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.
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!