A room of his own
Designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard's dressing room is a celebration of 'gentlemanly luxe'
Martyn Lawrence Bullard's Whitley Heights home is a throwback to the early days of Hollywood. Built in 1922 by Hobart Whitley, a developer known as the Father of Hollywood, the Mediterranean villa was once home to not one, but two great silver screen legends, Rudolph Valentino then Gloria Swanson. The previous owners had left their mark. "In the garden, there is a plaque that was placed by Rudolph Valentino," says Bullard. "It's an Italian majolica ceramic with a flying angel and a Latin proverb." Swanson left behind a chandelier that hung in her dining room, which she reportedly used as a shoe closet due to her overflowing collection. The British-born designer, on the other hand, keeps a superbly arranged dressing room.
"The room has been designed to keep me organized," Bullard says. "I have my shirts and suits colour coordinated in different sections of the cabinetry and trousers hung in styles in the lower covered portions of the cabinetry." The custom-built cabinetry was inspired by the Duke of Windsor's dressing room at his Bois de Boulogne château in Paris, where he resided for most of his life post-abdication. Bullard gave his room an Eastern twist with Turkish Red paint and woven ikat wallpaper from his collection with Schumacher. He then trimmed everything in saddle-coloured suede for added "gentlemanly luxe." A wall filled with antique miniature paintings of maharajas adds to the exotic vibe, while the regency globe lights from Restoration Hardware act as a nod to the British inspiration.
Before Bullard moved in, the room was a second master bedroom, with a much smaller dressing room that he's turned into a luggage closet, housing his collection of vintage and modern cases and bags. "It is such a joy to be so organized, especially as I travel so frequently. I need my wardrobe always tidy, together and ready for me to pack at any moment for whatever climate I may be entering." For example, the designer stores all his woollens in a cedar-lined cabinet to keep them safe from moths. "I love fashion and buy a new wardrobe per season to update my classics, so I needed the space to accommodate that, and grow with me – even though I do a twice-yearly clear out!"
The more intricate accessories – watches, cufflinks and silk handkerchiefs – are housed in Bullard's many antique boxes, displayed on the luxurious Blue de Savoie marble counter.
"I have loved and collected boxes since I was a child," he says. "A favourite is a burled walnut box my father gave me on my 15th birthday that I have treasured all these years." Another family gift was the bronze statue of Napoleon, a gift from his sister to commemorate his design of her pub, The Imperial Arms in Chislehurst, England, once home to Napoleon's exiled lover. Of course, no dressing room is complete without a luxurious dressing gown. "The Tom Ford robe was a gift from a rock star client of mine a few Christmases ago, and I love wearing it when I'm getting ready, choosing what I may wear, or putting together outfits for a trip." Fitting of a hundred-year-old villa, Bullard's gentleman-style dressing room is a throwback to a more glamorous time.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard will speak during the Interior Design Show's Globe Style Saturday on Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.interiordesignshow.com.