x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 September 2017

Designer Living: Martyn Lawrence-Bullard's luxurious Tuscan-style villa

The designer is known for creating beautiful interiors for the Hollywood elite, and his Hollywood Hills home is know exception.

Detailing creates interest throughout the home. Courtesy of Martyn Lawrence-Bullard
Detailing creates interest throughout the home. Courtesy of Martyn Lawrence-Bullard

Where do you live and what inspired you to choose the place?

I live in the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, in an Italianate Tuscan-style villa. The home has a spectacular history, having been home to the legendary Italian actor Rudolph Valentino, the American actress Gloria Swanson and later the famous American writer William Faulkner.

Although I work around the world and constantly travel, I still love my base to be in LA. The weather and lifestyle are so refreshing and easy.

What was the vision for your home?

I decorated my home to feel how I believed it would have been in the 1920s when it was built. I have 18th-century Italian furniture mixed with vibrant, colourful exotic fabrics and juxtaposed with a collection of contemporary and modern art works.

My home is my experiment pad and as such I constantly change it - add new pieces and change the colour palette. I always have a summer look and a winter look. That way my home always feels fresh to me.

What is your most cherished memory in the house?

So many happy dinner parties, friends, good food, delicious wines and, of course, my favourite: decorating beautiful tablescapes.

What does your home say about you?

I'm eclectic, well-travelled and original.

What is the key to creating a happy home?

Colour. Always infuse your favourite colour into a room somehow. Even if it's only with cut flowers, colour instantly adds life and zest.

What element or item would no home of yours be without?

I love deep sofas. My interiors are always grounded with good, comfortable and generously scaled soft furnishings.

Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home or for your clients' homes?

I love Guinevere in London for antiques, JF Chen in Los Angeles for decorative accessories, Marche Paul Bert in Paris for fun, Staley-Wise gallery in New York for art and Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses the world over for all sorts of art and treasures.

What inspired you to pursue a career in design?

My travels as a child with my parents. I got to see so many places, experience the cultures, colours and, most importantly, the architectural and decorative styles indigenous to those countries.

You have an enviable client list of A-list celebrities. How did it all start?

I fell into my first celebrity client, the supermodel Cheryl Tiegs, after meeting her at another client's wedding. She hired me on the spot and from there I ended up meeting her famous friends, two of which hired me, and from there I have never looked back.

When designing for a client, how do you zero in on the feel of the space?

The architecture of a space is the first guide. Then I interview my clients. I ask them how they like to live, where they like to vacation, to eat, what shops they like, what they like and dislike about their current home, what they feel is missing, etc. With all this information I can start to understand the clients' decorative dreams and turn them into a reality.

What is your most memorable project or experience with a client?

Working with Sir Elton John and David Furnish. They flew me around the world to visit all their homes and see how they lived in each place. Then I was let loose to shop the world and find them the most original and interesting furnishings and art.

What is your top tip to someone who is setting up their home?

Always comfort. Modern luxury is comfort, so always invest in a comfortable, deep sofa and good organic mattress.

How do you keep your work and domestic environments separate?

I don't. I live and breathe my job and enjoy every minute of being creative.

You are known for designing bespoke furniture pieces for your clients. Which is your favourite and why?

I love designing beds. They are the most dramatic statement pieces in the house and really can cement the clients' personality and taste. My Jaipur bed is one of my favourites, as well as the Lisbon bed.

Of which projects or products are you especially proud?

I love my fabric collections. I'm very proud of the designs and use of colour. I also love my signature fragrance and candles - they are so very me.

What are you working on right now?

A Hollywood home for the movie star Eva Mendes, a hotel in Jakarta, a castle in Umbria, Italy, a country estate in England, three apartments in New York City, a new TV show and my second coffee table book. I am also going to unveil a wallpaper collection, a furniture collaboration and new rugs and pillows.

Who are your favourite designers?

Jacques Garcia, Renzo Mongiardino, David Hicks, David Collins and Kelly Wearstler. All original, all inspiring.

How would you describe your interior style?

I don't have a distinct style. I customise each project for each client. I love that this makes my work personal to them and unique.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

Rome. I adore that city. So much history, diversity and romance.

How do you like to relax?

I take long candlelit baths, listen to Mozart or watch a good movie in my screening room.

What is the best way to simply and instantly update a room?

Paint the walls and experiment with new colours. And add new, vibrant cushions to sofas, club chairs and beds. This changes the feeling immediately.