onion compared to, and I just think, don’t compare them because Glass Onion is a really fun movie. It’s sort of like part two of Knives Out. You should definitely watch it if you enjoyed Knives Out and if you enjoy mysteries, it’s super fun, but it’s not in this house, and a big part of what we like about the movie is the house and the aesthetic. So it has a different aesthetic for sure. It doesn’t have what this movie has where I would rewatch it 50 times, but it’s 100% just as good of a story.
Emma: Yeah, it has the same detective. The detective is the same character. But yeah, other than that, it’s just a very different murder mystery. And I thought it was a blast, but it’s not this. I don’t really see why you have to compare. I wasn’t expecting a Knives Out two. I was just expecting another murder mystery, and I think it really delivered on that personally.
Elsie: Yes, I agree. It was very fun. I liked it. But yeah, I don’t think we would probably do it on the podcast, just because it’s not an aesthetic movie and a lot of what we talk about here is the houses. It’s cool in a bad way, but it’s not cool in a good way.
Emma: Yeah, I don’t know the thing that’s inspiring us, like this Harlan’s house. Harlan’s house is everything.
Elsie: Yes. Okay, so now is time for our special segment a joke or a fact with Nova. Here’s Nova, Nova this week do you have a joke for us or a fact?
Elsie: A fact. Okay, go ahead.
Nova: Today’s fact is, did you know that pickles were made of cucumbers?
Elsie: Oh, really? How’d you learn that?
Nova: I learned it at school, because I have a teacher, Ms. Thompson, and she loves learning about like the past and like things that world.
Elsie: Nice. Thanks for sharing.
Nova: Bye everyone.
Elsie: Have a good week. We hope you enjoyed this episode. Please continue to send us your request anytime. We love hearing what movies you want us to do on our rewatch episodes, and we’ll consider pretty much anything as long as it’s inspiring. Email us at email@example.com. Next week we are going to do our summer bucket list episodes, so we’ll see you next week.
This is one of my comfort movies, I’ve seen it at least 60 times, but I didn’t know some of the things you mentioned – like the memento mori paintings! I also love the production design in the new Emma and Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
One of my favorite set houses is the one in Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley. I’d love to hear your take on it! (And actually….there are multiple amazing houses in that movie!)
I vote that you become a house movie podcast only 🤣 jk but this was a great listen!
Side note- your Ritual vitamin ad made me lol! I am the *same way* with taking pills. I took their prenatals (tried like 50) when I was pregnant and it was the only one I could stomach
Haha! Thank you!!
Knives Out has quickly become one of my favorites too! The house is incredible. I love the movie episodes.
Thank you Jess! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the movie rewatches! XX
I’d love to see you call out the production designers when you do these film episodes! Knives Out designer David Crank has some great interviews about the sets and props in more detail. Very interesting stuff!
This timing is spot in on for me! Just started re-watching Knives Out this weekend (I’m watching it in a few sittings). Thanks, ladies!