Throughout the year, taste-makers extraordinaire, Bunny Williams and her husband John Rosselli graciously open up their Litchfield County estate to help a number of charities. Recently my friend Marguerite and I visited Bunny and John’s bit of paradise, called the “Manor”, in north-west Connecticut, through the Garden Conservancy. For this blog post I will show you the “studio” which is the newest addition to their already spectacular property.
The above photo and the first cover photo for this post show the court-yard and entry to the studio (click on photos to enlarge). Notice the two teak “Litchfield Garden Chairs” that flank the stone trough, they were designed by Bunny. Those chairs are part of a collection that she created for Century Furniture. To see the full collection go to Century Furniture Collection.com Bunny Williams Outdoor.
The above three photos show the entry hall, looking from both direction. The glass railed staircase, at the far end of the room (shown in the first photo), brings you up to the studio. Looking over this space I want to bring to your attention all the different design techniques that make this space, which is only about seven-foot high, visually interesting to look at.
First of all notice how many of the artworks are hung up with the tops of their frames at the exact height as the bottom of the molding that surrounds the entry door. In a low ceiling space you want to suggest vertical tension which draws your eye upwards to suggest space that is not really there.
Secondly, notice how art works with both light (gold toned) and dark colored frames are used on both sides of the room. The dark frames match the darkness of the color of the entry door, and by having dark frames on both sides of the room, as part of the groupings, the dark color is moved around the space, which ties everything together. In decorating a space like this (or really any room) you wanted to keep the eye moves from one dark spot to the other, not having it land on just one dark spot and staying there (the same pertains to working with color, patterns and even textures).
Third, look at how the color and style of the bench on one side of the room, and the “altar table” on the other side, are both in an oriental style, and how both are fashioned in a, “not matching”, but medium toned wood.
Forth, notice how, in the second photo, that the bottom edge of the large picture in the ornate gold frame, and the bottom edge of the small picture to its left line up with each other, as do the tops of the frames below them. Next notice how the three pictures to the right of the big picture are stacked one above the other. Smaller, and visually lighter pictures are always hung below heavier pieces for visual interest, and balance.
Further down on that same wall, notice how the bottom edge of the picture hung above the bench lines up with the bottom edge of the arts work to the left of the entry door.
Fifth, notice how a mixture of leg styles for furniture (table, bench and chairs) add more visual interest to the space, than just using one style of furniture leg.
The above photo shows a large arrangement (still life of sorts) displayed on and around the altar table. This arrangement possesses both symmetric and asymmetric elements. The symmetric elements, which are kind of the focal point, are the two octagonal frames with botanical elements. Look at the russet-red vase placed between the two large frames. It is the center most element, and in a way all of the other, kind of not related elements, are placed around it.
Next, notice how the white of the background of the botanicals, in the frames, match the room’s white walls, the striped lamp, and the flat white dish on the left side of the grouping. Also notice how in this large arrangement there are elements of different heights. (Tall (the two large octagonal frames), mid range (the striped lamp and russet red center vase), short (the trough with dried gourds and potted plants), and flat (the plate on the left).
Finally look at the two elements which are placed under the altar table; their job is to fill in the air-space below the table and add more visual interest closer to the floor.
To the right of the entry hall, on the ground level of the studio building, are a home gym, shower-changing room and furnace room. The above photo shows Marguerite sitting on a comfortable sofa that was placed in a niche in the corner of the home gym.
First notice how close the bottom edges of the frames of the art objects are in relationship to the top-back edge of the sofa. Framed artworks should be placed about 8 inches, to no more than 12 inches above the top edge of the back of a sofa or chair so the sofa or chair and artwork(s) act as one. You don’t want a large single picture, or grouping of many framed pieces floating way up on the wall like an island away from the piece of furniture below it/them.
Secondly look at how the bottom edge of the picture to the left of Marguerite’s head, lines up with the two frames that are on the bottom far right, and how the bottom edges of the two frames in the center of the bottom row line up with each other. After that notice how the top edge of the two pictures that are hung in the upper part of the grouping, line up with each other.
Finally notice how the sofa has exposed legs, which makes it look less heavy in that small space. See how the coffee table also has delicate legs which keeps it looking less heavy, and finally notice how the dark color of the coffee table and legs of the sofa was worked to the top of the room, as the dark color of the round frame, seen in the top center of the grouping.
(For more information about hanging pictures/artworks and mirrors around a room, hanging a gallery wall, as well as arranging knickknacks and collectables look at the companion posts that I’ve written that are provided at the end of this article).
Now we are upstairs in the studio which is divided into three sections by a large work table that is in the center of the room (notice how the table lines up with the window that is on the back of the center wall of the space).
Bunny’s studio, to me, has an elegant country meets city, old meets modern, kind-of loft vibe. Look at the above photo. Notice how the soft gray of the cement and the white of the walls are punctuated by the darker tones of the wood furniture used in the room. To give the antique styled chairs, seen to the right of the table, a more updated-modern look, they have been slip-covered in a somewhat textured white material (the fabric instantaneously makes what is old, modern and sculptural looking).
In this photo notice how there are three tones of color in this space.
First of all you see the dark of the arms of the chairs to the right of the work table, the dark golden leopard fabric on the chair to the left of the table, the dark color of the trestle base of the table, and there is a dark edge running around the needle point faux tiger skin rug (the dark colors in the room anchor the space, otherwise it would be too light and airy and float away).
Secondly you have the middle toned colors, seen on the four-legged table and chair seen on the far right, the work table’s top, the wicker basket on the table, a dark golden-blonde woven modern bench seen by the table to the left of the leopard covered chair, the faux tiger rug, and to bring the middle tone up toward the ceiling, it is seen as the color of the fans.
Finally the lightest tone are seen on the slip-covered furniture, poured cement floor and the walls.
Look at the books and other objects arranged in the background on the many shelves. Notice how heavier groupings are toward the top, how different rounded objects have been purposely scattered (somewhat evenly) across the long wall, and even how the color red is disbursed across the wall through the many cubicles. The placement of the objects on this wall of shelves is really like the placement of the artworks in the hall below, and the use of dark framed furniture in the studio, in a way, is also equal to the use of the dark framing and entry door used in the studio’s entry hall.
This is the fireplace side of Bunny’s studio. Notice how again, the dark color of the sliding glass door surrounds is echoes in the metal finishes of the coffee table base and the bases of the matched pair of floor lamps seen on either side of the room. Also notice how both floor lamps and coffee table bases are serpentine in a way. Next look at how a slightly lighter version of the metal gray is seen as the color of the pillows and faux fur throw seen on the chaise/daybed, that is seen on the far right, then notice how the color is seen again as the stone base of the fireplace, followed by the different use of gray tones in the modern landscape above the hearth. Finally the gray appears on the two throws that are carefully placed on the backs of the chairs on the left. Interior decorating is all about moving color and patterns, across and up and down in a space, as well as repeating different shapes and textures.
The above two photos show the large windowed-wall side of the room looking toward the great view. Look at how a pair of chairs is placed by the big window, and how that sitting area is defined by the area rug placed below them. Also notice how the red of the rug matches the throw on the chair. The red color was seen earlier as the spines of many of the books in the bookcases, as well as a few books that were placed on the large work table. The red color finally lands on the fireplace side of the room as part of the color story for the striped fabric on an upholstery chair and the jacket of a book on the coffee table.
In the second photo look at how a dark metal based table is seen on the left and a large drafting table is counterbalancing it on the right. Further more notice how a painter’s easel and tall floor lamp are seen on the left and they are counterbalanced by a pedestal with vase and a torchiere lamp on the right side of the room. All of the just mention pieces of furniture and objects on the windowed-wall side of the room, counterbalance, for size and visual weight, the large center work table, and the grouping around the fireplace on the opposite side of the great space. Interior decorating is all about equal balancing visual weights.
If you break down the color scheme of the studio and entry hall, you are looking at a palette of dark bronze and dark wood tones, followed by medium tones of gray, light to dark tones of golden-brown, tones of off-white and pale taupe, with touches of red as an accent.
Our last stop inside, before leaving Bunny’s studio, is a look at the kitchenette. The door to the left leads to a powder room, and the one to the right is to a multi-purposed snack pantry, coffee station, fax machine and place for other kinds of internet office devices. Looking at the above setup, you can see that Bunny and John are hosts that can and will provide a drink, of practically any kind, to a thirsty guest.
The final spot of examination is the terrace-balcony just outside the great wall of windows. Contemporary versions of Adirondack chairs, as well as two other reinterpreted versions of classic garden chairs, along with a whimsical AstroTurf poof-coffee table provide a place to sit, relax, have a drink, and enjoy the views of Bunny and John’s estate. From the lofty perch, you can see the back side of the Greek Revival Temple pool house, the pool itself, the tops of the two greenhouses, and the Litchfield Hills in the far distance.
The one thing that I want you to notice about this outdoor grouping of furniture is that is it about the same size as the grouping of the two chairs and coffee table that are just on the other side of the great glass wall, in the studio. Again, balance of objects and working with visual weights came into play.
I hope you enjoyed my little tour, and my explanation of what you were seeing. Bunny Williams is a world-class interior decorating star, and I hope that from looking over her work, my photos, and descriptions, you came away with ideas that you can apply to your own home. Please look at the companion posts, they will more-fully cover the decorating concepts that I somewhat quickly covered in this post.
The links to Bunny Williams website, Century Furniture, and the Garden Conservancy will be in the first comment following this post.
Companion Posts on Fred Gonsowski Garden Home. com…
Hanging Art Works…
Picking and Hanging the Right size Picture or Mirror over you Fireplace 6-23-2011,
It’s Easy to make a Grouping of Pictures 6-29-2011,
Making an Interesting Arrangement of Pictures 7-8-2011,
It’s Easy to Hang Pictures up on the Wall 7-17-2011,
Hanging Pictures Around a Room 8-3-2011,
Hanging Pictures over a Sofa 9-12-2011,
Step-by-Step instructions for Hanging a Gallery Wall 2-15-2015
Arranging Living Room Furniture, so Sofas talk to Chairs, Like the Pros do 9-7-2012,
Arranging furniture TWELVE different ways in the Same Room 9-15-2012,
Arranging Furniture around a Fireplace in the Corner of a Room 9-29-2012,
It’s Easy to Arrange Furniture in a Square Living Room, some ideas that will inspire you 11-29-2013,
Arranging furniture in a 12 foot wide by 24 foot long Living Room 2-5-2014,
Arranging Furniture in a 15 foot wide by 25 foot long Bedroom 1-24-2016,
When buying Living Room furniture, FORGET the Loveseat, buy two Wing, Club or Occasional Chairs instead 10-13-2012,
Hanging Curtains and Drapes…
The Right way to Hang Curtains and Drapes 5-3-2011,
Hanging Valances, Curtains and Drapes on Different kinds of Windows 7-15-2012,
Arranging Knickknacks and Collectibles…
Arranging Your Decorative Accessories (Knickknacks and Collectables) 6-7-2011,
A Bridge unites a Tablescape and Wall Decor 6-10-2011,
Hanging a Collection of Plates/Dishes up on the Wall 1-19-2013,
Arranging Decorative Accessories on a Sofa Table, Buffet, Sideboard or Credenza 3-10-2015,
The Right height of Lamp for your End Table 5-19-2011,
Matching the Right shaped End Table with a Table Lamp 1-12-2014,
The Answer to “Can you put a Floor Lamp next to a Sofa?” 10-4-2012,
Interior decorating with Table Lamps 12-12-2012,
Interior Decorating with Buffet Lamps 12-19-2012,
Interior Decorating with Accent Lamps 12-5-2012,
Looking at the Different Shapes of Lamp Bases 12-20-2013,
Pick (Use) Four Colors when Decorating a Room 3-7-2011,
When Decorating a Beige Room, think Tones, Texture and Sculptural Interest 3-16-2011,
Paint a room a Dark Color, then Add Light Accents 3-27-2011,
Add color to a Beige Room with Accents 4-2-2011,
Color Theory..When Interior Decorating a room Remember WOOD is a Color Too 3-9-2013,
How to pick the Perfect Gray Paint..A popular Color Choice of the Moment 2-15-2014,
Picking paint colors for a Small House, Condominium or Apartment 3-10-2014,
The color BLUE, the Next Decorating Trend 3-30-2014,
How to pick Paint Colors that go with an Oriental Rug/Carpet 2-21-2016
General Interior Decorating info…
Interior Decorating is All about Equal Balance 2-27-2011,
Looking at Patterns used in Interior Decorating on Fabric, Drapes, Wallpaper and Carpeting 3-10-2012,
Interior Decorating..Looking at the Different Sizes of Patterns used on Wallpaper and Fabrics 3-20-2012,
Mixing and Matching Fabric and Wallpaper Patterns 4-13-2012,
It’s Easy to decorate a room with a Tall/High Ceiling 2-3-2013,
Interior Decorating Ideas for a Small House, Condominium or Apartment 11-24-2014.