After graduating from Carleton College in Minnesota, Lyman Martin (1908-2003) moved to New York City and began attending the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later, Parsons The New School for Design). In 1939, Martin graduated from Parsons and shortly thereafter was hired by Thedlow, Inc., one of the oldest interior decoration firms in the United States. Founded in 1919 by Charlotte (Lottie) Handy, Thedlow was exclusively staffed by women until Martin's hiring. He would remain with Thedlow until his retirement, a career interrupted only by three and one half years of service in the U. S. Army Air Forces during World War Two and a post-war study abroad program through Parsons.
At Thedlow, Martin decorated interiors for residential and corporate spaces throughout the United States and the Caribbean. His detailed, evocative renderings enhanced his reputation. When Charlotte Handy retired as president of Thedlow in 1969, she appointed Martin to succeed her. The firm closed in 1979 and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum acquired Thedlow's records.