Big budgets, celebrity clients, world-travel – Martyn Lawrence-Bullard is the quintessential definition of a million-dollar decorator. Which is probably why he's right at home on the Bravo TV series of the same name. The world-famous designer is also now an author. In his first book, Live, Love & Decorate, Martyn serves up photos of some of his most glamorous interiors and gives the dish on his trademark exotic style.
Between hobnobbing with the glitterati, travelling the world on behalf of his celebrity clients, and turning the world of interior design upside down, Martyn took some time to answer some questions from About.com.
About.com: The interiors featured in the book are all bold, sumptuous and a little bit wild. What's the wildest décor request you've ever had from a client?
MLB: I have had a few wild requests along the way, the maddest however was to gold leaf the interior of a garage ... Needless to say I declined that one!
About.com: Your book is full of photos from the homes of your celebrity clients. What's your favorite thing about working with celebrities?
MLB: The thing I love about my celebrity clients is that they want to live out their decorative fantasies and are not afraid to be bold and individual! The directives are always imaginative and as celebrities really need their homes to be their sanctuaries luxury abounds and every detail has to be correct and completed with the utmost of care. I also and especially love working with these clients because they are so creative themselves that I get to feed off that creativity and become the best that I can through our collaborations.
About.com: You obviously deal with a lot of high-profile clients with high budgets. Would you ever consider doing a small budget makeover?
MLB: I don't do my jobs because of the budgets, I do them because they inspire me. Sometimes I will take the smallest job because it feels right to me, challenging and inspiring. I cannot accept too many low budget jobs as I have a big staff and a high overhead, however I will defiantly take one or two a year if I find them intriguing.
About.com: Flipping through your book it's easy to see that color and pattern play a big role in your interiors. What advice can you offer readers about incorporating them into their own spaces? Are there any rules?
MLB: I love color and the way it allows us to add our personality to our spaces. It individualizes and customizes an interior to match the clients' personality. If you are scared to go the whole distance with color try, say, painting a small room first, maybe even a powder room where you can test out your color choices without too much commitment.
Of course the way to add instant 'pop' to a room is to change your pillows to fresh new colors, and maybe add a fun cashmere or wool throw over the back of the sofa... You will be amazed at what a vibrant change this will make to a room and for very little cost.
About.com: Your interiors are always fun and a little bit cheeky (Tamara Mellon's home immediately comes to mind) – do you think people take interior design too seriously? How important is it to have fun with your decorating?
MLB: You must always have fun when decorating, take some chances, and remember it's your home, so if you love it, that's all that counts. I believe never keep anything for best, use everything everyday and get full pleasure out of your things. Today is your best! Always have fun, everyday and in everything you do.... Especially decorating.
About.com: You've travelled all over the world sourcing items for your clients. What country or region inspires you the most? Why?
MLB: I am especially inspired by Turkey. Well…Istanbul is my passion. I adore the exotic flavor of the city and the amazing textiles. Closely followed by Marrakesh and Tangiers for their colors, patterns and rugs. I also love Italy for all their quirky decorative items and make a yearly pilgrimage to the Parma antiques fair.
About.com: Where are your favorite places to shop?
MLB: I have many favorite places to shop all over the world for different reasons. In LA I love JF Chen for his wide and sumptuous collection of decorative items from all periods. In London the famous Guiniverre antique store on the kings road in Chelsea is a treasure trove for me. In NYC I love all the stores on Duane Street, great little area with wonderful selections of every style, size and ethnicity. Istanbul shopping for me starts at the old bazaar inside the grand Bazaar, heavenly and very exotic.
About.com: What's the simplest piece of décor advice you can give readers?
MLB: My #1 advice to you is always follow your heart. Take chances, be passionate about all that you do and of course Live, Love and Decorate!
Check out our review of Live, Love & Decorate.