Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

In her newest book, celebrated interior designer Bunny Williams gives us a tour of her island home in the Dominican Republic. Introduced to the tropical paradise by close friend and renowned designer, Oscar de la Renta, Bunny and her husband, antiques collector and dealer John Rosselli, instantly fell in love with the island and its people. After many visits, they decided to custom design and build their own home in Punta Cana. They named it La Colina.

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

In this beautifully photographed book, Bunny takes on the familiar role of gracious host as she invites us into La Colina, nestled in lush, tropical gardens and overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  She talks about the vision she and her husband shared while designing and decorating the house and gardens. She also reflects upon the beauty and relaxation of island living, which naturally includes hosting numerous friends and family.

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

“We knew we wanted a house where we would really live outside, a house where the ocean breezes would blow through, and a house that would be a place in which we could gather our friends and family and entertain easily,” Bunny writes.

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

Woven into each chapter are delightful essays written by friends who have been visitors over the years, each providing a different perspective of having the pleasure of being a guest of Bunny’s and offering further insight into the architecture, decor, gardens and entertainment at La Colina. As architect and friend Gil Schafer notes, “You learn a lot about someone’s approach to life through a visit to their house.”

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

What makes this book an especially enjoyable read is not only the luscious photographs of the home and property, but also Bunny’s practical advice for every homeowner and host. You don’t actually have to own a home on a tropical island to put her tips to use.

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

When it came time to decorate, Bunny started with the living room, which was the largest interior space. “To make a room of this size, or any really large room, feel comfortable, one has to use large-scale furniture.” She furnished most of the rooms with antiques from her husband’s family home in New Jersey that was recently sold. To give the furniture a more casual feel and tropical look, she covered all of the pieces in a sky-blue, inexpensive cotton duck. She also notes that cotton is easy to launder should it get stained from sunblock lotions.

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

If you know Bunny, it won’t be a surprise to you that she has an entire chapter devoted to “Making Guest Rooms Gracious.” She shares photos and design details about each bedroom in her home, and makes a point to supply each room with terry robes, a spare hair dryer, a desktop charging station, plenty of towels, games and books. Each room is also furnished with a comfortable chaise for a read or a nap.

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

Entertaining is an essential part of life at La Colina. While John plans the meals for dinner guests, Bunny handles the tablescapes for her tropical table. Over the years, she has assembled mismatched sets of blue-and-white, green, and brown pottery, so she can change the look of the table with every sitting. The designer has also stocked up on Indian-print placemats and table linens through her travels as well as shopping in inexpensive stores, like Pier 1 Imports and Anthropologie. “Somehow, for me, setting a table is like painting a picture. I love mixing the china, glasses, and tablecloths together,” she writes.

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

It’s obvious that one of Bunny’s passions is gardening. An entire section of the book is dedicated to the green, tropical gardens that surround the villa, from courtyard to poolside to seaside. Foliage in every form, shape and size is found in abundance here. But one of her biggest lessons learned came early in the process of planning her gardens: several special features of the home’s facade and gardens are planned around ancient trees that were nurtured back to health by Bunny and John, rather than being removed. “Whenever you are beginning to think about planning a garden, it is important to really assess your property and identify what special aspects already exist. This will make a new garden seem as though it has always been there.”

Bunny Williams' book A House by the Sea

Once again, Bunny entertains and inspires us with her latest book. You won’t regret taking the time to flip through this gorgeously photographed edition.

Browse Bunny’s entire collection for Ballard Designs here, tour her 2015 Southern Living Idea House, or see more design book reviews.

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