In preparation for the 15th installment of the CBS summer staple, THR debuts 15 images of the home that awaits the houseguests, including a room-by-room breakdown by longtime production designer Scott Storey.
Arguably the most important room in the Big Brother house, the custom-made couches are a staple because that's where the houseguests evict, vote and speak to Julie Chen. Notice the fireplace on the wall; its addition added a homey feeling. Says Storey: "I wanted it to feel that this was residential, that this is a house." One noticeable difference is the single couch that has taken the place of the two nomination chairs. That, Storey implies, is intentional: "There's a reason ..." (Chen confirmed as much, hinting that it deals with the twist.)
Home Sweet Home
Big Brother, which airs three days a week on CBS throughout the summer, will bring back the 24-hour live feeds (this time on CBS.com) and the nightly aftershow, Big Brother: After Dark, on TVGN (it previously aired on Showtime). Storey, who had a hand in everything from the look and feel of the house to each piece of furniture, hints that the "front of house is entirely different." He adds: "It's huge. You will be surprised and blown away." That particular area will be unveiled by Julie Chen on premiere night.
A Circular Kitchen
Perhaps the most eye-popping change from past seasons is the kitchen, no longer rectangular ("I wanted none of that," Storey says); with an actual island; and in a deep red. "It was time for us to mix it up a little bit more," he explains. Because the houseguests spend a lot of their time in the kitchen, he wanted to open up the space more — and infuse the arrow theme (the countertops are arrow-shaped). "Having an island kitchen is so much more conducive to the chatter that goes on in the house, the cross-talk in the conversations," Storey says.
CBS has been touting the new season as its biggest ever, and Storey confirms Big Brother houseguests will be in the house for two additional weeks this go-around. Will this mean more houseguests than ever before? If so, the wall — which displays the competitors' mugs — suspiciously features 16 key slots. (Seasons nine and 14 also featured 16 houseguests.)
'Catch Me If You Can'-Inspired Arrows
The 1964 New York World's Fair is all over the two-story set, but arrows also feature prominently throughout the house. "I liked the idea of arrows, and I was really captured by the opening credits of Catch Me If You Can," Storey says. "The opening credits of the movie is spectacular animation with so much motion and arrows moving people forward." Those two aspects, according to Storey, defined the house's design DNA.
The more colorful, playful bedroom was inspired by Mary Blair, who designed "It's a Small World" for Disney. "If you look at it through that eye, you'll see her influence. She was an amazing graphic artist," Storey says. "I always like one room that's more masculine and one room that's a lot more feminine. Hopefully the women castmembers will feel really comfortable in that room."
One of the bedrooms celebrates husband-and-wife furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames, known for iconic pieces like the Eames chair. "I suspect this was [what] their architecture studio [looked like], much more masculine," Storey says.
Right This Way
The staircase leading up to the second level of the house, where the HOH room is located, is painted bright gold with colorful arrows leading the houseguests into the bathroom. Interestingly, Storey says that the majority of the bedrooms — the Have Not room will be unveiled on-air — only have double beds, which will add some necessary drama. "On move-in, everybody is going to have a bedmate pretty much," he hints. "That should create some interesting dynamics right away."
"There's another throughline in the house, which is air travel and how glamorous it all was," Storey says. It all goes back to the time period of the New York World's Fair. "That was the height of Pan Am and Mad Men," he says. "It's the frequent flyer lounge in the airport. There's a large image of an airplane, there's a cocktail bar, there's vintage airplanes. It's the Admiral's Club."
Air Travel: 'Big Brother' Twist?
The room best used for scheming has a jet-setting theme to it, which plays prominently in season 15. "There's another element of the show that I can't really discuss," Storey says coyly. "It has a distinctive airline feeling to it. You will see that as the season plays out. The Frequent Flyer Lounge will make sense with all this other stuff going on."
The Bathroom for the Senses
The area in the house that gets Storey the most excited is the bathroom, designed to look like a sauna. And pictures don't do it justice: "It's the best-smelling bath on television!" Here's a staggering stat: The bathroom is made out of 4,000 linear boards of true cedar. "We refer to it as the hot pot. The yard gets scorching hot during the summer, and I liked that idea. So the bathroom — another area they hang out in — is a clean, pretty space."
HOH: On Top of the City
While the main floor of the Big Brother house is stacked with color, the upstairs HOH room is not. "I wanted it to be totally void of all color," Storey says, "so every piece of furniture in there is black, white or silver." The walls are plastered with a print of a manipulated Los Angeles skyline — to ground the show in its Southern California setting — with blue LED lights peeking through. While every HOH will get personalized items and snacks, Storey says that the room will stay the same throughout the season.
Hanging Out in '60s L.A.
The chess area right outside the HOH room is also a popular hangout spot for the houseguests, so Storey made sure to incorporate the Southern California setting along with the 1960s. "The image is an aerial view of the Los Angeles freeway in 1969," he says. "As you move upstairs, you have the tower of LAX against one wall. What else complements that better than the freeways? We all know and love them."
Curves, Curves, Curves
From the looks of it, the outside sitting area is much smaller due to the curved shape of the new couches. Does this mean that less people can sit on it comfortably? "You know, it might be less people [who can fit on it]," Storey says. "We always find a way to make sure all 16 of our houseguests are uncomfortable."
The New Backyard
The entire backyard was completely redone. "We have all new grass. We painted everything. We have a eucalyptus background and the sky above it," Storey says.