Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Million Dollar Decorators: Style, Disasters & Strange Requests

Photo by Joe Pugliese/Bravo

If you're into all the Bravo shows that take you deep inside the lives of the outrageously rich, there's a new show you'll want to be on the lookout for. Million Dollar Decorators debuts on May 31 and features five award winning interior designers working in the cut throat world of high-end style for the home. In a recent conference call interview we spoke with three of the stars of the show — Martyn Lawrence-Bullard, Jeffrey Alan Marks and Kathryn Ireland — about their personal styles, their tips for low budget projects and their worst design disasters.

On Their Personal Styles
Jeffrey: "I would say traditional with a comfortable edge. Personalized comfort is very important to me and to give them the sophisticated look that maybe they want but take it down a notch and have great personalized comfort."

Martyn: "My interiors are exuberant. They are absolutely eclectic because one of the things I live from is the saying of the great Oscar Wilde is that 'All beautiful things belong to the same age,' which [I] interpret in my design by using things from every culture and every period. And if they’re beautiful, I mix them all together to create a very individual environment for my clients. And my main thing is that I believe that modern luxury is comfort."

Kathryn: "We’re all very much on the same page. I think I’m a little bit more English country meets California coastline. My big thing is I have three boys, a mass of animals and it’s all about family, lifestyle, living, comfort and making sure that nothing is too precious. I’m the undecorated look in a way I suppose. I like to create homes and I like houses to look like their owners. They really are for the people that live there."

On The Biggest Job Disasters
Martyn: "I had a job I did in Mexico… for the crazy adult industry mogul, Joe Francis, who owns Girls Gone Wild and Guys Gone Wild. And I had most of the furniture made in either in Indonesia or in the U.S. and [had it] all shipped to L.A. and it was all taken in lorries down to Mexico. And I had one of the lorries hijacked in Mexico… I ended up having to do an unbelievable gangster like deal where I exchanged money with the hijackers to get my van of furniture back… That was the scariest thing that I’ve ever had to do."

Jeffrey: "I’ve done the parent’s house to that person and they were equally as much drama in a very different way but yes, very interesting family… You learn from your intuition not to take on those clients anymore. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now and I think that you learn pretty quickly in the first couple of meetings that it’s bad news if the client’s not reacting correctly."

On Summer Spruce Up Tips
Martyn: "One of the great things that’s an English tradition is that in English country houses they would redo the furniture for the summer. So they’d have summer slipcovers. So rather than your brown velvet sofa for the winter you’d have a beautiful linen, fresh, pale green or white or some beautiful summery color that you’d slipcover the furniture in for the summer. And also they did a great thing, which I always do for my own home, which is have summer and winter rugs. So I roll up my oriental rugs, in the summer I lay down sea grass which is actually fun and fresh and makes it feel more summery. And [it] is actually a really inexpensive fix because you can go to Pottery Barn and buy an 8 x 10 sea grass rug for 200 bucks. That’s a really quick, fast fun way of infusing some summer energy into your home."

Jeffrey: "Because we have such great light out in California and great weather, why not do outdoor rooms for the summer? Just temporary three-month structures that have a great life for the summer."

Kathryn: "We should have outdoor rooms here all year round really. I don’t dress them all year round but you can bring out fresh summer pillows and throws onto your benches or whatever you have outside."

Martyn: "I f you’ve got old furniture in your house, in your basement, in your storage, you can actually take that furniture like real sofas upholstered in outdoor fabric and put it outside for the summer because the fabric will hold up and for the three or four months it’s outside, the interior of it will hold up as well just as long as you take it in during the winter months. So you can create a real outdoor living space with real furniture just by having it upholstered in one of the many outdoor fabrics that are on the market."

On Getting Decorating Tips From Expensive Makeovers
Martyn: "We’re all spending thousands of dollars of client’s monies to create these useful environments but the reality is there are amazing, amazing tips and design hints that you can take from this even if you want to spend $10. In one of the episodes with Kathryn we go to a hotel located in Palm Springs and I have to revamp very inexpensively. And one of the great tricks is to paint a wainscoting a 36 inch height around a room, a painted color wainscoting. So I put a deep red wainscoting in this white room and it automatically gave it architecture. That costs $20. There’s marvelous tips like that our viewers can extract from that actually allow them to have an experience of this kind of $1 million decorating lifestyle but really on their own budgets."

Kathryn: "In the first episode I give a dinner for my birthday and as usual everything’s very slapdash. My kids have to cook but decorating the table I’m using old yogurt pots to put flowers in and it’s all stuff that people can identify with and go, 'Oh, that’s a good idea.' Use an old tequila bottle to put a flower in, recycled really. So I think in every episode one of us gives you something."

Jeffrey: "And that was such a lovely party. It didn’t cost necessarily a lot but it was a labor of love. Kathryn’s children did it for her and they cooked and it was such a lovely party. The $1 million lifestyle has a lot to do with that as well. Family and friends and just enjoying yourself, relaxing."

Kathryn: "Marvelous. Just a few flowers can bring so much joy to a room. Give it such a lift. So yeah, we’re not all about buying very expensive paintings and very high-end antiques. Of course that goes on but I think what we all have is we’ve been doing this so long, we’re so good at it, we know how to take a budget. Believe me, the last two years people have not been paying and spending the money that they used to so the last few years we’ve all had to get very creative in what we do which is actually good… I’ve used it to better myself and to really have to think a little bit outside the box and go that little bit further… We’ve got to always take away the good from the situation."

Martyn: "[This is] the first show ever on American television to show the real high-end of interior design. There’s something that’s exciting about that, there’s something that’s funny about it, there’s something that’s [a] being amazed factor to a lot of people. But again there are going to be fantastic takeaways for decorating that they can do on any budget."

On the Oddest Requests
Martyn: "I once had a rather famous diva ask me to take a bath with her, which I decided to decline… 80% of my client list is celebrities. You get sometimes the most extraordinary requests. I had a request once to gold leaf the entire interior of the garage, which I actually had to decline because I thought if that ever gets out to the press that will be the end of my career. So there’s definitely been some diva delicious demands."

Tune in to the Million Dollar Decorators to catch all the divas and drama starting Tuesday, May 31 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. Central on Bravo.

For related stories check out:
Leigh Anne Tuohy Keeps Giving on Extreme Makeover
An Interview with Sweat Equity's Amy Matthews

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