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A Little R&R

Kathryn Ireland describes the cameraderie between the decorators, and her much-needed rest, courtesy of Martyn.

By Kathryn Ireland

As an overview, this episode really showcases the soft underbelly of camaraderie and goodwill that exists between professional rivals in the otherwise back-biting, competitive world of interior design. But on MDD this week, Mary helps Nathan, Martyn rescues me, and the great Suzanne Tucker saves the day for Jeffrey and Ross.

Nathan Turner, meanwhile, heads to the Elite Leather factory to inspect the manufactured prototype designs for his furniture line. Unfortunately, there has been a miscalculation in the dimensions for the bolsters on one of his sofas. Dubbed “Frankenstein arms,” Nathan’s Elite rep assures him the problem will be fixed in time for the furniture show in High Point, NC. Nathan is understandably concerned. The High Point event is the “high point” of every furniture designer’s year. What London’s Decorex is for fabrics and what ArtBasel means for modern and contemporary art, the High Point Market is the bi-annual furniture exhibition where American retailers buy inventory for the year. Mary joins Nathan for the journey to North Carolina where they check into their hotel and waste no time acting out their Scarlett and Ashley Gone with the Wind fantasies as they ascend the Comfort Inn staircase. (Come to think of it, Mary bares more than a passing resemblance to Scarlett O’Hara –- witty, resourceful, witchy, and beguiling.) When Nathan encounters his sofa at the Elite showroom at Market, the Frankenstein arms are gone and have been replaced with perfect round bolsters. Mary helps Nathan re-stage the presentation of his furnishings before the very important Bloomingdale's sales team arrives and it’s a huge success. Nathan loves it. Elite loves it.  Most critically, Bloomingdale’s loves it. Mary wasn’t in High Point to simply fluff and tease Nathan’s booth however –- she was also debuting her own fabulous lighting line.  Afterwards, Ashley and Scarlett celebrate at an authentic Southern diner. This is where Mary diverges from role model Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett dug turnips out of the red clay with her bare hands and ate them raw before shaking her fist at the heavens. As God as my witness, Mary was positively squeamish about tasting a little ole hushpuppy.  We find Jeffrey and Ross in San Francisco, dapper as ever, attending a very important antiques show. This time, however, they are looking for a few random pieces they need to complete the décor of their own home in Santa Monica. When they spy an authentic John Dickinson table, they gasp in awe simultaneously. No sales are permitted until the official opening of the show, so they are told to return the next night to seal the deal.  They also bump into the one and only Suzanne Tucker, a legendary interior decorator and textile designer, who Jeffrey freely admits intimidates him. The next night, they race to the event, bobbing and weaving their way through various galleries to the Dickinson table, now marked with a small red dot. Jeffrey and Ross cannot believe their eyes. Someone has beaten them to the punch. And not just someone -- the one and only Suzanne Tucker. Jeffrey, distraught and destabilized by grief and heartache, tracks Suzanne down and begs her to sell the piece to him… which she graciously does.  

The important story of the episode is Martyn’s makeover of the presidential suite of the Colony Palms hotel in Palm Springs. When Martyn asked me to accompany him for his installation, I thought he was in need of my sage advice but, in fact, the request was just a ruse to get me to a poolside with nothing to do. Martyn realized I needed a day off from my life, so he deposited me at a cabana while he pulled together a glorious VIP suite at this fabulous hotel. While I sat poolside drinking potent lemonades and eating prawns and salad-y things, what a job Martyn did. After a thorough edit through the existing furniture, he worked magic within a limited budget. It’s amazing what color and fabric can achieve. The new painted wainscoting he applied to the walls really brought new life to a rather dreary, outdated space.  What I love about Martyn is how resourceful he is. He’s a consummate professional because he actually listens to his clients and understands the limitations of smaller budgets. He doesn’t fly to Marrakech to source authentic lanterns and leather poufs, he drags his ass to third-world emporiums in Los Angeles where his incredible eye is able to laser in on and separate the really great pieces from the junk, the real wheat from the clutter of chaff. Martyn then cleverly utilizes his wonderful Moroccan inspired fabrics in the service of new upholstery and curtains for the suite, rendering the rooms warm, exotic, and sexy. Who knew that the design sensibility of the west coast of Africa would transform a desert hotel into a quintessentially Californian destination? Having spent the entire day lying by the pool, flipping though magazines, and drinking those “lemonades,” I was down for the count when Martyn found me conked out, swaddled in a pashmina. He pulled me to my feet and led me away, back to L.A., as wonderfully refreshed and restored as his Colony Palm suite.  

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