This 1920s stucco cottage in East Hampton, New York, with pretty blue shutters, window boxes and a storybook feel is my idea of a dream home. I first read about Bee Cottage back in 2009 when it was published in House Beautiful through a yearlong column. The owner, Frances Schultz -a contributing editor to House Beautiful, Veranda, TV personality and tastemaker – bought the house in 2008 and documented its renovation through a monthly column.
‘Roofs are to houses what shoes and bags are to dresses. Have the best you can afford and the whole outfit looks better.” – Frances Schultz
Seven years later, to the delight of Bee Cottage lovers everywhere, Schultz published the entire story of Bee and how its beautiful interiors came about. Part memoir, part decorating book, The Bee Cottage Story graciously invites us into Schultz’s home and into her life. Her story is an honest, incredibly funny tale of finding happiness in the process of decorating. Her message to us all is that creating beautiful, personal spaces can be incredibly therapeutic.
One of my favorite parts while reading Bee’s story is the amount of respect Schultz had for the home. When restoring an old house, it is generally considered good practice to value the home’s inherent character and Schultz did just that. Without tearing down walls or re-arranging the cozy floor plan, her approach was to work with what was there and somehow make it work for her.
With advice from designer friends like John Oetgen, Tom Samet and landscape designer Jane Lappin, distilled through her own aesthetic, Frances filled her home with beauty. Treasured family heirlooms, personal collections and lots of work, restored Bee to her former glory.
Previously a garage, the sunroom bellow is now clad in pattern and vibrant greens – Schultz’s favorite color.
This living room is one of my favorite spaces in the home. The color palette consists of more fresh greens and honey-hued seagrass. As for the fabrics, a mix of solids, geometric and floral patterns create a winning combination.
I particularly love the contrasting curtain panel.
In the kitchen, a pair of Swedish chairs and an antique drop-leaf table create a cozy breakfast conner.
The butler’s pantry shown bellow is another cheerful space.
The built-in shelves in the upstairs hallway painted a rich dark brown add a lovely contrast.
Aside from being a wonderful read, the book is also a great crash course in home decorating. There is something to learn, no matter your style. Schultz generously shares design advice, useful entertaining tips and expert-approved tricks that can help you create a Bee cottage of your own. Here are some of the many lessons I’ll be taking home:
- Before you start decorating, decide how you’re going to live in your home. Study your routine, make a list of your daily activities. Once you understand how you live, you can plan your space accordingly.
- Great curb appeal is important. The exterior of a home is as significant as its interior since it is the first thing guests or potential buyers will see. Those first impressions count!
- If ceilings are low, encourage the eyes upwards. Install curtain rods close to the ceiling, use high-back chairs, hang tall mirrors.
- Armless banquettes, slipper chairs, pedestal tables and in general supple silhouettes are great choices for small spaces.
- Painting mullions a high-gloss gray (as opposed to crisp whites) diminishes the visual indoor/outdoor boundary and maximizes the views. Painting interior doors to match the mullions creates a unifying effect throughout a house.
- Large mirrors opposite windows create the illusion of space and openness, increase the perceived size of a room.
- A great trick to make small rooms feel more spacious is to paint the walls & ceilings a dark hue. This diminishes the shadows and the room will appear larger.
- Contrary to popular belief, one can still use large scale pieces in small rooms. Bee’s former garage was turned into a small sunroom where a ten feet long sofa feels right at home. A pretty pair of rush-seat chairs adds the warm touch.
- Painting or wallpapering the backs of bookcases a bright color makes the displays more attractive.
- Curtains and textiles add layers of warmth, not to mention privacy.
You can read more about Frances Schultz on her blog or even better, get her fabulous book, which is already in its 6th printing and available for purchase here! I’m off for the day but hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek of Bee!