He designed Tommy Hilfiger’s shagadelic ’60s pad in Miami, Cher’s Buddhist-behaving-badly retreat in L.A., and Kylie Jenner’s playpen in Hidden Hills. But for his latest decorating coup, a Moroccan-meets-midcentury oasis in West Hollywood, Martyn Lawrence Bullard had only himself to please. The house, the ED A-Lister says, “is all me.”
Perched on a hill above the Chateau Marmont, the 1923 Spanish villa has a Hollywood history as impressive as Bullard’s two other homes—the Villa Swanson, built for Rudolph Valentino in Los Angeles, and a Palm Springs hideaway once decked out by Roger Moore in James Bond style.
Bullard’s newest residence has an equally storied past. Ike and Tina Turner once harmonized in its entryway, and in the 1960s its then-owners, young marrieds Dennis Hopper and Brooke Hayward, entertained a bohemian swirl of old and new Hollywood, rock royalty, and Hells Angels here, with a living room full of art by Andy Warhol and Ed Ruscha.
“I always thought it was the perfect house,” says Bullard, who decorated the home for the first time in the early aughts, when it belonged to the original Daily Show host, Craig Kilborn. So two years ago, when it came on the market, he scooped it up for himself ahead of his pal Melanie Griffith. “It wasn’t right for Melanie—it didn’t have a big enough closet at the time,” quips the star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators, who fancies a bit of Gucci himself and has since added a closet room.
The airy interior is a showcase for the decorator’s signature “exotica,” with loads of Moroccan arches, marble floors, black-and-white tiles, sexy seating, warm leafy accents, cool brass, vintage photography, and Brit wit. “What I’ve done with this house is add a lot of midcentury things mixed with antiques,” says Bullard, who lives with his partner, producer Michael Green, and their wheaten terrier, Daisy.
“We had Brad [Southwick], my artist, on his back for three weeks painting the ceiling,” he says of the black-and-white trellis design in the living room, echoed in the graphic fireplace tile, green print on the MLB Atelier sofas, and ikat pillows. (“Martyn hires painters that look like Brad Pitt!” jokes his friend and client Ellen Pompeo, adding of his design approach, “he understands lifestyle.”)
Bullard’s advice for mixing patterns? “Complete, not combat”—and pay attention to scale. The room’s quirky touches include a pair of Maison Jansen palm-tree lamps, antique marble sculpture fragments, and a mantel full of art pottery, with a single pot draped in a late-18th-century Indonesian tribal wedding necklace: “I like symmetry,” Bullard notes, “but then I like to throw it off.”
The screening room, tented in stripes, is ready to rock the casbah, with a fuchsia daybed, Turkish inlaid tables, and Moroccan poufs scored at the souk. “We love snuggling up with the dog and watching movies,” Bullard says. Another favorite spot is the outdoor firepit that faces the jewel box of a bar inside, where he mixes Aperol spritzes. “It’s all pictures of people drinking!” he says of the collection of photographs hanging among his Royal Fernery wallpaper for Cole & Son. “My favorite is the queen...and Frank Sinatra landing in Palm Springs with a glass of scotch.”
Making people feel welcome is paramount, Bullard observes as he continues the tour upstairs. “We always put in minibars to keep our guest rooms fully stocked,” he says, opening a drawer full of his favorite English treats.
“He doesn’t take himself too seriously,” notes another friend, RuPaul. “He’s aware of the hilarity, absurdity, and beauty of life.”
With a zebra rug underfoot, the master bedroom resembles a safari-lodge tree house—with a view of the party animals on nearby Sunset Boulevard. “I custom designed this bed,” Bullard says of the four-poster. “I love the idea of brass and black.”
He renovated the floor to make room for a master bath with an enormous brass Catchpole & Rye tub from his hometown of Kent, England. On the bathroom wall, he paired framed 17th- and 18th-century anatomy drawings with Herb Ritts and Bruce Weber body photographs.
Bullard loves to entertain friends (“We don’t cook—we deliver!”), and he’s created lots of options for a movable feast. A more formal dining area with a 1970s brass pedestal table and space-age chandelier flows right into the Christopher Peacock–designed kitchen, with a high-top marble table and brass pendants from Bullard’s Corbett Lighting collection.
Green accents (the kitchen chairs, custom cabinetry, and Moroccan tile) pick up the colors of the leafy garden just beyond the glass doors. Outside, the pool has inviting seating nooks, firepits, and side tables for dining on pizza fresh out of the outdoor oven.
“I really like to make the most of different areas and have drinks in one, dinner in another, then watch a movie,” says Bullard, who recently designed the Sands Hotel & Spa in Palm Springs and the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara. “That’s what I did with this house—I created my own destination.”
This story originally appeared in the October 2019 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition of Museumvillage. Styling by Amy Chin.