Interior designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard has pulled together luxurious looks for A-list celebrities, such as Eva Mendes, Cher and Elton John.
The British-born decorator is known for his adroit use of color and patterns to create rich-textured spaces, garnering him multiple awards and recognition in the pages of top design magazines. His reputation landed him a spot on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Decorators ,” a show documenting the lives of five celebrity designers in Los Angeles.
In addition to the show, Lawrence-Bullard has been keeping busy with a new fabric line for Schumacher and his first book, “Live, Love and Decorate.” The designer also has a line of candles, handcrafted rugs and furniture.
We asked him a few questions while he was in town this week giving a lecture at the Washington Design Center.
What are some of the exciting trends in interior design?
Lawrence-Bullard: Color. Fashion and interior design seem to go hand in hand these days. All of the runway fashion for this summer had bright colors: oranges, limes, cerise pink. And you will see that in so many collections.
People are beginning to understand that [the colors] they love to wear they also want to surround themselves with in their homes. There is much more of an openness to color now. People are beginning to get a bit more adventurous.
Now, for your readers, if they’re not sure about having an orange living room, but they like the idea of it, then paint your powder room orange. Start off small. Powder rooms are such a great space because they’re intimate. You close the door it doesn’t affect anything else in the house, but you can make it a surprise. More importantly, you can make it your experiment pad. And if you find that you love that orange powder room, you can expand the color elsewhere.
There is also a huge movement to 1970s furniture. We’ve gone through this whole period for the last five years of mid-century. Mid-
century is definitely now leading more into 1970s, even a little 1980s.
Brass is the new black. In the 1980s brass was huge in furniture, and it’s making a comeback. And I’m finding it very fresh. At the moment, I’m doing a big estate for Ellen Pompeo and all of the taps, everything in that house is brass. It looks new, fresh, sexy and rich again. Not that horrible gold-plate, but the brass that has a little patina to it.
Even the 1970s and 1980s furniture that was gold-plated now has a patina on it; so you can now bring it in and the gold is not so bold. But it still creates this sort of wonderful layered, textural feeling.
What advice would you give the homeowner or renter that wants to freshen up their place, but doesn’t know where to start?
Lawrence-Bullard: Paint is the boldest, easiest way to transform a space, because you can buy a can for $20 or $30 and paint the place yourself. If you’re a renter and don’t want to have to repaint when you leave, an easy fix would be pillows. With pillows you can delineate the seasons. Even for $20 of $30 you can buy fun pillows at Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel or Restoration Hardware. You can buy beautiful, fun florals that are fashionable for the season. And when the winter comes around, you can change those out and put faux fur and velvet.
If you are adventurous and want to buy a great designer fabric and can’t afford to do big drapes, buy a few yards and make gorgeous pillows. At least you still get that luxury element and you’re adding some refined texture into your room.
The other great thing if your sofa is looking tired, [try] throws. Fold it over the arm of a chair or the back of a sofa, and it’s an instant pop of color. You can go somewhere like Restoration Hardware and buy a cashmere throw for $170. Not the cheapest thing going, but an amazing price for a bit of luxury.
Something that I live by is never save anything for best. Everything everyday, because today is your best. That silver teapot that was your grandmother’s, use it to pour your tea for breakfast. Live with your things. Enjoy them. Love them.
How do you create a million-dollar look on a budget?
Lawrence-Bullard: Something that always gives immediate impact to a room is drapery. Drapery is such an important element because not only does it frame your windows, it also creates coziness and a feeling of luxury.
For a reader who can’t afford to buy expensive fabrics and do huge draperies, buy a panel. Have a panel that sits on either side of the window. You can have inexpensive blinds that come down to give you the privacy, but at least you’ve framed your room and given it a feeling of luxury.
Drapery became sort of old-fashioned in the last few years as everybody was cleaning up their look and doing this modern vibe. But you’ll even find people with these modern homes are realizing ‘My God, it feels cold in the winter,’ and they’re adding drapery.
You can buy some wonderful woven bed cover or hand-stitch it yourself, place it over a pole and have this amazing look of expensive drapes. Beautifully dressed windows really anchor a space and give it that textured feeling of luxury.
What are some of your favorite design Web sites or magazines that our readers should check out?
Lawrence-Bullard: Onekingslane.com has amazing daily sales from some of the country’s most famous and prestigious interior designers and manufacturers. Everything is always 50 percent to 70 percent off. All of it is hand curated and you can get amazing things.
Another really great one is Opensky.com. It’s a Web site where people like myself, Martha Stewart, Preston Bailey all sorts of amazing tastemakers from every field pick their favorite items. Each week there is a new item up for sale, and it’s retained in the shopping display so you can always buy it. It’s a really cool Web site to get to understand different designers and what they love.