“I want to be the dream maker. I want to create client’s decorative fantasies,” Martyn Lawrence Bullard says.
The award-winning interior designer to the stars has built a career over the past 30 years, helping design the homes of Hollywood’s rich and famous. And now it’s time for him to celebrate.
Last month, Bullard released his latest book, Star Style, which features never-seen-before images of the homes of some of his biggest clients, including the Kardashians, Gwen Stefani and Cher, who has written the foreword in the book.
“In my book, you’ll see there are so many different interiors, from an 18th-century Irish restoration to a disco apartment, to a Palm Beach tropical house for Tommy Hilfiger, to supermodel Winnie Harlow’s luxe Art Deco-inspired LA pad,” Bullard tells Luxury magazine.
“It’s a little bit of everything, but it’s all about mirroring the client’s personality. It definitely makes it harder, but I think it makes it more exciting because you’re constantly challenged, you’re constantly having to be creative, and you’re constantly digging deep within your own resources to be creative.”
Later in the book, we delve into the homes of the Kardashian and Jenner sisters.
“We have the three different personalities of Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, showing how that family all live and love design, but they all have their own personalities, which differentiates them,” Bullard explains.
“They do all have an individual style and taste. They all want their homes to be super comfortable, a safe place, a sanctuary because of how public their lives are. But they also all want their homes to be family homes. The girls all entertain each other all the time, so each home is really decorated to be part of that experience. Yes, they all have screening rooms and glam rooms and all of those amazing things, but they’re all used every day.”
From humble beginnings in London with aspirations of being an actor, Bullard moved to Los Angeles to chase his dreams. He found his calling, but it wasn’t where he was expecting. While acting in a small role, he struck up a friendship with a Hollywood producer, who he invited for dinner.
At the time, Bullard was living in rented accommodation, which was built by Charlie Chaplin. He always had a passion for furniture, antiques and design, but had never realised its potential as a career, until his new producer friend asked him if he would redesign his offices.
“Although I didn’t know what I was doing, I did it thinking, ‘Maybe they’ll put me in another movie,’” Bullard says. “The reality was that in fact, the day [their offices] were finished, the president of Capitol Records saw it and said, ‘This is amazing. Would you come and do my offices as well?’
“So I ended up working for her for a bit, and she introduced me to a lady called Cheryl Tiegs, who is an American icon – she was the first supermodel to be paid a million dollars in the 1970s – she instantly hired me to do her own home. I had no staff, no portfolio, no experience, but it worked! Within nine months, we were on the cover of six magazines around the world, and my career was born.”
Bullard was catapulted on to the celebrity circuit with the who’s who of the film, music and entertainment industries knocking on his door, all desperate to bring their dream homes to life.
“Because [Tiegs] was a celebrity, I think other celebrities took note, and before I knew it, I had Edward Norton, Christina Aguilera and all these other celebrities hiring me, and it only took a few years for me to start working for people like Cher, Elton John and all the Kardashians. It has been an amazing journey.”
When you’re designing homes for some of the world’s biggest names, there will undoubtedly be challenges, but Bullard’s approach ensures no two homes are ever the same, and that keeps his clients coming back.
He doesn’t claim to have a style, but instead wants each home to be a complete reflection of its owner, so he sees all his projects as a collaboration. “For me, one of the great things is all these extraordinary people that I’ve worked with and I meet; I get inspired by them as much as they do by me, and it’s a mutual process,” he says.
His client list is one of the most fabulous in the business, but his success to date hasn’t stopped him from wanting more. As he reaches the 30th anniversary of his career, he believes there is still much more to come, and every client brings him as much joy as the last.
“I’m very lucky to be working with a couple of idols of mine right now, one of which is Sylvester Stallone,” he shares. “I had no idea that Sylvester Stallone would have such a major art collection – Picassos, Banksys, even Rashid Johnsons – his collection is vast and extensive, and so I designed a house around this amazing art collection, which is really fabulous.”
Bullard has even dipped his toe into the growing industry in the Middle East, designing homes for royal family members across the region.
“People in the Middle East really love design, and they want to be adventurous, and there’s so much new and exciting energy coming out of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE; it’s very exciting for designers to work in the Middle East where there is so much passion for design and so much evolution that’s happening so fast,” he says.
With a design and interiors industry that’s booming, we will no doubt see more of Bullard’s vibrant personality and inspiring designs in our region, but until then, the colourful pages of his book will give us an insight into some of the world’s most stylish and inspiring celebrity homes.