Sunday, October 13, 2013

RARE vintage is in... Antigua with Bunny Mellon

Another in my Sunday (more occasional then I care like to admitRARE vintage is in the house of... series.  This time we are in Antigua with the much admired and most discreet Mrs. Rachel 'Bunny' Mellon.   (Don't you wish Mrs. Mellon would open up the door to her house just a little bit more?  I was so happy for the 2010 Vanity Fair article, but would love to see and to know a  little more...)

In March 2012 the centenarian, Bunny Mellon, famed for designing the White House Rose Garden, her ne plus ultra in good taste and her vast wardrobe of Balenciaga.  In 2010 Mrs. Mellon listed her house in Antigua for sale.  

Here is a remembrance of the Antigua house as seen by Paul Mellon, who seemed in awe of his wife's knowledge of art, landscaping and way with making a comfortable home...

"The house itself is reminiscent of an old West Indian plantation house.  It has an open plan of rooms and courtyards, so that wherever you are standing you enjoy a view into a brick paved courtyard, filled with lime trees, breadfruit and olives.

There is an indescribable feeling of peace, with warm air softly cooled by trade winds.

Dinner is in the candlelit dining room.  A huge bowl of tropical fruit serves as a centerpiece on the table and the warm night air is filled with the sound of tree frogs and the surf breaking on the beach a hundred feet below.  (Sounds heavenly doesn't it?!)

Cora will have prepared a delicious meal.  Periodic shrieks of laughter emanate from the kitchen as the staff watches The Jeffersons on Antiguan television.

After a game of Scrabble, it is bedtime.  I blow out the candles and the guests leave to walk under the acacia and black willow tress to their rooms in the nearby guesthouse while I blow out the candles.

(The painted wood floor was favorite motif of Bunny Mellon's inspired by 18th century Swedish country houses.  I believe the floor was painted by Paul Leonard who also worked on the interiors of Mrs. Mellon's homes in Upperville, Virgina and in Oyster Harbors, Massachusetts.)

The house was built by the late Page Cross and he did an outstanding job but it was very much a collaborative effort with Bunny, whose hand can be seen everywhere." Paul Mellon

I am certain that this glimpse into a library at the Antigua estate is from 'the hand of Bunny'.  Libraries were enormously important to both of the Mellons and the famed library at the Virgina estate, counts more then 10,000 books in its collection - as well as a large yellow Rothko.  

It is striking to me how real this holiday home seems - not done by a decorator but by an involved and intelligent woman, who in the afternoons may have looked much like this as she planned the garden...

Text from Reflections in a Silver Spoon.  Paul Mellon.

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