The vibrant colors in this Provence living room are in the sofa and the abstract painting and these are balanced by the cream walls and the muted gold, beige and persimmon in the oriental rug. Read Bunny’s quotes below for insights into her decorating approach. Image courtesy Bunny Williams.
Stephen Drucker, editor of House Beautiful summed up Bunny Williams work- “She is one of the great decorators in the classical tradition that goes back to the roots of the profession. She lives the life of her clients; she understands how a house runs and what makes a room work; and her rooms are not meant to be ends in themselves, but instead a comfortable, sophisticated background for a rich, full life.”
According to The New York Times, Bunny Williams “…has outfitted the houses of what used to be called society…. Bunny designs rooms in which dogs are welcome on the furniture, where there is always a place to put your feet up and your drink down. It’s a lifestyle that should look and feel old-fashioned — yet manages not to”.
The master bedroom in the Provence home has ample natural light. The small scale floral motifs in the fabrics and wall covering are anchored by floral needlepoint rugs on the floor and another on the bed.
The beauty of the dark brown wood of the dining table is enhanced by the blue plaid fabric on the chairs. A Chinese export painting and blue and white porcelain show well against the brown wood of the table and sideboards. The vibrant blues are balanced by a neutral beige and gold geometric oriental rug.
Bunny Williams shared her decorating approach in an interview with House Beautiful magazine:
It takes years to learn decorating
“We live in such a youth-obsessed culture now where everyone expects to be a superstar at 30. But in our business, it really takes time to learn, especially to learn what can go wrong. In many cases, we’re creating things from scratch.”
On getting the colors and proportions right
“….color makes you happy… But you have to balance strong colors with neutrals. I always stand in a room and think about the balance — you’ve got to get your proportions right. I say, “Okay, where’s the furniture going to go?” …..But I didn’t want it obviously balanced. I broke the symmetry so it doesn’t get boring. You have to throw it off a bit”.
The importance of not matching things
“…The eye is connected to the heart and soul. Rooms should have spontaneity. Nothing quite matches, but it blends”.
What Bunny Williams learnt from Nancy Lancaster’s legendary yellow “bedsit” in London
“She had me over for tea one afternoon. There were comfy, slouchy chairs by the fireplace, books, a table where she was writing cards. It was totally used. That’s the feeling I wanted — you have the big seating group so you can entertain friends, with an ottoman that has a lift-out tray and tufted sides where you can sit or put your feet up. At the other end there’s a long table, which can be used as a desk or for dining”.
How to make your living room useable
“I always say, if you want to use your living room, put the television in it. Put a computer in it. But make it attractive”!
On what makes people happy in a room
“… If you’ve got a chair sitting all by itself with no light or a place to set down a drink, it may make a pretty picture, but nobody’s going to be happy there. If you have a pair of sofas with a six-foot-square coffee table in between, people are too far apart to talk. My coffee table-ottoman is about four feet, which is as big as it should be….”.
On the importance of scale and how to create excitement and intimacy
“I learned all about scale in my 22 years working with Albert Hadley. In a high-ceilinged room, it’s exciting to feel the height. You also want intimacy, but if you keep everything low, you throw the excitement away…”.
The Fiesole oriental rug has muted tones of gold, persimmon and green on a taupe ground.
The Pavillion needlepoint has a green and blue border reminiscent of a bed canopy or the roof of Chinese pavillion.