So this is what I want you to do on this particularly dreary Thursday. I want you to get a nice drink, take of your shoes, sit down in a comfy chair and then take in all the beauty of an Italian castle owned by a prominent Russian business man and designed by an English interior designer with perfect taste. Martyn Lawrence Bullard is the name of the designer and the Russian business is called…well, who cares? Anyway, Martyn Lawrence Bullard is clearly a god as you can see here. In fact, he even has a TV show called Million Dollar Decorators. I cancelled my €50 cable subscription last year without ever looking back, but this man alone could tempt me back. If you don’t mind, I’m in a bit of a lazy mood today so I’ll just copy and paste the press release that I received last week. It makes for some great reading!
Castello Sant’Eurasia in Umbria in Italy by Martyn Lawrence Bullard
The Castello Sant’Eurasia was a labour of love for Martyn Lawrence Bullard. His client Evgeny Lebedev, the prominent Russian business man who owns and runs a media empire including the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers, along with the anxiously awaited Channel 6 TV station in Britain that will cover London news and events, is also the son of Russian Oligarch Alexander Lebedev. Evgeny found the castle in complete ruins, romantically positioned on a hill in Umbria overlooking the spectacular city of Arezzo and across the Umbrian hills to Florence and Tuscany.
He fell in love with the romantic notion of restoring this beautiful and historic 12th Century site and restoring all of its 30,000 sq feet to its former glory. To aid in the task he employed his long-time friend and fellow lover of all things Italian, the famed interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, to design the décor of the castle and help in its restoration – ensuring all adjustments were historically correct – along with Rome based architect Domenico Minichilli. Domenico helped define the original walls and layout of the castle and was instrumental in the rebuild to resemble the original 12th Century structure, including that of a charming small chapel, whilst Martyn and Evgeny toured Umbrian and Tuscan castles and palazzos to study original details and regional designs. “We shopped all over the world to find the correct period art, architectural fragments, furnishings and fabrics to give the castle an original feeling. It had to feel like generations of the same family had lived there for centuries and collected all the beautiful objects, passing them from generation to generation, rather than a sweep of shopping trips around dusty antique stores!” This was achieved by Martyn’s careful and edited choices from shopping in distinctive places like the Parma antiques fairs, respected dealers like Victoria Harvey and Guinevere in London, auction houses in Paris, New York and Los Angeles along with selections from the local antique shops in Florence and reputable dealers in Rome.
For the 16th and 17th Century fireplaces Martyn shopped in Belgium, finding original Italian pieces indigenous to the region. The stone floors were hand selected from local quarries and carefully aged while the boiserie and cabinetry were lovingly designed and made by local craftsmen according to original details found by Martyn and Evgeny during their castle tours. Even the iron work was carefully reproduced according to 17th century Umbrian designs and hand forged by a local artist to complete the restoration and retain an authentic sense of age. Martyn reproduced whatever furnishings proved too difficult to find, using the finest original examples as a guide and artfully mixing them with original pieces and period accessories.
With the addition of a swimming pool hidden in the rolling hills and a gym and Hamam designed by the architect, presence and grandeur has once again returned to this regal Umbrian estate, and more importantly, as Martyn says, “it is a true testament to Evgeny’s passion and love of Umbria.” This castle is now a prize of the region and has become a jewel in the crown of Mr Lebedev’s many accomplishments.