Sitting Down with Today’s Hottest Designer: Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Martyn Lawrence Bullard design
If you keep up with the latest trends in interior design, even if you don’t for that matter, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with the work of Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Recently, we had a chance to sit down with the award-winning designer, who stars on Bravo TV’s Million Dollar Decorators and has drawn such celebrity clientele as Sir Elton John, Cher and Eva Mendes, to discuss his entry into the business, where he sees the future of design and everything in between.
LP: You established your eye for design at a very early age – can you touch a little bit on that and how you first got into it?
MLB: Well, I started as a sort of crazy child who was fascinated with antiques and objects and began buying and selling things when I was 12 years old. By the time I was 16, I’d built up enough inventory that I was setting up the stores in the local flea markets. Then, after getting noticed by someone at Ralph Lauren, I ended up buying things specifically for them that they would use to decorate their windows on Madison Avenue.
Luxury Home design
LP: And shortly after that you ended up in Hollywood, correct?
MLB: With the money I made buying and selling things in flea markets, I was able to put myself through acting school. I started acting for a little while and came to Hollywood because I wanted to be a star - of course that took a while to achieve! But in the meantime I did a couple of movies and the producer for one of them came to my house and loved it and asked me to redo his office for him. I thought, “Well this is crazy but who knows, maybe he’ll put me in another movie!” That’s how it all started. Almost immediately after I finished that project, the president of Capitol Records called me and said, “I’ve seen your work. Would you come and do the Capitol Records Building?” I was about 24 and suddenly it just spiraled from there.
LP: You’re widely known for your exotic style – is that something that evolved over time or have you always favored that aesthetic?

Luxury Home design

MLB: A lot of the exoticism comes from the fact that I love to travel to places like Morocco, Istanbul and Egypt, and everywhere I go all the inspirations there seep into me. It’s through that that I’ve come up with some of the more exotic interiors. It’s my love of travel that has brought forward my love of pattern and exoticism – that’s what I’ve fused into my designs. It’s a summation of my experiences.
LP: Recently you’ve ventured into commercial projects, as well – how did that start?
MLB: I did the Jimmy Choo stores, various restaurants, a bunch of hotels, nightclubs and fashion stores. My commercial projects started about five years ago and have now really built up as I’ve done more and more. Once you’re on TV, you get more exposure with commercial companies and they start to see you more as a brand. Brands always want to join with other brands to strengthen each other, so that’s really what’s happened with the commercial work. Four Seasons recently asked me to be the face of their residences in Beverly Hills, ranging between $5 million and $45 million – I accepted of course! So I’m not only designing them, but they’re using me as the image for them. That’s a real partnership of brands merging.
LP: Do you have any favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

Luxury Home design

MLB: Projects are like having children – when you’re pregnant with it, it’s painful and once you give birth to it, it becomes your immediate favorite for a while. At the moment, I’m just finishing a big project for Tommy Hilfiger. He and his wife Dee are the most amazing, wonderful people. I adore them. The home is really wild and fabulous and at the moment it’s a real favorite of mine. It’s in Miami, which of course is the big hotspot in the world right now.
LP: What do you think will be the big trends in interior design in the near future?
MLB: The 80s are back in a big way. Brass, which was thought to be sort of passé, is huge. Brass, gold colors, everything from taps to tables to wall coverings – brass is a big, big thing. All 80s over-scaled furniture. That whole vibe is huge and we’re going to see more and more of it. Also, on the other end of the scale is art deco. Since the whole Great Gatsby vibe, art deco is back in fashion and design and we’re literally going to see it everywhere. 

Market Pulse: New York City, London, Miami

In our second installment of the Luxury Portfolio Market Pulse, we’re taking a look at the latest activity in three of the world’s hottest real estate markets: New York City, London and Miami. Again, this is just a snapshot, so stay tuned as we continue to investigate the most exclusive markets around the globe!

New York City Luxury Homes

New York City

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: US $ 70 million
Most international buyers are coming from: China, Brazil and Russia
Luxury buyers are looking for homes with: Full service gym and spa, wine storage, indoor pools and pet spas
Currently there are: 490 listings priced over US $7.65 million
The bottom line: The market is being driven by low supply, yet remains affordable compared to other global cities.


London Luxury Homes


Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: £ 140 million (US $ 240 million)
Most international buyers are coming from: Russia, various parts of Europe and the Middle East
Currently there are: 68 properties in Kensington and Chelsea above £ 10 million (US $17 million)
The bottom line: The market is cooling and this creates opportunities for foreign buyers and investors alike.


Miami Luxury Homes


Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: US $ 30 million
Most international buyers are coming from: Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina (in that order). Of all South Florida sales, 35% are being purchased by international buyers.
Luxury buyers are looking for homes with: Hotel and concierge services and close to top restaurants
Currently there are: 1,598 properties priced over US $1,475,000
The bottom line: South Florida is setting records sales for homes priced over US $ 1 million for the 4th consecutive year.

Deep Appreciation for Sunken Living Spaces

Sunken Living Room Unique Capetown Residence

A sunken room adds depth and dimension to a home’s floor plan; it’s somewhat unexpected and a space guaranteed to spark conviviality and create an intimate vibe. We found three exceptional homes that have sunk to new levels (in the best possible way).

Exterior Unique Capetown Residence Amazing AmenitiesLocated in Bishopscourt, Cape Town, this South African stunner will surprise and delight guests with its abundant amenities. With four bedrooms, all en-suite, this contemporary home is perfect for entertaining visitors. Seat a dozen friends for dinner in the open-plan dining room and then retreat to the swank sunken living room for a night cap.

The sprawling room with its built-in seating, free-standing fireplace and panoramic views guarantees a groovy get-together. The sumptuous master bedroom suite includes an indoor/outdoor shower and spa bathtub designed for sudsy stargazing. Other luxuries to deepen your interest include an infinity pool, gymnasium and four-car garage.

Sprawling Garrison NY Home Sunken Living RoomTraveling almost 13,000 miles to Garrison, New York we found a picturesque and private property situated on 120 acres of natural woodland overlooking the Hudson River. Featuring sweeping views all the way to Bear Mountain Bridge, this shingle and glass single-story home is a rare find filled with unique architectural elements.

Outdoor activities are abundant with unlimited opportunities for hiking and gardening, but when it’s finally time to come inside, the spacious sunken great room makes for an ideal spot to gather with loved ones. Natural light floods the four-bedroom/two-and-a-half bath home through floor-to-ceiling windows, providing an optimal setting for treasured artwork.

Sunken Living Room SamsaraLastly, in the lush tropical locale of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, this secluded Mid-Century Modern hideaway, Samsara, offers privacy in a spectacular setting. With over 3,000 square-feet of living space there is plenty of room to roam. Perched high above Cane Garden Bay, the six-bedroom/five-and-a-half bath property has awe-inspiring views.

The multi-level main residence boasts a sunken family room which is separated from the dining area by a see-through fireplace, an ideal spot to rest and relax at the end of the evening. Just above is the mezzanine floor that offers additional living space; up one more level is a lofted area with a bird’s eye view of the home’s anything-but-ordinary layout. With other features like a gourmet kitchen, swimming pool and covered outdoor dining area, we’ve got to level with you — this home has a lot to offer.

Looking for luxurious new levels of living space?  Dive deep into Luxury Portfolio.

Exploring the World's Ultra-Prime Enclaves

Monterey Luxury Homes

Like birds of a feather, today’s ultra-high-net-worth individuals flock together, with the majority landing in a distinguished list of neighborhoods prized for their beauty, exclusivity and leisure activities. In these top-tier enclaves, residents hail from all over the globe, while the common denominator is their position among the world’s most affluent, who can choose to live anywhere they please. It’s far from an exhaustive list, but based on such factors as quality of life, luxury real estate and ease of access, following is a selection of the most prestigious locations to live the good life, from mega-yachts in the Caribbean to champagne and caviar in the Swiss Alps.

Monterey Peninsula (USA)
California’s central coast has long been heralded for its mesmerizing scenery and favorable year-round climate, making it the perfect place for golf enthusiasts to flock for greener pastures. Comprised of Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove, the area is home to a bevy of world-renowned golf courses, such as Pebble Peach and Spyglass Hill. Additionally, the craggy coastline and scenic waters have made it one of the most desirable, as well as pricey, places to live. If you’re in the market for some prime beachfront and the country club lifestyle, the Monterey Peninsula is well worth a look.

St. Moritz Luxury HomesSt. Moritz (Switzerland)
A historical favorite among the jet set, St. Moritz is one of the few places that might actually exceed its reputation of world-class luxury. Combine that with some of the finest off-piste, or back country, skiing in the Swiss Alps and it’s easy to understand why so many high-net-worth individuals are keen on the real estate here. It may be one of the most expensive enclaves in Europe, but with endless alpine activities, 300+ beautiful days of sunshine and upscale dining and nightlife, St. Moritz has earned every bit of its pedigree.

St. Barths Luxury HomesSt. Barths (French West Indies)
Easily the ritziest island in the Caribbean, Saint Barthélemy, or St. Barths, is the ultimate enclave when it’s time to take to the tropics. With no shortage of yachts, celebrities and turquoise water, the island has been a longtime favorite among the affluent, who tend to prefer private villas rather than compete for limited hotel space when the busy season hits from December to April (hotels account for only 30% of the island’s accommodations). With just over 8 square miles (21 km²) and strict zoning codes, real estate is quite limited, resulting in an extremely competitive market on this lavish getaway.

Costa Smeralda Luxury HomesCosta Smeralda (Italy)
Historically one of the most expensive real estate markets in Europe, Costa Smeralda has been frequented by the upper echelon since its development by Prince Karim Aga Khan in the early 1960s. Located on the north coast of Sardinia (off the west coast of Italy), its appeal is largely driven by the dramatic coastline, breathtaking Mediterranean views and myriad offerings that cater to high-society. The prestigious Pevero Golf Club, Marina di Porto Cervo and numerous picture-perfect beaches are just a few of the reasons those who can afford to, choose Costa Smeralda for their vacation home.

Market Pulse: Beverly Hills, Geneva, Hong Kong

In our effort to keep you up to date on the market activity in top international destinations, we’re sharing some of our latest findings from the Luxury Portfolio Market Pulse. Of course, this is just a snapshot, so stay tuned as we continue to investigate the world’s hottest real estate markets!

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Luxury Homes

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: US $ 120 million
Buyers who want it all want: A bowling alley, beauty salon, state-of-the-art media room and hammam (Turkish bath)
Compared to last year, prices are: Up
Top 10% of inventory across the market is: US $ 30 million and above
The bottom line: More US $ 20 million+ homes are being sold than ever before.


Geneva Luxury Homes

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: CHF 57.5 million (US $ 64 million)
The market is currently a: Buyer’s market
Most international buyers are coming from: France and the Ukraine
Top 10% of inventory across the market is: CHF 15 million and above (US $ 17 million)
It’s worth it because: Economic and political stability, as well as a sense of security and excellent quality of life.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Luxury Homes

Highest recorded sale in last 12 months: HK $ 526 million (US $ 67.9 million)
The market is currently a: Buyer’s market
Most international buyers are coming from: Mainland China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines
Luxury buyers are looking for homes with: Clubhouse facilities and convenience to commercial high-end shopping malls

Just Listed: The Alexander Julian Estate

Alexander Julian's Colorful Connecticut Home

Reflective of his signature brand “Colours,” it’s no surprise that the home of iconic designer Alexander Julian is bright, lively and luxuriously un-stuffy. Tucked away on 30 private acres in Ridgefield, Connecticut, this ten-bedroom, seven bathroom (plus two half-bath) property makes the most of its sublime natural surroundings. Ponds, brooks, and meticulously landscaped greenery provide the perfect backdrop for this wonderfully whimsical Arts & Crafts home.

colorful rustic bathroom Alexander Julian EstateUshering the outdoors inside, the gracious dining room has floor-to-ceiling doors that open to the red brick terrace. A footed bathtub, soaring beamed ceilings, roughhewn floors and exquisite built-ins are just a few of the utterly charming details throughout the home; there are stylish surprises at every turn. If given only one word to describe this delightful dwelling: happy.

Other features of the property include a guest house, pool, pool house, tennis court, greenhouse and quite appropriately, a design studio. Click here to learn more about this exceptional home.

Musings from the Private Jet Journey

Four Seasons Private Jet
It’s daybreak on the Amazon River in Peru. Early morning light streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows of your suite aboard the Aria, a deluxe river cruise ship accommodating an exclusive 32 guests, and over the gentle rippling of its wake a Ringed Kingfisher calls in the distance. By tomorrow, a private jet will have taken you nearly 3,000 thousand miles away to relax over sunset cocktails at the legendary Posada de Mike Rapu on Easter Island in Polynesia. 
Abercrombie and Kent Private JetIt’s just another stop on upscale travel company Abercrombie & Kent’s 26 day Islands, Savannas & the Amazon excursion, culminating with a lavish evening at the Hotel Metropole in Monaco. Priced upwards of $80K, it’s not for everyone, but if you have the means to do so, these intimately-sized adventures are the most luxurious way to make a dent on that seemingly endless bucket list. "Travel by private jet allows guests to experience far more than they could on a conventional itinerary – and with greater ease and access," explains Abercrombie & Kent President Phil Otterson, "Our guests understand the value of this, which led to our 2014 Private Jet Africa and Around the World departures selling out in just weeks and generating long waiting lists." For the jet setter who doesn’t want to get bogged down by delays, transfers, long security lines and the like, private jet tours are a fast growing trend. Why? The short answer: because it’s hassle-free luxury and first class all the way. 
Four Seasons Private JetThe Four Seasons, for instance, is far from solely hotel operators anymore. In fact, the company now curates a number of full-service globetrotting expeditions where passengers can be transported by private jet to the iconic hotel brand’s various locations around the world. As Susan Helstab, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Four Seasons, recently shared, “In 2012, when we first introduced our Around the World by Private Jet experiences the response was overwhelmingly positive. The popularity and success of these early trips demonstrated the considerable opportunity and growth potential in the future of private jet travel, and encouraged us to look for new ways to evolve the experience.” 
That ultimately led to the recently unveiled Four Seasons Boeing 757, elegantly retrofitted for private travel with only 52 seats. The moment you step aboard it’s apparent that everything has been carefully orchestrated to provide a high-touch experience (they even equip each passenger with a near indestructible suitcase from luxury luggage brand RIMOWA), but that’s not what makes these trips worth shelling out the big bucks (ranging from $70–120K per person based on double occupancy). Rather, the unique offerings and VIP perks are what distinguish each voyage from your average vacation. How else would one get to enjoy a private dinner at the Manueline-style Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon one night and an evening at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan with backstage passes the next? On the Four Seasons Backstage with the Arts journey, travelers are treated to just that on a sixteen day cultural feast through six European cities.
Abercrombie and Kent Private JetNow, if you’re really looking to get off the beaten path, without compromising comfort of course, National Geographic is also in the luxury travel game and has put a few excursions together, as only Nat Geo could. The recently announced Human Journey: Tracing Legendary Peoples and Sacred Places with Dr. Spencer Wells promises the ultimate balance between luxury travel (they’ve got a customized Boeing 757 of their own) and exotic exploration. With stops at numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Mtskheta, Georgia, the cave temples of Dambulla in Sri Lanka and the churches at Lalibela, Ethiopia, it offers a level of grand adventure rarely possible traveling on your own, while maintaining a personal touch that’s far from being prodded along on a group vacation full of fanny packs and tourist manuals. In the neighborhood of $70k, these once-in-a-lifetime experiences allow you to truly delve into a foreign culture with a renowned team of experts to share their knowledge and insights on each destination. 
As they increase in popularity, there seems to be a private-jet tour tailored for every type of traveler: the history buff, the socialite, the adventurer, the beach bum and so on, with thrilling new itineraries created each year to meet the expectations of today’s jet setter. The continued growth signals one thing for sure: they’re well worth it.

5 Can’t-Miss Luxury Events this Season

Monaco Yacht Show
The past few months have been high-season for jet-setting around the world, but if you don’t want the fun to end – fear not – for there are plenty more good times to be had. If you’re still looking for some excitement of the luxury variety, here are five of our favorite upcoming events around the world.
London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week, September 12 – 16
For one week all eyes in the fashion world will be on London, as top luxury designers exhibit their Autumn/Winter 2014 collections. Expected highlights include the launching of Burberry’s new “Buy Now” tool on Twitter, allowing users to store their banking details and instantly purchase a product featured in a tweet, as well as white-hot model Cara Delevingne’s new campaign for Topshop.
Monaco Yacht Show, Sept 24 – 27
The ships will certainly be rolling in at Port Hercules, Monaco’s exclusive harbor, renowned for the mega-yachts that line the docks. The definitive event for the latest and greatest luxury maritime innovations, the Monaco Yacht Show will feature a fleet of 115 super-yachts in the glamorous setting of Monaco-Monte Carlo.
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez
Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez, September 27 – October 5
If you don’t get your boating fix in Monaco, head to Saint-Tropez for the largest sailing regatta in the French Riviera. Priceless boats, modern and traditional, will take to the Bay of Saint Tropez to battle for the Rolex trophy in one of sailing’s most luxurious events.
Miami Art BaselMiami Art Basel, December 4 – 7
Two parts art, one part high-society, Miami Art Basel is the go-to event for international collectors, curators and enthusiasts of Modern and contemporary art. Featuring a variety of mediums, from painting and sculpture to film and installations, the exhibition will feature today’s biggest names and emerging stars in fabulous Miami Beach.
In its 11th year the Dubai International Film Festival is now the premier film event in the Middle East for filmmakers and cinephiles, alike. Viewers can expect a host of Oscar contenders, with last year’s lineup garnering 36 Academy Award nominations, including such titles as 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle and The Great Beauty. 
These five are just a few of the exciting events to come this social season, but there are plenty more! What are you favorite upcoming events?

Serving-Up Luxury: Tennis Anyone?

jaw dropping Hope Ranch property

With the U.S. Open in full swing, we have a case of tennis fever. The only thing more fun than watching an action-packed match is playing on a tennis court of your own. We’ve decided to serve-up a few smashing properties that are all winners in our book.

Hope Ranch sea viewLocated in picture perfect Santa Barbara, this enchanting Hope Ranch property is California living at its very finest. With spectacular backdrops of the sea and mountains, the approximately 13-acre site spans two premier parcels. Encompassing over 13,000 square feet, the eight-bedroom, nine-bathroom (plus one partial bath) home is so ideal for entertaining that guests may never leave.

Beyond the sublime scenery, including a tranquil pond, this property offers a host of leisure activities. An equestrian’s delight, the property features horse stables with a riding ring. Prefer an activity with a little less giddy-up? Take a dip in one of two pools on the property. When you are ready to come out swinging, lace-up and hit the tennis court for a few sets.

Impeccable Cape Town MansionDon’t fault us for teasing you with another property. This palatial mansion in Constantia, Cape Town is a South African paradise that offers high drama and welcoming spaces. Upon entering through the wrought iron gates, you know you have arrived some place magnificent. The regal water feature and sprawling parking court set the tone for the many extraordinary amenities yet to be revealed.

The heart of the seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom home is the French, handcrafted chef’s kitchen with breakfast nook, showcasing the home’s second staircase as its centerpiece. After a hearty breakfast, what could be better than playing a few sets of tennis on either of the two grass tennis courts? Other highlights of this swoon-worthy property include a koi pond, under-floor heating and six automated garages.

Country Club Living in Lake ForestLastly we discovered country club living in Chicago’s North Shore hamlet, Lake Forest, Illinois. Designed by renowned architect, Harrie T. Lindeberg, this home has been lovingly restored to its original 1929 splendor. Positioned on more than two acres, this impressive seven-bedroom, six-bathroom (plus two partial bath) manse has the charm of yesteryear thoughtfully updated with every modern comfort today’s discerning homeowner would seek.

The three-story main residence encompasses over 12,000 square feet and includes posh perks like seven fireplaces, a wine room, a second floor family room and breakfast room. Additionally, the property features an attached coach house, in-ground pool and a tennis court set within perfectly maintained grounds.

Looking to score an exceptional property with a tennis court? You have the advantage utilizing Luxury Portfolio.

Taking to the Hills: Alpine Abodes

Colorado Luxury Home
This time of year, it’s the beach homes that tend to get all of the attention, and while we often think of mountain homes as strictly cold weather destinations, they’re actually geared for four seasons of fun. From hiking and biking trails to fly fishing and white water rafting, there’s no end to the activities that mountains provide. Following are a few of our favorite alpine abodes that the whole family can enjoy 365 days a year.
Luxury Ski Home in ColoradoKnown as Podere, meaning “family homestead” in Tuscan dialect, this first home is an awe-inspiring estate in Edwards, Colorado. Poised on its own small mountain with 360° views of the Rockies, Podere brings together the best of modern and traditional luxury. The entire home can easily be controlled using a state-of-the-art Crestron system, juxtaposed with such details as a reclaimed fireplace from a 16th century Italian villa. Registering nearly 17,000 square feet of living space, the Tuscan-style residence is surrounded by more than ten miles of private hiking, riding, snowshoe and ATV trails.
Luxury Home Whistler, CanadaCool and contemporary, this next one is an unsurpassed luxury home in Whistler, Canada, set on the outskirts of a protected tree preserve. Taking full advantage of the mesmerizing scenery, its sleek design incorporates the natural landscape of the area – from large boulders and a waterfall located on the property to its dramatic mountain and lake views. The inside, of course, is simply deluxe, with a Control 4 smart home system, 120” Stewart screen in the media room and a host of unique architectural details.
Stowe, Vermont Luxury HomeRounding things out is a bucolic mountain property in Stowe, Vermont, known as Strawberry Hill Farm. The perfect country home to escape with family and friends, you’ll find a large swimming pond complete with a zip line, horse barn with plenty of room for riding across 190 acres and endless trails for hiking through the Green Mountains. There’s also a farmhouse dating back to the 1800’s, which has been extensively remodeled, and a 6,400 square foot main home with all of the expected modern luxuries, such as a media room, game area, wet bar and even a yoga/meditation suite. 
If these incredible mountain residences got you itching for more, check out the many luxury homes for sale in our Ski and Mountain section!

More Entries