'Everybody Loves Raymond': Chez Ray | EW.com

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'Everybody Loves Raymond': Chez Ray

It won't win Good Housekeeping's seal of approval, but the set of the Ray Romano's sitcom makes room for great comedy

”It’s Anti-Martha Stewart,” says Patricia Heaton of the cluttered house she shares with Ray Romano on CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond. ”One occasionally yearns to have a sleek, contemporary look, but this really looks like anybody’s home who has more than one kid.” Which is the point. ”When you’re doing a show like this, you almost want it to be a mirror of what the audience is sitting in,” says creator Philip Rosenthal, who knows exactly where the Raymond set ranks on the sitcom socioeconomic ladder: ”It’s in between the Roseanne and Cosby sets of the ’80s.”

To achieve the perfect Lynbrook, Long Island, look, set decorator Donna Stamps-Yarmer scoured flea markets and stores like Target. ”A lot of what we’re trying to reflect is stuff that people can look at and say, ‘I’m comfortable with that,”’ says Stamps-Yarmer. Adds production designer Sharon Busse, ”There’s no particular style—it’s eclectic and pulled together.”

The vaguely feminine aesthetic doesn’t represent Ray’s regular-guy personality because ”Ray doesn’t have a whole lot of say in the house—he basically exists there, and Debra runs the place,” says Busse. Explains Rosenthal: ”He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want [a] say. If the chair was uncomfortable, he’d say something.”

But off screen, exec producer Romano does have a say in the set (located on Stage 5 of Warner Bros.’ L.A. lot), and he uses only one criterion for the decor: ”Is it conducive to funny?”

LIVING ROOM

”That’s the only expensive thing on the set,” says Stamps-Yarmer of the Stickley rocking chair, although it’s actually a cheaper reproduction from JCPenney. ”Debra’s family has more money, so maybe it’s what her parents gave to them.” As for the sofa, Romano and his towering TV brother often toss the pillows before shooting. ”Ray and Brad [Garrett] hate pillows,” says Stamps-Yarmer. ”They get up and say, ‘Get these things out of the way!’ and I’m like, ‘They’re pretty!”’ Explains Romano: ”We’re too big as it is. The front row of the audience has to get out when Brad sits on the couch.”

PLUSH LIFE

The Barones’ house is strewn with kids’ stuff, like this alcove of stuffed animals, which also serve as de facto stand-ins for the seldom-seen children (Madylin, Sullivan, and Sawyer Sweeten). ”It’s to show that these are people with kids without really focusing on the kids,” says Rosenthal. The toys have grown along with the tots. ”There’s a progression to reflect their ages,” says Stamps-Yarmer. ”We’re working out of Barney and into Harry Potter.”

PHOTO OPS

These family photos are color Xeroxes of Heaton and Romano with two of their real-life kids, John and Alexandra respectively. ”I love having those around, and my boys love having them on the set,” says Heaton, mother of four sons. Romano, father of three sons and one daughter, is more ambivalent: ”When I see the pictures from when my kids were so little, I get very nostalgic, which probably isn’t good for the scene. I’ve gotta come in with some energy, and I’m sitting there going ‘Ohhhh, I’m old.”’