Legendary Designers We Love: Bunny Williams
“Decorating to me is an interesting combination of interesting things in a space. Mix modern with old, mix black with white, but give it personality. It shouldn’t be thematic.”1 - Bunny Williams.
Here at Caspari, we are lucky enough to have collaborated with Bunny Williams, incorporating her spot-on design sense into our paper goods. Faux Bois, one of our favorite items from this partnership is classic Bunny – it balances natural texture with a shot of gold and the combination creates something timeless. Over Bunny’s decades of designing interiors, writing books and designing furniture and home accessories, her style stands out for being timeless, elegant, handsome, and never fussy. Above all else, Bunny believes in creating truly livable rooms, nothing is too serious, pieces are meant to be used, sofas to be sat on, collections to morph and change, to be added to and moved around. “There’s a big difference between beautiful rooms and rooms you really want to live in. Houses need loving. You have to touch your house. It’s like getting dressed every morning. You have to groom your rooms.”2
Bunny grew up near Charlottesville, Virginia and after studying interior design in Boston moved to New York. She joined the venerable firm Parish-Hadley, helmed by Sister Parish and Albert Hadley, where she remained for 22 years gaining experience and exposure to their projects and design process. Shortly after leaving Parish-Hadley and starting her own design firm, Bunny and husband John Rosselli opened Treillage on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a home and garden store. Never one to confine herself to a single project, Treillage was fueled by Bunny’s love of gardening and was a ground-breaking idea when it opened in 1991.
Bunny’s design firm may be based in New York City, but it’s clear that her childhood in Virginia’s countryside has influenced her love of nature. She and Rosselli have spent over 30 years transforming their weekend retreat in northwest Connecticut. In addition to renovating and decorating the federal-style house, Bunny has created multiple gardens on the property as well as a conservatory, and she has plants everywhere inside the house which she constantly moves around. Plants are placed at different levels; some on the floor, some on pedestals so they are at eye level, which she finds much more interesting and dramatic.
The gardens at the Manor House, as it’s known, all serve different purposes and were inspired by the great gardens of Europe where one space leads into the next, connected by paths and walks. The Cutting and Vegetable Garden provides vegetables and flowers for cooking and decorating, especially for their frequent parties. The Parterre Garden is a formal space laid out in a grid, structured and framed by low boxwood hedges. The Sunken Garden features a fish pond surrounded by parterre beds and stone paths leading up to the south side of the house.3
Throughout the house, the gardens are never far from view, and the conservatory is one of Bunny and John’s favorite areas in which to entertain. Already filled with plants, and with a view of the gardens outside, the conservatory requires little beyond candlelight to make it ready for a party and create a magical setting for guests.
In the decades since she planned and planted her first garden, it has been a never-ending exercise in self-education and a labor of love. She has perused garden books, visited public gardens around the world, and learned from people who design and maintain gardens both great and small. It’s clear that Bunny Williams has created a fluid space for living and entertaining both indoors and out, and that she strives to bring the same sense of elegance and ever-evolving timelessness to her home and its gardens.
1Schwartz, Deb. Designer Homes: Tour the Sumptuous Home of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli. One Kings Lane. Retrieved 2021-02-22
2Turner, Newell. For Bunny Williams, the Best House Is a Loved House. Architectural Digest. April 19, 2019. Retrieved 2021-02-22
3Gonsowski, Fred. Visiting Bunny Williams and John Rosselli's Garden in Falls Village, Connecticut. Fred Gonsowski Garden Home. July 26, 2018. Retrieved 2021-02-22.