By Kristine Hope Kowalski
A living room that is actually…livable? It may seem like a given, but if you are a fan of opulent home spaces, then you know how challenging it can be to make grand and ornate sitting rooms that are actually comfortable. For Bunny Williams, the designer behind heritage firm Bunny Williams Interior Design, comfort and livable appeal are the driving forces behind her work.
House Tipster had the wonderful chance to talk to Bunny Williams at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House opening in New York City, where she and her partner Elizabeth Swartz unveiled a warm and inviting living area complete with gilded, golden detailing and eye-catching, hand-painted faux wood paneling. The designer showed us around her favorite elements in the space, and shared how these striking elements are a critical part of her own design principles.
Here’s a look at our exclusive interview with the designer.
House Tipster (H.T.): Can you tell us all about your room at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House?
Bunny Williams (B.W): This is the living room of the house, and it was a wood paneled room that was painted white and had black lines all over it. We started out having an artist, Bob Christian, come and paint the walls in something that is called Faux Bois, which means “fake wood.” It’s very stylized wood graining, and we added gold knots for a little glamour, and to make the wood graining look more contemporary. It’s a living room that has two seating groups, and we’ve combined modern furniture with antique furniture, modern art, photography. I really think that when you go to make your own space have personality, everything really shouldn’t be alike. It’s really wonderful to mix things up a little bit. So this room has got lots of different periods of furniture, wood finishes, painted finishes, gilded finishes. And I think it makes each piece of furniture stand out on its own.
H.T.: And would you have some tips if our readers would like to get some inspiration from this space for their own room?
B.W.: If you have a room you might paint something fun on the walls. You’ll see in this whole show house that some people have done finishes on the wall that just gives a room a personality. Again, I think some of the tips are what I was saying about thinking about mixing your furniture. Not doing everything all the same, and then you’ll have a more interesting room. It makes it a little eclectic, and much more fun.
H.T.: And how would you say this room represents what you try to do in all of your work?
B.W.: First of all, I want rooms to be comfortable. I want nice, big, comfortable sofas for people to sit in, and I like seating groups where a lot of people can sit around and talk together. So I use benches and chairs. But this room, it’s a little on the elegant side, but it’s also extremely comfortable because there’s lots of comfortable furniture.
H.T.: What does it mean to you to be a part of this event and the work that this cause is doing?
B.W.: I’ve been chairman of the show house for eight years now, and I’ve done rooms in the Kips Bay Show House many, many times. And it’s such an amazing charity. The money that this raises for the Kips Bay clubhouses is just amazing. There are 10,000 kids that every afternoon, have a place to go for an after school program. Kips Bay, the money we raise is a big part of their budget.