When his clients requested “mad old aunt” decor to suit their Rhode Island home’s 1840s architecture, Martyn Lawrence Bullard responded with layers of pattern, mix-and-match colors, and wallpaper in every nook and cranny.
The 1800s Victorian house overlooks the Atlantic.
A wide doorway separates the entry from the living room. Bullard designed the blue leather club chairs, the armchairs in an zebra velvet, and the oak coffee table. Chandelier, Jasper. Orange Chinese ceramics, .
In the library, Bullard employed a marbled wallcovering from his collection for . The paper’s strong blue taps into the Wedgwood inlay of the house’s original mantel.
The kitchen’s cabinetry is topped with a black granite counter on the island. Pendants, .
The dining room boasts ocean views on three sides. The crystal Spanish-galleon chandelier from is Bullard’s “whimsical nod to the beach.” The Victorian-style chairs are custom. Wallcovering, Cole and Son. Wallcovering on ceiling, . Curtains in an Osborne & Little velvet.
Bullard steered clear of stereotypical beach-house style. “It’s not all blue-and-white and rope baskets,” he says. “It’s about a layered experience.” Multiple patterns in varying scales add excitement and depth to the rooms. The living room’s black sea-grass wallcovering is by ; the curtains are in a linen damask by .
The master bedroom’s hand-painted, agate-like wallcovering, by ., is meant to be hung so the swirl patterns run continuously around the room, but Bullard instead chose to hang the panels separately to suit the home’s feeling of “Victorian frenzy,” he says. Bed, . Custom-painted mirror, .
A pair of 19th-century lithographs of etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi.
A sitting room has a Cole and Son wallcovering. Mirror, . Vintage coffee table, .
On the house’s third floor, Bullard created a “fantasy guest room” for one of the homeowners’ mothers, festooning it in a toile de Jouy linen from and enlivening it with emerald-green and hot-pink accents. The antique python-skin trunk is a Paris flea-market find. Mohair throw, . Sisal rug, .
Bullard had a specific inspiration for a daughter’s bedroom: Barbra Streisand’s 1960s apartment in New York. “In the ’60s, you saw this whole Victorian revival,” he says. The singer’s lair had “crazy Victorian furniture that had been painted mad colors. We loved the idea of that: Barbra Streisand, Victoriana — but at the beach.” Wallcovering, Cole and Son. Fornasetti mirror, . Custom bed in a leather. Campaign side table, . Antique Persian rug, .
A children’s guest room gets zing from a ticking-stripe wallcovering by edged in trim by . Bedding, .
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This story was originally published in the March 2018 issue of CQ.