The Bee Cottage Story

Frances Schultz shares her personal journey of self-discovery through the restoration of her East Hampton cottage. In this excerpt Schultz reflects on a favorite room that perennially retains its gardeny flair with ever-changing furniture and fabric
The Bee Cottage Story
The Bee Cottage Story: How I Made a Muddle of Things and Decorated My Way Back to Happiness by Frances Schultz (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015)

What I call the Garden Room had once been the garage, and because it has the best light and views of any room in the house, this is where we would hang out—particularly in the mornings and in the warmer months.

So that’s where I put the television and the Sofa That Ate Long Island. My friend, designer Richard Keith Langham, had a tag sale a few years ago and I scored this fabulous HUGE sofa. It is 10 feet long and 4 feet deep. I must have been thinking I would save it for when I moved into Windsor Castle. Anyway, there it was and it was fine. It’s definitely comfy. You can hardly get out of the thing once you’re in it. It worked well with other Keith castoffs, over-scale arm chairs, and an over-size wing chair we call the Edith-Ann chair.

(For those old enough to remember the television show Laugh-In, comedienne Lily Tomlin’s little-girl character Edith Ann would sit in this enormous chair with her legs sticking straight out and impart her wisdom, always ending with “And dat’s de twoof,” then sticking out her tongue and making a poot kind of noise, like a whoopee cushion. I still think it’s funny.)

Compared to the rest of the house the garden room was practically a ballroom, with ceilings soaring up to 8 feet and a nice, almost square proportion. It seems counterintuitive to put a sofa and chairs so big in a room that size, but large-scale pieces can make small rooms seem bigger. I swear.

bee cottage frances shultz
An old chaise is given new life in a Manuel Canovas linen print. Author Frances Schultz, pictured in the large photograph on the wall, firmly believes that every place to sit also needs a light and a place to put down a book or a drink.

The wallpaper is graphic and bold, a departure from the more muted tones in the rest of the house. It gives the room a sense of destination, like a special but separate part of the house. Love a trellis, always have. So fresh and gardeny. It also worked with the old green striped slipcovers and is just as good with the later addition of a floral print. Geometrics have a way of accommodating both prints and solids and are always a great way to spiff up a room.

Sometimes you have to be willing to let a room surprise you, and also to let it change. Our rooms evolve as our lives evolve, and we go with that. It’s a way of getting un-stuck, acknowledging loss, accepting change, and moving forward.

Excerpt from The Bee Cottage Story: How I Made a Muddle of Things and Decorated My Way Back to Happiness by Frances Schultz (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015)

Photos by Trevor Tondro