Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Book Review - An Affair with a House, Bunny Williams

An Affair with a House

Bunny Williams

Category: Decorating & Home

Synopsis: Williams takes readers on a tour of her New England manor house and its grounds.

Date finished: 8 June 2013

Rating: ****

I can’t tell you how long I’ve wanted this book. Sometime in the past I told myself I had to be more careful when buying decorating books. They’re very expensive, and I’ve found that if they don’t appeal to me, they don’t appeal to me. It’s very black and white. And then they’ll sit on a shelf and take up lots of space, but because I paid so much or because one photo really spoke to me, I’d keep them even when I shouldn’t. So in the past few years I’ve been very cautious. I’ll try to find them in a bookstore to flip through first. I could never find this book in a bookstore, though. Then one day I happened upon her newest book, Bunny Williams’ Scrapbook for Living, at the public library, and from it I got a taste of her style, and I felt confident I’d enjoy An Affair with a House. Not wanting to spend $45 on it though, I kept trying bookstores and Amazon Marketplace for a good used copy. Finally, last month I found one for $20 and pulled the trigger.

I have a few dozen of this kind of decorating book—large, lots of beautiful photographs—and only a few of them become favorites that I return to for inspiration. This one just might. Her style is very traditional. I’d say it might be a mix of New England and southern (she was raised in the south), with an emphasis on gold-framed paintings and layered textiles. She has a thing for fresh flowers and well-set tables. She’s obviously doing well financially, because this estate is a Martha Stewart-esque operation requiring paid staff for maintenance. (Stewart undoubtedly has paid staff, right?) I was delighted to see that she enjoys dog art as much as I do, and I drooled over several paintings and sculptures (far out of my league, I’m afraid), as well as one of her real canine companions, Elizabeth, a whippet.

My only complaint is that hers is less an affair with a house as it is an affair with a property. Only 82 pages were devoted to the interior of the home (homes, actually), and the balance (156 pages) were devoted to the various outbuildings and gardens. Lovely, but not why I bought the book.

Would you recommend this to a friend?
It’s hard to recommend decorating books because style is so personal, but I’d say it’s worth a try.

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