LA-based interior designer, Bullard, star of Bravo's television show Million Dollar Decorators, is a master of creating dramatic environments in a style described as “Hollywood glamour meets ethnic exotica”. Noted for his global sensibility and adventurous use of color and texture, his celebrity clients' homes are inspiring in their chic yet sumptuous styles, including Sir Elton John, Cher, Kid Rock and Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo.

Portrait Magazine: How do you think that your theater background has influenced your work as an interior designer?

Bullard: For sure having a little bit of theater training, having stomped the boards for a little while, understanding theater and theatrical direction really has helped me within the scope of interior design and understanding the client. So many of my clients are in the industry, so that experience does help the theatrical process.

Cher, who has been famous since she was 17-years-old, has lived life in the public eye with a theatrical persona, wild outfits, amazing stage sets. When working with someone like that, you really learn how to extract from them their real decorative desires.

Portrait Magazine: I was intrigued to read that your design career began in your early teens selling antiques and "oddments" at the Greenwich Antique Market in South London. What is your fondest memory of these early days?

Bullard: Literally from about 12 years old, I became this magpie attracted to anything shiny and beautiful. With my allowance, I would literally go around to flea markets and car boot sales, which were a huge fad in England 20 years ago, and run around buying these bits and pieces. Then, I convinced my father to rent me a stall at the local flea market and I learned that by displaying items in a nice way, by placing like with like within my stand, for instance, I could attract attention and sell the things I was buying. That whole process was my learning platform to understanding the decorative arts, and what period antiques were from. It was just a wonderful experience. Best of all, my father really believed in me and really encouraged me. He would be up at 6 a.m. to drive me to the market and help me set up my stall. It was a real father-son bonding experience. My stall was located at the Greenwich Antique Market, a big tourist trap and historic area, so my biggest clients were Americans. I used to be able to dazzle my American clients. I guess that was the early anchor in (to coming to America).

Portrait Magazine: Your book Live, Love, & Decorate is full of photos from the homes of your celebrity clients. What do you find most rewarding about working on celebrity homes?

Bullard: Wow. Again, when you're working with celebrities, and most of mine are actors or musicians - wonderful, creative people - their creativity helps my creativity. They want to live out their fantasies, build a Balinese pavilion in the hills of Bel Air, a disco pad in a 21st century Tower Block. There is wonderful experience when you're doing that. You do get to see from your client's persona. It's definitely different working with celebrities than with my usual clients.

I've been very lucky in my career often becoming friends with my celebrity clients. I'm working on my third house with Ellen Pompeo, of Grey's Anatomy, and we've traveled to Paris and taken summer vacation trips together. Wonderful experience. When you're decorating someone's house, you end up being a part of their life, because it's such a personal process. I believe the best decorative results come from those one-on-one experiences.

Portrait Magazine: Your work has been featured internationally in an impressive number of magazines, not to mention your TV programs Bravo's Million Dollar Decorators and Hollywood Me, as well as a multitude of product lines... Is there anything you haven't achieved yet in the design world that you're itching to do?

Bullard:  I do really love the extension of products, I find it very exciting. Product for me is a wonderful extension not only of my brand but an extension of things I love and can't find on the market place. I've just launched a new show in England: Martyn's Movie Mansions - and am excited that I'm continuing in that field, because I have a great love for the TV medium. It goes hand in hand with product development - more people understand your brand and what the products are and embrace them, which keeps me constantly in a stream of development.

In the next year or so, I'll be launching lines of crystal, porcelain, silver, jewelry, and a menswear collection. I've got my second Ann Sacks Tile launch later in the year. They're an amazing, historic company to work with. I've been very lucky to tap into their resources, tiles made in Morocco, going all over the world to source manufacturers, as well as the unbelievable manufacturing necessary to do my mirrored Hermitage - verre églomisé - back painted glass. All that has allowed me the opportunity to work with great vendors in the States that are generational.

Portrait Magazine: What’s the most rewarding part of having your own product line?

Bullard: I think it is seeing how other designers and homeowners are using my product. It's wonderful to see so many uses of my fabric, covering my furniture, even the new tile line. One designer tiled the ceiling of their dressing room with the mirrored tile. It's just great to see how creative they get with your product. I love designing and seeing my products in my own work, but to see other designers using it for themselves is the biggest reward I could ever ask for.

I'm headed to England to do press for my new TV show and to kick off London Design Week 2014, with an interview with Susan Crewe, editor of British House & Garden, England's #1 interiors magazine. “A Well-Traveled Eye.” We'll be discussing my career and how my travels have influenced my design career. From there, I do an install at Chateau Gutsch in Switzerland - a wonderful hotel that was formerly Queen Victoria's summer residence. We've been working on that for 2 years.

I leave Switzerland for Istanbul for a quick visit to a penthouse overlooking the Bosporus, for a Turkish socialite, then on to Kips Bay Show House in New York City. We're going to be using my new marble papers launched in February for Schumacher, and creating some beautiful mirrored effects using the Hermitage collection from my Ann Sacks Tile launch.

My fabric launch in 2010 was the biggest launch to date in Schumacher's 125 year history. I did a wallpaper line for them last year. A fabric line this February was my third launch with them.

Portrait Magazine: You've travelled the globe sourcing items for your clients. What country or region inspires you the most? Why?

Bullard: The world is my oyster. There is no one place that is more inspirational to me than another. I've always loved a little bit of Morocco, Marrakesh, Tangier, Fez. Love to go to Rome, Paris or London. Last year I was in Australia, which is filled with amazing designers, wonderful stores. The people are wonderful. They really, really embrace design. India is, perhaps, the most inspirational, with incredible vendors, decorative sites and color. Amidst all the poverty and craziness, there is such beauty. I shopped there for a Million Dollar Decorators episode, creating an entire home collection, table top, linens, porcelain. It was great, great fun. I created a wallpaper line for Schumacher from my Indian trip, using Indian panels and etchings from the Taj Mahal. There is such inspiration from India!

Even within my own fabric line, much of my colors were inspired by the earth tones, tribal fashions, and tie dye fabrics I saw after my first safari in Africa. Often it's where I was last that starts decorating ideas within my mind.

In England, I designed my sister's pub, the 16th century home of Napoleon Bonaparte's mistress. This building was falling down when we went in there. It was held together by glue and tape. It was quite an adventure. I wanted it to be a traditional old English pub, fireplaces, ebony tones, very traditional, this is how I traditionally think a pub should be. That trend is disappearing now. Everything is linen, bright, light oak, ala Restoration Hardware in the pubs that are left and have not disappeared for good. I turned back time.

Portrait Magazine: Is there a recent find topping your inspiration boards?

Bullard: Yes, in fact, I was in Bali a couple of years ago - I'm working on a hotel project in Hawaii with a Balinese flavor - and I was going through vintage fragments, books on design, and my own design library, and found this design fragment, a portion of a loin cloth, I think. It's a very tribal, simple, beautiful tribal Java pattern. We've taken that and blown the design up and repeated it 3 times for a new fabric launch in 3 weeks: Hawaiian colors, beautiful teals, indigo blues, saffron yellow, burnt red. That's my latest inspiration that's turned into a product for my line.

Portrait Magazine: What’s a favorite personal luxury or keepsake from your own home?

Bullard: The most important thing in any form of design is understanding comfort; modern luxury is comfort. I have some beautiful things of great value, but I don't want to treat anything as a bit precious. I treat everything as if it's my best. I drink orange juice in the morning from my best crystal glass, cozy up with my cashmere blanket in front of the TV at night, drink from my Hermès cup. I use everything I have. The luxury of life is to use and enjoy everything you own.

Portrait Magazine: Browsing through your book, there is a sophisticated interplay of color, pattern and texture. What advice can you offer readers about incorporating these elements into their own spaces?

Bullard: I think today is a world marketplace. You can go online to shop in Paris, or Hong Kong in 15 minutes. The world is at your fingertips. You don't even need to jump on a train. Search the web, embrace that, don't be afraid of things that are too exotic or unusual. In the great words of Oscar Wilde: “All beautiful things belong to the same age”. If you love something, let's say it a Ming vase and you love a little paperweight from Crate & Barrel, put those things together. They'll be more beautiful than they were singly. Look at what's around you. Embrace this one world culture we've got going. Experiment. There is nothing like layering. You can mix red and green like Christmas. The reality is you must follow your own heart with design. If you're afraid of color, take the smallest room in your house and paint that red or chocolate brown. If that feels successful, then from that little experiment, you can spread that out into the rest of your home. With upholstery pieces, go for a plain fabric the first time, and then you can add more to that with throw pillows, blankets, or throws that create texture, color and pattern without doing it in a way that means you've really blown it! It's much harder to take a sofa back than a cushion that you can easily change out. Every store on Main Street in America has pillows for around $30. So, as with the title of my book, Live, Love & Decorate. Trust yourself. Love yourself, and through that decorate wildly.

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