Designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard has made a big name for himself over the years with a client list that includes Cher, Elton John, Christina Aguilera and the Osbournes.
He has had many commercial projects, such as the Jimmy Choo corporate headquarters and properties for the Colony Palms Hotel Group and been given the Andrew Martin International Interior Designer of the Year Award.
With Bravo's Million Dollar Decorators he begins a second season and new endeavors that he discussed before the big debut.
Windy City Times: Hi, Martyn. We haven't talked since the first season of the show.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Yes, it has been awhile.
Windy City Times: We talked about me interviewing Kelly Osbourne. We have met since and she is so sweet.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Isn't she great?
Windy City Times: You are still very good friends with their family, aren't you?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Yes, of course. In fact I'm doing a new project with Sharon right now and probably a project with Kelly soon.
Windy City Times: What other big stars are you designing for now either on the show or real life?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: In real life I just finished designing a new house for Elton John and David [Furnish]. It is quite extraordinary actually. I am almost finished with a very large, glamorous estate for Ellen Pompeo, the star of Grey's Anatomy.
Windy City Times: Is the sky the limit on the budget for these people?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: The sky is never the limit anymore. Everybody has their budget and their boundaries. The one thing with the celebrity factor is sometimes if there is something you really think they should have then they will agree to stretch it to have it.
The wonderful thing about working with all of these celebrities is that they feed my creativity. They are all individual multitalented creative people and when their ideas blend with mine they tend to become something unusual in terms of regular decorating. It is always a very challenging experience.
Windy City Times: How did you get into designing in the first place?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: I literally fell into this. I came to Hollywood 20 years ago, thinking I would be a movie star. I was flailed around like everyone else and wound up being in one or two bits and pieces. I would up in a movie called I Woke Early the Day I Died, which was the last Ed Wood movie. In that movie that we filmed in 1995, I ended up playing Eartha Kitt's boy toy in it, which is hilarious. I became friends with the producer and his girlfriend who came to dinner at my tiny little West Hollywood house I had back then.
I had decorated it on a shoestring budget from the flea market. They loved it, though, and asked me to decorate their new offices. I had 5,000 square feet and $30,000. The day it was done the president of Capitol Records at the time, Liz Heller, called me and had seen what I done then wanted me to work on their offices as well. I always wanted to be a pop star so I was hoping I would get a recording contract if I did a good job!
Months into that project her wedding planner went missing and needed my help. I bought a staple gun, flowers and netting to put something together quickly. She invited me to stay at the wedding where I sat next to Cheryl Tiegs. By the end of the wedding Cheryl had hired me; nine months later, we had covers of six magazines declaring me the next big designer. It was kind of amazing.
Windy City Times: What a great story!
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: It is a crazy Hollywood-in-reverse story I would say…
Windy City Times: Shows where life can take you...
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: After 15 years of decorating, my career has really gone full circle. I have the show on Bravo and one coming out in England. I played myself on the Young and the Restless. It is pretty hilarious.
Windy City Times: Does Million Dollar Decorators go inside your private home?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Yes, it does. This season there is actually a makeover of my own home. I saw the first episode last night. I'm only allowed to see it ahead of time to blog about it. I got to visit my client Tamara Mellon, who owns the Jimmy Choo stores. I have a return visit to her in New York to decorate her apartment to take it up another level. We have all sorts of disasters, so it is quite funny.
Windy City Times: In a preview it looks like you are mingling with the other designers from the show more this time.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: This season I am with Kathryn Ireland, who has really become my sidekick in a way. This season you get to see me with Mary McDonald. She and I pair up and go to India to create collections for One Kings Lane. That is a wild, crazy journey!
Windy City Times: I saw her with an elephant that looked hilarious! [Both laugh.] Have you designed in Chicago?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Unfortunately, I haven't designed in Chicago. When I was there last year on my book tour and they threw parties for me at various venues, I loved Chicago. What an amazing city.
Windy City Times: I missed you last time.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Yes, I know. I would love to come back. The architecture is incredible and it is so clean there. I had no idea it is such a cool city.
Windy City Times: Are you doing another book?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: I will be doing another book. My last one was an enormous success. It was number one for 14 weeks. We are in our fourth reprint, which is extraordinary for a design book. It is just over a year old and still selling very strongly. So I am giving it a little more time then coming out with something completely different. It will be a lifestyle book. Live, Love, and Decorate was more of a portfolio and an intimate look into my celebrity client's lives.
Windy City Times: There is a website that you can keep people posted on?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Yes, martynlawrencebullard.com . There is a blog on there (Martyn's World) and obviously Twitter, [which] I love, and Facebook. We are very aware of social media. I think it has helped with the expansion of viewers for our shows and the lines I have. I am a spokesperson for Jaguar for the beautiful British cars now and for Vi Spring, the eco-friendly beds. I have new lines coming out next year, along with my current lines such as a crystal line, table top line and with Schumacher a wallpaper launch. That line with Schumacher has been their biggest selling line in their history.
Windy City Times: How do you find time to do all of this?
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Oh, my God; I'm barely sleeping anymore!
Windy City Times: You must have many assistants.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Yes, there are quite a lot of them. I don't sleep all week, then I wind up sleeping all weekend!
Windy City Times: Looks like this will be a fun second season to watch...
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: I think the volume is turned up on this season. There is a lot more design content with very serious design clients and big surprise celebrities. There are some design disasters.
Windy City Times: Looking forward to it. Nice talking to you again.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard: Lovely talking to you!
Watch what happens every Tuesday on Bravo with Million Dollar Decorators. Visit www.bravotv.com for listings and details.