clos-ette case: Bunny Williams

Posted on October 19, 2011 by Melanie Charlton

If you had told us, years ago, that we’d one day work with the fabulous Bunny Williams –well, we would have laughed in your face and gone back to color-coordinating our cocktail dresses. Alas, Clos-ette has afforded us some ‘pinch-me’ opportunities, and collaborating with the grand dame of decorating has been one of them. The wonderful Ms. Williams is an undisputed expert in the art of the traditional American design: her rooms are at once classic and richly layered (she’s a product of the venerable Parish-Hadley Associates, after all) and yet eminently warm, comfortable, and livable. Her impeccable taste can also be found in Beeline Home, her lovely furniture and home accessories line, and Treillage, the garden and housewares shop she co-owns with antique dealer husband John Rosselli. And as if we needed one more reason to adore Ms. Williams –wait until you see her immaculate china pantry in her Connecticut country house. It’s the stuff storage dreams are made of! 

 clos-ette case: Bunny Williams
Bunny WIlliams and dog
© Miguel Flores-Vianna
Here, we chat with one of our decorating idols about her love of custom shoes, the importance of pretty hangers, and how to apply her magic to a boring white closet.

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is casual, but I always buy clothes that are well-made and well-designed. For evening in the city, I love long jackets over pants. In the country and in the tropics, I love caftans in beautiful fabrics and gorgeous colors. I adore interesting jewelry and collect it when I travel.

What’s your daily uniform?

Well-cut pants, a great shirt or jacket, chic but comfortable shoes, and unusual accessories.

What items in your wardrobe will you never part with?

The most treasured items in my closet are my collection of custom-made shoes from Hong Kong. They are totally unique – I picked out all the leathers, skins, trims, heel heights, etc. They are fabulous, and they are comfortable.

Bunny Williams dream organized pantry

Williams' gorgeous pantry in her Connecticut home, from her book "An Affair with a House".

When it comes to your own closet, what’s the biggest problem that you face?

My biggest closet problems are space, staying organized, and lack of good lighting. I have outfitted my closets as carefully as I could with the limited space, but I still always end up with things out of place. I try to train myself to hang things up quickly and to put things away as soon as I am done so I keep the little space I have orderly. The lighting in my closet is not the greatest, so I sometimes struggle to find things. I need a flashlight! [One great way to keep small spaces orderly? Our Acrylic Shelf Dividers!]

If you could design your own personal “dream closet,” what would it be like?

My dream closet would be my personal retreat: wood paneling in a pale painted finish, beautiful lighting, good mirrors, a sturdy comfortable upholstered chair, cozy carpet underfoot. [It would be] well organized [with] maybe a center island, lots of drawers of all sizes and shapes, a place to rest my suitcase before and after a trip, and a place for summer and winter storage. [I would add] pretty pictures on the walls or even attached to the door fronts, beautiful accessories –boxes, baskets and elegant hangers –and a steamer and an iron close by. And of course, a dog bed so that I can have my four-footed fashion critics present to give their opinions before I leave the house.

butler's pantry

Another peak at Williams' to-die-for pantry storage.

What’s the best way to jazz up a ho-hum white closet?

Paint the interior a great color, or paint stripes inside, put wallpaper on the ceiling, add some colorful storage, fun hatboxes, and a great carpet remnant on the floor. Replace the ugly light fixture with a great ceiling fixture. Put interesting hooks on the back of the door for belts, scarves, necklaces. Change the wire hangers to attractive ones. [Our signature hangers –available in nine gorgeous hues –are as beautiful as they are functional!]

Bunny Williams dream closet

A glamorous Williams-designed dressing room, from her book "Point of View"© Fritz von der Schulenberg

Whose closet would you like to raid?

I would adore to have raided the closet of Pauline de Rothschild –she was an extraordinary woman and incredibly chic. She knew how to mix designer couture with off-the-rack items and created a look all her own. She had an exotic flair and wore things like Moroccan coats with tight pants and ethnic jewelry.

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