Martyn Lawrence Bullard Million Dollar Decorator
By: Daedrian McNaughton
Interior designer to the stars, Martyn Lawrence Bullard has transferred his passion for fashion into interior designing to create fashion forward homes for notable personalities Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne and others.
Bullard’s client list includes Cher, Sir Elton John and David Furnish, Christina Aguilera, Eva Mendes, Ellen Pompeo, Kid Rock, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne and Tamara Mellon, founder and President of Jimmy Choo.
Named among Elle Decor’s top 25 interior designers, Bullard will bring his fashion and decorating sensibilities to Bravo’s newest reality drama, “Million Dollar Decorators.”
Premier Guide Media interviewed the designer to find out who are some of the stars he helped to amp up their style quota, which Beverly Hills housewife he’s in love with, behind the scenes reveal and inexpensive fix for the financially strained viewer.
“Million Dollar Decorators” will explore the work and personal lives of Los Angeles-based designers Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Kathryn Ireland, Jeffrey Alan Marks, Mary McDonald and Nathan Turner. These tastemakers often exchange advice and war stories, but are also forced to compete for the same top-tier clients and their endless budgets. Every decision and minute spent is crucial as the decorators rush to finish their projects on time and deliver the absolute perfection their clients expect.
“Million Dollar Decorators” premieres on Bravo on Tuesday, May 31 at 10pm ET/PT.
Since you are a part of the Bravo family now, which of the housewives do you like?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: I’m madly in love with all of those Housewives of Beverly Hills and in fact a couple of them are my friends. And in fact Camille Grammar has just reached out to me and said that when she buys her new house she actually wants me to redecorate it for her. I’d love to get my hands on some of those houses because, you know, those girls seem to have a lot of money but not a lot of style going on there. So I think they need some help.
Is there a particular Beverly Hills Housewife’s home that you would redesign?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: I think they could all do with a little bit of help actually. Lisa Vanderpump has got great style. She’s got two delicious restaurants, Villa Blanca and Sur which are two of my favorite spots to kind of have lunch and dinner, and particularly Sur. I feel she should translate a bit more of that sort of south of France, southern Spain flavor to her own home. So one of the things Lisa should do is amp up her style quota because she’s got great style. We need to see more of that coming out of her own home. It’s a good house. It’s a stellar retreat and it’s kind of got an amazing, amazing amount of land around it. It’s really fun. She throws the wildest, funnest fancy dress parties.
Which of your celebrity clients home will you feature on the show?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: Quite a bit in the first episode especially an emergency apartment that I do for Sharon and Ozzie Osborne. Emergency because they needed it done in I think it’s like 10 days because Sharon signed her new show called The Talk and couldn’t commute from her house that’s way out in Malibu because for one it’s in Architecture Digest this month that I did. Couldn’t commute all the way from there to town because she had 6 am calls in the morning. So she got this apartment and needed it done immediately so the first episode centers around that which is kind of hysterical and madness. And amazing that this happened the week we started filming. The Bravo crew couldn’t believe they got something so crazy to film immediately. That was reality TV at its best I think but I did quite a lot of celebrity content. I have a whole thing in London where I have content with Sir Elton John and David and the super model, Sophie Dahl and then I do a very Cuban-inspired makeover for the Latin star, Daisy Fuentes who wants to bring her Cuban roots back into her very contemporary home here in Hollywood Hills. So you get a nice flavor of that. And then there are celebrities in my section popping up all over the place. I’ve got people like Ellen Pompeo and Vidal Sassoon and oh, all sorts of people are in it. So yes, you’re definitely going to get a quota of star glamour.
Was Sharon Osbourne hard to please?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: Sharon is amazing. Number one, she and (Audrey) and all of them, all the kids, have become really close friends of mine. We’ve been away for vacations, Christmas and in fact Sharon and I met on vacation in Africa on a safari that Elton took us on. So we’ve really bonded and she’s been amazing. When you get to know somebody really well which I think is one of the great tricks to really decorating is to really kind of get to know your clients and understand their life, their work, their family life. Then you can kind of start to really interpret their decorating for them and hope that you end up speaking the same language. And I think with Sharon and I we’ve got such a good bond now, I understand what they want. May not necessarily be exactly what I want at all but that is in the first episode of the show where you see Sharon’s new apartment which is very contemporary for them. It’s completely a different look than their kind of mad Goth mansion that they had during the MTV days and very different from the sort of English/French country house that I’ve done for them that’s in this month’s Architectural Digest. So Sharon said, I really want something new, I want something fresh, I want something modern, I want something that feels like Elton’s but that is more white and neutral.
What are some of the screw-ups you’ve had on the show and how many margaritas did you go through during taping?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: No one’s an alcoholic here but god knows, a little glass of bubbles at the end of the day does make it all seem so much better. I actually did have a hilarious client once that had a vineyard but on our first meeting made me taste all the wines with them but it was one of those kind of like abstract tasting where you didn’t spit any of it out, we swallowed it all. So by the end of the meeting I was completely smashed and couldn’t remember anything I proposed for them. So it was all a disaster. The assistant was smashed too.
Were there any major screw-ups?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: I think the thing to remember is that however glamorous it sounds decorating for these uber stars and these multimillionaires, we are a service industry so we are here to provide a service. And I just said this the other day, it funny that I may be at home in the morning and have my housekeeper bring me breakfast and squeeze orange juice for me but by two hours later I may be on my hands and knees scrubbing my client’s floor. So the reality is that we’re here to try and make as perfect an interior as we can for our clients but, my god, things go wrongs. Things got the delivery dates go wrong. I mean I remember – this is a for instance – I did a hotel in Palm Springs and I sent all of the fabric to the draperies. All draperies were made. It was for a 65-room hotel, made all the drapes. We sent them all to a place in the valley to be fire-coated for regulations and lord help us, that day the fire proofing place burned to the ground and burned all my drapes up in it. So a lot of it just happens and I think the show helps the viewer and hopefully our clients understand what we go through to make it as perfect for them as we possibly can.
What is the main purpose of the show?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: The show’s showing all of us – Jeffrey, Kathryn, myself, the other cast members – yes, we’re all spending thousands of dollars of client’s monies to create these useful environments but the reality is there are amazing, amazing tips and design hints that you can take from this even if you want to spend $10. In one of the episodes, I have an episode with Kathryn where we go to a hotel located in Palm Springs and I have to revamp very inexpensively and one of the great tricks is to paint a wainscoting higher like a 36 inches height around a room, a painted colors wainscoting. So I put like a deep red wainscoting in this white room and it automatically gave it architecture. That costs like $20. There’s marvelous tips like that our viewers can extract from that that actually allow them to have an experience of this kind of $1 million decorating lifestyle but really on their own budgets. Just pulling it back in to the fact that the first show ever on American television to show the real high end of interior design. I think that there’s something that’s exciting about that, there’s something that’s funny about it, there’s something that’s kind of being amazed factor to a lot of people. But again there are going to be fantastic takeaways for decorating that they can do on any budget.
How were you approached by the network for this show?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: I had two other shows in the works actually and then when I was approached by the Bravo team to do this show and found out that it was full of such an exciting group of cast members, and as Jeffrey said, we’re all friends. We all actually have been hanging out together for years. Kathryn and I have been on vacations together, actually with (Nathan) as well so we’re all really close friends. So to me it was a really exciting thing to know that we’d become this ensemble cast of really fantastic talent. All of us are sort of very much at the highest end of our careers so that’s the other thing that was really great in the fact was I use the term casting loosely, the fact that they actually managed to find five people that are all very much at the highest end of the interior design career that were all going to complement each other and that all were able to gain access from our clients. It was amazing.
Describe your decorating style?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: I think my interiors are exuberant. They are absolutely eclectic because one of the things I live by is the saying of the great Oscar Wilde is that all beautiful things belong to the same age, which interpret in my design by using things from every culture and every period and if they’re beautiful I mix them all together to create a very individual environment for my clients. And my main thing is that I believe that modern luxury is comfort.
Will we get a glimpse into your home and social life?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: Actually you do get to see quite a lot of my house. They filmed quite a lot in my house. I mean they filmed me getting ready to go to things. One of the things that you’ll find in the shows, whilst they were filming I was working very much internationally so they had me in London, they had me in Mexico, they have me in New York, I mean all over the place. So all the time traveling a lot and so there’s lots of scenes of me packing and leaving. But absolutely there’s a bunch of my home life and there’s a bunch of my social life and I mean there’s a lot of very personal things happened to me during the course of the filming. The Mayor of Los Angeles declared October 18 the official Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Day and presents me with a big plaque and I also win the International Interior Designer of the Year and have a huge award ceremony which a lot of celebrity attended. In fact Sharon and Kelly Osborne present me with the award and got all sorts of performers singing. So you get a real taste of the all-rounder of my life as you do all of my other cast mates.
What was the biggest disaster you have had on a job?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: I did in Mexico that actually part of it is filmed in one of the episodes for the crazy adult industry mogul, Joe Francis, who owns Girls Gone Wild and Guys Gone Wild. And I had most of the furniture made in either in Indonesia or in the U.S. and all shipped to LA and it was all taken in lorries down to Mexico. And I had one of the lorries hijacked in Mexico. I ended up having to do an unbelievable kind of gangster like deal where I exchanged money with the hijackers to get my van of furniture back. That was the scariest thing that I’ve ever had to do.
Were there any requests that you could not meet?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: I once had a rather famous diva ask me to take a bath with her which I decided to decline from. Of course there are requests that you get come in. 80% of my client list is celebrities, you get sometimes the most extraordinary requests. I had a request once to gold leaf the entire interior of the garage which I actually had to, I declined because I thought if that ever gets out to the press that will be the end of my career. So there’s definitely been some diva delicious demands.
What summer tips can you offer?
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard: For the summer one of the great things that’s sort of an English tradition is that in English country houses they would redo the furniture for the summer so they’d have summer slipcovers. So rather than your kind of brown velvet sofa for the winter you’d have a beautiful linen, fresh, pale green or white or some beautiful summery color that you’d slipcover the furniture in for the summer. And also they did a great thing which I always do for my own home which is have summer and winter rugs. So I roll up my oriental rugs, in the summer I lay down sea grass which is actually fun and fresh and makes it feel more summery and is actually a really inexpensive fix because you can go to Pottery Barn and buy an 8 by 10 sea grass rug for 200 bucks. That’s a really quick, fast fun way of infusing some summer energy into your home. Actually another great tip for the readers is that if you’ve got old furniture in your house, in your basement, in your storage, you can actually take that furniture like real sofas upholstered in outdoor fabric and put it outside for the summer because the fabric will hold up and for the three or four months it’s outside, the interior of it will hold up as well just as long as you take it in during the winter months. So you can create a real outdoor living space with real furniture just by having it upholstered in (sunbrella) or perennials or one of the many outdoor fabrics that are on the markets.