Martyn Lawrence Bullard, decorator to the stars, has designed homes for the likes of Cher and Kendall Jenner. Now, he invites us for a sojourn at his own Palm Springs sanctuary.

Martyn Lawrence Bullard is heralded as a consummate multi-hyphenate designer and tastemaker, widely acclaimed for his trademark glamour and exotic flair. As such, his talent has attracted the attention of Hollywood A-listers and glitterati, many of whom have invited him to curate their interiors.

His client list includes Kendall Jenner, Khloé and Kourtney Kardashian, Cher and Eva Mendes, just to name a few. As we speak, he’s hard at work designing a new LA home for Kylie Jenner, a villa for Alessandra Ambrosio, a beach house for Ellen Pompeo and a Palm Beach estate for Tommy Hilfiger, on top of a large range of commercial projects.

Seeing his creativity come to life in these spaces begs the question: what does his own home look like? Confiding that he splits his time between his two abodes—a romantic Hollywood Hills retreat and a mid-century masterpiece in the Southern California desert, it’s the latter we’re invited to explore.

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Palm Springs is paradise

“My Palm Springs home is my personal sanctuary and it’s where I go to recharge my batteries,” the designer says. “The vicinity is so beautiful, as the weather is always so warm and inviting, and the local restaurants and vintage shopping are so good. It’s also amazing just to lie around and pamper myself while relaxing,” he says.

Bullard reveals he first discovered Palm Springs when he was asked to design a small boutique hotel there, the Colony Palms, about 10 years ago. The magic of the location lies not only in its desert terrain and the mesmerising, majestic San Jacinto Mountains, but also in the balmy, sultry dry air and the cool breezes that blow off the desert.

Love at first sight

His partner, Michael Green, was looking online at properties and stumbled upon this mid-century marvel that immediately tugged at their heartstrings.

Designed by James McNaughton—the Hollywood set decorator turned architect to the stars—the house was a spaceship-like formation of classical 20-foot arches surrounding a vast glass bow window in high mid-century architectural splendour.

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Boasting terrazzo floors inside and out, and even wrapping the pool and spa and a sunken James Bond-esque sitting room with an indoor fire pit, this place was far too unique to pass up. In a complete state of emotional bliss, the couple bid on the house after only viewing it once—and they didn’t see it again until the day they received the keys. 

Originally built in 1964, this house was once home to several Hollywood legends, including Roger Moore and Hugh Hefner during the 1970s.

Situated in an area known as the Movie Colony in old Palm Springs, its illustrious list of neighbours has included Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson, Cary Grant and Liberace, to name a handful—all with homes designed by architectural icons such as Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, William Cody, Donald Wexler and John Lautner.

An homage to Hollywood's golden era

Surrounded with so much inspiration and history, Bullard felt there was only one direction for the design aesthetic of the house—to decorate in the style of the swinging ’60s, with just a touch of the disco ’70s.

“I designed the house to be a very fun place,” says the designer. “The colours are bright and reminiscent of Palm Springs style in the 1960s and ’70s, which is highlighted by my collection of vintage furniture from that period.” A reconfiguration of the bedrooms made space for a screening room and a spa room for added weekend luxury time.

Even the art Bullard has collected for the space—with masterpieces by Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Serra and Jean-Michel Basquiat—are of the period, juxtaposed with works by Damien Hirst and modern photography to give it a curated but fun twist to the collection and home.

“It’s all about having fun and entertaining, so the furniture pieces are all very comfortable, mostly covered in indoor/outdoor fabrics so all the spaces blend together to create a really relaxed atmosphere,” explains Bullard. “I keep the mid-century era vibes going with specially mixed music selections and fragranced citrus candles that capture the air with their fresh notes."

A host with the most 

In addition to being his personal sanctuary, this abode was also built for entertaining. Bullard confesses that he particularly enjoys having smaller groups of eight to 10 guests over for dinner.

“Although I personally can’t cook, I love to create beautiful tablescapes and make the house special for guests to enjoy,” the consummate host reveals. “I have favourite chefs we bring in to conjure seasonal menus, and I match cocktails and ambience to the food choices.”

It would seem that Bullard’s ideal guest list also reflects his sentiments on creating the perfect interiors—he always mixes things up to keep them fun and interesting. “My guest list includes old friends, new friends and clients—always an eclectic group, which I believe keeps the parties exciting and the group engaged,” reveals Bullard.

“I mix in age groups for varied opinions and people from different walks of life to provide fascinating conversation. An actor, an artist, a fashion stylist, a business person, an agent, a doctor… it’s always fun and varied. I often invite one new person or couple that no one else knows to bring some intrigue into the mix. Just like a cocktail, the result is a perfectly delicious blend of flavours.”

Further reading: How to make your home more eco-friendly

This story was originally published in Home Journal.