If you’re looking for a picture-perfect location to raise a family, look no further than Shaker Heights, Ohio. The real-life location is the backdrop for Little Fires Everywhere, the series based on the book of the same name. The residents are all loving and caring, the school system is great, and if your grass ends up taller than 6 inches, you get a fine. It’s almost Stepford-like so you know what that means — there are horrible things happening behind the scenes.
However, if you’re thinking about moving to the picturesque Shaker Heights as seen in Little Fires Everywhere, think again. Though the series takes place in Ohio, and it certainly looks like Ohio, it didn’t actually film in Ohio. It just looks like Ohio with a whole lot of television magic, because the series actually filmed in Los Angeles.
Considering that the series stars, Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, are two of the most in-demand actresses today, it makes sense that they didn’t travel far from their homes in LA to film the series. Rather, the production designer Jessica Kender took a trip to Ohio, and then came back to the west coast to recreate it. She found Mia Warren’s house exterior in Pasadena and Elena Richardson’s home in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles.
“We saw this big beautiful Tudor-esque house built in the 1920s,” Kender explained to Architectural Digest. “It was in this little pocket on top of a hill with a fountain in the middle. Everything about it read very old money, it has this beautifully moneyed perfection type of vibe.” And don’t worry, they didn’t really burn the house down as we see in the opening moments of the series; rather, they recreated the whole frame of the house on a soundstage and let that burn.
Not only that, but don’t forget that the series takes place in the late 1990s, which means that the houses also have to look like they’re straight out of the ‘90s. For that, Kender turned to actual ‘90s Pottery Barn furniture and modeled the master bedroom at the Richardsons after the styles of Laura Ashley in the 1990s. But even doing this proved challenging, as Kender continued, “The ’90s is not a hip decade right now, so finding sources was hard. We did a nationwide search on eBay, and we also looked at Craigslist and Calico Corners for fabrics.”