The Dining Room at Bee Cottage

The November issue of House Beautiful is out, and it’s the last of the Bee Cottage series in the magazine, on page 66.

Bee dining room 2
The dining room at Bee Cottage. An old bird cage I've been toting around for years finally found a home as a chandelier. When lit, it makes a lovely pattern on the ceiling.Click on the picture to see the full image.

Writing the Bee column has been an absolute joy, and your responses to it have been so generous and so gratifying, thank you. And thank you to Newell Turner and the great people at House Beautiful for giving me the opportunity. I’m a little sad it’s over, but we have to keep moving, don’t we.

Bee dining table
Centerpieces don't always have to be flowers. Seashells, pottery, paperweights, even piles of pretty old books would all make interesting arrangements.

The magazine includes only one photo, so I thought I’d share a few more with you here. It really is my favorite room in the house because it has everything I love: books, botanicals, bird and bee things, (why so many b’s?), sea shells, china; and best of all when it is occupied – friends and food.

Bee botanicals
I have such a thing for pressed plants, what the French call herbiers. They are hung floor-to-ceiling in this room, and I don't know what I'm going to do with the ones still in boxes in the basement. Lord.

And speaking of friends, Tom Samet is a terrific guy and a very talented designer. He helped me pull Bee together and I honestly could not have done it without him. His hand is in so many of the details, and his support was and is immeasurable. The burlap fern print tablecloth (Old World Weavers) came from him, as did the suggestions for the dining chairs from Sylvester & Co, the grasscloth above the wainscoting, and painting the wainscoting itself. He also told me to line the birdcage with shells and get some coral to put with the shells in the glass shelves. He is always thinking of stuff like that.

Bee shells
Glass shelves are perfect for displaying collections because a single light from above will light the whole lot. Click on the photo to see the full image.

Putting the table and hanging the chandelier off-center were my ideas, but Tom came ’round. It makes the room look bigger and easier to walk through, which we do, often. The room also serves as a library, because I had to have somewhere to put all these books I cannot seem to stop acquiring.

Bee book cases
The dining room doubles as a "library," a good idea for a room you may not use every day.
Bookcase detail
When you collect what you love, it all goes together.

There will be one last installment of the Bee series but it will be on-line only in December. There will be a sort of flip-book of photos and an overview of tips and ideas. Meanwhile, the magazine has some wonderful new columns and features that you won’t want to miss.

Bee dining room
View from the other side. You can see how the table is off-center. But the chandelier is swagged over the table to allow it to be un-hooked and back in the center should the notion arise. I love the huge mirror (homage to Vicente Wolf) propped on the floor opposite the window. It's a nice play on scale in a small house, and it makes the room appear larger.