After enduring a childhood filled with bullying because of her odd skin pigmentation, Winnie Harlow pushed through all the hate comments and pursued her career in modelling regardless of all the discouragment thrown at her.
Now after years of breaking barriers, she has appeared on runways and in ads for dozens of brands, served as a judge on Making the Cut, launched her own beauty line, Cay Skin, and collaborated with Puma on a collection of sportswear.
A few years ago, after a lifetime in rented apartments, Harlow was ready to find a more permanent place to call home. Having relocated to Los Angeles for more space during the pandemic, and with her lease in New York City about to end, she thought, Why not just stay? “Me being a Caribbean girl, I wanted hot weather, sunshine, and a really beautiful pool,” she says. House hunting soon became Harlow’s main quarantine hobby, and by the end of the year she closed on an expansive newly built five-bedroom property which sat a very huge expanse on land.
Looking for someone to help her beautify her home, Harlow turned to the pages of Architectural Digest. “I started looking to see who was working on the houses that I’m obsessed with, and that’s Martyn,” she says of AD100 designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. “He came to the house, told me what he loved—and what he hated—and I could just tell that we were going to click.”
The model and designer both describe their immediate rapport as “love at first sight,” and so began a nine-month process of transformation. “Because I felt such a strong connection with her, I wanted to do it,” Bullard recalls. “I wanted to make it a special place.”
When she worked with other designers in the past, Harlow admits, they weren’t always aligned. “I feel like a lot of people would misunderstand my sense of glamour,” she says. “My house should have a calm energy, but I want a sense of glamour as well.” With that in mind, Bullard set out to create a space fully customized to the model’s lifestyle that looked sexy but also felt like a sanctuary.
Harlow mentioned that although she wants all the glamour she also wants her house to feel like a home where her friends and family could come to and feel comfortable.
Harlow luxury home maintained a white, neutral base as per Bullard recommendations, layering soft colors, alluring materials, and soothing textures on top. The kitchen contains some black accents that add drama, celestial ceiling lights punctuate rooms, and sculptural furniture in luxe fabrics invites lounging.
Stepping into Harlow’s bedroom is like walking into a cloud. Marble tables, boucleÌ-clad chairs and footstools, a Turkish faux-fur rug, and a velvet-upholstered bed set the scene for this 1930s Hollywood-inspired oasis. “A bedroom should be a space that you get to star in yourself,” Bullard asserts. “So these are the props to allow Winnie to do that.”
Throughout the house, Bullard and Harlow embraced a mix of vintage statement pieces—a pair of brass palm-leaf floor lamps by Tommaso Barbi from the 1970s stand in the living room—alongside items from CB2, Soho Home, and The Shade Store.
The house also features a beautiful powder room which is covered in a custom wallpaper made out of Harlow’s test sheets for Zac Posen’s spring 2020 campaign.
Her beautiful home also had a drawing of Harlow by an admirer, London artist Kelvin Okafor, positioned on the living room mantelpiece. However, to avoid turning the house into a Harlow hall of fame, Bullard added photographs of fashion icons like Beverly Johnson and Grace Jones throughout as an homage to the Black models that came before her.
According to the top model, having her home glamorized and filled with pictures of herself and big names, is not just a way to show off her wealth but a way to give herself a pat on the back for how far she has come from all the struggles she faced as a young girl.
Like I said earlier, if anyone truly deserves living in the dream home they always envisioned for themselves, its Winnie Harlow. A strong, beautiful, African model.