Martyn Lawrence Bullard: On the surprising design ethos behind Cher's Malibu home

'When you have somebody who is so free with their design intentions, you can create amazing fantasies' – this is the result

Martyn Lawrence Bullard
(Image credit: Courtesy of Martyn Lawrence Bullard / Getty Images)

Few figures have influenced the way celebrities decorate their homes quite as much as Martyn Lawrence Bullard. The London-born designer counts Tommy Hilfiger, Winnie Harlow, and Ellen Pompeo among his clientele – but of all the celebrities, Cher was the most surprising of all.

'Cher has been amazing throughout all of the 20-odd years I've worked with her because her style is very theatrical,' Martyn shared exclusively with H&G. The designer sat down to discuss his new book, Star Style (for which Cher wrote the forward), and to mark the publication, he revisited the decorating process behind her Malibu sanctuary. 

'Her home is an extension of her life on the stage, as it were, so we've always designed it with a very theatrical experience. In her first-ever project, she told me she wanted to live like the wife of a Maharaja, so I designed that home to capture that experience.'

'I went to India and bought the facade of an Indian palace that was being demolished, took all of the architectural elements back, and built her penthouse out of that,' Martyn says.

Nestled above the Pacific Ocean, the home is a zen-like coastal abode with a museum quality. While the view is unmistakably Californian, the interiors are an international journey spanning India, Venice, and Granada's Alhambra palace.

'From gilded Moorish ceilings to Moroccan fretwork hand carved in Fez, henna stenciled silk-clad walls with Indian wedding tattoos to ancient Chinese opium beds made into a private sanctuary lounge, the home is full of theatrical glamour and exotic luxury.'

Interior Designer
martyn lawrence bullard lying on a sofa for million dollar homes
Interior Designer
Martyn Lawrence Bullard

Martyn is a world-class talent and the largest award-winning designer and author based in Los Angeles. He is known for his trademark glamour and flair for the exotic as he curates sophisticated and inviting interiors for Hollywood A-listers and global glitterati, including Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Tommy Hilfiger, Cher, Ellen Pompeo, and Eva Mendes, to name a few.

'When you have somebody who is so free with their design intentions, you can create amazing fantasies. In the current reiteration of her home, her design ethos, she told me, was 'I'm a Buddhist behaving badly.' So, when these people give you that kind of description, you can get very inspirational,' Martyn explains. 'It's been a pretty amazing journey. I have to say I'm very, very lucky to experience and be part of that.'

As mentioned, Star Style pays homage to Cher's home, but it's also a celebration of Martyn's entire project portfolio. 'I wanted to give readers an opportunity to see and understand how we got to those interiors – what makes them so individual,' he comments. 

'It allows us to see the essence of each celebrity client within their homes and what makes it theirs.'

'This is your sign to design with passion and bring out your star style,' Martyn says. And we, for one, are following suit, even if we aren't working with a Miami mansion as a starting point. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.