Any glimpse inside the work of the world’s top interior designers is a treat; an opportunity to see how their style translates into different homes when combined with their client's loftiest aspirations. But when you get the chance to see inside a designer’s own home, with no one’s tastes to satisfy but their own, the true splendour of their talent is revealed.
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With a roster of clients that resembles something close to a Met Gala guest list, (think Cher, Tommy Hilfiger and most of the Kardashian bunch), Martyn Lawrence Bullard knows a thing or two about opulent design. And, whilst his entire portfolio of projects is an homage to his love of extravagance, it's one of his own homes, his Palm Springs villa, that holds the key to his heart.
What drew Bullard to this particular home? Well, its extraordinary list of predecessors certainly did something for the designer's love of celebrity. Initially built in 1962 for Roger Moore (Bullard’s favourite James Bond), the home was later bought by none other than Hugh Hefner.
Clearly enamoured by its history, Bullard describes his daydream: “the playboy in the desert” and, as though painting a scene in his head, “You can only imagine what went on inside the hallowed walls during that time.” And that was it. “I bought it completely on a whim, I saw it for about 10 minutes,” the designer recalls.
Now a miraculous display of retro maximalist decor, Bullard has transformed the space into a statement-making home complete with zebra skin rugs and palm trees. The modernist house, Bullard reveals, has since been aptly named Villa Grigio “not only because it’s painted a rather attractive pale grey” he laughs, “but because of the amount of pinot grigio that is consumed within its walls.” “This house is just ready for a lot of martinis” he jests, though it actually sums up the space quite perfectly.
“I love the drama of the whole thing,” he enthuses. The drama to which he is referring? The monochromatic, geometric, bold-coloured kaleidoscope of all things Bullard that can be found in each and every room in this one-of-a-kind home. Filled with vintage gems, his collection of 60s and 70s designer furniture, and mid-century pieces that all tell a story.
Each piece is housed within the architectural highlight of the home, “an enfilade of ten white arches that run from the inside to the outside, creating this incredible indoor outdoor living experience.” And he’s right. Not only do these arches structure the living space that they flow into, but they encompass the pool area that feels so much the epitome of Palm Springs that it belongs on a Slim Aarons print (in fact the home isn't too far from the iconic Kaufman Desert House of Poolside Glamour).
Inside those arches lies the star of the show, an open living room complete with sunken living room conversation pit. A bright space with lofty ceilings and vast windows flooding the room with the irresistible southern Californian sun.
Of course though, it's not only the proportions of this room that are daring. “I decided to go for a real Swinging Sixties, James Bond, mid-century vibe.” The design combination most would not think to concoct comes complete with two fuchsia pink Vladimir Kagan sofas.
The light terrazzo floors, a Bullard favourite, are topped with an array of zebra skins that used to belong to Andy Warhol—a gift from one of Bullard’s supermodel clients.
Mimicking the lines of the arches once more, grey curved sofas flank the far wall, taking a back seat to the layered space.
The use of vibrant colour continues in the cinema room, this time in the form of high-gloss emerald green walls and two velvet curved armchairs in the same shade.
Never one to leave a surface untouched (note the mirrored ceilings in many of the rooms), Bullard has added a modern geometric take on the cinema's ceiling, showcasing his ability to make references to the past whilst seamlessly updating them for a modern audience.
Elsewhere in the home a strong monochromatic colour scheme ties the space together. In fact, strong black and white geometric prints can be found in every room, punctuated with bold colours to keep the space feeling exciting, in exactly the same way a Pop Art piece does.
With intrepid design choices found around every corner, it's perhaps the most surprising to find a kitchen that would just as comfortably belong in a more minimal home. Only finding colour in the form of fresh oranges and a few artistically displayed apples feels like a departure from the rest of the home.
Instead, Bullard has chosen to keep the space sleek and modern, a black countertop frames the bright white cabinetry with a strong, crisp line and a mirrored ceiling reflects the light terrazzo floor making the room feel open and lifted. Naturally Bullard needed to add a touch of fun found in lively ceramic bowls on the island.
With a surprise around every corner of this exceptional home, Bullard has proven once more that his love of extravagant design can not only bring a house to life, but can also ensure instantaneous joy for all who enter. And, for a home that can name some of the most famous men in history as its owners, it is assuring that it has been passed onto another great.
A true capsule of glamour, Bullard’s fantastically unique style has never looked so at home.