So today I met in person a design idol! Martyn Lawrence Bullard was in Chicago, at the opening of the first PIRCH showroom here. I figured if it’s worth his time and brand to attend, maybe I should see it. And my copy of Live, Love, Decorate would be really sad without his autograph. Martyn delivered an autograph with penmanship as beautiful as the rooms he creates, and he was so gracious to chat with for a moment.
You know the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? My dad will be happy to find out that he’s a few degrees closer to Cheryl Tiegs (see her Bali-inspired home, so gorgeous). Yes there is an inside family joke there but it wouldn’t stay an inside joke if I shared it!
Beyond the celebrity star appeal of his clients and the Million Dollar Decorators show, Martyn’s work has inspired me to decorate more brave and bold. The pages of his book opened my eyes to bigger ways to use the things I find in India and other places we travel. Instead of buying all small tchotchkes, I now spring for impactful things that pack a punch of personality – like old, large pieces of painted and carved wood from Indian door surrounds. You can display big pieces like that on a wall, or build them into one-of-a-kind furniture.
A few years ago I shared one of Cher’s homes that Martyn designed (he’s decorated several for her and his book tells the stories) – an Indian fantasy home. It’s very much how I want our apartment in India to feel:
I’d like to fill our Chennai apartment with carved wood, large artwork by Indian artists like sculptures and paintings, neutral colors and lots of pattern both subtle and bold. It’s a pied-à-terre – an occasional “second home” – so it should feel like a vacation spot. My vision is for it to be a creative space where we can promote the work of Indian artists and craftspeople.
This is Cher’s bathroom with its wood jaali screen cabinets and the carvings in the tub surround that look like Taj Mahal carvings:
You can see a global mix of Moroccan, Indian, Chinese, Syrian and Egyptian in this home. Check out my Cher Indian Fantasy post for more photos of its rooms.
Another element that’s inspired me is the use of large textiles as a headboard, like this antique Egyptian wall hanging in a bedroom Martyn designed for Ellen Pompeo:
My master bedroom needs a refresh and we have a silk Indian carpet that I should hang like this. I had hung it over the bed like this in a previous home. The rug – being silk and light color and it wasn’t inexpensive – we don’t want to put it on the floor. So it’s unfortunately rolled up in storage. We should be able to live with beautiful, quality things! Hanging carpets on walls is a perfect solution to enjoy them while protecting them from muddy paws and snowy boots.
So you may know Martyn Lawrence Bullard. But what’s PIRCH? Well … it’s a showroom store open to the public that carries quality brands of appliances and plumbing for the kitchen (indoor and outdoor) and bathrooms. Here’s a few shots of things I liked – even the soap was beautiful!
It’s hard to tell from the photo but those silver and gold circles scattered about were like little bowls mounted on the wall, a cool idea:
Is it sink basin or sculpture? Both:
This is a world where even the soap is beautiful. These were like geodes:
These baskets were so shimmery. I wanted one for the Indian-Moroccan closet sitting nook I’m finishing this weekend. But to be honest, I have far more fun hunting things like these down while traveling overseas than buying them at a retailer near my house – that’s too easy! I think I’ve found beaded baskets will be a hunt on a future travel to Africa (or, Bali?):
My style is more global so I was drawn to things with that look.
From their website, here’s a kitchen with a nod to Chinese hardware on a cabinet. Love this:
In our area of Chicagoland there are plenty of places to see brands like Wolf, Sub-Zero, Thermador, Miele, La Cornue, Rohl, Kallista, Lacava, etc. So what’s different about PIRCH? Well, in most showrooms you can look at the product, you can get the specs, you can hear the sales pitch. But do you get to see the product in action? Do you get to see how water flows? Do you get to feel the hardware in your hand? I think that’s an often-overlooked but very important element – the hardware should “fit” you. Do you get to experience how sensitive and powerful the range is, how it handles from searing meat to bringing a huge pot of water to boil? Most of the time, no. But when you buy a car you get to drive it around first. When you’re investing in a kitchen or bathroom renovation, shouldn’t you be able to see products in action first? When I walked into PIRCH, I could smell food cooking!
When we renovated our master bath, it was the third most expensive purchase we’ve ever made, really. It cost less than our mortgage, less than my graduate degree, but much more than either of our cars. Thankfully we like the result and over seven years since, it has proven its functionality for our needs. But we didn’t get to try anything beforehand. And our difficult experience with a contractor made us shy about doing more major renovations. PIRCH delivers “end-to-end” – they will even install. Getting all needs from one source is a very compelling idea.
If you’re newer following along here, you might not know about our apartment in India – it’s half-finished and on hold until we can give it hands-on attention. The kitchen is done but two bathrooms are not. I’m certain we’ll be shipping stuff over from the U.S. because we found it too difficult to source what we want within India. We’re not connected to the design and construction industries there and we have very limited time. So I keep my eyes open in the U.S. for things to ship to India. At PIRCH, I got obsessed with this for one of the bathrooms:
The bathrooms are tight, so our sink vanities need to be nearly non-existent, really. But small size doesn’t mean I don’t want big style! I loved this – love the natural wood element, the proportions, the gold plumbing pipe, even the patterned texture under the basin which I didn’t notice until I crouched down to get a better look at the plumbing design. I appreciate that little detail because you can see it when you’re, you know, sitting in the bathroom.
I think the benefit I’ve gained from studying designers like Martyn Lawrence Bullard is that it doesn’t matter that I don’t have the budget to hire them – I can still live with big style, unique style. In fact you can build something like the vanity shown above. I’m not above DIY’ing, as you can see in this blog. You just need the vision, the idea. Let yourself dream, and dream big. Then, figure out how to make the look happen within your means.