The Style Files: Martyn Lawrence Bullard

martyn portrait

Martyn Lawrence Bullard certainly doesn’t need an introduction. While many of you have likely followed his dazzling design career for years now, others may recognize him from Bravo’s hit show, Million Dollar Decorators, or his award-winning reality show in the United Kingdom, Hollywood Me. Over the years, Martyn has been lauded for his broad, globally-inspired design sensibility which may vary from one project to the next, but always carries with it a touch of eclectic exuberance and an air of sophistication. Continually recognized as a top designer, Martyn’s work has been published over 4,000 times and his is a regular on Architectural Digest‘s AD 100 list, ELLE DECOR‘s A-List, Luxe Magazine‘s Gold List, and has been named one of the Top 25 Designers by the Hollywood Reporter. Martyn’s trajectory, warm persona, and professionalism have allowed him to attract an enviable list of A-List celebrity clientele including Cher, Elton John, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Tommy Hilfiger and Ellen Pompeo whose new Los Angeles home is featured in the November issue of Architectural Digest.

In addition to his interior design work, Martyn has expanded into the world of licensing and publishing with several collections: fabric and wallpaper for Schumacher, rugs for The Rug Company, tile for Ann Sacks, and upcoming collections of porcelain, silver, and crystal as well as organic mattresses slated to debut soon. Martyn’s book, Live, Love and Decorate was published in 2011. While our paths have crossed for years now and we share mutual friends, I didn’t actually meet Martyn until recently and have found that he is the loveliest, warmest person. I figured he would be nice, but between his amazing celebrity client roster and proclamations of things being “delicious” on Million Dollar Decorators, I honestly didn’t expect him to be quite so down to earth. It is refreshing to know that someone as talented and accomplished as Martyn is such a lovely person with a huge heart. He truly deserves all of his success. For our interview, Martyn gave such personal and insightful answers. I am sure that you will find this edition of The Style Files to be completely inspiring and “totally delicious”. Enjoy!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Martyn Lawrence Bullard: My style is always eclectic. I never love one thing, I love many things …. I never have a favorite period or design because I believe that would corner my creative mind. It’s all in the mix anyway. Eclectic, yet able to edit and streamline … That’s my style !

Old Greystone

{A Beautiful Room Designed by Martyn featuring his Signature Fabrics for a Showhouse at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills}

PC: Has living in Los Angeles influenced the way you decorate?

MLB: Living in LA has without doubt influenced both my tastes and work. The very idea of having the sun in ones life daily is very inspiring and has given me a love of color. I infuse my work always with color and often build whole rooms around a colorway. That’s the California thing… also an understanding that real luxury is comfort, something we Californians love to play up. Comfort is key to all.

Ellens AD cover

{Martyn’s Client and Grey’s Anatomy Star, Ellen Pompeo Graces the Cover of the November issue of Architectural Digest which features her Quintessentially Californian home in Los Angeles}

PC: What does your home say about you?

MLB: My home is my experiment pad. It’s where I let my imagination take flight. I often will try out things there before I try them on my clients. It’s also my sanctuary. A place where I can relax and rejuvenate. Where my friends come to play and see through the window to my decorative soul. I have several homes and each is decorated differently. Guided by the architecture first, and my latest passions next! My homes will tell you a different story on different visits…..and that’s the way I like it!


{Martyn’s Beautifully Layered Living Room as featured in ELLE DECOR}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

MLB: My biggest inspiration is always travel. I love experiencing new cultures, new places, smells, people, colors and textures. Every country, often even city has a new and exciting air to it; a place that can inspire! I never close my eyes to this. Sometimes it’s a ravishing painted ceiling in a church or an apple in a market place; a renaissance castle or a beach cabana. The world is full of exciting new things to inspire the design world, both old and new. Travel is the greatest education a designer can ever learn from.


{A Snapshot from Martyn’s Recent visit to the Castello Santa Eurasia in Umbria, Italy which he Decorated | Image via Martyn’s Instagram}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

MLB: The people who inspire me are too many to list here. Some of my idols however include Renzo Mongiardino for his grand gestures of theater in Interiors. David Hicks for his blend of old meets new in a geometric blurring of history and tradition. Joseph Durand for his graphic use of black and white in architecture. Kelly Wearstler for being fearless and not following the pack. Paul Evans for his magnificent 70’s sculptural furniture and Francois Pinault for his unnerving passion for art and artists.

renzo mongiardino

{A Stunning Room by the Great Renzo Mongiardino}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

MLB: My guilty pleasures are firstly, my love of collecting…photography, mid century furniture, watches, antique ivory inlaid boxes to name a few, but I also adore comfort food (although my trainer doesn’t!). Fried chicken and mashed potatoes, a good English traditional Sunday roast lunch, and naughty sea salt truffles!

martyn photos

{A Collection of Iconic Black & White Photographs Surround Martyn in his West Hollywood Office}

PC: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

MLB: My greatest achievement is yet to happen. I challenge myself and my team everyday to push ourselves to make something extraordinary. As the old saying goes: seize the day, make life extraordinary!

Schumacher Wallpaper

{A Vignette Showcasing Martyn’s Gorgeous Wallpapers for Schumacher}

PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

MLB: I listed my design icons, but on a personal inspiration level, I find Tommy Hilfiger to be an amazing man. He has built an enormous fashion empire, yet he is humble and kind to all around him, whether you are a mega star or an intern. He’s a consummate gentleman and passionate about all he does. I recently designed a home for him and was so impressed by his ability to be so connected and excited about a project whilst expertly juggling 25 others and always being a gentleman while doing so. He is for sure an inspiration!


{The Ultra-Sleek Kitchen Martyn designed for Tommy and Dee Hilfiger’s Miami Home | The home Martyn designed for the Hilfigers was recently featured on the cover and in the pages of Architectural Digest}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

MLB: Living “la dolce vita” for me is really about spending time at home with my other half and my baby girl… Daisy dog ! I travel so extensively that when I’m home it’s like I’m on vacation. It’s mad to say it, but being home is my fantasy life…. my dolce vita! Being in my space, with my favorite things and adding favorite people, well that’s really living the life. Good friends, a beautiful home, and delicious food. The perfect recipe to a perfect life!


{Martyn’s Darling Dog, Daisy via Martyn’s Instagram}

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

MLB: I am currently working on many commercial projects. The Raleigh hotel in Miami is a great current passion as it’s been my dream to restore this sleeping beauty. I have hotel projects also in Santa Barbara and Istanbul , I’m designing the Four Seasons residences in Los Angeles, several A list celebrities’ homes, and some retail stores for a major fashion brand. I also have a new tile line launching with Ann Sacks called Urban armor , new fabrics added to my eponymous line and collections of porcelain, crystal and silver with three of the most iconic French luxury brands launching in January 2015. Two new rug designs launch now for The Rug Company and a luxurious, organic mattress line will launch before the year ends. I adore designing product and extending my brand this way. It’s beyond rewarding to see the inventive and beautiful ways designers use my products. I’m always so touched and feel very blessed because of this.


{Martyn recently completed the renovation and decoration of the Chateau Gutsch in Lucerne, Switzerland. This beautiful room features some of his fabrics for Schumacher. I can’t wait to see his latest hotel projects and newest product collections!}



Go-To Outfit: For casual, I love a good v-neck, black t-shirt, and a pair of Double RL jeans. For a little extra pizazz, you can’t go wrong with a good scarf or cravat tied at a jaunty angle.

Style Mantra: My style mantra is always wear well-fitting clothes. If off the peg, spend a few dollars and have it tailored to fit you. Always add a splash of color. Whether it is just a pocket square or a pair of blue suede shoes. Those touches show a person’s character and humor for sure.

Scent: The fragrance of my life since I was 14 has been Vetiver by Guerlain. A true classic, it is a clean and uplifting fragrance. Of late, I have added a little Tom Ford Oud Wood for a deeper, night time vibe. Its undertones reek of old school movie star glamour– woody, provocative, and sexy.

Piece of Jewelry: I love jewelry and think a man is never fully dressed without a smattering of bling. A good watch is the signature of style. A chic ring is always both sporty and sophisticated and a fine pair of vintage cuff links can make a man!

Color I Never Tire Of: I never tire of green. I love it in all forms from deepest hunter to bright lime. A spot of green always works in a room, even as a plant or leaf, the color brings in life and for me, a sense of calm. I often use olive green which I match with another of my favorites– eggplant. Grey is a close runner-up. To me, it’s a neutral that truly works with everything.

Flower: Peonies and White Garden Roses

Indispensable Design Element: The dimmer switch! Lighting is everything and this little device can make or break a room.

Era for Design: The 1970s. I love the Italian designs of that period– wild with abandon and new found techniques. Quirky and yet, always with comfort and style in mind. (Giancarlo Giammetti’s Roman Apartment Circa 1975 is Pictured in the Collage Above)

Dream Project: Lady Gaga would be amazing to work with. I’ve worked for so many icons over the years, but Gaga I think would be amazing. If she’s as avant-garde with her home as she is with her clothes, imagine the fun we would have!


Fabric/Textile: Linen– the consummate, chic fabric. It can be casual or smart; elegant yet laid back. I adore linen for so many reasons, especially when screen printed or glazed.

Hostess Gift: Usually my own signature extraordinaire candle with a matching boxes of matches.

Meal:  A good English traditional Sunday roast lunch

Drink: Pinot Grigio– delicious, crisp, light, and goes with everything. Uncomplicated and easy– perfect for everyday.

Hotel: The Hotel Costes in Paris for its eternal Napoleon style and dulcet sound track; the JK Place in Rome for its chic bathrooms, and the St. Regis in Bora Bora for its over water romantic, glass-floored huts. Heaven.

Weekend Destination: I love to go down to my house in Palm Springs for my weekend breaks. As soon as I arrive there, I feel totally chilled out. Somehow, the energy there makes me instantly relax. It must be something about the balmy desert air. Truly my escape.

Museum: The Sir John Soane Museum in London and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: I love to dance and as such, love a good disco party. Donna Summer, Chic, Tavares… all heavenly. I am also a big soul lover… George Benson, Randy Crawford, classic Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and Al Green…my icons. But lest we forget Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Pharrell, and of course, Robin Thicke.

Actor/Actress: I love Judy Dench and Maggie Smith– two great dames with the best humor and perfect timing. They are fabulous actresses.

Prized Possession: My grandmother’s cross. It sits by my bed and has done so since I was a child, not really for any religious reason, but more because it has such family ties, memories, and it always makes me feel good to touch it.

Greatest Extravagance: My clothes. I love new clothes and especially, fine tailoring. It makes me really happy, but it makes my accountant sad, though!

Rule to Break: Giving yourself rules. Never box yourself into anything. It stifles the brain and blocks our creative juices.

Movie Set Design: Auntie Mame had my all time favorite movie sets. It is so inspiring whilst hilariously funny. It always gets at least a once yearly re-watch in my house.

I can never have too many… You can never have enough friends! Friends are the spice of life; they color my days with fun, happiness, and inspiration.

Paloma Signature

P.S. Domino magazine recently photographed my  home and we shot a cover try for their Holiday issue. They are asking readers to vote for their favorite cover option. My dog, Tate and I are Option 2 and would love it if you’d vote for us! And speaking of Domino, I will be speaking on a panel in High Point moderated by Domino‘s Editor in Chief, Robert Leleux and featuring several friends about how blogs and social media are transforming design. If you’re in High Point this Sunday, October 19th, I hope you’ll join us! Thank you! XO

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