The Bee Cottage Story

Order The Bee Cottage Story

Already in its sixth printing! Inspired by Frances’ House Beautiful column, what began as a decorating book evolved into a memoir with lots of beautiful photos and a compelling personal story.


Finally, the dadgum book on Bee Cottage is off to press and ready for pre-order here (for signed copies from Frances), and also at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Yay!

Bee Cottage is my house in East Hampton. I bought it in 2008 and spent two years renovating and decorating. It isn’t finished or perfect, but what is? And who would want to live there?

Bee front exterior
Bee Cottage

This is a modest stucco cottage built in the early 20th century.

Bee living room
Bee Cottage living room
Bee Cottage dining room
The dining room is filled with things I love: books, botanicals, and shells.

But for a porch made into a kitchen and the garage into a room I don’t know when, the floor plan is virtually unchanged.

Bee Cottage kitchen
The long, narrow galley kitchen.
Bee Cottage kitchen
Breakfast table and a rag-tag collection of blue and white porcelain.

I did add a large porch on the back, with considerable landscaping and a garden, but the house is very much as it was.

Bee garden room
Formerly the garage, now the “garden room,” as it gives onto the porch and garden.
Bee Cottage master bedroom
Master bedroom. The half-canopy disguises where the wall angles in under the roof.
Bee Cottage dresser
The old fireplace niche was converted into a dressing table. I did a quickie collage with old calendar illustrations.

Some houses just are what they are, and you go with that. With tremendous help from designer Tom Samet, I decorated accordingly with a traditional, cottage-y feel, part Cotswolds-part Provence.

Bee Cottage guest room
Bee Cottage guest room, Leontine linens.
Bee Cottage guest bath
Guest bath, painted to resemble a beach cabana
Bee study and dressing room
Dressing room, study, and bedroom in a pinch.
Bee Cottage desk
Dressing room and study
Bee Cottage window box
Boxwood, pachysandra, and ivy

A glorified garden shed is sort of how I think of it. Keeps the house (and me) from getting uptight. The point of a house, after all, is to shelter body and soul.

You can see more of Bee Cottage, and the garden – the garden! – on my Instagram and Pinterest boards, too. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


    1. Thank you Yvonne! And I’ve just been to your blog and so enjoyed seeing your wonderful work! Wow! I love watercolor and am trying this year to do more of it, and I’ve also gotten back into oils. I am not nearly as accomplished as you, but it is such an adventure! Thanks again so much for writing. I am happy and flattered to have you join us.

      1. Dear Frances
        When I read the passionate words of your cottage I thought it was me speaking . I am an Interior Designer having worked over fifty years with two of the largest and best chains of Hotels of India
        M’y home was built in 1962 . I inherited from my parents . It’s my temple my sacred space my life story ! Would love u to visit if ever u come to India

      2. Dearest Nimi, Thank you so much for writing and how gratifying it is to hear that our spirits clearly resonate together. I would love to see your house when I return to India. I don’t know when that will be, but I thank you for your lovely invitation, and may I return the same to you, if you come to New York or California. Warmly, Frances

  1. I am in love with the kitchen. I wish it were mine! Where oh where did that super cute rug come from? The pops of yellow had me at hello too. I’m in total awe!

    1. All colors are Benjamin Moore. Walls are Powder Sand. Cabinets, Manchester Tan. Window mullions, Shale. Pale blue color is Palladian Blue. Dark turquoise color is Galapagos Turquoise…. Thanks so much for your kind words, Tammy, and for taking the time to write. 🙂

  2. I am in love with the paint color in the study. Is that Palladian Blue? What steps were taken to lacquer the walls? Thanks so much!

    1. Jane, Thanks so much for writing. You have a good eye. The study color is indeed Palladian Blue. But there is no lacquer. I just used high-gloss enamel — it’s very effective and much less expensive. All good wishes to you, Frances

  3. I have really enjoyed your Bee Cottage column in House Beautiful. It has introduced to me the concept of maximizing the space you have, not just considering additions to a home. I think my favorite room in your home is the green room with the different patterns represented. It is so fresh and elegant!

  4. I love your creative and practical home. You have fantastic decorating ideas. Thank you for sharing these with us.

  5. Bee Cottage is SO charming. The scale and proportion of everything in it, perfect. Nothing beats green and blue together and I will always check in on Bee Cottage for my g & b fix. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Hey Frances, Alley Oop would have loved the Hamptons! I love following you and feeling like I know a celeb. You have the best taste and I have been following you for years! I, too, love blue and white. May I send you a picture of my small cottage in the village of Pinehurst. Let me know where I can mail it too, nothing as perfect as yours I assure you! Love Sally

    1. Hello, Sally, and thank you for your note and for your kind words. I am very flattered. By all means please send me pictures of your cottage in Pinehurst. I would love to see it. You have great style and you always have. Check you email for the address! Can’t wait to see it – thanks again, Frances

  7. I have been carrying aroung the picture of your cottage ever since it was published in the magazine because I loved it so. But now I know that there was more to it. It was simply meant to be as I have found a similar cottage here in Charlottesville, Virginia. I would love to know if the blue on the back wall in the kitchen is the Palladian Blue you used in the study? I, too ,have a galley kitchen which definitely needs a pick me up!! I look forward to your response
    Thanks so much, Brooke Taylor

    1. Dear Brooke, Thanks so much for your kind words! Here’s to the “law of attraction” and your finding your cottage in C’Ville! Congratulations! I’d love to see a picture. Yes the blue in the kitchen is indeed Palladian blue (good eye!). I find that continuing a palette throughout the house, regardless of its size, enhances its sense of continuity and harmony. Good luck with your project and keep us posted. Warmly, Frances

    1. Hello Lisa, the shutters are Benjamin Moore Mountain Laurel. Thank you so much for writing! Best wishes, Frances

  8. would like to know this beautiful color on the master bedroom wall. looks like a greyish-blue. Iam trying to figure out which paint color to use on the wall to create that cottage feel . Lennox tan or this greyish blue? (the room has brown carpet)
    suggestions would be so helpful ! i love your cottage.
    kathleen (

  9. or do i leave the walls a china white color and play with the tan and blues for accessories???? please help, thanks again-kathleen

    1. Hi Kathleen! The bedroom wall color is Benjamin Moore Wedgewood Gray, and you are right, it’s a great color. Funny I’ve found I like it better on the EAst Coast than the West, which is to say how you paint the wall depends so much on how the color reacts with the light in and around the room. And sometimes you just don’t know til you try it. If painting the whole room scares you, try painting just one wall, or a very large sample on one wall and live with it a while. If you like it, go for it; if you don’t, paint over it. I did paint our entire bedroom at the ranch (in California) only to paint it white again a few months later.

  10. I adore your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lamps. Did you make them yourself? Or do you have a source where I might buy them?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hello Rachel, and thank you for writing! I had the lamps made and they are glued to wooden bases cut in the contour of the base of the dog. A simple DIY version might be simply to place them on wooden bases fitted to a lamp kit. The dogs wouldn’t even have to be fixed on the bases; they could just be placed there or attached lightly with museum putty or similar. Let me know if pursue! Cheers, Frances

  11. New to your everything you do…still reference several of your books for ideas. (Atlanta home and table) also you have my granddaughter interest and your fan…..she in Hawaii….and potential designer ..wants all my books when I die

    1. Hey Linda! Thank you and so nice to her from you and of your granddaughter(!). And yes I do miss Hotlanta! Please keep in touch, and thank you again for your kind words, Frances

  12. I love that blackboard! And when can we pre-order the book? Love Bee Cottage, it’s warm, homey, elegant and oh, so cozy! In 8th grade I did a paper on bees, fascinating little creatures, wish I still had the illustrations my Mom did for that project. To Bee or Not To Bee … sorry, could not resist!

    1. Thank you dear Barbie! I will keep you posted on the book. I have to sit still long enough to finish it and am giving myself til the end of July. I’m guessing Fall of ’14 or thereabouts. Seems like forever but will be here tomorrow! Thank you for asking. Love, Frances

  13. Frances, I am in love with your beautiful cottage; have been since you ran that series in House Beautiful years back. When is your book coming out; can I preorder yet on Amazon? Thank you, oh talented one.

    1. Dear Joan,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. The book, fingers crossed, will be out in the fall of ’14, and I will let you know! count on it! Thank you sooo much for your interest, and watch this space, as they say 😉
      xo Frances

  14. Frances,
    Your Bee Cottage is so totally charming. I would love to create an illustration for you of it with your permission.

    1. Hello Patricia and thank you! I am a fan of your work and am flattered you would like to illustrate my little ol’ Bee Cottage. Have at it – Can’t wait to see it! Will communicate with you privately about the details. Thanks and warm regards, Frances

  15. Love your cottage…how fortunate you are to have something so special. New to your site. Friend and neighbor, Lynn Ziglar, just forwarded your website to me…along with the lemon pie recipe!!

    1. Hi Theresa, thank you so much for this and for your kind words. Please give that Lynn my love! Happy to have you as a reader! Frances

    1. Why thank you Elizabeth! Honestly I’m embarrassed to say I’ve forgotten. I believe it is concrete, but when I get back East at some point I will check on it.

  16. Frances,
    I love your blog. I am new to the computer and not very savvy. You have made every thing so easy. Can’t wait for your book in 2014.
    Do you have other books? I am alone now and my life has changed so much. I had to move this
    year to an apartment, but God has blessed me in so many ways. I am so happy to subscribe to your
    blog. You have such beautiful taste.

    I stay inside a lot. Books are my friends

  17. I love the name of your cottage…Bee Cottage…it sets the tone of the interior…..enjoyed reading your blog….so ready for your new book…..bring it on!!! Hope to meet you in person in 2014….I am from NC as well…love it here…..on the Pamlico River……take care of yourself!!

  18. We are looking for a paint color and love your cottage. Can you tell us what the exterior color is? thanks for sharing

    1. Did anyone find out what the color of the outside of the house is…Looks like a grayish color… Thanks Linda Householder

      Wayne Maine

      1. Hello, Linda, and thank you for writing! The exterior of Bee Cottage is close to 100-year-old stucco, I’m afraid, and not painted. You should have luck approximating the color in the gray/taupe family, perhaps with a pinkish tinge. Paint large samples on cardboard or scrap wood and lean them against the surface you want to paint so you can see how the light plays over it during the day, and learn which one grows on you. good luck! Frances

  19. I have followed you for years and love your style. My dining room is finally speaking to me and actually asked for green curtains! Would you share the manufacturer/pattern of the fabric you used in your living room? Thank you!

    1. Dear Elisa, thanks so much for writing and for your kind words! Sorry to say the fabric files for Bee are there, and I am not. I can get back to you in several weeks time if you’ll send me a reminder — but meantime you might just find a simple linen-cotton blend that will work for you – because that is all it is, and they are lined to give them a little more body. Let me know, and good luck, Frances

  20. Hello Frances!! I adore you home!! Can you please, please let me know where you found the adorable blackboard in your kitchen?? I love it’s simplicity!! Thanks in advance!!

    1. Dear Clara, Thank you so much for writing and my apologies for the delay. Gosh I have a floor plan but I’m afraid it is at the house and here I am in California. I will see if I can put my hands on one. Please check back with me in a month or so. Thanks again, Frances

  21. Love your beautiful Bee Cottage, thank you for sharing! We live in a similar looking cottage, but it needs a lot of love and your pictures have inspired me. Can you let me know whether or not you had to clean the exterior of the house at all, and what you found worked? There are some age old stains on the stucco that I would love to have removed if possible! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Colby, it is such a pleasure to know you are inspired and that I might have helped in some small way. We did not clean the stucco on Bee Cottage, and I guess my thinking was the discoloration and odd stain added to the patina. But there are stains and there are stains. I did find this entry on Wiki-how that seemed pretty good: Hope you find it useful. Let me know how it goes. Frances

    1. Yes ma’am Miss Ally, will email it to you in the next few days. I am travelling, so if you don’t hear from me, nudge me again. And good idea to include iy in the site, as several people have asked. Thank you and Merry Christmas 🙂

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