It’s easy to be amazed by Bunny Williams. She’s an American design icon with a decorating style that is at once timeless, innovative, and comfortable. Having developed her design aesthetic at New York’s Parish-Hadley Associates under the tutelage of renowned designers Sister Parish and Albert Hadley, Williams started Bunny Williams Inc. in 1988, opened Treillage, a garden shop in New York, with husband John Roselli in 1991, and created BeeLine Home, a home furnishings line, in 2008. The introduction of BeeLine Home at Lee Jofa at the Boston Design Center, the line’s first foray into a showroom environment, came with a delightful lunch and learn event where Williams spoke passionately and generously about her career and the inspirations for her furniture designs.
It was a warm and down-to-earth Williams who elaborated on her 22 years at Parish-Hadley, noting the experience was akin to attending “the most wonderful university in the world — it just took awhile to graduate.” She offered details about the hard work it took to start her own company, and how, above all, she swears by her up-front, meticulous method for budgeting and accounting, which provides an essential transparency between her and her clients.
BeeLine Home was something of a child of necessity. “I just couldn’t find the pieces I wanted,” says Williams. It includes large furniture pieces such as rustic wood dining tables and upholstered sofas, a variety of chairs, small side tables, mirrors, and beautiful glazed lamps. Most pieces are made from a mix of materials. One chair has a wrought iron frame with a back made from strips of leather woven together. Another is an armchair with an oval back that is as elegant and detailed as the front. There’s a desk with a hollow leg to accommodate laptop wires and keep them out of sight. After indulging us with images and breaking for questions, Williams invited us into the Lee Jofa showroom to see the pieces and have lunch with her.
“Buy good things and you’ll have them forever because they’ll travel with you,” Williams tells her clients. She follows her own advice as exemplified in the sturdy coffee table in her Connecticut home that she has had, and loved, for decades.
Our editors have weighed in their favorite pieces from Beeline Home. Editor Gail Ravgiala went immediately for the Antoinette Settee with its tufted upholstery and scrolled arms.
For the dining room, she selected the more masculine Farm Table, which handsomely boasts a double-arched pedestal base and rugged wood top.
Art Director Jenna Talbott was enamored of the Compass Rose Coffee Table, a large square of patterned wood that sits atop a metal open box frame. Simple, rustic, chic.
Me? I was attracted to the scale and functionality of the many drink tables, which Williams says is a must in her rooms. She hates when she’s comfortably seated and has to look around for a spot to place her drink. The Albero Drink Table (left) has a gray marble top with a base made of wood that’s carved with vine and twig shapes, while the Bottoms-Up Drink Table has a similar marble top, set in a bronze frame. At less than 11 inches in diameter, each of these pieces can be easily moved around a room as company and conversation dictate.