Rose ceremonies, cocktail parties, the Bachelor mansion, and the all-important Proposal Platform: When it comes to creating the look of The Bachelor (and its various spin-offs), production designer Angelic (pronounced An-je-leek) Rutherford does it all. After starting her career as a scenic painter and set builder, she moved into reality TV production design (including MTV’s Real World/Road Rules franchise) before arriving at Casa Bachelor in 2004 for Jesse Palmer’s season. I interviewed Rutherford in the mansion’s “art room,” where props of all kinds — including the long-stemmed red roses — are housed during production. After I was done geeking out over the roses (it was a little disappointing to learn that they’re purchased “someplace downtown,” not some magical store dedicated to growing Bachelor-only flowers), Rutherford explained what goes into designing the most dramatic reality show ever.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You and your team redesign the mansion interior every season?
ANGELIC RUTHERFORD: Yes, we change up the whole color scheme and the textures, and repurpose some furniture, recover a lot of pieces, and repaint the house. There’s probably — I don’t know how many layers of paint on these walls. [Turns to a nearby colleague] Dustin, how many layers of paint do you think are on these walls? Twenty-something?
DUSTIN: Maybe six [layers] a year.
RUTHERFORD: But we paint it back [when production ends]. There’s a whole lot of paint on the walls in this house.
DUSTIN: The rooms are getting smaller. [Laughs]
RUTHERFORD: Everything’s recovered, reupholstered, redesigned, to fit the personality of the Bachelor or Bachelorette.
What’s the design vibe for Colton?
This season we kept it casual but elegant, and fancy enough to be able to shoot [the cocktail party] at night. You have a house full of girls [living] here, they’re hanging out on the couch, the same couches in the mixer room that they’re on right now, but they’re using them in the daytime. They’re eating lunch, hanging out on the couches in their bathing suits, their casual wear, but then that whole room has to transform into a formal night [for the cocktail party]. It’s a bit of a tricky design, but it’s fun to come up with the different looks.
Where do you get the furniture and other decorations for the house?
Things are purchased, but I would say about 80 percent of the stuff is custom [made]. We could find something at a flea market or an antique store and rework it.
The rose ceremony room doubles as a sitting room during the day
Since a real family lives here and you have to clear everything out when production ends, where does it all go?
It all goes into a warehouse.
Wait, there’s a warehouse full of 22 seasons worth of Bachelor furniture somewhere?
Yeah! [Laughs] It’s a big warehouse that we store all kinds of stuff in, from couches to dining tables and chairs and bunk beds.
You and your team travel with the show — do you design the dates as well?
We have a couple of date teams that hopscotch to the locations, and they design the dates. And then [my team] has the cocktail party location and then the rose ceremony locations. We take these spaces and we “Bachelorize” them, turn them into a working space for us to shoot in.
What’s the transformation you’re most proud of?
One of my favorites is when we had Chris Soules as our Bachelor, and his barn — he had a family barn that was untouched [for years]. There was hay in this barn from, like, the ’30s. We emptied it out, we made it safe and totally made it romantic. That was probably one of my favorites — just to see the before and after, and it was such a crazy challenge.
I have to ask about those hanging lamps that everyone always hits their heads on – why don’t you just raise them up a tad?
During The Bachelorette seasons we raise them up a little bit because we have taller people. But now everyone’s a little shorter, and it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.