The Art of Inspiration: A Conversation with Bunny Williams

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Bunny Williams is considered one of the most important interior designers of our time and has been incredibly influential to many of the best interior designers working today. When interior designers are asked which of their fellow designers they most admire and have had the greatest influence over their own work, the name Bunny Williams always comes up. Known for her relaxed approach to elegance, Bunny creates beautiful spaces that are timeless, chic, and inviting. Never one to do something avant-garde or solely because of the way it looks, the rooms designed by Bunny are effortlessly livable.

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Bunny has partnered with Southern Living for their 2015 Idea House in Charlottesville, Virginia. I am anxiously awaiting the revelation of the interiors because I know the house will be beautiful with Bunny’s unparalleled talent. Southern Living recently reached out and asked me to interview Bunny about a topic that is frequently on my mind– inspiration. Most of us are constantly in pursuit of our muse and seek out various ways to stay inspired. Naturally, with her impeccable eye and lengthy career inspiring so many of us, I knew Bunny would have some great insight on this universal topic.

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Paloma Contreras: Where do you turn when you need a dose of inspiration?

Bunny Williams: I am most inspired by travel. I love immersing myself in another culture and soaking up everything I can possibly absorb. I try to find the best shops in every city I go. And undoubtedly, when John and I travel, we end up in the local market. I’m also constantly reading, and love to watch movies.

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Paloma Contreras: What advice do you have for a homeowner who is looking for inspiration for their own home?

 Bunny Wiliams: Keep a scrapbook or visual diary of things you like – tear pages out of magazines and take pictures of things that peak your interest. Take note and learn from people whose style you admire, extraordinary hostesses, and people who really care about their homes.

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Paloma Contreras: What type of client do you find to be the most inspiring? Is it the client who is very collaborative, the one who hands you the baton and lets you run with it, or does the answer lie somewhere in between?

Bunny Williams: My clients are my biggest collaborators as they are involved every step of the way when we are working on a project. Everyone’s ideas count. I may be the boss but I am always open to new ideas and new challenges. I enjoy working with clients who are eager to learn more. I love when a client is excited to study auction catalogs or visit historic houses and gardens. Most of all, the best client is one who knows and enjoys the art of living.

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Paloma Contreras: Which decorator from the past has been the most inspiring to you personally?

Bunny Williams: Pauline de Rothschild has been a huge source of inspiration – from her magical, out-of-the-box carousel horse table centerpiece to that wonderful picture of her in an emerald green silk with a turquoise jacket – a color combination I still find remarkably fresh.

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Paloma Contreras: Which period of design do you find most inspiring?

Bunny Williams: I never decorate in just one style – I believe in mixing ices from many different styles, that way you create a sense of timelessness. But, I probably identify most closely with English decoration because the style is less about decoration and more about creating a comfortable, livable space that you never want to leave.

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Paloma Contreras: Do your various homes– in the city, in the country, at the beach– inspire you in different ways?

Bunny Williams: Absolutely! My homes are all different because the designs start out with the place and its spirit. My house in Punta Cana is all about the outdoors, and the bright aqua and sand color palette is one that I would never use in NYC or Connecticut. In the country, my gardens inspire me. I’m always excited to get there on the weekend to see what’s bloomed while I was away. And, my NYC apartment is all about the wonderful things that John and I have collected over the years. Every object is meaningful because it has a story attached to it.

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