Haute Residence Sits Down With Martyn Lawrence Bullard – The Interior Designer For The Stars

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Los Angeles-based interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard is the trusted, go-to interior designer to some of Hollywood’s biggest A-list names. Bullard’s clientele include Tommy Hilfiger, Cher, Ellen Pompeo, Khloé Kardashian and Kourtney Kardashian, just to name a few. The visionary mastermind’s impressive portfolio extends far beyond residential interior design, which includes starring in Bravo’s popular series Million Dollar Decorators, an outdoor furniture collaboration with Harbour Outdoor, a lightning line with Corbett Lighting, a newly launched jewelry line and has served as the designer behind some of the world’s most iconic commercial projects including The Residences at Seafire in the Cayman Islands and the world-famous Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs. Here, the highly sought-after designer dishes to Haute Residence on his most memorable projects and how his multifaceted career has influenced his coveted work.  

Photo courtesy of Deborah Anderson

HR: You are known for luxurious yet comfortable interiors. How do you seamlessly blend the two?  

MB: I believe that modern luxury is comfort! To me, there is no luxury if you cannot find a place to curl up and get cozy, so in my interiors its vitally important to make sure the soft furnishings are deep and inviting, that they are scaled to the homeowner’s favorite dimensions and fabrics are used that are soft to the touch and durable for family [and pet] life. I don’t like to use pieces that look uncomfortable or you are scared to touch or sit on them. I always make sure the objects in my rooms are inviting and draw you into them rather than away from them because you are scared to damage anything or it looks unfriendly. At the end of the day, a comfortable room is a key to entertaining well and living home life to the fullest.  

HR: What is your primary goal when executing the interiors of each home?  

MB: My goal is always to bring my clients personality into their homes. I don’t want people to walk in and say, Oh, we love your Martyn Lawrence Bullard interior.” Rather, I want them to walk in and say, We love your home, it’s so you!” That’s what good design is about: customizing an interior look to be representative of its owner's tastes and life, capturing a window into their decorative soul.  

Kourtney Kardashian's Home Office. Photo courtesy of Douglas Friedman.

HR: What is your ideal interiors style, and which style do you enjoy to work with the most?  

MB: I love all styles. I would never refuse to work in a style or specific look because it’s out of fashion or I don’t like it. I believe there is beauty in all things, and it’s just the way you put it together that changes that. It’s always a challenge to work around a style I haven’t before, but I love that. It brings both excitement and a learning curve to my work and challenges me to be more creative than ever. My true love, however, is always an eclectic mixdifferent periods, styles, origins put together in an individual way to suit each individual project. As Oscar Wilde once said, All beautiful things belong to the same age!”  

HR: What have been your most memorable projects and why?  

MB: I have had so many memorable projects, from restoring a 12th-century castle in Italy to creating a Studio 54-inspired penthouse for a legendary rock star ... certainly one of the highlights had to be for Cher. Our first project together was the creation of an Indian palace-like apartment where Cher asked me to think of her as the first wife of a maharajah. And that I did, creating magical and whimsical rooms formed from the facade of an Indian palace imported from Jaipur especially for her project. Fantasy, fun and fabulosity,” as Cher described the end result.  

HR: How do you go about creating privacy and solitude in your clients’ homes given the public access to their lives?

MB: Each of my clients' homes is their sanctuaries, especially celebrities who have less opportunity to live normal day-to-day lives. So, I make sure all their most important needs are met in the home, however fantastical, from screening rooms to glam rooms, relaxation chambers to wine caves, home spas with sea salt floatation pools to dressing rooms with refrigerated closets for vintage clothingwhatever the requests may be, I design for them and around them. We are a full-service business, meaning if you dream it, we want to provide it. Monogrammed dinner plates to homemade honey from a hive built in the garden, it’s all part of the service that takes the ordinary into the extraordinary. That is true interior design service where quality, comfort and rarity are all in a days work to complete dream homes and personal sanctuaries.  

Photo courtesy of Martyn Lawrence Bullard

HR: How does your diverse background and multifaceted career influence your work?  

MB: My European origins have helped flavor my work enormously. My love of eclectically derived rooms with fine-tuned editing I believe comes from my travels and the experiences had in each and every place, memories I pull upon constantly for design inspiration. Having been trained as an actor when I was young, along with a few teenage years traveling as a model and singer, have colored my character even more and again influenced my style and understanding of drama within an interior and its many nuances. I don’t think you can be a good, rounded designer without having the experience of travel and exposure to new cultures and all the flavor that it brings. I am so lucky to have experienced so much from a young child having traveled with my parents around the world that I believe that knowledge has informed a design library embedded in my mind and memory, all of which I call upon regularly in my work.   

HR: What are some of your current and/or future projects you are most excited about?  

MB: I love the fact I have just launched a jewelry line. It’s been a passion for so long, and it’s a really fun new addition to my collections.  

I have a wonderful lighting line that launched in January with Corbett Lighting, which we are constantly working on updating and expanding upon. Lighting is really a key ingredient to each space, and I am excited to provide new and beautiful options, some with very special mixed use of metals and textures. My outdoor furniture collaboration with Harbour Outdoor launches in April and is a capsule collection of really chic, mid-century-inspired teak pieces incorporating very comfortable lounge chairs and day beds, dining chairs and streamlined dining tables with embedded brass accents. All pieces I found missing in the marketplace to add total comfort and style to your outdoor living.  

From my design studio, I have some great new hotel projects that are happening this year. The Whitley in Hollywood is going to be a very special boutique hotel with interiors inspired by the famous residents of Old Hollywood that once resided there.   

I am working on the Four Seasons Residences in LA, which is a very exciting project of 65 units including a $55 million penthouse!  

With clients in Mexico, Hawaii, London, Ireland, Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Laguna, Arabia and Italy, we have a wonderful portfolio of projects this year that touch just about every style and periodthe perfect recipe to keep me engaged, excited and inspired. Rock on, 2019!  


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