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The Homes of Zee

Step Inside Martyn Lawrence-Bullard’s Vibrant Hollywood Home

Designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard lets the history and heritage of his Old Hollywood residence shine through in luxurious details and effortless charm.

“There should not be anything in your house that you can’t use, drink from, sit on, or eat out of.” -Martyn

The world famous designer Martyn Lawrence-Bullard derives inspiration from travel, is dedicated to the pursuit of the finer things, and has a passion for bringing beauty and serenity into the lives of the rich and the famous. It is only fitting, then, that he would have a Hollywood home with such a vibrant history.

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard

the dressing room takes inspiration from Martyn’s travels to India, and he adds pops of character with pieces he’d picked up while abroad—the designer calls this a traditional Englishman’s take on decorating

With trademark glamour and a flair for the exotic, Martyn’s clientele includes Kendall Jenner, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Tommy Hilfiger, to name a few. The designer has also worked with several premier hospitality properties such as the iconic Colony Palms Hotel in Palms Spring, the Chateau Gütsch in Lucerne, Switzerland, and is currently overseeing hotel designs in Santa Barbara, Istanbul and Miami Beach.
Martyn Lawrence-Bullard
For his home, though, he chooses something a bit more old Hollywood. Originally built in 1924 for a German silent movie director, the house’s first inhabitant was actually the illustrious Rudolph Valentino. Following Valentino’s stay at this Whitley Heights oasis, Gloria Swanson made it her home twice—once in the early 1930s, and then again when she was filming Sunset Boulevard.

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard

the dining room’s ceiling comes alive with stenciling inspired by a design by the Italian fabric brand Fortuny, while 19th century Italian chairs are arranged around a custom-made table; Martyn spends a lot of time outside decompressing after a hard day at work, so he worked to make the house’s yard lush and stylish. The thriving foliage was selected based on the plants you’d find in a 1920s garden, while the chevron-print upholstery and pillows are a visual contrast to the greens.

Subsequent to Swanson, William Faulkner, playwright extraordinaire and writer, lived in the house, utilizing it as a writing pavilion. It was on Martyn’s balcony that Faulkner wrote the award-winning screenplay for the film All About Eve.
Martyn, an artist in his own right, as well as a former model and classically trained actor, understood the drama, romance and mystique that this jewel of a property held. He came to find “Villa Swanson” while working with world-renowned photographer Tim Street-Porter, who at the time was shooting his work at the Pepsi-Cola Ranch for Architectural Digest.

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Hollywood House

Off the dining room, double doors reveal a lion head relief framed by graphic tiles, continuing the play of prints from the interiors ; the curtains also came from a line he designed for Schumacher

The home felt “enchanted,” tucked neatly away in a cul-de-sac in Whitley Heights, and possessed an aura of old Hollywood romance that struck a chord with the designer. He purchased the home in 2003, but it became clear that the home would need a complete restoration.

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Hollywood House

the patterned tiles and cabinetry were all original to the home, and is played up with white appliances and décor in the same hues; arches are a continuing feature, even in the bathroom. The retro sink is accented with Middle eastern-inspired décor

He started by replacing the damaged wood floors with exquisite reclaimed antique wood from an old barn in Idaho. Antique French limestone and terracotta were chosen for the magnificent lush patios’ floors, and in a surprising turn of events, an original 19th century tile was uncovered in the kitchen. The four tiered gardens, hidden nooks, and seamless indoor-outdoor space consistently served as an idyllic backdrop for wildly fantastic themed soirees, as well as intimate gatherings with celebrities such as Cher, Elton John, Ozzie Osbourne, Christian Louboutin, Tamara Mellon, and Christina Aguilera—to name a few!

 Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Hollywood House

Little nooks, like this path to the courtyard, are filled with graphic details that somehow all tell a story—the weathered religious paintings, the unconventionally shaped lamps, and the graphic black and white tiles that hark back to the house’s art deco roots.

For the interiors, Martyn felt strongly about allowing the architectural style of the house to act as his guide. Every inch of the space is covered in exotic luxurious objects, although the emphasis of the décor is on 18th century Spanish, Portugese and Italian furniture.  The designer meticulously selected each and every item, purchasing pieces from auction houses all over the United States, as well as in Europe. However, the color red serves as a unifying element in the space, and was important to keeping an authentic Spanish-Mediterranean flavor, along with the array of colorful fabric from his personal line.

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Hollywood House

Martyn breaks up the black and white color palette in the more private spaces, he brings in warmer colors for the master bedroom. An intricately carved wooden bedframe is softened with a fur throw and printed linens for a cozy look

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Hollywood House

Martyn designed several of the pieces in the home, such as the cocktail table, stools and patterned chair in the living room.

Tobacco-hued carved woods, sexy vibrant fabrics, and shimmering details of crystal and silver all work in harmony to deliver an enigmatic grounded sensuality that is the hallmark of Martyn’s work. It’s an unusual concept to some, but everyone ought to adopt his philosophy of living: “There should not be anything in your house that you can’t use, drink from, sit on, or eat out of.”

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Hollywood House

the breakfast nook’s arch is emphasized with painted stripes that make for a very striking visual. An upholstered bench and mismatched pillows add to its strong look, while a Moroccan table follows the black and white palette

It’s sound advice, and in the case of this residence, Martyn steps back to let the house’s history and heritage shine through. There certainly is a fair amount of glamour here, but it’s welcoming and restrained—as if it takes a quiet satisfaction in knowing its luxury can only be seen with an appreciative eye.

Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Hollywood House

vintage traveling cases serve as décor, while playing up the home’s old Hollywood glamour.



The Homes of Zee

THROWBACK THURSDAY. Discover Why This Airy, Modern Structure in Busay is Called the Sky House

The Sky House is a truly modern structure, with straight lines and boxy shapes.

Defying Gravity

YKC Premier’s first venture in Busay floats over a cliff and introduces a new brand of living in Cebu.

by Shari Quimbo photography Ezekiel Sullano


YKC Premier’s first venture couldn’t be more aptly named—Sky House was spot on—the airy, modern structure that juts out of a ridge in the Busay Highlands couldn’t be called anything else. The drive up the hill levels to a short plateau right before the entrance of the village, allowing ample time for everyone to look up and admire a house that seems to be in defiance of gravity.

“When I saw the property, it was everything you could ask for, and it’s in limited quantities so we wanted to maximize all its assets,” says Victor Consunji, one-third of the group behind the project. “The problem was the land is narrow. Since we have the experience and capability, we thought, why waste all the good things about this property by just building on the ridge? Why not build over the ridge?”

The house, as viewed from the street.

A textured carpet sets the living area apart from the dining, but the palette of grays and light-washed wood carries on even into the kitchen. The room is framed by two art pieces: a rattan sculpture called “Love Locks” by Selina Romualdez, and a painting from young artist Tzaddi Esguerra.

Slater Young and Stephen Ku complete YKC Premier, a group of men who have come together to redefine the art of living with a view in Cebu. “Slater and I have been friends for a while, and I bumped into him at a wedding here in Cebu,” Stephen recalls. “And then we were talking about businesses that we could do together, and he mentioned that he had a nice piece of land that he wanted to fix up. He showed me the place, and I thought it was beautiful. On the way back to Manila, I thought about Vic because I’m also working with him on his project in Manila called Mahogany Tree.”

The trio of Twist lamps over the dining table add an organic, but dramatic flair.

A sunroom off the deck is converted into a cozy breakfast nook, where another of Vito’s lamps adds a touch of whimsy.

Once the three sat down to discuss the venture, Victor was immediately interested and, in fact, already had a vision for the house’s design in his mind. The partnership played up each one’s individual strengths and backgrounds—Victor comes from the family behind DMCI Holdings Incorporated, which have constructed Philippine landmarks such as the Manila Hotel and Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort; Slater has a background in engineering and his family is also in construction; while Stephen is at the helm of Eventscape Manila and is behind some of the hottest restaurants and nightspots in the Philippines. “Victor would be the CEO, the visionary. His expertise is what we brought in here,” explains Slater. “And since I’m also in construction, I was sort of his eyes here in Cebu. I’d be the CTO, Chief Technical Officer, and Stephen would be the CMO, marketing.”

The Constella lights hang over the spiral staircase.

A pair of Vito Selma Paisley chairs are arranged in one corner of the master’s bedroom.

Although YKC Premier already has three strong personalities behind it, the guys decided to bring in another design visionary to help them complete the look of the Sky House. “The Sky House is unlike any other home in Cebu, and it was a designer’s dream to be part of it,” says Vito Selma, who brought in his iconic pieces, along with some custom-made furniture to complete the look of the Sky House. “Given its location and the abundance of windows, I wanted the home to feel just as light and airy—to simulate the feeling of flight. And to stay true to my brand, we just wanted to bring nature into the home, which can be seen in the materials, textures and colors in the space.”

The Arata chair serves as a sculptural accent in one of the bedrooms.

The look is relaxed but sophisticated, with many art pieces that Vito had commissioned especially for this project. “The installation in the entry is by me,” he says of the large textured slab with pieces of wood in different finishes scattered on it. “I made it in a way that when someone walks in the house, they see a reflection of that piece and its materials in other areas of the home.” Other notable pieces are in the living room: a large rattan sculpture of interlocking loops by Vito’s sister Selina Romualdez, and a long painting with strokes in various shades of gray by Tzaddi Esguerra. “I love working with her for all our projects,” Vito admits. “We tell her what colours to work with, and she makes the magic happen.”

With the house finished in just over a year, the guys are looking forward to constructing seven more houses to complete the project, offering a lifestyle that is incredibly appealing. “Young, hip urbanites. Young families. If they’re young, they at least feel young,” says Stephen of who they see living in the space. “People who want to balance work and play, because this place is like a residence and a resort at the same time.”

Victor’s family background and experience in construction came in handy when building the house over the ridge.

“Nowadays, with the way things are going in the Philippines, there is a focus on taking vacations, but not everybody has that chance. Not everybody can just take off whenever they want,” Victor adds. “I really don’t believe that a home is just your home, your vacation spot is just your vacation spot and your work place is just for work. I think you can have the best of all three, and this design incorporates that.”

“It’ll feel like you’re going home to a vacation every day,” Slater adds.

A pair of lounges by the pool makes for a perfect spot to enjoy the fresh mountain breeze and the unobstructed views.

Although these gents are focused on the Sky Houses for now, they look forward to bringing more of this brand of living to other locations. “We’re just looking for the right project, but I think the boys are in agreement that we really want to explore Cebu, particularly because this is the emerging market we want to be in. We just need to look for the right spot, and the right design,” Stephen says.

More than just creating modern and luxurious properties, YKC Premier hopes to change the perception of what living in Cebu can be. “That’s what we want to bring to Cebu,” Stephen shares. “I haven’t seen a development like this in Cebu, and a lot of the times I’d ask Slater, and he goes, oh no, the Cebuanos wouldn’t want to spend for something like this. I kept telling him that if we build it, they will come. Cebuanos are ready for something edgy and daring, and I think this project will be a testament to that.” With the first house already sold, that’s certainly been proven true. After all, with just one visit to the Sky House, it’s hard to imagine a better place to live.


(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s February 2016 Real Estate Issue, “Defying Gravity” on pages 68-73.)

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The Homes of Zee

LOCKDOWN FUN: Whose Crib is This?

Here’s one way residents of Cebu’s exclusive villages created their own fun during zoom parties — guessing each other’s home! Of course, you need a smart mastermind to curate the photos to make sure the homes of each of the amigas are not easy to guess.

So, here’s a short tour of homes that was paraded during this very fun game. Homes are located in Maria Luisa, Northtown Homes, Beverly Hills and a beach house too.  Oh, and one came all the way from Scotland.

We hope your zoom parties are just as fun!

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The Homes of Zee

Seashore Seclusion: A Beachside Abode in San Remigio

A cozy family getaway in San Remigio epitomizes the charm and simplicity of living by the sea.

by Shari Quimbo
photography Ezekiel Sullano


Admittedly, there are some challenges that come with living in Cebu; but having pockets of paradise being only a few hours’ away is an upside that’s hard to beat. One such paradise is San Remigio, a town that sits on the northwest side of the island, which means its serene shores are kissed daily by an amazing view of the sunset. Sure, you’ll run into some traffic while driving out of the city, but what awaits you makes the drive up north an easy challenge to live with.

A walkway leads into the house’s main living area, which enjoys an open floor plan for a relaxed and communal atmosphere.

When a chance to visit one family’s beachside getaway landed on our laps, we couldn’t pass it up. After a brief struggle with Mandaue City traffic, we were soon cruising through the towns of the north while the crystalline blue waters of the ocean peeked through every few kilometers.

It wasn’t long after when we found ourselves going up a pebbled driveway where a bamboo gate opened up to a footpath that led to the house. “We wanted to keep it simple,” the owner explains, sharing that he came up with the design while going through photos of houses online. With a thatched roof, rounded columns and a grooved concrete fence, the space is cozy and informal—a place that definitely exuded a laid-back beachside feel.

The living areas integrate into each other, with casual dining set-ups arranged around the open space, while oversized couches surround a solid wood coffee table. There’s a communal vibe that’s slightly deliberate. “We have a lot of friends and family that come in during the weekends, so we created a space that’s ready for that,” says the owner. “We didn’t want anything too formal. Some beach houses make you feel embarrassed to come in with your wet, sandy feet. We want a place where everyone would be comfortable moving around.”

Natural tones are complemented by richly colored fabrics

That said, the concrete floors, made for walking around barefoot, lead to the manicured grass where the infinity pool looks like its about to spill out into the beach below. The blues of the sea and sky complement the more natural tones of the house’s wooden furniture pieces and painted white walls. Pops of color come in with the throw pillows, hammock and matching bright orange lounge chairs that are around the pool.

As if keeping with the house’s casual vibe, the owner’s trio of dogs roams freely around the property, curiously coming up to us for attention. “They just showed up one day,” he laughs when I ask where he’d gotten the dogs, named Beer, Tequila and Scotch—perhaps giving proof of how fun weekends here can be. A bar sits by one of the dining tables and further cements this theory, as does the homemade lamp made from a bottle of Patron.

Off to the side of the house are the bedrooms, which are simple but spacious. “It’s so there’s space on the floor to bring in cushions for when we have a lot of people over.”

The house’s infinity pool seemingly spills out into the ocean, and is one of the best locations on the property to watch the sunset.

The beach house took just two months to construct about two years ago. “Weirdly enough, we built this house while I was still living in Malaysia,” shares the owner. “My sister manages a construction company, and I would just email them instructions and photos of what I wanted. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy.”

The bar is stocked with a wide array of liquors, and is proof of the residence’s festive spirit.

Of course, when typhoon Yolanda hit northern Cebu, the house saw considerable damage. A quick browse through his photo gallery showed the roof completely ripped off the structure. “I came back the weekend after Yolanda. It took me almost a whole day to get here because we had to clear the road as we went,” he recalled.

Repairs to the house took a backseat as the family helped residents around the area before they moved to reconstruct their own house. “It took a month or so to fix the roof and everything else that was broken,” he says.

When lit up with candles in the late afternoon, the walkway takes on a cozily intimate vibe;

Long benches flank the dining table to accommodate plenty of diners.

Now, the house is as inviting as ever. We spent the minutes leading up to sunset drinking beer by the pool. A few fishing boats float off the shore, with many locals walking through the beach. “I like the idea of having no fences and having people passing through,” the owner shares. “I like that it’s open. It makes the house feel more alive.”

Sunsets by the beach are priceless.

That, in a nutshell, describes the beach house. With its cheerful, casual corners, it surely feels lived in—as if remnants of the happy moments people have spent there still hang in the air and even add to its personality. It’s not hard to understand why the owners look forward to the two-hour drive up on the weekends—if we had a space like this, we’d be heading north more often too.


(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s April 2016 Travel Issue, “Beach, Please” on pages 98-101.)

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