Why Bunny Williams’ Husband Hates Me

To be clear, I’ve never met Bunny Williams’ husband.

And it’s unlikely he’s ever heard of me.

But still, he hates me because I’m writing about his wife, an icon in the world of interior design who I adore more than I can possibly say.

Now, why would writing nice things about his brilliant wife make him hate me?

Thank you for asking. That’s a very reasonable question.

You see, Bunny Williams actually reads what people write about her! And sometimes, as she charmingly related in her recent keynote speech at the Design Bloggers Conference; she can’t seem to pull herself away from the computer, reading all of our wonderful blog posts.

This is much to the consternation of her husband, the wonderful-in-his-own-right antiques dealer John Rosselli.

So here I am, giving Bunny yet another reason to stay glued to her computer. And giving John a reason to want to hate me.

Sorry, John.

bunny williams john rosselliJohn Rosselli and Bunny Williams outside of their Connecticut Home photo via:

About an hour before Bunny’s presentation, I went outside the room for a break and just outside the door was Bunny herself!

OMG!

No time to think. This is your chance to meet her. Be brave, Laurel! After-all… she’s just a person. (well sorta)

“Hi Bunny, I’m Laurel Bern,” I said, trying to sound confident. I extended my hand.

“Oh yes…” she said, smiling warmly.

Yes? As if she knew me? Verrrry doubtful, but maybeeee, if she reads blogs?

“I’m such a huge fan of yours,” I tell her, trying to suppress a nervous giggle. “I need to give you a hug!”

She broadens her smile, as if she’s reacquainting with an old friend.

We hug.

I’m really giggling now.

All of this took place in a few seconds. And then, I was ready to go home.  I met my idol Bunny Williams and not only that we shared a lovely hug!

bunny and me

Here I am kvelling all over Bunny! (and trying not to tower over her!) Doesn’t she look great!

In my research for this post, I discovered something repeatedly. Bunny has a knack for instantaneously making everyone feel like they are her new best friend! And that one thing alone is what makes her the super star of super stars!

Back to Bunny Williams’ Keynote Speech at the design blogger’s conference.

She finished her story about John which made everyone laugh. Then she thanked us for all of our kind blog posts. She is very appreciative and understands the collective PR value.

Bunny went on with her story…

The daughter of a horse breeder, her upbringing was in Virginia. In her down-to-earth manner, she somehow made “horse breeder” sound akin to “pig slopper.” It wasn’t until later that it dawned on me that her father was a HORSE BREEDER!

Bunny always had a propensity for decorating and really wanted to go to Parsons but her mom said no. Instead she went to a liberal arts school with an interior design program.

Her first job was for an antique dealer and it was there that she learned all about historical styles; she was most grateful for that experience.

One of my favorite bits of advice: She urged all young designers to work for someone whose tastes align with yours BEFORE venturing out on your own. And work for them for as long as possible. Oh, how wise, wise, wise! There really are no short cuts in this business!

Still, while enjoying the antiques, what Bunny really wanted was to be a decorator. She wanted to work for the grande dame of interior design, Mrs. Henry Parish, aka: Sister Parish. Mrs. Parish had just taken on a young partner, Albert Hadley who needed a secretary.

sister parish albert hadley.png

 Mrs. Henry (Sister) Parish and Albert Hadley

Of course, Bunny got the job, moved up the ranks and thus began a 22-year career working with the masters of interior design–Parish-Hadley.

She said that she didn’t leave sooner because she was afraid of the business side of things. But she knew when the time was right. Interestingly, that was in 1988 which is when I started interior design school.

One of her key points was to do what you’re good at and have somebody else do what you’re not; here-here!

And that’s what she did and does.

I loved hearing her perspective because I’ve been following her since the late 1980’s.

I remember staring at this room, (I believe it was in House Beautiful) for hours.

bunny-williams-chintz

I love the slip covers out of crisp ticking and the pretty chintz ottoman with a box pleated skirt. The flowers and books. It is high English Country style. I think that this room looks just as fresh and classic now in 2015 as it did in 1988.

Here is a home that looks lived in and loved. That is what sets Bunny Williams apart; she doesn’t just decorate. She creates homes.

Bunny Williams’  mantra is to furnish your home with what you love; furnish with quality–things that will stand the test of time.

Something she has observed over the years is that the interior design schools do not train their students adequately for residential interior design. I couldn’t agree with her more, but that is another story.

Below is Bunny and John’s astonishingly gorgeous home in Connecticut. It is the centerpiece of her book, An Affair with a House.

An Affair With A House By Bunny Williams - fabulous book!

Walkabout_6_2014 166 (1280x1047)

Above and below by Phyllis Higgerson for Tone on Tone

Phyllis, is an interior designer who pens the wonderful Henhurst blog. She was incredibly lucky to spend a day with Bunny and wrote about it on Loi Thai’s blog, Tone on Tone.

Walkabout_6_2014 138 (838x1280)

Here’s a shot of the conservatory and a small part of the extensive and most exquisite gardens ever! Bunny says that if she hadn’t been an interior designer, she would’ve been a landscaper. Well, she already is and the best I’ve ever seen! What a talent! She spends her weekends when it’s not covered with 5 feet of snow–gardening. Oh man. Paradise!

mark sikes bunny garden

Another shot of the conservatory and paradise by Mark D. Sikes. Mark is a close friend of Bunny and John and has written extensively about them.

Walkabout_6_2014 155 (998x1280)

via Loi Thai of Tone on Tone.   Photo: By Phyllis Higgerson

Love the bronze bunnies! Bunny says that if you want people to go in a room, have a drinks bar. Smart.

treillage mark sikes bunny williams john rosselliPhoto by Mark D. Sikes.

However, Bunny and John also have a New York City Life. (Oh my, I spy a Greek key pattern above their heads!) Bunny tells the story of how they became business partners.

After attending the Chelsea Flower Market together in London, some 22 years ago, they decided that New York needed a garden store. So, that’s what they did. They opened up a gardening and antiques shop called Treillage on 418 E. 75th Street.

[Note: July 2015 Sadly, Treillage closed its doors for business this summer.]

Then, they fell in love and got married! How romantic!

treillage

Treillage is a gorgeous shop filled with antiques and new items for the garden or anywhere in your home. Of the several businesses they own, it’s Bunny’s favorite. I think it might be mine too.! Must visit soon!

Bunny Williams TreillagePhoto by Mark D Sikes of Treillage

Bunny Williams porcelain ballard designs

Bunny has several licenses with several manufacturers, but the most recent one is with Ballard Designs. Please check out her fabulous collection of home furnishings at affordable prices!

In her speech she says how she loves table cloths from places like Pier One Imports (uh huh) and Anthropologie! That’s my kinda girl! Priceless Ming vase on top of Indian cotton. Beautiful!

Bunny also admits with a wink to being an obsessive collector of china and porcelain.

anne lubner designs john rosselliphoto by Anne Lubner from John Rosselli antiques.

I have a feeling that John shares most of Bunny’s obsessions.

Bunny-Williams-Treillage-2

Photo by  Jeanne Chung

bunny williams china mark d sikesMark D Sikes

Regarding that obsession with collecting china and porcelains, Bunny says…

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“It’s gotten out of hand.”

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23-john-rosselli-by-habituallychicphoto by Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic

naaaaahhhh… NEVER! It’s never enough! John and Bunny comb the entire globe for these treasures and bring them back to sell to us. I adore this collection of blue and white Chinoiserie porcelains at John Rosselli Antiques.

bunny-pop up housePhoto by the fabulous lifestyle blogger Stacy Bewkes of Quintessence

Perfectly styled and gorgeous console table at a “pop up” store.

1. beeline high point oct 2011 habituallychicHeather Clawson

Another business started a few years ago was Beeline Home. However, Bunny was told by a lot of people in the know—Ya know—“branding” experts that the name was no good. It had to be HER name. Henceforth Bunny Williams Home was born. All of the furnishings above are the designs of Bunny Williams and sold at BWH.

Then, she went on to tell us blogger/designers at a blogging conference centering largely around “building your brand” that she hates the word BRAND just as much as I do. I can’t tell you how hard I had to work to stop myself from jumping up with a big fat YES!!! It was very quiet in the room when she said that. haha!

Why do I hate the word branding? It’s become a hackneyed term for people to build a consistent image on their websites, products, etc. Fair enough. The problem is, a lot of people don’t really have an image. Then they go to marketers, web designers and graphic artists to help them create one. It’s not real. It doesn’t look real and it sounds too corporate. That’s why I don’t like the term.

I think that a better term for it would be building an image. It has to come from within. It has to be a reflection of you and no one can do that for you but you. At least that’s how I feel about it. Yes, graphic artists can help you style and express that image into professional packaging, but it’s not up to them to create it out of nothing.

traditional-dining-room-bunny-williams-inc-richmond-virginia-201201-3_1000-watermarked

How gorgeous is this! via Architectural Digest

There’s much more of Bunny and John to come in future posts. But in closing, one of Bunny’s most salient points was:

“Interesting furniture makes a room special. Don’t order it all from a catalog. Make your home a reflection of you and the things you love.”

***

Oh man, it’s good to be back home. I have to get out to get some groceries before it snows—AGAIN!

But ol’ man winter… your days are numbered! Happy March to all!

xo,

laurel

 

 

PS: And just to be clear because a friend on facebook was worried for me. John Rosselli does not really hate me! (at least I don’t think so–lol)

 

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

  • Phyllis mcgalliard - March 20, 2017 - 6:27 PM

    Hi Laurel!

    Oh my how I love this lady! I just bought her garden design book ( not sure what took me so long to find it), and I love her! She expresses in words the thoughts that have been wondering around in my head unexpressed for so long! It is funny you feel like you are her friend just reading the book.
    Thanks for the post! In fact thanks for all your post! I look forward to them and have not found one that was not full of good useful information, humor, and beauty!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 20, 2017 - 6:33 PM

      Hi Phyllis,

      I heard Bunny speak again a few months ago and funny, but Alexa Hampton was the moderator. And she’s always fabulous. She just has a relaxed gracious way about her, like you’re just out to dinner in a quiet intimate place.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Lovold - March 14, 2017 - 11:38 PM

    Laurel, I’ve just started following you and I am so appreciative of all the tips you give in your humorous way. One thing that drives me crazy though is most bloggers seem to call famous designers “the” fabulous, or “the” sensational, or “the ” whatever and it just gets so brown nosy ish. I like to give credit where credit is due, but come on! ALL the time? Other professionals aren’t called that and it just makes all of us ordinary people who don’t have the enormous amounts of money to spend on our homes like designers can that get their “trade” discounts feel as if we’ve failed. There are MANY women that have gorgeous homes they’ve done themselves but you rarely see any of these in magazines. One reason among others I, and many others, stopped purchasing home magazines and why so few are on the market now. They always feature designers homes. Everything is staged to within an inch and truly no one lives that way. If we could all be so lucky to purchase from the “trade” pricing, many more would have beautiful homes. Hopefully, the blogging world has picked up on this as many bloggers have gorgeous homes without being a licensed designer. Keep up the good work!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 15, 2017 - 12:06 AM

      I hear ya Donna all the way. I went for most of my married life not being able to afford even a new lamp. No exaggeration.

      As for the blogging world… well… I wouldn’t hope for too much. lol

      I don’t think a license is necessary, but a fair amount of experience is before someone should start decorating for others on their own. Please trust me on this one. This business is fraught with more pitfalls than there are craters on the moon.ReplyCancel

  • anne davis - August 17, 2016 - 10:17 PM

    In reading this and another article by you I realize that we were both students at NYSID at the same time. I wonder if we were in classes together. Anyway, love your blog.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 17, 2016 - 10:51 PM

      Hi Anne,

      Oh wow! I imagine we were! Some of the teachers were real characters!ReplyCancel

      • anne davis - August 17, 2016 - 11:09 PM

        Yes, but I really liked most of them. And I learned a lot. I think I still have a notebook full of notes. I just wish they were teaching computer design back then.ReplyCancel

  • Haley - August 5, 2016 - 2:54 PM

    Loved reading this! I had the pleasure of being her assistant for about 4 years in the 90s. She is amazing. I’m sure she loved reading this as I did.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 5, 2016 - 2:56 PM

      Hi Haley,

      Oh, that is amazing! Thanks for stopping by and sharing that.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy Tobacco - May 14, 2016 - 2:47 AM

    Every article I have ever read about Bunny Williams makes me like her even more as a person as well as a decorator. I loved the New York Times piece so much; she helps a young journalist redecorate her apartment on a tight budget. “Never put anything in the corner catty-cornered unless it was made to go into a corner.” She gives REAL advice. She is just so warm and real. I adore her.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 16, 2016 - 12:15 AM

      Hi Kathy,

      She really is all of that! She makes everyone feel like they are her best friend!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie Craig - April 15, 2015 - 11:17 AM

    So beautifully written! I too adore Bunny and Bunny’s style. I met her while purchasing fabric in NYC for my store and have a photo of us as well. And lo and behold I go back to the same store the next day to finish up and there she was again. And, yes she treats you as though she does know you, and that is a true quality in a lady with this importance to all of us. When I saw her the next day she said “we have to stop meeting like this”. I thought when I left out of that store what an incredible lady!

    Fancy Bee, Inc.
    Raleigh, North CarolinaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 15, 2015 - 8:41 PM

      Hi Debbie,

      What a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing. ReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - March 12, 2015 - 9:50 AM

    Why my husband hates Bunny Williams! I say her name too many times a day! If Brad Pitt walked into the room…whatev. But Bunny, I would faint dead away. When I saw a pair of lamps on her secretary in “Affair with a House” that are the same of the ones I have on my secretary, well you can imagine!ReplyCancel

  • Ilka - March 6, 2015 - 2:50 PM

    Hi Laurel!

    Thank you for introducing Bunny Williams more closely to me. Her designs are just gorgeous! I love all of the photos you showed. And congratulations for meeting her. Often the really ‘big ones’ are just nice and down to earth. And she seems like a fantastic person 🙂

    All the best, IlkaReplyCancel

  • Tone on Tone Loi Thai - March 3, 2015 - 3:45 PM

    Hi Laurel! Hi Bunny!!
    What a great photo 🙂 So jealous. Bunny is such an icon…..and so talented. Treillage is one of my favorite shops period. I can spend hours there. Thanks for sharing those photos, Laurel. They were actually from Phyllis.
    Cheers,
    LoiReplyCancel

  • Dolores - March 2, 2015 - 7:10 PM

    Hello, Laurel!
    You wrote such a wonderful article on Bunny Williams that I immediately had to subscribe to your blog sight unseen! I know that more good things must lie hidden within 🙂
    Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Leslie Turner - March 2, 2015 - 6:51 PM

    Laurel:

    I am a brand new subscriber (just last night) and am just thrilled to have found you. Not only am I enjoying the blog, I love the very good advice you share about decorating. As, I, too, am slogging in the trenches of residential design (which I love) it is most refreshing to find another designer with wit and a lovely sense of appropriateness and style. In this age of instant gratification and lots of media attention for bad design, you are a breath of fresh air.

    As Billy Baldwin was wont to comment, “If you have perfect taste and know exactly what you want, you don’t need a decorator.” The key phrase, of course, is “perfect taste”….something Mr. Baldwin had in abundance, as does Ms. Bunny.

    I loved hearing your “Bunny” story and thank you so much for sharing it. Best wishes for your continued success!

    LeslieReplyCancel

  • Andrew Gonzales - March 2, 2015 - 1:55 PM

    I had the good fortune to meet Bunny Williams a few years back at her book signing at Mecox in Dallas- and I agree! She is a super sweet person and such a talent!ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - March 2, 2015 - 1:22 PM

    You guys are the best! Each and every one of you. Your comments mean so much to me.

    I love writing the blog! I love everything about it and am continuously striving to make it better and better.

    One thing is that writing this blog has made me really examine how something is done or what is the best way to do something. And in that way, I’ve grown as a designer and use my own blog as a reference too!

    And if in the process, you got little chuckle [or even a big guffaw] well, it just doesn’t get any better than that!

    much love to all! ~ LaurelReplyCancel

  • Lisa Jones - March 2, 2015 - 9:30 AM

    Laurel, your blog is always the BEST!! I’m always excited to get a new post from you. Yes, you’re soooo lucky to meet Bunny. All I can say is Wow…I know I would have been speechless.ReplyCancel

  • Val Evans - March 1, 2015 - 9:26 PM

    Thank you for the share!ReplyCancel

  • Judith - March 1, 2015 - 7:38 PM

    I love your blog. I feel like I’ve enrolled in Interior Design 101. I appreciate how hard you work to send out these wonderfully informative blogs. The first one I read was the Thanksgiving table blog…you had me with the tablecloth. Your sense of humor and honest enjoyment of decorating just makes your writing so enjoyable. I have a table in the living room with a collection of favorite things, that I call mt Bunny Williams table.ReplyCancel

  • for the love of a house - March 1, 2015 - 3:45 PM

    hi Laurel, This is a such a great post on Bunny (and John!). So happy for you that you got to meet her too. She is just so lovely and kind. I’m sure it was informative and fun to hear her talk. Thank you for your very sweet and kind comment on the blog. It meant so much. I am so very sorry for your recent loss of Peaches and Elaine. I don’t think it is nuts at all that they talk back. I think it’s love.
    So nice to ‘meet’ you and thank you again for your note.
    fondly,
    joanReplyCancel

  • Phyllis Sullivan - March 1, 2015 - 1:57 PM

    Thanks loads for sharing! It’s a little scary how much we all LOVE design!
    Your posts have been most helpful to me in my own home.ReplyCancel

  • Angela Toledo - March 1, 2015 - 1:32 PM

    Love love love Treillage…gorgeous! To me, home is not only beautifully designed interiors but the warmth from flowers and plants, animals (like my kitty cat) and healthy and tasty food and drink. Well, maybe not all healthy 😉
    So glad you had the chance to meet Bunny as she is an expert at creating beautiful and warm homes and to know that she is as real as it gets!ReplyCancel

  • Jo Galbraith - March 1, 2015 - 12:48 PM

    I too can stare at her rooms for a long long time – so many beautiful details. I love the last quote – I feel exactly the same way! Thanks for sharing your experience with her!ReplyCancel

  • Linda Leyble - March 1, 2015 - 12:30 PM

    Hi Laurel…lucky you to have met and hugged Bunny Williams! I am a big fan. I have to write about her as well. I remember falling in love with a gorgeous room she did at the at the Hamptons Designer Showhouse many years ago…and I have been smitten since.

    I do have something that she curated while in Belgium – an antique cradle. Right now it’s holding some I terroir design books in my office – but I should give it more thought in terms of a great accessory that I truly love!

    I hate the word brand also! It’s like the sound that your nails make on a blackboard to me!! People just overuse the term.

    Great post…as always!!

    LindaReplyCancel

  • E - March 1, 2015 - 12:04 PM

    Laurel, You’ve done it again! Love the post!ReplyCancel

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