Designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard's one-minute tricks to elevate your kitchen by decorating it like a living room

Here’s how you can create a multifunctional space without sacrificing style, and the kitchen is a great place to start

multi-colored marble island in kitchen with multiple pendant lights
(Image credit: Douglas Friedman. Design: Martyn Lawrence Bullard)

Today’s home needs to work very hard for us. We work from home, we entertain, we exercise, we relax… We need interiors that are designed to serve multiple uses for all members of the family, without sacrificing style.

This is the way we live now and our homes should reflect that. In a recent Martyn Lawrence Bullard interview the designer agrees and tells me how he goes about delivering this for his A-list clients.

All the rooms in our homes should (and can) operate in multiple ways  

dining room with neutral tones and round wood dining table

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman. Design: Martyn Lawrence Bullard)

Going through a pandemic completely changed the way we use our homes. It showed us that so much more can be achieved in a space, and we are now looking for design ideas for rooms that accommodate multiple uses, and multiple inhabitants using the space simultaneously.

‘So many people found that their dining rooms used only on holidays suddenly became their home office. Or it became the room where they got to lay out their ideas and get creative with them. So when you think about that, I really believe that - when decorating - every room in the home should be looked at in a way that makes it multi-use,’ Martyn says.

This is what you should consider when creating a multi-functional space 

wood kitchen with skylight and dark marble worktops

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman. Design: Martyn Lawrence Bullard)

The most important thigh is to be very specific and assess what you need from each room. What activities need to happen there, and how you need to feel are questions to ask yourself before you start redesigning your space to serve more than one function.

‘It’s really about looking at these spaces and understanding how you're going to use them and think about how can you make them more interesting, more lively, and more personally enjoyable,’ Martyn explains. It’s often the simple act of bringing in an unexpected or personal object that you wouldn’t have thought of in that particular space that can immediately affect our perception of space from single to more than one use. ‘Suddenly you’ll feel like it works better for you.’  

For instance, for the designer, it’s the kitchen that makes a great multiple-use space because so many family members spend so much time there. ‘Because we spend so much time in a kitchen it should be decorated like your living room,' Martyn says. 'Create ambiance, and change your kitchen into a space that you enjoy being in. It will suddenly become much more than just a functional experience.’ 

The best (and easiest) place to start is your kitchen  

multi-colored marble island in kitchen with multiple pendant lights

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman. Design: Martyn Lawrence Bullard)

Let’s face it, whether intentional or not, kitchens are an area of the home we spend a lot of our time in - be it cooking, working, or entertaining it’s already a multifunctional space that just needs some attention to make sure it works as it should and it’s an enjoyable room to be in. 

I asked Martyn for his modern kitchen ideas that allow the space to cater to different functions while making it a pleasant environment to be in. More like a living space, if you will, rather than a kitchen, as the designer himself puts it. 

The one-minute tricks to elevate your kitchen

red kitchen with posters on walls

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman. Design: Martyn Lawrence Bullard)

‘People love to add art into kitchens now. Rather than restricting it to your living room and going up the stairs, we're adding photography and paintings into kitchens,' Martyn says. 'We'll put a pair of lamps on a kitchen island rather than just having an overhead light. We will add an etagere over to one side that maybe you set up as a bar so that when your friends are over, you can pour them a glass of wine whilst they sit and watch you cook. Rather than having a wood or tile floor, add the extra layer of a rug, which softens the space, it’s pleasant under the foot and again gives you that more residential feel. ’

The genius idea behind this is that we can move various elements from one room to another without limiting ourselves to their traditional setting. It’s really a shift in our mindset linked to how we decorate, and the result is a beautiful curation of enjoyable multi-use living spaces throughout the home. 

Raluca Racasan
News writer

Raluca is Digital News Writer for and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.