Podcast, Episode 13: Interior Designer Bunny Williams

Celebrated interior designer Bunny Williams joins the How to Decorate podcast to talk about her new outdoor collection for Ballard Designs

Hold onto your earbuds because our guest today is none other than our own design partner, author, acclaimed interior designer, and hostess extraordinaire Bunny Williams! We traveled to Bunny’s office in New York to record this special episode in her office, and she definitely did not disappoint. Bunny shares some incredible decorating tips and stories, including how she furnished her first apartment and decorating her home in the Dominican Republic. We talk about her new outdoor furniture collection La Colina, and of course she answers your decorating questions!

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • We talk about my red lipstick trial and Karen schools us in her red lipstick protocol
  • Karen’s cord control decorating triumph
  • Taryn talks about the incredible meal and incredible decor at Marcel in Atlanta
  • Her trial involves public speaking
  • Bunny tells us why she decided to do a product line with Ballard Designs
  • She tells us about how we’re all faced with the same dilemma when it comes to decorating — budget
  • Why only buying things you love is the best investment in your home
  • Her proudest achievement in her first apartment in New York
  • Her first big purchase was a good sofa, and why it’s important for everyone to buy a really good one
  • Bunny addresses the big pet question — do hers get on the furniture and what does she do about it?
  • We talk entertaining, why she’s so comfortable with it, and what corners you can cut to make it easier on yourself
  • She tells us about her home in the Dominican Republic
  • She tells us about the time her husband John wanted to veto her decor choices
  • We talk about redecorating and why it’s not necessary if you get it right the first time
  • We talk about her decorating pet peeve — furniture that’s always against the wall
  • She gives us a lesson on laying out your room
  • Hostess etiquette, especially when it comes to drinks and coasters
  • She tells us about her new outdoor furniture collection, La Colina
  • Why she never buys a chair online

Decorating Dilemmas:

Hey Ladies!

I have listened to your podcast since the beginning and I’m a huge fan! I love your how cute and fun you all are as well as the awesome budget-friendly advice you give. I have two dilemmas and I hope you can help me.

1. My husband, my two little kids and I just moved in to a new house that’s about double the size of our old one. I LOVE it for the location and general layout and I’m so excited/overwhelmed at the challenge of decorating it and making it our own. My question is, where to start? What are my must haves? Obviously I would love to go all out and decorate each room to the fullest and be done with it but that’s probably not a budget reality.

2. My house has an entry way that’s kind of tuscan texture stuccoed. The same texture goes into the living room (I’ve attached some pictures from before we moved in for your reference). I don’t hate it, but I definitely don’t love it. I guess it’s just not my style. My style is more modern, fresh and clean with pops of bright color and I’m struggling to make it fit my style. I looked in to getting it skim coated but it’s time consuming and crazy expensive. Do you think it would look good with a lighter paint color? Should I just splurge and get it done? Can I decorate around it to nudge it toward my style?

Thanks so much for your help! Keep up the excellent work.

Megan

Bunny suggests painting your walls white, don’t worry about removing the texture. Then paint the hand rails dark, maybe black, and the spindles white. 

Then, focus all of your attention on your family room first. Don’t sprinkle your decorating budget all over your house. Instead, focus on the area you’re going to spend the most time in, like your family room. Invest in a great couch, then go to thrift stores and tag sales and fill in with vintage pieces.

….

We have a fairly long, thin hallway with a dropped ceiling when you first walk into our home. How do you make it inviting and personalize it? We are considering a hall rug/runner but how do you know what size and how do you keep it from moving around? And how do you hang art work to help create height to counteract the drop ceiling? Is a gallery wall too much for a hallway?

How long do you hang curtains if furniture is up against them?  I want to get some of the Ballard essential panels for my master bedroom but our dresser is up against one of the windows (the dresser height is just below the bottom of the window).  Just wondering if you still have curtains go to the floor?  And if so, do you pull your furniture out a bit so the hang properly?  

Thank you!
Heather

Bunny suggests a runner that is as wide as you can fit in your hall, maybe 4 or 5 inches on each side. Make the runner as long as possible too. She also suggests painting your hallway ceilings an pale, eggshell gray, it’ll help the ceiling in your hall feel taller. A mirror is another great way to make it feel larger — as tall a mirror as you can find. 

You definitely want your curtains to touch the floor, and be sure to hang them as high as possible. Buy some rubber disks to place under the dresser so it won’t slide, and pull the dresser just a few inches away from the window.

We loved meeting Deborah who introduced herself at our VIP Grand Opening Party at our new Boston store in Natick Mall

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, please subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss and episode. Of course, you can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.

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12 Comments

  1. Reply

    bored listener

    May 24, 2017
     

    Babble Babble Babble…red lipstick on your teeth, two girls babbling all over themselves about things that do not matter and giggle giggle giggle giggle…drives me crazy she said…. I was long time crazed at that point.
    I see all the referrals to Bunny Williams………the reason I listened.
    While I hope there really is a DECORATING tip of two and Bunny Williams
    I’m logging off and sorry not to hear….Bunny Williams but I’m glad this girls had a time talking over each other.
    Ballard…please please please

  2. Reply

    Watt Michelle

    May 23, 2017
     

    I have become a big fan of your podcast!! Loved hearing from Bunny Williams and boy did I glean a lot from her not only decorating but encouragement to let things go and enjoy your home and the people you invite over to share it with you. I tend to be a perfectionist and like to know the rules before I start anything,thus it has taken me
    1 ½ years after building our dream home to make some decorating decisions. My husband continues to ask me if I have couches, draperies, rugs, art work etc etc picked out and on order, I know it sounds so fun but for me not so much. After hearing Bunny, many of your other podcasts and your own triumphs and dilemmas, I am more free to make mistakes and trust my gut feeling when I like something!
    Thanks so much and keep up the great topics and designers!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      May 24, 2017
       

      Michelle,
      Thank you so much for your feedback and for listening. This is just why we started — so we could empower people to decorate and enjoy living in their homes. I completely agree that it can be stressful and overwhelming. I’m hoping to do a big renovation in the next year, and the decisions and work are overwhelming. We’ve just got to chip away at each spaces. Like we always talk about, if you trust your gut and pick things you’ll love, it’ll come together. Good luck!
      Caroline

  3. Reply

    Melissa

    April 15, 2017
     

    What a treat! Bunny Williams is such an amazing lady. One of the all-time greatest interior designers, yet her advice and her demeanor are so down to earth and un-stuffy. Really enjoyed her insights and tips. 🙂

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 17, 2017
       

      Thank you so much, Melissa! So glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Reply

    Nancy Marcus

    April 12, 2017
     

    Loved this episode ladies! Hearing from Bunny Williams, one of my design heroes, was quite a treat and I learn so much every time I hear her speak. Thank you for making my morning commute to work so much more enjoyable with your lovely podcast!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 13, 2017
       

      Nancy,
      Thank you so much for this feedback. We’re so glad you’re listening and enjoyed this episode!
      Caroline

  5. Reply

    Katie

    April 11, 2017
     

    Can you post a picture of the cord covering Karen talks about? My company makes cord coverings so I’m curious what technique you used.

  6. Reply

    Julie Willhite

    April 11, 2017
     

    Girls, I LOVE your podcast. I am a cook, not a decorator. The thought of purchasing a pillow for my couch frightens me. So I have been listening to your podcast for ideas and to muster up my courage. Thank you! Not only is it helpful but it is entertaining for me.

    When listening to Bunny Williams, Karen had said “don’t invite me over and have me eat on paper plates”. Yikes!!! I do that all the time. We have people eat with us multiple times a week, teenagers my kids bring home, inlaws stop by, we host a small group from church, and the list goes on. Every other Sunday I have 30+ people eating in my house after church. It would not be unusual for there to be 40 people show up. I’m really focussed on the food and less on anything else. I actually do use real flatware for guests, because I hate plastic ware. But if I wanted to always have real plates and cups/glasses, could you make a suggestion of what and where to purchase these? And what about napkins? We use cloth napkins for family meals but when company comes the paper comes out. Keep in mind that I live in a small town 60-90 minutes from any mall. I do order a lot online. Plates and cups would need to be sturdy because there are usually children here and stack well if I were to keep 40-50 around.

    (If you have time you could read this.)
    Here is my biggest entertaining disaster. Many years ago when I was younger (30) I wanted to host a fancy dinner party. So I planned and cooked. Fine Cooking had a recipe for make ahead individual beef wellingtons. They had caramelized onions, bleu cheese, and were wrapped in puff pastry. You make them, freeze them, then pop them in the oven. My mistake is that I put the bread in the oven also. The bread, instead of being in a bundt pan (some little rolls with butter), was in an angel food cake pan. After awhile someone told me that the oven was smoking. I said, “that’s ok, it’s just a little butter leaking”. I wanted to give the impression that I had everything under control. I let it go for several more minutes without looking until someone commented again. By now the oven was ON FIRE. My husband opened it, which made it worse, and my friend shouted “flour!” So my husband threw flour on the fire, the beef wellingtons had become grey from the smoke, and I went in my bathroom and cried. Well, they were good friends, so we ate the meat inside without eating the grey puff pastry outsides and the night was a success. A good memory with good friends. Thanks for letting me share.

    Thanks for the podcast!

    • Reply

      Julie Willhite

      April 11, 2017
       

      I should have sent this to podcast@ballarddesigns.net originally. I just sent a copy to the email. Sorry about that. You can delete my comment from the blog. Thanks.

  7. Reply

    Mary

    April 11, 2017
     

    Yeeeesssss! I’ve been waiting for Bunny!! Haven’t listened yet but I know it will be great, like all your other podcasts. Every guest has been great and I think it’s in part the guest, but mostly the chemistry between you three and your guests. You’re fun, interesting and informative and real. Love the touch of snark. I think it’s fun hearing about photo shoots, product design, your travels and your jobs at Ballard. I had to laugh when you talked about how physical the job is because I know all about it. I work in merchandising at crate & barrel and it’s exhausting. But also a lot of fun.
    So excited to hear Bunny’s interview. I made a list of people I’d love to hear you interview, (bunny was #1 on my list). Hope I don’t run out of room! Barbara Westbrook, Jill Sharp (although I did think it was a little odd that there wasn’t anything from ballard in her home when it was featured in house beautiful, and at the time she worked for ballard?! But maybe I don’t have my facts straight) William McLure IV, Ann Mashburn, Paige Morse, she was a stylist at Wisteria; Lee Kleinhelter, Haskell Harris and Erica Powell. If I think of more I’ll let you know.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 13, 2017
       

      Mary,
      Thank you so much for this feedback! I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying the podcast and that you liked Bunny’s episode. Funny you should mention it, several of those guests were already on out list!

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