Bunny Williams, Doyenne of Cozy Chic, Lists Upper East Side Home

The two-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment is on the fourth floor of 1185 Park Avenue, a 15-story prewar co-op in Carnegie Hill that is one of the last in the city designed with a drive-through central courtyard, entered through tall Gothic archways. There are roughly 150 units and six separate lobbies.

She bought the space for about $900,000, and said she was attracted to its large square rooms, big closets and open layout, allowing her to entertain big groups. “When you’re a designer, you kind of just know right away,” she said about the decision. It’s also been a fitting canvas for her and her husband’s eclectic artwork and furniture.


Gothic archways lead into the building’s central courtyard, which has six separate lobbies. Credit Brad Dickson for The New York Times

Ms. Williams, a native of Charlottesville, Va., born Bruce Boxley Blackwell (named after her mother), first gained acclaim for her work with the design team Parish-Hadley Associates, the firm of American design luminaries Albert Hadley and Sister Parish. (Bunny, she said, was a nickname her father bestowed.)

After 22 years with the duo, she started Bunny Williams Associates in 1988, catering largely to a discreet group, many of them in finance and business. She wouldn’t name any of her clients. She also owns Bunny Williams Home, a design store in the Fine Arts Building in Midtown East.

Ms. Williams said her tastes are eclectic, combining different periods with both high and low elements. In the south-facing living room, with the pooch-friendly throws, she added crown moldings painted in a trompe l’oeil style, with a motif of flutes and medallions. A mercury-glass mirror with a gold patina was mounted on a wall opposite the apartment’s wood-burning fireplace, to make the room feel wider and reflect light. She also designed built-in bookshelves in the living and dining rooms.

The apartment has central air-conditioning, a washer and dryer, and a maid’s room that was converted into an office space, and recently renovated bathrooms The original oak herringbone parquet floors are intact, except in the kitchen, where, she pointed out, she installed faux wood vinyl flooring, because it’s durable and low maintenance.

“I don’t like to make changes that often,” she said. “I’m a creature of habit.” Instead, she makes less permanent changes, with a rotating mix of furnishings, new and old. One of her favorite pieces in the home is in the master bedroom: a mirrored canopy bed by the French designer Serge Roche, with a hand-embroidered headboard.

“I don’t think there are rules in decorating,” she said, provided the space feels warm and livable. That’s why you’ll find dog beds scattered across the apartment, alongside rarefied antiques.

She and her husband are selling the apartment to move into a larger one that they purchased in the same building on a higher floor. They also own a weekend home in Connecticut. She says they looked elsewhere, mostly other prewar buildings in Manhattan, but never strayed far from Carnegie Hill.

“It’s one of the most magical parts of the city,” she said. “It’s a real neighborhood,” where the sky hasn’t yet been blotted out by excessive building.

Armin B. Allen of Brown Harris Stevens has the listing.

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