If you were a kid between 1984 and 1988, you probably loved Punky Brewster. The NBC sitcom about the adventures of a foster kid (played by Soleil Moon Frye) presented a beloved young role model who was independent, free-spirited, and fun. Production designer Kristan Andrews got a sense of this fandom firsthand last year when she told people she had just interviewed to work on a brand-new revival. “People lost their minds!” she recalls to Architectural Digest. “That’s why to be able to interpret who Punky is now is such a gift.”
In the revival of Punky Brewster (premiering Thursday, February 25 on Peacock), the titular character is a newly divorced photographer with three kids and a golden retriever named Brandy. (By the end of the pilot episode, she’ll also foster a young girl not unlike herself.) Punky also still lives in the same Chicago apartment that she grew up in with her late foster dad, Henry—only now it has been remodeled with vibrant motifs to match her nonconformist personality. “We knew we needed to find a place that could tell the story of what Punky has been up to and where she’s been for the past 30 years,” says Andrews (who also worked on Grown-ish). “I think we were able to create these layers by having fun with color, texture, pattern, and an international flair.”
With the original blueprints gone the way of cassette tapes and rotary phones, Andrews and her team first pored over old Punky Brewster episodes to nail down the dimensions for the main sets. “We did hours and hours of forensic set designing,” she jokes, noting that they even tried to duplicate the original molding. But because Henry’s old apartment was barely big enough for two people and her dog Brandon, the team expanded the space in the back with an open kitchen, a private master bedroom, and a reading loft. (The official story is that Henry bought a neighboring apartment.)
Just like in the original series, the cozy living room is where her heart is. “I’m most proud of it because I can imagine personally wanting to hang out there,” co–set decorator Britt Woods says. She found the anchoring Sven Cascadia Blue sofa from Article and picked up the throw pillows (a combination of solids and patterned) from CB2 and various consignment shops. The wallpaper was custom-created from Astek: Commercial Wall Coverings, while the picture frames on display—which include shots of Frye, her onscreen kids, and her late costar George Gaynes—were pulled from NBC Universal’s Asset Warehouse. The final touches included rugs, small sculptures, and lamps from the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, California, and other thrift stores. “It’s the right amount of casual without seeming messy,” Woods says.
The other spaces in Punky’s apartment fit that same warm bohemian vibe. Frye herself had ideas for the kitchen and based it off the one in her brother’s home. “She felt very strongly about this dark saffron burnt-orange stove, and it’s a very unique piece,” Andrews says. Her childhood bedroom now belongs to her girls, and Andrews says that if you look closely at a window you can see the sun that young Punky once painted. Meanwhile, Punky’s own lair features a rove concept cloud bed with a duvet from Anthropologie and West Elm sheets. “We worked off Soleil’s bed at home that she loves,” co–set decorator Jennifer Fulmer says.
And fear not, fans: The totally awesome treehouse—where Punky and her friends laughed, played games, and once even said no to drugs!—is still part of her world. Built on the soundstage inside NBC Universal Studios, it’s now decked out in lights, beanbag chairs, and toys. “It’s very important that the space be as close to the original as possible but also modern because her kids have grown up in it,” Andrews explains, adding that two transformational season-one scenes take place inside.
The treehouse, in fact, serves as a special coming-of-age space for Andrews, too. As a UCLA freshman back in the late 1980s, she toured the Universal Studios and was awed at seeing that particular set on a soundstage platform. “I was like ‘Oh, that’s how they do it!’” she recalls. “All these revelations came to me. To be able to do this series was an amazing full-circle moment in my career.”
The Punky Brewster Revival Imagines a Grown-Up Version of Her Spunky Style
Architectural Digest may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest