THIS TIME I SWEAR!! REVISED AND FIXED!!!! Irish Eyes Are Smiling!!!


The international interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard has a fabulous Instagram - it helps that he is a gifted photographer with a keen eye.  His Instagram is filled with images of his projects, past and present, along with countless photos of his travels.   It seems Bullard never stays put, but instead roams the globe from California to Europe and back again, with a million stops in between.   His travels provide an endless loop of gorgeous houses, hotels, and gardens that he visits.   But, it’s not really just about fun, per se.  Most of his travel revolves around his far-flung design projects. 

Recently, Bullard posted a stunning room that made me gasp at its beauty and then sent me off to do a bit of research.  Martyn doesn’t keep much to himself, his Instagram is a sort of public diary – it’s up to the viewer to read between the lines.  And, it seems he’s been hinting and talking about a new project in Ireland for – according to Instagram – the past 88 weeks, at least.  That’s roughly a year and half.  I just never picked up on all his numerous hints! 

When I realized that Bullard had been posting about his project in Ireland, I went back and studied each photograph in his Instagram and realized he has also been telling an interesting tale about how an international designer works.  

Here’s a clue:  It’s very hard work.

I was exhausted just looking at the photos of all his work traveling!!  Does the man ever sleep?!? 


A few months ago I wrote a story HERE about the Ballyfin Demesne, a large renovated Irish house turned into a boutique hotel.  Martyn Bullard has stayed there several times – and has numerously photographed it for his Instagram.  At the time, I wondered why does he keep going back to Ballyfin?  Surely it’s not just to stay there every few weeks or so.  Of course, now that mystery is solved.

His newest project is actually not a secret.  There were articles about it in the Irish Times Here and Here.    Apparently, it’s that big of a story!   The newspaper revealed that Bullard is currently decorating Capard House, which is located in Laois County, in the Slieve Bloom mountains area – and just a short 18 miles from the Ballyfin Hotel.  No wonder Bullard was staying there so much!

Looking back, it all started with this photo on his Instagram:



  88 weeks ago, Bullard showed this garden – labeling it “Romantic Irish Garden in County Laois today…” #CapardHouse

He followed this up with:  

A photograph of a dining room in Ireland, County Laois.   This is actually a room inside Capard House.


And more. 

“The romance of the Grecian style temple 'folly' presides over the lake in my new project in beautiful Ireland.”

His new project.  Still no official name back then.

And more, another photo from the garden:  “A magical circular entry lures you into the most beautiful walled garden of an Irish estate.”



And at 87 weeks ago, Bullard posted this photo of the Luggala house, “a magnificent gothic mansion of the Guinness family.  A true gothic fantasy and folly.” in Ireland. 

It’s obvious now that Bullard was researching beautiful Irish houses in anticipation of decorating a fine Irish estate himself. 


  76 weeks ago he returned to Ireland, posting a series of photos from the Ballyfin hotel, where he was staying.  A vacation?  I think we all thought that he was on vacation, at the time.  After a week,  he posted this photo of his room at the Ballyfin announcing his bags were packed to return home. 

It’s hard to imagine how difficult it is to design a large Irish estate when you live in the same Irish county.  But imagine you actually live in California?  Bullard is such a consummate professional, these huge distances mean nothing to him!

Some weeks later, during a stay at Aldourie Castle in Scotland, Bullard posted a photo of his bathroom.  “The walls are covered in wonderful Scottish 19th century mezzotints ... The perfect print room.”

Later, you will see that Martyn was getting inspiration for his new project from this stay in a castle!

It’s obvious that many visits to castles and grand houses in Ireland, England and Scotland provided fabulous research for his new project.


Finally – 67 weeks ago, Bullard announces this: 

“Twilight at Capard House ..... The neoclassical folly sparkles at the end of the lake adding to the romance of this idyllic Irish country house .... My latest project begins !”   It’s official now.


On that same trip, a visit to an antique auction in Ireland.  Buying antiques for his new project at Capard House?

What exactly is Capard House?


Capard House is located in the Slieve Bloom Mountains region of North County Laois.   The main house dates back to 1798 and was known as “one of the most beautiful” in the Kingdom.  It is located on a large, 100 acre demesne with a landscape that includes a long entry drive, lakes, a water rill and fountain, and a Temple folly with a reflection pond.  There is a 2 acre walled garden, along with scores of paths for garden walks.   Additionally, there is a natural grass helicopter pad, a stable block and a caretaker’s cottage.


One the left is the original main house, built of local sandstone in the neo-classical Greek Revival style, with 8 bedrooms upstairs.  And to the immediate right of the main house is the East Wing, a second, separate house with 5 bedrooms.  The two houses are not actually connected, but together they total 16,500+ sq. ft.

Here, you can just see the East Wing, in a lighter, whiter color. 

Here 65 weeks ago, Martyn posted this photo of his new project and said:

“Working on my design boards for this beautiful place today. Irish Georgian country estate style is this morning’s mantra!”

I can just imagine Martyn with his design boards all spread out, one or two for each room, fabrics everywhere, along with photos of antiques bought, and to be bought, for the interiors.  This was just a little more than a year ago and the interiors are almost finished!  He must work very fast, which is a mark of his complete competence.  Remember, the houses are over 16,500 sq. ft.!

I’m convinced Martyn is a design genius.  Writing this story, I really studied his photos on his Instagram.  He posts current work and past projects and there is such a vast array of what he designs – from contemporary to classic to exotic.   I am more than ever impressed with his abilities.

With his design boards completed, a few weeks later he posted this: 

“Researching for my project in Ireland today and in love with this beautiful Georgian green used at Glin Castle .... Currently for sale if anyone fancies an Irish estate !”

  Martyn never stops and never rests.  I’m sure he’s not exactly a bargain to hire, but he is worth every penny he charges!!


A bit of history:  In 1990, a Dublin jeweler and his partner bought Capard House and then spent years restoring and furnishing it.  Twenty-five years later, the couple wanted to downsize and put the estate up for sale.  Afterwards, all the furnishings were auctioned off at the house – a two day event.    And looking at the contents of the auction – it’s hard to imagine that the owners kept even one thing for themselves.  That must be the hardest thing in the world to do, or is it the easiest?   Would you ever want to sell everything you own and then start all over again?  Never!!


A brick circle marks the entrance to the 2 acre walled garden at Capard House.


A stone and brick bridge is reflected over a stream on the estate.

A stone staircase leads down to a fountain.

The stone staircase is accented with stone urns.

At the end of the stairs, is the fountain.

The entrance to the walled gardens.


And looking out the opposite direction, you can see the Slieve  Bloom mountains in the horizon.

A pastoral view.  All these views of the estate’s extensive gardens were taken before the estate was sold and restored.  I’m excited to see what the new owners will do the property, inside and outside!!


Martyn was back working on his new project early this year.  He continued to visit fabulous houses in Ireland, like Birr Castle, for inspiration.

When writing this story, it was fun going back and studying Martyn’s Instagram – knowing now that all his Ireland visits weren’t just for fun, but were actually for work.  And how fun is his work?!?!   Definitely fun, but hard work.  His life is a non-stop, grueling schedule of world-wide traveling; always having to leave his beloved dog and friends behind.  And, while other designers probably just look at books and magazines for inspiration – here, Martyn is actually visits all these iconic estates. Very inspiring!

And another thing learned.  His trips to Ireland often include stops in London and Paris, most likely buying antiques in person, as opposed to just online, as seen below: 


Here, during a stop in London at the very famous and gorgeous Guinevere Antiques, Bullard is probably purchasing pieces for his Irish project and others.

Back to California, back to England, then back to Ireland again, just six months ago.  Another stay at Ballyfin, Martyn posted a series of wonderful photographs from the hotel.

And then from Ireland, he goes back around the world and ends up in Ireland and at the Ballyfin, yet again.  How lucky is he that his new project is just a short drive from the Ballyfin?


This summer, he stayed in this room at the Ballyfin.  I had to laugh when I saw a comment that I had left on his Instagram: 

Joni:  “You are there again? Are you doing some rooms????!?!? wow!!!! can not wait to see!”

Whoa Joni – nothing like using too many exclamation and question marks!   I must have realized that no one visits the Ballyfin THAT many times just for fun!  But I assumed he was working on some new hotel rooms for that hotel.  How wrong could I be?!


On that trip this summer, Martyn posted this moody misty picture of the temple folly at Capard House.  I guess I’m just not too swift and missed all the clues he was posting about his new project.  I don’t think I was alone though.


And the next week, he was back in Ireland again, posting another photo of the beautiful landscaping at Capard House.

Things were coming together inside the house because Bullard starting posting some photographs of the interiors. 


Capard House was sold in October 2015, and the sale was reported as one of the largest of the year in Ireland.  A couple from America bought the estate, most likely as a vacation home.   Once the estate was sold, Sheppard’s hosted an auction of all its contents.      It would be interesting to know if Martyn L. Bullard attended the auction and bought back anything for his new clients?  

As stated before, The Irish Times wrote that “television personality” and interior designer Bullard had been seen in Dublin and at Capard House to view the house before his clients “discreetly” purchased it.   The paper noted that Bullard had been visiting many beautiful Irish properties for inspiration.  None of this, though, was a surprise for those who closely follow his Instagram.   According to the article, the new owners hired a firm to restore the outbuildings.  And, according to permits filed, they were building an orangery at the back of the house.  


In the main house, there is a drawing room, two dining rooms, a kitchen, a library, a wine cellar, pantry, boot room and laundry room.  Upstairs, 7 of the 8 bedrooms have their own en-suite bathroom which is a rarity in Ireland.  The East Wing is a completely separate house and includes a large ballroom.  

The East Wing was built right after the main house for a Dowager.  Later, as the story goes, one owner had 7 children out of wedlock with a possible servant, and they all lived in The East Wing away from his primary family.   While the Main House is faithful to the Georgian style inside and out, The East Wing was furnished by the last owners in a more modern style.  It will be interesting to see how Martyn Bullard furnishes both houses.  Will he keep the East Wing a bit more modern?


The back of the main house. Notice the stone stops at the sides and the back is stucco.  Apparently an orangery is due to be built at the back of the house by the new owners.   On the roof, you can see the cupola which is above the staircase.  I think the area to the back left is a later addition.    And notice there is an atrium between the wings of the main house.

The atrium provides a spot for a sculpture that was sold in the Sheppard’s auction.


At the in-house auction, which was quite a success, this pair of light blue Oriental vases sold for 560,000 pounds!! 


Here’s a floor plan of the main house and the attached wing.  The two houses are adjacent to each other but are not connected from the inside.  I wonder if the new owners will keep them separated like this or will they add an opening?   Looking at the floor plan of the original house, it appears the back right area of the first floor was added on.  Without that addition – the main house was very symmetrically designed.


Before:  the main entry with the black and white marble floor.   Designed in a very fancy manner.

Marty Bullard recently posted glimpses of a few finished rooms at Capard House.  First, the entry:    


Today:  The entry is now totally different!    The entry has become a Print Room – reminiscent of the Print Room in a Scottish Castle that he had shown us.   The gold trim was removed and the white walls are now painted gray.   The ceiling light was kept, in situ.   And through the open door is a peek into the Drawing Room with its blue damask wall covering, crystal chandelier, and gold mirror.



And another photo from Christmas.   From this view – instead of curtains at the window, there are now shutters.   You can see the light fixture much better here.


Bullard wrote:  “Print room perfection .... Just completed Irish country house .... The print room, first made popular in the 18th century, is an amazing skill where each small paper piece chosen and then cut by hand, lovingly installed.   This has taken almost two weeks and a team of 4 artists to complete.”

Two weeks, 4 artists?  Yes, he is right – perfection.

I just wish the photos were better!!!!


Before:  The stair hall.  No After pictures, yet – but I’m sure this red runner is gone.  The same light fixture in the entry is seen in the stair hall.  Bullard probably kept this here too.

Before:  another view.  Beautiful, just beautiful stairs!!!!


Here is a picture of the cupola above the stairs.  This is the cupola you can see from the back of the house.  It must be beautiful when the sun shines through the stained glass.


Before:  The drawing room.   No pictures of it today, yet.  But, you can see that glimpse of it from the Entry Hall.  Thankfully, this paper is now gone, replaced with a blue damask!!

Before:  The library.  On the floor plan – you can see that next to the library is the small dining room.   I believe the library is now open to what was once the small dining room.    This mantel was removed.

Before:  another view of the library, decorated a bit differently.

Just this week, Martyn Bullard posted a photo of this room, now redecorated.  This is the photo that made me gasp and run to research his new project.  See if you blame me.



After:  This is absolutely GORGEOUS!!!!!!  Stunning!!!!!  De Gournay wallpaper.  New mantel.  New chandelier, which I love!!  Love the yellow lamps.  There’s a new wood floor.  Love the blue chairs.  That china cabinet!!!  The curtains!!  Again, the gilt trim is now gone and painted white.  The mirror looks like the original one found in the library.  This looks like it was decorated two decades ago – it’s that perfect for an estate house.  Would you just sit in here with the newspaper, with the morning coffee, after dinner…?? 


I just wish the quality of the photos were better!!!! 

Here’s a close up.  Do you blame me for the gasp???  I still can’t get over how gorgeous this room is.  And there is this.  Lately, Bullard has been doing a lot of contemporary design.  We don’t see as much of his more classic design which makes it all the more thrilling to see him back to his British roots (even though this is Ireland!)


Before:  And here is the adjacent – Small Dining Room.

We can see this room now, too:


After:  the room next to the library – is now decorated as a pair.  On Instagram, Martyn called this room The Library.   I do wonder if these two rooms are now opened to each other?  They have the same de Gournay wallpaper.  The same curtains.  The same new mantels.  The same chandeliers.  Again – this room is fabulous.  And I hope they are connected now.  It would make sense, looking at the floor plan.

But wow.  Between the entry print room, the two libraries, the drawing room with the blue damask wallcovering…I can’t WAIT for the Architectural Digest article that I am PRAYING for!!!!  


Close up of the tree that Martyn created for his clients’ library.  Even his Christmas trees are fabulous.  Is there anything this man can’t do????

Oh wait…there’s more.


Before:  The dining room has this purple paper that is a bit too much for such a classic house!

What would Martyn do with a room like this?????  Hmmm…..

After:  To die for!!!  That mural!!!!

Here is Bullard’s comments:


“The walls were hand painted to resemble indigenous trees and vistas close to the manor house with regency style silk upholstered walls below.”

Look how perfectly the mural’s trees flank the portrait.  And to think that Bullard lives in California!  The amount of detail he put into this house from the opposite side of the world!  How did he do all this?  And so quickly?  And so perfectly?  And he makes it all look so effortless. (That’s a huge understatement!!!)  Amazing.

The curtains are classically designed and look like they are made of a greenish blue that blends with the murals.  And I love the portrait with the touch of red!



And another, better, photograph of the dining room.

Bullard said:   “An 18th century Irish dining table and fine Osler 1830 crystal chandelier complete the scene,  An important mirror by Booker has pride of place over the 18th century mantle.”

That mural!!!!!

I’m sorry I am gushing so much.  But, I am in LOVE with this house!!!!!


Ok, one more.

Before:  The cloak room.  On the floor plan, it looks like there is an entry in the cloak room and two private toilet rooms.  This is the very fancy entry to the cloak room.


The cloak room entry – after.  New stone floor.  New vanity.  Marble.   Gorgeous gold mirror.  New lights. A collection of prints.  New door.  And a thousand miles away, he still thought to include boxes to hold the kleenex. 


Unfortunately, that’s all the photos of his new project that Martyn Lawrence Bullard has shown.  I suspect when it is completed, he will have it properly photographed (please, please please!!)

Still, I loved seeing the process of how Bullard works.  The endless trips he took to Ireland to visit the house, go to auctions and antique stores, the visits to other grand houses and castles there and in Scotland and England, the research he did on all his stays, the joy he takes in creating and designing, and the graciousness he has that he shares it with all of us!

Thank you!!!


To see more pictures of the house and to view the Auction Items go HERE.

In November 2011, the Skirted Roundtable interviewed Martyn L. Bullard.  To listen to this go HERE.


Like the Irish house? 

Get the look HERE.


Cute things for sale on Gilt:



  1. Stalking? (JUST KIDDING!!!)
    I learned about Martyn Lawrence-Bullard from you, and it's fun to look at his IG. But I never would have put the pieces together nor appreciated the changes thus far without your explanation.
    Some of these rooms are truly fabulous.

  2. Hi Joni: I appreciate the huge amount of work you put into your posts. Thank you. I especially love this one! I do have a problem opening the photos. Am I doing something wrong...clicking incorrectly? Keep up the research and work. Thanks again.

    1. I wanted to say that about half of the photos have the red x for me as well. I hope they can be fixed as the photos I can see are divine! Thanks!

    2. Wonderful post but the links to the Instagram photos seem to be broken. (I'm not sure why they have to make it so difficult to link to Instagram but it appears to be a feature).

  3. Love the post but as with the above comments, I could not see half of the photos. I am off to check out the Instagram page.

  4. I can't see about half the pics, as people above say. Someone mentioned broken links, or could it be something to do with my (everyone's) internet security?

  5. OK OK Thank God I checked the blog!!! I fixed the problem. Google Pictures was having a meltdown this weekend. Hopefully, it is all fixed. Give it a minute or two to load and then read it.

  6. Joni I follow MLB on instagram as well but have a hard time keeping up with everyone I follow on IG. Thanks for bringing me up to date. This will be an incredible project!

  7. Poverty is a great Preserver. Ireland is blessed, and cursed with their heritage.

    Learned much during my historic study tour of Irish gardens.

    If you like Irish architecture, this is my go-to site, .

    Looking forward to your follow-up on this one !!!

    Garden & Be Well, XOT

  8. I do watch the Irish Aesthete. He is INCREDIBLE!!!! I wish I was more like him. I aspire to be!!! ;)

    1. Gosh, how kind, most flattered.
      Thank you from The Irish Aesthete...

  9. Ireland is this year...what ARE the chances...franki

  10. Enjoyable article to read. The redesign is for the most part quite lovely. I do not care for the rug choice in the library, nor the replacement for a floor that appeared quite suitable in the before, although with a refinish and darker stain. In most cases I never understand the need to take out perfectly good wood floors. I do love the de Gurney wallpaper however, and the painted mural in the dining room. Exquisite! He is certainly talented. Look forward to seeing more. Thanks for the research Joni

  11. The round opening in the wall is just wonderful!
    The English and the American South are the two hopes of saving classic, beautiful traditional décor. Yay!

  12. Great post. Really appreciate all your research. Bullard is a genius designer.

  13. Lovely property, must be nice having more money than God. I find MLB's work heavy handed and contrived, he's more like a set designer than a decorator, someone who tries to emulates different styles rather than someone with style. Just my opinion. Great post, Joni.

    1. This house made me love him all over again. I'm not a fan of the contemporary, but this is just fabulous, imo!

    2. It's generally not a bad thing when modern designers begin to be inspired by the past, if that research adds depth to their work,
      Unfortunately MLB would seem to be out of his depth here. There are any number of print rooms (old and recent) which might have provided lessons, yet the Print Room hall as designed by MLB is rather feeble and un-architectural.

      Still, MLB has got an eye for beauty. I only wish that Lucinda Oakes had been credited as the talent behind that fabulous trellis mural in one of the bedrooms at Ballyfin. Her work is superb.

  14. Charlotte NorthbrookFebruary 4, 2017 at 9:35 AM

    Dear Joni, thank you so much for doing this post. I am in love with the house too. I am actually knocked back by what a beautiful job he is doing staying true to the classical design but putting his own pizzazz in it (without going too far). Just beautiful!!! I can't wait to see more pictures. There are a lot of colours going on in the Library but they balance each other so beautifully.
    I actually think it is a good thing if rich foreigners buy in Ireland and preserve their heritage as I have seen plenty of houses there that are just about crumbling down. But the caveat to that is - "as long as they preserve the heritage and don't ruin it!"

  15. So Interesting! Look forward to more on this house and MLB when additional pics and information become available. He was my favourite on the Millionaire Decorators program. I mostly used to watch it for laughs as some of the decorators were unbelievably unprofessional. Arriving for appointments hours late, quarrelling on the job with their colleagues and getting into battles with their clients. But not MLB. Miss this program.
    Loved the de Gournay wallpaper in this post - sublime! Specially loved the collection of prints in the new cloak room entry. Just from a quick glimpse some of it looks a bit too glowingly new or in excellent condition. I remember hearing that the Queen Mother, after being taken by Cecil Beaton on a tour of his latest house he'd redecorated, said something like - "How clever of you Mr Beaton to make it just a little shabby (but not shabby chic!)". Also just a little surprised by how small many of the rooms appear to be.

    Loved the garden and the moon shaped entrance to the walled garden - and the lovely arched bridge reflected in the stream. The Brits did these so well! Best wishes, Pamela

  16. Martyn is quite amazing! His attention to detail is quite beyond some of his contemporaries. Thank you for sharing and for the extensive work that goes into each post. Have a lovely week. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

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