Change inside an all-american red-brick home.
Channing, an elegant red-brick neo-georgian townhouse built in 1910 faces a wide tree-lined street and one of the small rivers that run through the town of Providence. The well-proportioned, traditional exterior belies its elegant, unexpectedly modern and assured interior. Step inside, and this chic family house appears to be quite a contrast to the rest of conservative Rhode Island and was transformed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, one of the best-known decorators working in the US, to reflect the owners’ urbane family life. Martyn says his clients “love having the ‘cool’ house” and are quite happy their six-bedroom home is such a bold design statement.
The owners spotted Martyn on TV’S Million Dollar Decorators and approached him. “They had several properties in varying styles and saw I could handle many different vibes, so this became the first of several houses I have done for them,” he explains. And, while he’s famous for his adventurous and dramatic designs, and “honoured the history of the house by not removing original details”, he admits the family might not have quite been ready for such a bold interior. “I was inspired by the Hollywood Regency period, and added a 70s Italian influence as the house has great classical proportions.”
Martyn used lots of white trim and neo-classical accents which, combined with vintage Italian-style chrome and plexiglass, give this otherwise quite staid house plenty of pizzazz. His attention to detail shows. The entry is paved in black and white marble, inspired by the floors in Rome’s Pantheon, which links in with the white walls and glossy black doors. Here, dramatic silver lamps by Craig Van Den Brulle and 70s lucite chairs create a glamorous first impression.
On the right as you enter is an equally fearless main living room, its ceiling papered with a David Hicks pattern from the 70s and a dazzling faux zebra-skin rug called ‘Zanzibar’ designed by Martyn for The Rug Company. The monochrome palette of blacks, whites and greys is punctuated by deep jade-green walls with shine added thanks to the mirrored coffee table by Paul Evans. A large semicircular Milo Baughman sofa upholstered in a grey silk-velvet anchors the room. “I was inspired by Italian palazzos that were redecorated in the 70s,” says Martyn, who enjoys helping clients pick out art, preferring iconic, bold photographs such as a pair from the famed Melvin Sokolsky ‘Bubble Series’ from 1963.
Truly a cosmopolitan house, the furniture was sourced from all over. The owners shopped with Martyn in New York and LA, while other pieces were found on trips to Paris. In the family room, Martyn designed a generous green sectional sofa and added a pair of upholstered Milo Baughman armchairs on another bold geometric patterned stone floor. The highlight of this room is a striking work by Picasso hung above a shiny chrome console table.
The family owns a local restaurant but does plenty of entertaining at home. Martyn painted the dining room walls black, and continued the same monochromatic combination, enlivened by the deep green. He designed a geometric cowhide rug especially for this room, and brought in a hard-to-find long burl walnut table by Paul Evans, designing the white patent leather dining chairs to match. The Venini Murano glass chandelier takes centre stage, hanging from the ceiling papered in an adventurous green malachite wallpaper from Fornasetti, because, as Martyn says, “the ceiling is the most underestimated area; I love decorating it with wallpaper”.
The powder room is equally dramatic. The decorator designed the mirrored vanity in 1970s-style chevron patterns, and mirrored the existing antique panelling. The kitchen and pantry were gutted,