An Intimate Tour Inside Bunny Mellon's World | Tuckernuck

An Intimate Tour Inside Bunny Mellon's World

By Tuckernuck on

One of the most iconic American women of the 20th century, Bunny Mellon is best known for her garden designs (The Rose Garden at The White House), rare books, art collection and impeccable taste. We received an exclusive invitation for a private tour of her house in Upperville, Virginia.

Today the Oak Spring Garden Foundation upholds Rachel "Bunny" Mellon's legacy through sustaining her beautiful gardens, art and decor. They are dedicated to inspire innovation around the history and future of plants, gardens and landscapes.

Follow along as we celebrate Mrs. Mellon's elegant and understated lifestyle in the home she treasured the most.

When seeking respite from all the roaming, we escape to arguably the most notable room on the property: the oasis that is the potting shed in the formal greenhouse.

Created by French artist Fernand Renard and modeled after the Renaissance “cabinets of curiosities,” this floor-to-ceiling trompe-l'œil mural provides glimpses into several parts of Bunny Mellon's story, whether a classical motif, a treasured piece of china, personal letters, or her signature gardening coat and hat.

What to do when you have a large basket collection? Create a basket house, of course. We enjoyed a luncheon in the magnificent space.

No detail was spared, down to Mrs. Mellon's custom, cherished table linens, and the very same plates she herself used when hosting.

Adjacent to the kitchen, this room was designed for arranging flowers from the garden. Mrs. Mellon's hallmark bouquet? Perfectly imperfect.

Bunny Mellon had a particular opinion on everything down to her cotton gardening t-shirts, designed by Hubert de Givenchy. We tried our best to mimic her look.

In the elegant parlor, we enjoyed Mrs. Mellon's signature daiquiri recipe: a blend of rum, lemon juice, and sugar. Choose a citrus-inspired dress to match your drink.

Fun fact: Mrs. Mellon preferred Swedish-styled painted floors that mimicked stone paving to cold, marble tiling. This is a common theme in Bunny Mellon's decor that continues to inspire many interior designers today.

Mrs. Mellon had three libraries on the property where she would relax and read on a rainy day. This one was her “Gothic Room.”

Mrs. Mellon’s library collection contains over 19,000 objects, including rare books, manuscripts, and works of art dating back to the 14th century. The collection mainly relates to plants, landscape design, and natural history, but also has elements of architecture, decorative arts, and classical literature.

This stunning greenhouse is home to an astonishing variety of plants. The  Oak Spring Garden Foundation houses artists in-residence and gives them access to the property so they can be inspired and develop their work. 

Fun fact: This watering can replicates a French design and was made for Mrs. Mellon by craftsmen on her estate. Seemingly ordinary it is, yet was her favorite.

The staircase to the second floor features a curved banister just as artful as this black tie dress.

Mrs. Mellon's Sunday dinner? Hot dogs, believe it or not, a reminder that great joy can always be found in the simple things.

Her kitchen is anything but ordinary, full of imported tiles, blue painted floors, and monogrammed placemats. 

Mrs. Mellon's plentiful production greenhouse is where her famous topiaries are cultivated with great care.

In one of the guest rooms, almost every surface is covered in a lovely blue and white toile, custom made by Mrs. Mellon's good friend Hubert de Givenchy and modeled after a favorite scarf. Fabric repetition on the upholstery and walls was a design choice that could be found in many of the bedrooms.

The patio space and furniture was meticulously designed to seamlessly bridge the interiors to Mrs. Mellon's famous gardens.

This patio has welcomed the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and HRH Prince Charles, but we did our best to channel the royal company and sipped alfresco amidst the greens.

Throughout her life Mrs. Mellon collected unique table linens often adorned with whimsical nature motifs.

Fun fact: Mrs. Mellon would often serve Lays potato chips as a snack for her guests (but only unbroken chips were served).