How Celeb Designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard Styles A Studio Apartment
The designer mixes modern with tropical at a Cayman Islands resort.
Want to keep up with the Kardashians? Then you better hire Martyn Lawrence Bullard. The award-winning interior designer is famous for decorating grand A-list homes, but that doesn't mean he can't also design on a small scale. In his newest project at The Residences at Seafire, a residential section of the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa in Grand Cayman, Bullard created a series of studio apartments that seriously step up the small space game.
How do you style 600 square-feet in style? Bullard has a few ideas. "I think a really important element of that studio is that it shows a small space does not have to give up on a luxurious vibe," says the designer. "I always think of a studio space as being the most luxurious and fun hotel suite that is also actually a personal space."
In order to make the most of the space, a bit of hacking had to take place. "We’ve made sure that there is really great cabinetry, storage, and that lots of things double up," says Bullard. "There are panels that pop open and reveal bars, and drawer fronts drop down to make a desk. The TV pops out of a platform so you can either view it in bed or from the seating area."
Not only does the design make the most of the space indoors, but it also extends out to the balcony. "We’ve taken the idea that it’s really indoor/outdoor living," says the designer. "There is a great care that goes into the studios to make sure the vibe flows and extends the space so that you don’t feel like you’re just in this smaller unit. You have the terrace become your extended living room."
"I also really like the idea today in the entertaining sense of making sure there is form of a bar," says Bullard. "I think about that ultimate entertaining moment and providing a little great luxury element to the space that realistically doesn’t cost you that much money to do. It really does add an inviting moment to each and every space."
When decorating a home, there is one element that Bullard never ignores — light. "No matter how big or small your space is, lighting can make or break the mood," says the designer. "Light really feeds my creativity. I’m all about trying to bring in as much natural light as possible. We did drapery in all of the units to frame the window. It makes it feel more residential or cozy." He adds, "It’s the same thing if you’re in a one-room apartment in New York. I think we need to have fantastic sources of light wherever we can get them."
While it may feel like a small change, Bullard recommends placing one item in every room. "Dimmer switches are vital," he says. "It is a $50 item that changes the whole vibe."
While bringing in natural light is important, the designer emphasized that a home also has to echo the surrounding environment. "I believe sense of place is really really important," says Bullard. "Yet I understand that people now want to live in a very modern way, and so we offered that." High tech appliances and eccentric mid-century furniture worked to implement that edge. He adds, "But then again, I wanted to bring in island life — those beautiful blue oceanic colors, and add a bit of Caribbean history to the spaces. I think that we achieved that with some of the choices of fabrics and colors that lifts the space from feeling like it could be anywhere, to feeling like you are in the Caribbean enjoying the amazing Cayman Islands."