Goodbye to Bee Cottage

Goodbye to Bee Cottage

The rumor is true. I am selling Bee Cottage. Have sold it, in fact, closing this fall. And yes, it is hard to let go. Really hard. Lump-in-my-throat-all-summer-hard. But there comes a time. If His Grace (aka my husband for new readers) hasn’t taken a shine to it by now, […]

The rumor is true. I am selling Bee Cottage. Have sold it, in fact, closing this fall. And yes, it is hard to let go. Really hard. Lump-in-my-throat-all-summer-hard. But there comes a time.

Bee Cottage in East Hampton, New York. Photo by Trevor Tondro.

If His Grace (aka my husband for new readers) hasn’t taken a shine to it by now, he’s not going to. Oh, he would come for a few days here and there, reluctantly. Though he did like the excellent donut place on Newtown Lane. Otherwise he might rather have been at the dentist. He has never said a word to me about selling and never would. But with my travel schedule, we are apart enough as it is. Adding more His-Grace-less weeks in East Hampton isn’t what I or we want, despite how I love Bee. I love him more. We live a beautiful life at Rancho la Zaca in California and keep a place in New York City. It is enough. Hell, it’s a lot.

The Garden at Bee Cottage. Photo by Tria Giovan.

Letting go is part of life.

The New Dawn Roses took over the pergola and bloomed their hearts out. Photo by moi.

I got to renovate that little house and take care of it, and it took care of me. And friends, and family, and more than a few strangers.

Bee welcomed many distinguished visitors, including His Grace, aka my husband Tom Dittmer, and a longtime friend of his, the cute blonde in the middle, Martha-something 😉

I got to write a column about it for House Beautiful, and I got to write The Bee Cottage Story for you. Wow. Thanks.

Oh we had a good time… Bee Cottage saw many a party.

Now I get to write a new chapter. I don’t know what it is yet, but as sure as sunshine, there’ll be one. I’ve got a few ideas… How about Entertaining at Rancho la Zaca?

Meanwhile, there’ll be a bit more space. A bit more time. A few less bills. I’m grateful for that. And I am grateful for YOU, dear readers, friends, and family, for your encouragement, your inspiration, your wit, and your wisdom. To every single one of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. And hey, just ‘cause my house is gone doesn’t mean you and I are gone. No sirree I’m right here with you to whatever comes next, right here in the sporadic-to-say-the-least blog and on Steady Eddy Instagram and all those other places.

Pretty light under the grape arbor at Bee Cottage. Photo Trevor Tondro.

But I sure will miss our time together at Bee Cottage. A friend reminded me recently of the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Yes I am lucky.

A purple clematis sprawls over one of the garden gates at Bee Cottage.

Tag sale, anyone? Watch this space…

120 Comments

  1. Susan Telfer

    I think I am going to cry.

  2. I am crying!

  3. Bless you. I so enjoyed the book. And I know we all must move on. Peace be with you my friend.

    • Thank you, dear Bruce. I am grateful, too that I have Bee Cottage to thank for so many new friends and acquaintances, you among them. Blessings, Frances

  4. dede Pittman

    New chapters in life get harder as we get older. I applaud you for letting go of this that has been so precious to you. Look forward to the next chapter.

    • Thank you, Dede. I daresay there’s not one among us who hasn’t had to let go and move on, even, or maybe especially, as we get older. We just keep on keepin’ on, don’t we? Courage! Frances

  5. Duvall Fuqua

    So eloquently said dear sister. But as Alex said, “it served its purpose and it is time.” I feel lucky to have shared it with you and so many friends!!! Can’t wait to see what opens up for you!

  6. Dear Frances,

    With a childhood that included numerous moves including the inability to visit my beloved grandmother’s home one last time before it was gone, I have learned one thing. Nothing can remove the pictures of your memories. Bee Cottage will live on beyond the articles and the book in the most important place – your heart.

    Thanks for sharing this piece of the journey – your own style and grace are blessings to us all.

    Kathryn

  7. Maude Ciardi

    Such a beautiful Cottage, that is how I found you from the magazine. But as you said there is a new time in your life now, so hard decisions had to be made. Thank you for sharing all your adventures with your readers. I will be excited to see more of the ranch. That too is just beautiful.

  8. Short & Sweet . “Change is good” Love you & Bee!

    • And YOU, Tom Samet, and oh my heavens all you have meant and continue to mean to Bee and to me. We will cook up new schemes and tell new stories and laugh silly laughs for years to come. Love, Frances

  9. Thank you for giving us Bee, Frances! We have not met, yet I feel like I know you through your wonderful book. Thank you and best wishes for your next chapter. A house is only a house, what matters is the love and soul you’ve poured into it. East Hampton or California, your homes will always reflect YOU and, after all, that’s what we love most about Bee… (I’m not crying… OK, maybe just a little) #TheEndofanEra

  10. Janice Shay

    I want to be at that tag sale!

    • Come! September 23! … and thank you again for your beautiful design of The Bee Cottage Story and for your wise and guidance presence for past and future projects. I am lucky to have you in my life. xo Frances

  11. It was so wonderful of you to share your special place with us. Looking forward to see what you do next.

  12. Oh hell and we never got to visit you there. It really was on my bucket list Frannie!
    What a pity. (sob)

  13. Bee Here Now! You made it what it is and it made you what you are…a bigger, better, human bee-ing 😉
    Entertaining at Rancho La Zaca – Love it!

  14. Joanie Aldrich

    Your hear and soul will live on at Bee xxxooo
    and I look forward to all your new adventures

  15. That is my favorite quote from Winnie the Pooh and I think it fits the end of this chapter for you so well. Looking forward to reading on…

  16. OMG! I am sad and happy at the same time. I always loved your post about the little charming cottage. I will look forward to the new chapters that are to come from California. Thank you for including all of us in your beautiful journey!
    xo, lissy

  17. My sweet friend, you were good to Bee and she to you! A wonderful and restorative chapter in both your lives.
    We will miss Bee Cottage but hospitality follows you wherever you go…cant wait to see what the next chapter brings. They say home is where the heart is and if you and those donuts can’t make him want to hang out in EH, then it’s time to go! ❤️

  18. Can you put together a group that appreciates the beautiful and gets together for field trips and eating and just appreciating things? i find the older I get the fewer friends I have that have the good health and luxury of time to explore. An away camp, if you will, for ladies who like to do more than just lunch.

  19. Frances – I’ve enjoyed your Bee Cottage story from start to finish. You’ve created a home that the next owner will enjoy so much – thanks to you. Keep your journey moving along and keep us posted with your fabulous world!

  20. Frances, I look forward to another beautiful chapter in the making for you. Yes Winnie was right but he also said” Only look back to see how far you have come”. And you have come a long way!! Cheers

  21. Clare Majorossy

    There is something about your book that is like coming home every time I read it. I’m sorry you won’t be residing there the next time I read the book, but thank you for the pleasure I’ve had enjoying it thru you.

    • And thank you, Clare, I am truly touched by your kind and thoughtful words, and we are both gratified that we may continue to come home in The Bee Cottage Story, and in our hearts. Warmly, Frances

  22. Deborah Loeffler

    Such a beautiful house filled with wonderful memories and I’m sure the new owner feels lucky to have all of the good energy that lives in those walls

  23. Wishing you all the best in this new chapter. I can only imagine how difficult it will be to say goodbye, but we will all look forward to seeing what comes next for you, sweet Frances. Much love, Kristy

    • Thank you dear Kristy, You’ve been there since the beginning – and along the way have brought US so much beauty and inspiration with your blog and books! xo Frances

  24. Penny Valentine

    It takes a lot of courage to let something so precious go! They say endings make new beginnings. Look forward to a new book!

  25. Change is good. Wow, the person moving into Bee Cottage is so very blessed. But you will also be blessed in your new home. Best Wishes.

  26. Change is good and keeps life interesting. Wow, the person moving into Bee Cottage is so very blessed! You too will be blessed in your new home. Best Wishes!

  27. Leonard Tymoszek

    Change is our only constant – be(e) well!

  28. Sarah Carter

    Frances, this is so sweet. Really. Everything in our lives has it’s “time”, n’est pas? And, as you say so rightly, you have MUCHO to be grateful for! It seems to me, from my faraway position of Virtual Bystander, that your life has expanded with the addition of M Dittmer, not contracted! Wrap it in your arms and give it a kiss – as you kiss Bee Cottage goodbye. xoxoxo

    • How right you are, beautiful talented Sarah. Thank you for your beautiful words – and paintings – and all you do to inspire all those around you.

  29. Betsy Duggan

    Frances Sending Hugs and Love too ❤️ On to New Memories !

  30. It is a very rare occurrence when I receive an update from the blog/website despite my subscribing to it. How sad that the one I did get is to say goodbye! I enjoyed reading the story of Bee Cottage, and the transformation to the home that it is today. I wish you every happiness in the future, and want to thank you for the pleasure you have provided via your book and website.

    • Thank you, Patti, and you have not been missing my posts – I am the one who is missing the posting! But I will continue, sporadically, to be in touch, and I will look forward to it when I do. Kind regards, FMS

  31. I have your book and love it and Bee Cottage. But such is life.

  32. Torrey Shuford

    Have so envied and enjoyed this journey with you! But ‘onward and upward’. Always look forward to your posts and musings – to be continued!

  33. MA Sullivan

    Dear Frances,
    This is so beautiful, just like you.
    Love and hugs,
    MA

  34. Amy Williford Stritikus

    I’m just so thankful I have the book! Have and will continue to enjoy it! Blessings to you!❤️
    Amy

  35. Leslie weber

    Gosh, this news makes me want to pull out the book and read it again! As with all great stories, there is sadly, an ending. Best wishes to you; and from all of us still living in our storybook cottages, farewell sweet Bee!!

  36. Allison Burnett Smith

    Oh, Frances. You have put so much love into that special place! I am so glad you wrote your book. And, I look forward to your next one (love the entertaining at Rancho la Zacha idea). You are amazing!!!!

  37. Layne Vickers Smith

    I feel as MA does: this is beautiful and so are you. On to the next chapter. Happy trails!

  38. Katherine Bennett

    My dear Frances,
    We have never met but I’ve followed you, laughing and crying, through the years with great anticipation and affection. I also wondered how His Highness tolerated your absences but figured you two worked that out. I LOVED your book, and recommended it al everyone! Please be well and don’t let us have to wait TOO long for your next wonderful book….keep painting too… you’re getting very good! Xo, Katherine

    • Thank you for your loyalty, dear Katherine, and for your insightful observation. I will keep on keepin’ on and will look forward to our continued virtual friendship. It means a lot to me, truly, Frances

  39. Diane Duvall King

    I am so happy to hear from you, but sad that you are saying goodbye to your “baby”. Don’t forget to take many dozens of photos of every nook and cranny before you start to move out. You will want to remember all of the precious memories of that special place. Please put your tag sale online for those of us who don’t live nearby. As we say in the South, “Keep in Touch!”

  40. Such gorgeous pictures — I can sure see how hard it must be. Best wishes for your (slightly) simpler life.

    • Thank you, Peggy, it is always good to hear from you, and thank you for the continued wisdom and inspiration of your blog and writing.
      Warmly, Frances

  41. Donna Gunter

    Bee Cottage will remain in your heart and dreams. I’m happy you shared your journey; it was an inspiration to me for my little cottage in Marietta. 🙂

  42. You will be missed by many!!!

  43. Dear Duchess,
    I heard the rumor and could not believe it —-facing those same hard decisions in life. My lawyer has said you have to ask yourself how will it feel when you turn out of the driveway the final time!!! It chokes me up just to think about it. When something is such a big part of our lives it is hard to say goodbye. much love princi

    • Thank you dear friend, it is never easy, but material beauty is nothing if not fleeting. The memories of beauty, though, will last as a sweetness in our souls that will nourish us always. I don’t know where that came from. It just came out. You are always inspiring – to me and to all of us. What can I say. Love love, F

  44. Nina Richter

    We just finished decorating your bedroom at Casa Richter. Hip, hip hooray! Xx

  45. Bronwyn Lee-Coward

    All the best wishes to you Frances on your next journey, we just moved from the city to the mountains and we have no regrets what so ever. Changes in our lives bring new projects and lots of new memories. You will have more time to travel and explore, the world is out there waiting for you.

  46. So glad I had the opportunity to visit Bee Cottage via your book, a lovely Christmas gift 2 years ago! All the best!

  47. Bill Zwecker

    Dear Frances — Because of Bee Cottage and the wonderful — amazingly joyous — past three Augusts Tom Gorman and I have spent at Bee, we have discovered something even better: Your friendship.
    As hard as I know it is for you to move on — your entire legion of friends and fans are excited to follow the next chapter in your incredible life’s journey.
    Much love, Bill Z.

    • Thank you dear Bill. It has meant to world to me to know the joy that Bee has brought to you and Tom; and more importantly, the joy you and Tom have brought to BEE – and to me. We will continue… Love back, Frances

  48. Oh, Frances! Perhaps it’s time for me to “fess up” to all our friends and neighbors who’ve gushed over the colors we chose for our home. Your adorable Bee Cottage helped make those color decisions without a shadow of doubt. You got to love that home on a personal level; whereas, this former Carolina gal loved it from afar. I’m positive all your followers enjoy seeing what you do next since I certainly know I will. Thank you so very, very much for all your inspiration. Keep on keeping on……..

  49. Loved “The Bee Story” from beginning to end. This is a fitting epilogue.

  50. Patti Solomon

    Such a lovely chapter in your life. I had the same feeling of my little 1973 super beetle, oh the places we went and the fun I had. Still remember it fondly, as you will of your awesome cottage. Take lots of photos and just to let you know you were an inspiration to me about my house by the beach that was loaded with giants bees we have named it ” Bee By The Sea”. Looking forward to more inspiration by you on your next journey.

  51. Oh Francis….how sad indeed. I am hoping you sold to some wonderful people so that you know you have left Bee Cottage in good hands. You must never go back tho…remember it as you have done it. Now, on to another chapter of your life! Can’t wait to see what you do.

  52. well i’m glad the Bee will live on in the book. One of the funniest things you ever posted was the pic of you at your table at the Country Living Fair and the Pioneer Woman’s line over behind you. They just didn’t know what they were missing. Good luck in the future!

  53. Gayle Alston

    Frances, I teared up & got a catch in my throat! I loved your journey with Bee. I also love your enthusiasm for going forward. I’ve learned a lot from you. I’m looking forward to your next adventure. Please never take me off your list.

  54. Charles Holmes

    You were so generous to share your lovely Bee Cottage with me on so many wonderful summer weekends. Always the gracious hostess making it all seem effortless. I loved every visit to Bee Cottage because you were there! Easy luncheons, fun dinner parties and a nice glass of wine to cap off an evening and just visit with you! XO

  55. E.B. Rodriguez

    Frances! Entertaining at Rancho La Zaca sounds fabulous, the photos alone would be
    fantastic. Change is not easy, but wonderful adventures await you and His Grace. Bee Cottage will forever be in our hearts, have two copies of the book. Love it. Bee well!

    • Thank you, EB, It is good to hear from you, old friend, and I look forward to our next adventure together. Hope this finds your well. Love, Frances

  56. Becky Roddenbery

    Frances, I will always be grateful to Bee for the articles you wrote about her because I “met” you again after many years !!! You both have inspired so many….
    Looking forward to the next chapter … xo. Becky

  57. Michael Causey

    I remember you saying when one door closes, another one opens. Can’t wait to see what life has in store for you in this next chapter… With love, M & A

  58. Had heard rumors of your selling and now know it’s true. Am so happy I have “The Bee Cottage Story” everywhere…can always pick it up. It’s still
    one of my favorite gifts for the uninitiated. You are an inspiration to all of us and will continue to bee with wherever your new passion takes you…..can’t wait to
    see it unfold. Love to you and HH always.

  59. Ruth Gammon

    Frances, my father Bob Knight (Bobby) grew up in Tarboro and was a friend of your mother’s. I brought your book to Figure 8 this summer for Dad to read and he thoroughly enjoyed it. He loved your mother- they had lots of laughs together over the years. Dad is now 88, still quite spry and he keeps up with Ann and Ben Mayo and Sally. We recently entertained Sally’s son James and his girlfriend for lunch. I wanted to meet you at the lunch in Charlotte this spring but unfortunately, time wouldn’t allow. Thank you for writing this book. I firmly believe that life is lived in chapters….and each chapter has a beginning and an end. The trick is knowing when to start a new one. Best of luck to you. If you are ever back in Charlotte, my father would love to see you (I would too!)

    • Dear Ruth, I know exactly who you are, and I am so touched by your kind words and by your taking the time to write them. Thank you. I, too, am sorry we did not connect in Charlotte but I will look forward to that sometime in another chapter 😉 as you so aptly put it. Please give your terrific dad my best, and keep in touch. Warmly, Frances

  60. Susan Telfer

    Your new neighbourhood is lovely too, with that sweet church and gingerbread house bakery. I hope there is room for your Shaffordshire dogs in California.

    • Yes it is, dear Susan, and what Staffordshire there isn’t room for, I’m even going to store. Getting rid of most everything, but not that. 😉 Warmly, Frances

  61. Sad I never got to see the bee but I’m so happy it was there for you when you needed it. It wasn’t your first rodeo and it won’t be your last!! Xoxo

  62. THE GARDENS ARE GLORIOUS AS ARE YOU!
    YOU WILL SURVIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I know EXACTLY WHERE YOU ARE IN CALIFORNIA as my aunt lived in MONTECITO…………..
    NOT SO BAD.
    HOW KIND OF YOU TO LET GO…………….XX

  63. I’m so glad you wrote your book and I am so glad I have it. The cottage looks so charming and the decorating shows your talent and exquisite taste.
    In June, I went back to Porto Ercole again, I’m a slow learner, but love that dear place.
    Stay well and Bee happy, Linda Dabney

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