Friday, February 25, 2011

Special treat...My Q & A with Bunny Williams & a signed giveaway!

It is with great pride, over the top enthusiasm and deep respect that I bring you my Q & A with interior design icon Bunny Williams! You are going to love this long, but "worthy of your time" post! Bunny, thank you for your valuable time in making this possible!    

My Q & A with Bunny Williams...
Hamptontoes: Since we live in a social media society, I wanted to begin by letting everyone know you have a blog and that http://buzz.bunnywilliams.com should be added to their blog roll! How do you squeeze blogging and tweeting into your busy schedule?
Bunny Williams: Without a doubt my life is hectic, but I find that my blog allows me to share my ideas, tips, inside scoop, etc. that is happening all around me. I am constantly snapping pictures of things I love and it’s fun to show my friends what is inspiring me at the moment. I must say Tweeting was a totally new concept, but once I got the hang of it, I got into it. I can always find a quick minute to tweet and I have connected with so many amazing new people and know that wherever I am I can stay in the loop.
Hamptontoes: Your furniture line, BeeLine Home, offers remarkable furniture and accent pieces. What I especially love is that it gives fans of yours access to "Bunny" picked furnishings for their home. How do you decide what to create next? Do you limit runs?
Bunny Williams: I created the BeeLine Home collection because I felt there was a place in the market for accessible stylish pieces that could be added to a room to give it some character. BeeLine is definitely a way to share some of my favorite pieces with a new audience. I am a problem solver by nature, and when I design a room, I am always thinking about who will be living in it, how they will use the space, and what types of furnishings will be suitable. All the BeeLine pieces do more than look good, they function well. For example, the Workhorse Desk has a big wide surface so one can spread out papers as well as work on a laptop, it has a fabulous angled front where current magazines and folders can be placed, the long center drawer is divided to keep pencils and paper clips organized, and best of all - any unsightly electric wires can be funneled through a discreet hole on each side of the top and be hidden in the desk’s legs. All the upholstered pieces have just the right scale and pitch and are super comfortable. BeeLine was originally designed as a limited edition collection. As we have grown, we have found that several of the pieces were in great demand so we have kept them in the collection others will be made in limited runs only. My goal however, is to keep BeeLine fresh and evolving, and to be adding new pieces each year.
Hamptontoes: I'm guessing anyone who is an interior design enthusiast knows you are one of the most renowned designers in the world, but I'd like to show another side of you. Like your passion for dogs. Did you know that my reason for wanting to intern with your firm was because of your love for dogs and your ability to create some of the greatest interiors? I'll never forget the morning you came into your office having found a little dog on your morning walk. You saved it from the potential harm of dashing into a city street. You took it home. Posters were hung with your office contact number on them in hopes of finding the rightful owner...and you did...it was the dog of a family with a little girl. All I could think was, "Wow...Bunny Williams meeting you to give you your dog back is pretty much like hitting the lottery in my book!" I'm quite certain if I lost my dog (well, if I had a dog) that Bunny Williams, Sophia Loren or Oscar De La Renta would not be who found my dog! I think that action alone says something about the core of who you are and that you aren't "too busy" (even though you really are too busy!) to care about others. Impressive! There's a lesson to be learned there, and it isn't a design one.
Hamptontoes: Actually, I had an amazing dog for twelve years who was an ASPCA dog. When it's time for another, I'll adopt from a shelter or rescue group. You are a huge fan of adopting dogs, right?
Bunny Williams: I am absolutely passionate about rescuing animals especially dogs. In fact, you have to practically tie me down when I am near an animal shelter. I found my dog Lucy when John and I were on a trip to visit historic houses near Atlanta. Our bus stopped in a shopping plaza and right outside were dogs waiting to be adopted. John said “Bunny, do not get off the bus!!!” Naturally I hopped right off and Lucy came home with us. I support animal shelters every chance I can and encourage others to do the same.
Hamptontoes: I often hear people say I have dogs, I have kids...I'm not sinking money into interior design/furnishings. What do you say to this statement?
Bunny Williams: I believe in living with good things and teaching children to respect them. Investing in quality pieces is always a good idea, they are made well and they last. However, nobody wants to stand behind a rope and look at a pretty room. A designers job is to help make smart choices when a house is being furnished. People with busy families who need to accommodate kids, dogs, and guests are lucky today. There are so many great affordable ways to decorate and make rooms attractive and practical. There are great choices for easy clean paint and wall covering finishes, amazing performance fabrics, rugs and carpeting that are stain proof, and furniture that is stylish and sturdy. Creating a comfortable, livable home that makes everyone feel welcome, is always a smart investment.
Hamptontoes: You have designed some of the greatest and grandest interiors in the world. Any project you haven't done yet, but would love to tackle?
Bunny Williams: I am very excited about working on more contemporary design projects. A recent project I completed was featured in the February/March issue of Elle Decor, in fact it was on the cover! I love the challenge of working with new materials and with clients who have a passion to experiment.
Hamptontoes: Every Southern gal I have met seems to be the epitome of hospitality. What is it about Southern ladies that gives them this extra spark when opening their home to family/friends?
Bunny Williams: I agree that Southern women have a natural gift for hospitality. I think it is the way we are brought up, to honor tradition, to be surrounded by big families and lots of friends, and to always keep ours doors open. We love to cook and entertain and there is always room for an extra guest. Southerners have a sixth sense about how to create beautiful houses, maybe it’s the luxury of more space, the wonderful climate conducive to being outside on the porch or in the garden. I learned so much from my Mother. She was a fabulous hostess and and was always decorating. We lived with antiques and had beautiful china. I learned at an early age that a house is for enjoying life and sharing it with others. One must be careful with good things but that they should never be banished to a closet. It’s that chip or crack that proves something was used and loved.
Hamptontoes: In the past one could tour the grounds of your CT property in support
of a charity, Women's Support Services of the Northwest Corner in CT. Will that be an option again this year?
Bunny Williams:  Trade Secrets is the event I'm involved with as the principal fundraiser to Woman's Support Services. This year it is on May 14 & 15. Information can be obtained on their website at Trade Secrets.

(Anyone want to support charity and visit Bunny's gardens in CT?)
Hamptontoes: I find it interesting how some people I have met have known since their toddler years what they wanted to be when they grew up. Did you know as a little girl that interior design was your destiny?
Bunny Williams: I had a playhouse behind our house in Charlottesville that I adored. I decorated it over and over. I picked flowers to put on the table, entertained my little friends and my dolls with elaborate tea parties, I loved every minute of it. I grew up in a beautiful house and learned about antiques and good furniture, who to call to make the curtains and how to be a good housekeeper. I traveled with my family and visited museums and historic houses. As a little girl I probably didn’t understand the term interior design, but it was definitely in my DNA to follow that path.
Hamptontoes: Do you shop retail for any furnishings? Willing to share your retail gems?
Bunny Williams: Of course, I shop retail for furnishings. I love to shop and am always looking for interesting things. I shop in stores, from catalogs and on-line. One of my favorite sources is Wisteria. I have found great accessories and some quirky pieces of furniture in their catalog. I love the Container Store, and always find something fabulous at Target . My two Treillage shops carry an amazing assortment of garden furnishings, accessories, tabletop, lighting and even some jewelry. Since I am always buying for them, I have an eagle eye for a great find.

Hamptontoes: The whole concept of interior design trends is silly to me. I gravitate towards classic, stylish and timeless when it comes to interiors. Your thoughts on this topic?
Bunny Williams: Design trends are important and totally necessary to keep the media and the marketplace excited. It’s cool to see what colors are hot and what styles everyone is loving at the moment. The important thing is to realize that trends come and go and that decorating is expensive and that we need to spend our money wisely and create rooms that will last. My advice is to invest in quality, good bones, good floor plans, good materials, good basic pieces of furniture. Buy things you will not get tired of quickly. Then have some fun if you want to jazz up your rooms. Add accessories and small things - new place mats in the hot color, new towels or sheets for your bed, new affordable artwork. There are tons of ways to incorporate your favorite trend that won’t make you feel guilty if you get sick of it.
Hamptontoes: Where does Bunny Williams begin her design process? What is your inspiration for creating gorgeous, functional and comfortable interiors?
Bunny Williams: My projects begin with my clients, understanding who they are, how they live and what they want to accomplish. After we have met and decide to move forward, I start working on the plans and the concept for the space. Inspiration comes from everything I have soaked up over many, many years of design work, the experts I have worked with, decorative arts and architecture, something that caught my eye years ago, something I saw yesterday. Travel, films, restaurants, and books, books, books. I am creating a new environment for someone and my job is to interpret their wishes and turn them into reality. I try to create spaces that my clients never want to leave.
Hamptontoes: What has been the key to your long, successful career?
Bunny Williams: The secret to my success: being a good listener, working extraordinarily hard, appreciating all the people who come together to see a project through from start to finish, having a sense of humor. Occasionally a glass of Jack Daniels is in order....
 
(The Jack Daniels comment had me in stitches!)
 
Hamptontoes: Okay, it's obvious that I'm smitten with your work, your firm, your furnishings line, your blog, your store...so I cringe just a touch (okay, a lot) in saying I disagree with just one of your philosophies. I recently read that when you entertain you like to seperate couples at a table when creating place settings for your guests. Date nights out with my husband are rare, so I like to sit next to him when we do finally make it out. Not that I was in the running for an invite to your home, but if there was any chance I'm certain I shot myself in the foot now! I like to learn from other's perspectives, so why do you think it's good to seperate couples?
Bunny Williams: I like to separate couples at the dinner table so everyone gets a chance to mingle. I always try to put a chatty person next to a quiet person, and know enough about my guests interests so that those who have something in common can sit together and will enjoy getting to know one another. It is good to encourage people to make an effort. The art of good conversation is a great skill to have.

The Giveaway:
Bunny has agreed to sign her book, Scrapbook for Living, for a very special giveaway! One lucky commenter of this post will be announced on Monday! What are your thoughts on this Q & A? Did you visit Bunny's blog? Are you a follower of Hamptontoes?   
My route to pursing interior design was a circuitous one. Years ago, in the midst of pursuing another path, I came to the realization that I wanted to pursue a career doing what I was passionate about, what I loved and I wanted to utilize my innate design talents...so, I transitioned into the design world and landed a coveted internship with Bunny's firm in 2005/2006. I worked hard, very hard so that no one in her firm would ever doubt a career changer coming back to be an intern. Interning at Bunny's was one of the greatest gifts in my life.

Have a great weekend and check back Monday AM to see if you're the winner of Scrapbook for Living!

42 comments:

The enchanted home said...

This was AMAZING...thoroughly enjoyed reading it. She is one of my faves for sure and I so agree about what she said about Southeners having that "sixth sense" when it comes to decorating and entertaining. I already visit her blog now and then and own every book, except this one! So would love to have it....am sure like everything she touches, its filled with beautiful and inspiring images. I like how she arranges guests, smart cookie that she is. Enjoy your weekend......great job here!

Debby said...

Oh, how wonderful! I would love to be included. She is amazingly talented and what an opportunity you had getting to intern for her. I admire you so much for following your passion... it takes guts to make a career change. Have a wonderful weekend! xo

designchic said...

What a wonderful interview. I absolutely adore her...her design and her warm personality!! Two of her books adorn my coffee tables - would love to add this one!! Have a great weekend ~

Style Attic said...

First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed this interview! I am loving that you attained such a coveted internship and made a life long friend. Such candid and sincere amongst gifted women is always worth the documentation, so thank you for that! Every time I get a coupon to one of the big bookstores, I head out and add to my design book collection. I am not kidding when I say next on my list is this Scrapbook. I have her first, I bought it when we moved in our current home. Love, love, lovely! XO, Kelly

Kerry said...

I love interviews like this. I always learn something and actually, found it surprising to learn that you were a career changer to the design world.

HAMPTON HOSTESS said...

great post-she is such a design icon and an inspiration for all. Loved the interview-congrats!

Erika @ ~TiptoeButterfly~ said...

oh i love this - congrats! - and STUNNING design!

quintessence said...

WONDERFUL interview!! Thoughtful, interesting, insightful questions!! Of course adore Bunny and loved learning more about her tastes, tips and talent!!

Danielle said...

Looking forward to perusing her blog. And great interview, really enjoyed her take on kids and interior design: "I believe in living with good things and teaching children to respect them." I couldn't agree more. Believe me I'm a very laid back mom, but I think respect is so important. Why would I let my child eat ice cream on the sofa? Just imagine if he did at other peoples homes! It's about respect for yourself and your furnishings. We live in a society that takes stuff for granted...oh it's all expendable, kids will be kids and ruin our furniture, so we'll just buy new stuff. Okay, obviously this has touched chord for me. Suffice to say I totally agree with Bunny, although I would tend toward more natural products and less stuff. A simple sisal rug that you can stamp with paint if it gets stained, fabrics with a lot of pattern to hide stains and solid vintage pieces. Fabulous giveaway...thanks, Danielle

Amy R. said...

Wow! This is a fantastic post, I am so jealous of you:) You were an intern and you have access to this amazing designer..sigh. I loved reading the Q&A. I do follow your blog and Twitter. I am rushing over to check out Bunny's Blog.

Happy Weekend!
Amy R.

Party Resources said...

What a great interview and great giveaway - yes please!! Happy weekend! xx

Jenny said...

A lovely interview. I am very new to the desing blog world and have enjoy this very much. Thank you also fro the links to Bunny's work.

Natalie said...

Fabulous interview. I love Bunny's style, have been admiring her for years, so it was wonderful to read this interview. Would love to win her book:)

Simple Dwellings said...

Amazing post! It was a great Q&A to read. It is so inspiring to hear how Bunny works and to see how you fulfilled your career dreams! You know I am a follower of yours! :) I am off to check out Bunny's blog again too! Happy weekend!

Stevie said...

This is a really enjoyable interview. I feel like I know something about Bunny Williams' personality and style both from the marvelous photos and great conversation. Inspirational!

The Buzz said...

What a wonderful Q & A, Lisa, and how lucky you were to not only have the chance to work for Bunny but to have hear sit down for a chat. Love the fact that she loves her dogs and blogs - and that her blog title is similar to mine! Would love to add this book to my growing library of Bunny's works.
xxoo

Linda Parker said...

Wonderful Q&A. I especially liked the part about dogs and dog love (can never get enough of that), the glass of Jack Daniels, and Bunny's inspiration from "books, books, books" as she puts it (a fellow devoted reader here). I will be checking out Bunny's blog soonest.

yvonne@designvignettes said...

Bunny Williams has always been a favorite of mine. I would love for my barn to have the same elegant and welcoming quality as hers some day!

I liked how Bunny mentioned in a recent Boston interview (posted on her blog) that starting your own business is a lot of work and you have to dedicate yourself to that end.

Great interview, Lisa! xo Yvonne

Rowaida said...

Amazing interview and great post. Love Bunny William such an inspiration. I have all her books and I treasure them. Though I wish I have a signed copy. Good luck to the lucky person.

Town and Country Mom said...

Congratulations on a terrific interview! You asked great questions, and I really appreciate that Bunny Williams gave such thoughtful answers. I am a follower, and I would love to win this book. (If I don't, then I'll definitely buy it!) I'm also curious to know how you made your career switch; I hope you'll share that sometime. Have a great weekend!

Kate Collins said...

Fabulous interview!! What a treat. I loved hearing what Bunny had to say in response to your thoughtful questions. I loved the Jack Daniels comment. I do have to say, I agree with Bunny about splitting up couples around the dinner table. But to each their own.

Irene said...

I really enjoyed the interview. Your well thought questions offered us a great insight into the heart and mind of this very special lady. Thank you.

LaSandra Stewart said...

Lovely ~I very much enjoy Ms. Williams sence of style

Kathysue said...

Lisa, What a great interview. I have admired Her work for the longest time and yesI have been to her blog and yes I am a follower of your blog. This was such a great post, I enjoyed every single minute. I can tell she is a down to earth person that knows what is important in life. She has a wonderful work ethic and obviously a God given talent for design. How fortunate for you to have interned for her firm, what a great way to start a career!! Love even the prospect of getting her new book, so sign me up for this wonderful give-away. Fingers crossed, KS

Tammy@InStitches said...

Just found your blog today and what a wonderful surprise to have a chance at a signed copy of Bunny's book. She is such a great designer !

Reggie Darling said...

Great interview with a marvelous lady. I've met BW a number of times and consider her to be charming, down to earth, and someone I liked immediately. Thanks for this. Reggie

Lili said...

Such a wonderful interview! I'm heading over to her blog...

A Room For Frances said...

What a wonderful post and great interview! I also did not know that you were a careerchanger (me too, from Egyptology, don't ask... :-).
Bunny is a true lady of design. I have had the pleasure of meeting her several times and worked with her at a couple of her book signings and she was always so pleasant, so true to herself and generous with her stories. Absolutely love her! Thank you for this post!

pretty pink tulips said...

Lisa, this was such a treat. I feel like I was in the room listening to you and Bunny have this conversation! I have been a long time admirer of Bunny's work (and now yours!) and love her approach to marry design with livability. A house is not a home if people do not feel comfortable in it.

I'm adding Bunny to my blogroll this instant!!!
xoxo Elizabeth

Carla@DesignintheWoods said...

My first visit to your blog and such a treat to read more about Bunny Williams. I have several of her books and love her style. How fabulous that you were able to intern with such a masterful designer! I'm so glad to learn of her blog, hopping right over to see it.

Macarena - Chic et Posh said...

Great Interview Lisa! Xo

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

What a great interview. I thoroughly enjoyed every word. I've always been a fan of Bunny's. I have An Affair With A House and Point of View, but have not yet bought Scrapbook For Living. I'm now becoming a follower of both of your blogs. I really enjoyed your perspective at the end of the interview too. Design was also a Career change for me as well. I feel blessed to have been mentored by some talented designers but what a gift to have interned with Bunny Williams.

Sheri @ Design Pop Interiors said...

I LOVE Bunny Williams. So brilliant and timeless. Really great interview! I loved that you asked her both personal and professional questions. Good job! I'm glad I follow you!

Long Island Style said...

Yeah! CT in May and supporting a good cause at the same time as visiting a home I've admired forever! What fun -- thanks for the heads-up and great interview.

Viera said...

Fantastic interview . Thanks
X
V

Nelle Somerville said...

So glad to find you through Meg! What a wonderful interview. Congratulations.

Haven and Home said...

What an amazing interview!!! Congratulations!!!

Missy said...

Great interview, loved your questions!

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

Great interview! I didn't know she had a blog....I look forward to checking it out.

Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) said...

Lisa- Loved this post. Great questions! You will have to share more about working with Bunny, I'm sure you are full of stories we would all love to hear!

Loretta

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

I loved Bunny Williams before and even more so after reading your interview. What's not to love about a woman who cares deeply for dogs, shops at Target, drinks JD and designs the most beautiful rooms.

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