by Saxon Henry
In his dedication to his recently published book Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Design & Decoration, Bullard credits his mother, Rosina Bullard for making him the person he is today. We at Global Trends say, “Well done!” to this parent who gave her son encouragement in all he has ever done because the pages of interior design magic featured within the Rizzoli book are simply stunning!
Live, Love and Decorate
The varied aesthetic leanings of the chapter titles prove his breadth, as do the design details about each project. These range from Barefoot Sophistication in Malibu and Château Gütsch in Lucerne, Switzerland, to Imperial Arms in Chislehurst, England, and Castello di Santa Eurasia in Umbria, Italy. Tommy Hilfiger, who wrote the Foreword, notes, “When my wife, Dee, and I saw the cover of Architectural Digest featuring a rock star’s home in L.A. designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, we were absolutely floored. It was so fabulous and similar to the style we were dreaming of for our Miami home.”
Hilfiger calls the result of the eventual interiors that Bullard achieved a dream project for them all, adding that Martyn’s interpretation of what the Hilfigers described as “shagadelic groovy” is a modern interpretation of their fantasy. “It goes beyond our expectations: the colors, the scale, the shapes, and the vibe,” he explains. “Prolific is the word I just to describe Martyn. He is unique in his approach, always looking at everything from a different angle and point of view.”
In his introduction, Bullard describes himself as lucky: “I wake up each morning knowing that whatever that day brings, I will have been creative, designed something new, and somehow made something beautiful.” This said loveliness achieved is made more vibrant by his propensity for the unexpected: paper-backed Majorelle fabric becomes wallpaper; tribal-chic animal skin motifs are reflected in the shiny surface of a modern coffee table; and a neon sign in his own handwriting that declares “Live, Love, and Decorate.”
The chapter in the book titled “Barefoot Sophistication” features a home in Malibu with aesthetic leanings inspired by the gardens, as the owners wanted an indoor/outdoor living experience. The 1980s Santa Fe vibe of the original house did not suit the couple so Bullard set about opening it up to the abundance of natural light. “A vast windowed atrium was added to the entry stairwell flooding the heart of the house with light and providing a magnificent view of the inner courtyard,” Bullard explained. “Rows of French doors were added to both sides of the living room, allowing complete flow from the inner courtyard to the garden.
In the main living space, Bullard planked the living room in golden French oak and added an eighteenth-century fireplace from Belgium. The coffee table is cordovan steel, and the side tables are antiques from India. Large, comfortable, button-tufted sofas—covered in Holland and Sherry linen—entice guests to say longer. Mixing styles, materials and eras, Bullard retrofitted a large-scale Swedish cabinet with edgy patina as a bar, which he juxtaposed against cheekily modern Jean Royère armchairs covered in Claremont cut mohair.
Bullard exercised his facility for melding indoor and outdoor spaces in the above beach house in Point Dume, California, as well. Clad in reclaimed gray driftwood planking, from which enormous metal-framed windows gleam, the house is formed from a series of pavilions that combine Indonesian and Japanese influences. “The entire structure is full of subtle surprises, unexpected touches of luxury, and moments of tranquility, all intended for ease of use,” the designer says. “Chris [the owner] lives the ultimate Malibu lifestyle of healthy eating, surfing, entertaining, and family life, so his house was designed to be both a sanctuary and the hub of his social life, decorated with style and simplicity.”
Bullard dubbed the residence holding the above master bathroom “Clifftop Shagri-La.” Also in Malibu, the Balinese style was decided upon after the homeowners visited projects Bullard realized for Kid Rock and Cher. They asked the designer for an oasis, and how remarkably he succeeded with the three limestone-clad pavilions set around a central water garden courtyard—all opening up to vast ocean views and entertaining terraces that immediately transport visitors to an enchanting and exotic place!
“Bringing Bali to Malibu is not the simplest of tasks,” Bullard notes. “It could very easily become cliché and Disneylike.” A shopping trip to Bali allowed him to illustrate his vision for the enclave he wanted to hand over to the clients, and gave the couple the opportunity to choose architectural details that spoke to them. To keep the interiors from being predictable, he added furnishings from around the world.
The master bathroom shown above was created from the façade of a Rajasthani palace. At center stage is a Waterworks copper bathtub, the room clad in Rose Tarlow wallpaper. The giant glass Hundi lanterns were custom blown for the space, and the African headrest is perfect as a place to put a drink or a towel beside the tub when relishing a deliciously sensual experience—not merely from the luxuriousness of warm water but as a result of the surroundings, as well.
The master bedroom above with its statuesque four-poster bed is set within Villa Luna in Hollywood, California. “I fell madly in love with this splendid Tuscan-style villa when my longtime client and friend Ellen Pompeo first showed it to me a couple of years ago,” Bullard writes. “The house, grand in scale and proportion, is situated in an exclusive gated enclave of old Hollywood where Cecil B. DeMille once lived alongside his most celebrated movie stars.”
The home, now owned by the Grey’s Anatomy star, was badly neglected but Bullard notes it didn’t intimidate his client in the least, as she is a budding design enthusiast when not filming or producing projects. She is also a passionate defender of restoring important architectural homes rather than tearing them down, a stance we at Global Trends applaud. The bones of the 1929 home were originally designed by famed architect Paul Revere Williams for silent film idol Antonio Moreno.
“Ellen and I found antique pieces that would blend with the midcentury classics and artwork we had acquired, and I visited Marrakech to design the custom lighting for the Moroccan-inspired screening room and marble-clad Turkish hamam.” These rooms are wrapped in a sophistication that feel like walking onto a chic movie set whose story could easily have played out in Casablanca. The project, which took two years to complete, holds the serene bedroom above, which is paneled in oak—every other section embedded with large, distressed mirrors. “Every room in the house and guesthouse has been lovingly restored,” explains the designer.
“‘Live, love, and decorate’ is my motto, my personal directive to live by,” Bullard notes. “I believe in living each day to its fullest, loving with an abandoned passion, and decorating to our heart’s content.” We salute his joie de vivre and the talent he brings to a project each time he opens his heart to the discipline of design!
Tagged under: Casablanca, contemporary architecture, contemporary design, design philosophy, design process, design visionaries, hospitality design, Japanese, light fixtures, lighting design, Los Angeles, mid-century modern, residential lighting, restaurant lighting, surprising use of materials, trends