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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My lunch with Bunny Williams...

was truly magical.
And, as if having lunch with Bunny Williams wasn't the best birthday gift ever, we had the great pleasure of meeting and spending the afternoon with her handsome and most-charming husband, antiques dealer extraordinaire John Rosselli.

To start off the day you must envision a quintessential New England Fall day: sunny, cool, crisp, leaves changing colors. It is a beautiful three and a half hour drive from our house to her country house in Connecticut, which took us through the Berkshires in Massachusetts. The leaf-peepers were everywhere!

Just driving up to Bunny's house takes your breath away, and as the gates magically opened upon our arrival I felt like I was arriving in the land of Oz! As we walked into the Barn we were announced by Lucy and Elizabeth- the resident pups! Bunny emerges, like a vision, from the conservatory and John from the kitchen. Their gracious hospitality made us instantly feel as if we there visiting with long-time dear friends. Within minutes of our arrival, there was a tray of fabulous champagne being served! Talk about feeling welcomed!

The Barn was even more beautiful than I had remembered it, and more beautiful than even the gorgeous photographs of it in her book. Bunny said that in her experience, no matter how beautiful the room, a photograph is never the same- a room is always better in person. She went on to explain that it's because in the photo you can't feel the room. At this point I remembered a comment I had received in a previous post from Daniel in NYC wanting to know what it felt like to be in the house rather than looking at the pictures- which I thought a wonderful query!
Here's the difference.... as you walk in, you see the fire in the fireplace, you hear the logs crackling, and smell the sweet smell of the logs burning, you hear and see and pet the dogs, you smell lunch being prepared in the kitchen , you see the sea grass rug and feel it underfoot, you feel the welcoming hugs from Bunny and John.... in essence the whole of the room envelopes you!

the gates opening!

The Barn.

Beautiful 16-year-old whippet, Elizabeth in her gorgeous bed.

Bunny then took us on a garden tour! Talk about inspirational... even at this point in the season, when plants are going into decline, the gardens were stunning!

Walking to the pool house.

Bunny in the pool house. The structure is amazing!

After the gardens tour we came in for lunch in the conservatory.
The room was stunning, and the table setting absolutely lovely. John is quite the chef, and had, in fact, made our lunch! We dined on shepherd's pie, brussels sprouts, salad, and a spectacular apple crisp made from apples from their own trees, a wonderful red wine and iced tea!
Lunch was delicious! The proclivity that Bunny and John have for entertaining, and making their guests feel like "old friends" is indeed an art form.

I have to confess to you that I had a moment of "intense realization" while sitting there in the middle of lunch.......
it was as if the world momentarily stopped, and I realized that.............
I was in Bunny William's conservatory, sitting across from and chatting with Bunny Williams about Mrs Parish, and sitting next to John Rosselli, who had just prepared lunch for us, looking up at that stunning mirror and plantings above the fireplace, and top it ALL off, little Lucy, the dog, (who is elderly and has had a stroke and has difficulty walking) is laying- literally laying on top of my feet under the table! Seriously, I was done! I was over the moon....
I could have wept!!

After lunch we had a tour of the main house! After having seen photographs of the house in magazines and books for so many years this was a very cherished tour!

the front porch

details of the window

I adore this photograph of Bunny inviting us in at the front door!

I can not express to you how surreal it was to be standing in this stunning living room that I have admired and studied for years.

Love the lamp. You can see one of Bunny's BeeLine Home chairs in the reflection in the mirror. It was gorgeous, and so comfortable!

Bunny and Dan on the screened porch.

The master bedroom. I have never seen a more gorgeous suzani in my life. John had the bed made for Bunny. The room was absolutely breathtaking! I adore the rug.

the kitchen fireplace..... sigh!

the dining room

Ella got to meet Bunny too! She was actually a stowaway in the car, as her puppy-sitter canceled at the last minute. Ella was spied towards the end of the visit, and Bunny and John, being the dog-lovers that they are, told us that we should have brought her in!

So, Ella got to meet Elizabeth and Lucy, and this is Marco who is a Katrina-rescue owned by Bunny's Head Gardener, Eric Ruquist (hi Eric!) Eric has friends in our area, so we invited him to come visit the next time he and Marco are in New Hampshire. I hope he takes us up on that!
Marco loved Ella! He followed her around like this the whole time!
Also, please note the gorgeous design of that gate!

Ella and Marco in front of the barn. John invited Ella into the Barn and now, of course, she wants a bed like the beautiful Elizabeth!!

The gates opening for our departure....
Sadly (for us!) the fairy tale had to come to an end. The whole way home I told Dan I wanted a "do-over".... usually you want a "do-over" because something went wrong, and you want to correct it, but I wanted a do-over because we had such a fabulous time that I wanted to do it all again!!

I realize that just as the photograph does not do the real room true justice, my words can not adequately express the true magic of this day. . .
The love and respect that Bunny and John have for one another, for their home and their dogs is palpable... it is also infectious, as we left their beautiful home with hearts full!

My most sincere thanks and gratitude to Bunny and John for being the best birthday present, and for the gift of their time.

I also want to thank my sweet, dear husband Dan for being just crazy enough to know that this would be a gift I would love, and then being even crazier to act on it!
I also thank Dan for taking the photographs. I must admit that from the moment I walked in the door I was so "in the moment" of being there that the thought of taking a photo would never have occurred to me!
In the end, perhaps the best gift of all was that my sweet husband enjoyed every second of this day as much as I did! That I got to experience this with my best friend, and then that we discussed it for days is my gift forever !


You must check out Bunny's new book that just came out....
Bunny Williams' Scrapbook for Living


  1. Aw Joan!!! What a dream come true!!! Her conservatory must be one of the most beautiful plces I've ever seen!! What an AMAZING day!!!]

  2. Finally!! you get to shout it from the roof tops! I am so happy for you Joan, and again, I will tell you, you have the dearest husband in the world. What a wonderful post - you found the words just fine - in fact you expressed yourself beautifully here. I could cry I am so excited for you. I have always felt Bunny and John are real people, too, probably with dog hair on their furniture and just as down to earth as they can be. So glad you got to have this experience!! xo

  3. P.S. I got my book from Amazon - funny that Bunny was surprised!

  4. What an incredible and memorable birthday!! Bunny and John sound like wonderful people and your husband is the best. Very happy for you. Michele

  5. Hi Joan,
    I'm still in awe at the thoughtfulness of your husband to give that gift to you. It really says a lot about him.
    Ok, I would give up my entire house and everything in it, to live in that conservatory! I have read and reread her book many many times and I can only imagine how it must have been in real life. Not just her "stuff" but the smells, the colors, how each season must look and being able to walk out of amazing gardens and barns.
    I'm so glad you had a wonderful day! Thanks for sharing it - I was waiting for pictures. :)

  6. Oh Joan I sooooooo enjoyed reading about your day with Bunny and John. I was not the least bit surprised at their graciousness since I had met both of them too and immediately felt so very comfortable chatting with them if only briefly. What a wonderful birthday gift for you and what a gem of a DH you have. I thoroughly enjoyed all the pics and I could feel your excitement as I read your post. How fabulous!!!!! I have read recently that she has a new book out and will get it soon. Thank you for sharing your day with Bunny.


  7. WOW! What great inspiration seeing all that in person must be. I'd be happy with the barn! I love the mix of cobbles and gravel. Love the fence. Love the row of dormers on the back of the house. Love the conservatory. Love the bedroom. Love the fireplace. Love the bar that Elizabeth sleeps under. Thanks for sharing your exciting day!

  8. What a perfect day! What a perfect birthday present! I am so glad that you soaked it all in. I always want to really experience a place and it's people--and it sounds like that is just what you did. I'm so very pleased that you had such an amazing time! Hope all is well with you, Dan, Ella and the house.

    (still thinking about your countertops...did you "Meg Ryan" them?)

  9. Joan - This is a wonderful post and I am most impressed your husband took all of those beautiful pictures! What an talented and thoughful guy you have! Loretta

  10. Big Wow! I am a new follower of your blog and I came in at a terrific time! I'm envious of your adventure! I love the picture of the two of you walking to the gardens...the personal pictures you got inside the home are wonderful and it sounds like you got some good old fashioned southern hospitality out of them! She looks like such a nice person! I don't know how your husband put that together but what a gift! I think I would put a collage of pictures on a wall to just gaze at!! Lucky you!

  11. Hi Joan and Dan,

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I throughly enjoyed seeing everything. I have tried to take everything in and have scrolled up and down the screen SO many times. The table inside of the barn, you cannot fake that sort of patina. Some people like flat pack clean lines, modern, but give me something like the table anyday. I loved how you wrote this post and it was so nice to see a photo of you both. I loved how you were telling us about the dogs and then said, notice the detail on the gate, spoken like a true interior junkie!!! The conservatory where you had your lunch looks devine and I can only imagine what John and Bunny's place is like in real life. The gardens are simply stunning, if mine ever look half as good I will be happy!!!
    Take care
    Tasmania, Australia

  12. I'm back again, I thought as Dan pulled off such an extraordinary birthday present for you Joan....this is for you Dan

    YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!

  13. Oh Joan!!!
    This is such a wonderful story. I'm a true romantic, so I am all emotional knowing that Dan planned this amazing day for you... and enjoyed it to boot!!!
    Thank you for sharing your amazing day with us. Although I'm jealous that you spent a day with Bunny (what designer doesn't put her on a pedestal?) in her gorgeous home, I love that you are spending your life with a man whom you love and who "gets" you.
    What a blessing.

  14. You have started and finished your bucket list in a day. I only wish I could have the kind of generous spirit these 2 have to open their home to strangers and make them feel like friends. I am so glad it lived up to your expectations.

  15. hi joan,

    i am so beyond happy for you and happy that you are sharing this with us. we all worship at the house of bunny and to be included is truly wonderful.

    now i need a drink.


    ps ~ i have a post about coffee on my blog. geeez.

  16. I was hanging on your every word - each picture that's a birthday present!!

  17. Dear Joan, congratulations. I woke too early this morning and your post was the perfect antidote to my tired but wide-awake state. And you're right, that kitchen fireplace ... !

  18. Wow, how amazing! You obviously had an amazing time, how sweet of your Hubby to organize such a trip for you! The whole place looks beautiful, I can see why you were a little awe struck!

  19. Wonderful! You did such a great job describing it, thanks for sharing!

  20. Pure giddiness! What a fun time you had. She seems so down to earth...her place is phenomenal! Love those barn doors!

    Lucky gal, Joan...lucky gal!

  21. hooray!! i think i teared up at 3 different places as i read your post.

    joan- your day was unforgettable, your husband a dream and your gift of sharing it all with us- so gracious. thank you!!!

    ps- i love getting to "see" you both!!! : )
    pps- dan, perhaps you should start your own blog (with tips for husbands everywhere!)

  22. Hi Joan!
    The details....taking in all the beautiful details in the photos alone, I can't even imagine seeing it all in person. What a beautiful and delightful day with one very inspiring couple.
    And good for Dan for taking photographs! I would have wanted to but probably would have been too distracted or too shy!
    The photo of you and Bunny is GREAT and such a wonderful momento to have of your special day. And by the way, you look beautiful Joan. Beautiful and very happy. xo
    Big hugs, Trina

  23. Your hubby is a keeper! How wonderful that you could have such a fantastic adventure together.

  24. Beautiful! So lovely, and you too!
    Love You.

  25. What a fabulous experience Joan, I'm so happy for you! Your description was so good it was almost like being there with you. Bunny’s conservatory is to die for and lucky you to have feasted there. Dan’s a very special man for thinking of such a wonderful gift, certainly something to last a lifetime. And look at what a beautiful woman you are too! Thank you for taking us along and sharing your perfect day!


  26. WOW! Knowing you both personally, I know that day was shear magic for you and Dan. I teared up too a few times reading your lovely post. You also don't look 50 years old, baby sister! You look wonderful, Dan does too!! Made me miss you both even more seeing your faces. Ella, in my favorite turquoise collar, looked divine!

    Much love

  27. My sweet and BEAUTIFUL Aunt Joanie!!! I am so glad you had a wonderful time! Your pictures are fabulous!

    I love you,

  28. Everything about this story is like a fairy tale....amazing. Lucky you!

  29. What a perfect unforgettable day!!
    A fabulous experience in a fabulous house!!
    And so nice to see you on that picture!

  30. ...wonderful...wonderful....wonderful...and...thank you...thank you...thank you...

  31. Dear Joan and Dan: What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your birthday gift with us all! Cindy

  32. Joan. What a beautiful story. I saw the post up earlier and just hurried thru the photos, saving the text for later when I had time. The images are a treasure. I clicked on so many to get the full details. Especially the conservatory. So beautiful.

    You recounted the day so lovingly that it made me tear up. You are so sincere and so lovely. I know how you love Bunny. When you think of her and this wonderful day, please remember that YOU are just as special to US, your readers.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful day with us.


  33. I don't think my comment went through - but wow. wow. wow. i am sooo jealous!! gorgeous!!! those suzanis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love the one in the bedroom!!!!

    you are soooo lucky. how sweet is your husband!!! wow. wow. wow.

  34. Just the PERFECT day -- and what a wonderful lunch and tour with Bunny and John!! And the dogs are just so sweet too! Oh!! and I ADORE her new book!! Thanks so much for sharing -- and many thanks to your sweet DH for remembering to take photos too!!

  35. Clunk - that's me falling off my chair dear Joan!! What a man that Dan is, how is he EVER going to top this. I'll print this off & make MOTH read it every day for inspiration. Some days are diamonds, & this one sure was!
    Millie ^_^

  36. What a wonderful time.....thank you for sharing.....smiles.

  37. Do you know what those rods are that run along the window frame molding? My curiosity is getting the better of me! Thanks for a lovely jealousy-inducing post!!

  38. Since this was for your 50th birthday, I wonder what he will do for your 100th????

  39. Ah! You are a dear to include a link to my blog. Somehow...that, and your descriptions made me feel like I was there. My favorite thing? (I have all Bunny's books.) The wavy window glass. Odd to say perhaps, but it's that attention to beautiful detail that makes my heart sing. Speaking of which: great post!

  40. Hi Joan - What an amazing day you had and an amazing husband you have for giving you this gift! I'm so happy for you knowing that you had this experience of lunching with Bunny Williams and her husband. Thanks for sharing it all with us. It was great fun to tag along.

  41. Wow! What an experience, Thank You for allowing us to "tag along". AND I appreciate the note about her new book!

  42. OH MY!

    I was there this past summer. Her house was part of a Garden Tour.

    She was wonderful. Stunning.

    And the home--what can I say. SO beautiful and comfortable. There are a few photos on my site, under 'my photography.'

    P.S. My sister lives in New Hampshire!

  43. Thank you to each and every one of you for your lovely comments! I greatly appreciate them all!


    Jessica- I had just noticed the rods myself a couple of hours before you asked! And no, I don't know, but guessing electric wiring??

  44. Sounds like a perfect day. I am so glad that you loving husband arranged this all for you. You are truly blessed.

  45. What a brilliant and exciting wonderful to enjoy Bunny and John's home first hand. Happy birthday Joan....xv

  46. How lucky you are to have toured with Bunny and her husband. A wonderful place with lovely details. To top it off, her husband John is an amazing chef. Linda

  47. I am completely amazed that you had the strength to make coherent sentences while you were visiting with Bunny. OMG!!!! I can only imagine your excitement. (Your photos are really crisp, considering how badly your hands must have been shaking.) Congratulations on such a wonderful day, and Happy Birthday!

  48. What an amazing husband! So glad you enjoyed your special day!! It sounded/looked like an incredible time.


  49. You are so lucky! How on earth did your husband arrange this? I love Bunny's books. It must have been amazing to see this In the Flesh.

  50. Hello's me again. I just had to comment on this one. I'm completely blown away by this post. Good gracious!! How will your husband ever top this present?? How sweet of him to set this meeting up with Bunny. I ADORE her and was just reading her book (An Affair With A House) the other day and swooning. It's one of my all time favorite design books. She and her husband seem just as lovely as I imagined them to be. Incredible!


  51. A friend just turned me on to your blog today and WOW! Love what you have done with your home. We recently moved from New England and I miss it dearly. I am adding you to my reader immediately.

  52. Gosh, I don't even know where to begin...perhaps with your husband! What a thoughtful man. Lovely. Lovely! Lucky you!! And a happy belated birthday.

  53. I can't imagine how your husband arranged this GIFT but how wonderful is THAT!!!! Bunny just LOOKS so sweet and inviting. I can imagine it was a dream of a day! YOU are adorable!!!! XO, Pinky

  54. What an enchanted day it must have been! "An Affair with a House" is probably my favorite decorating book. Bunny Williams' decorating is amazing!

  55. What an amazing experience! When did you do this? She is the best! I did my internship with her, but have always been a fan of hers!

  56. What a beautiful house! It reminds of some of the larger cottages in Carmel by the Sea. :)

  57. Joan,

    I just bought "An Affair with a House" and that has only made me more envious of this gift (even if it was two years ago ;) How wonderful to get to see such a beautiful home and grounds, and meet such wonderful people! I do hope you invited Bunny and John to see your beautiful home and grounds, as well. ;)


  58. My sister and I traveled from Ontario Canada specifically to attend Trade Secrets garden show and garden tour of which Bunny Williams gardens and barn was on. My sister had been on a holiday last year and visited the Mount is Mass where Bunny had decorated the dining room. She bought the book An Affair With A House which led us to the garden tour. We met Bunny and were mesmerized by her gardens. She was such a gracious host. We didn't want to leave!!

  59. I nearly cried reading about your "moment" at the table. I completely get it. A dream come true for sure and that your husband is so are blessed.


Welcome! Thank you for leaving a comment; you have no idea how much your comments inspire me to keep writing- I appreciate each and every one. Comments are moderated by me prior to publishing on the blog, so if you don't see your comment post immediately it will be posted as soon as I receive and read it. joan