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The Daily Dish Dirty John

Debra Newell Tells Us How the Dirty John House Compares to Her Home at the Time

Bravo's Home & Design chatted with Debra Newell, the real-life designer portrayed in Dirty John, about how her aesthetic was captured on TV.    

By Courtney Thompson
Take a Tour of the Balboa House

If you’ve been tuning in to Bravo’s limited series Dirty John, then you’ve likely been as captivated by the background set décor as you have been by the show’s treacherous storyline. Quick recap for those newbies joining us here: Debra Newell (played by Connie Britton) is a California-based interior designer who met a man named John Meehan online, fell in love and moved in with him (and secretly married him!) — only to discover he was a con artist attempting to take her for everything she had.

Home & Design recently chatted with the real-life Debra, who the show is based on, about the show’s portrayal of the infamous Balboa condo she secretly rented with Meehan, which practically plays supporting role in Dirty John. “I love the style [of the set] and I thought it was close in style [to my actual house at the time],” Debra told us. “We got to walk the penthouse and look at everything — I thought they did a great job!”

As for how the condo differed from where she actually lived with Meehan — let’s not forget, Debra is a celebrated interior designer, after all, so clearly she notices these things! — she dished that, “What was different than my own home was my penthouse was in blacks and gold and mirror and very glam.”

For the show, the three-story rental was a bit beachier, with a softer, more neutral color palette. “[The set] was more contemporary with the blues and golds,” she added. “It was really pretty, but it was a touch different.” (Watch the video above to get a full tour of the set.)

Which is actually more in-line with her preferred aesthetic these days. When we asked her how her personal design preferences skew, Debra said, “I would say my style is clean. I love contemporary. I love transitional, and modern. Those are probably my favorites, yet at the same time I love farmhouse and Restoration Hardware, too.”

To see the set for yourself, tune in to Dirty John on Sundays at 10/9c.

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