Bunny and Me
It’s rare that the author of a coffee table book on interior design is invited to give readings at public libraries, so it seems noteworthy that Bunny Williams had two readings scheduled at Litchfield County libraries this month. (If you missed her appearance at the Scoville Memorial Library on April 12, you can hear her at the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village on April 26.) Her text is Bunny Williams’ Point of View (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), which is not your ordinary coffee table book if I do say so myself (and that may sound self-serving since I was Bunny’s cowriter.) Unlike many illustrated books, Point of View was meant to be read; the words really are as important as the pictures.
Confidentially, Bunny was nervous about this book because it was the follow-up to her previous book, the enormously popular An Affair With A House, which has sold more than 50,000 copies. Affair was a dreamy book illustrated with photographs of her gardens, dogs, barn, pool house and greenhouse—an intimate, evocative look at the Greek Revival farmhouse where she’s spent weekend for 30 years. She was worried that readers would be disappointed by a book that featured houses she’d decorated for anonymous clients (who value their privacy), so she decided to make the text both personal and practical—a primer on decorating with anecdotes from Bunny’s life. Thus, Point of View is personal in a different sort of way than Affair (though it does include several photographs of her New York apartment and an entire chapter on her new vacation house in the Dominican Republic.)
Bunny writes tenderly about her childhood and seems to have a photographic memory for every rug, curtain and bookcase in her childhood home in Charlottesville, VA. The influences on her style include her Aunt Berta whose house was designed for company (“There was always a supply of ham biscuits, cheese straws and thin round tomato sandwiches ready for any guest”); Sister Parish, who was her boss for many years (“If she drew a floor plan it was on the back of a napkin . . .I don’t think she even knew how to open a measuring tape!); Elinor Merrell, who was New York’s leading textiles dealers in the 1960s (“Her five-story townhouse was overflowing with thousands of antique, hand-blocked English chintzes, silk Ikat coats from Turkey, embroideries from Uzbekistan, toile de Jouy panels from France.” Like Bunny herself, the book has a generous spirit. It’s not an ego-trip; she genuinely wants to inspire. As she writes, “I hope that my point of view will help you discover yours.”
Bunny Williams at David M. Hunt Library
Falls Village, CT; 860-824-7424