Bee Cottage: A Cozy Home in East Hampton

Frances Schultz, a contributing editor to House Beautiful magazine, describes her home as “a humble 1920s stucco cottage in East Hampton, New York, with asymmetrical, elfin-size rooms and low (eight-foot) ceilings.”

She dubbed it Bee Cottage “because bees are drawn to beauty and are industrious, social, and focused. It’s about being present, in the moment. Just be(e), honey.” Love that. Let’s take a look!

Frances says, “My first decision was to preserve its cheerful, cozy spirit. No knocking out walls or ceilings or rearranging the floor plan.” To give you an idea of what the house looked like when she bought it, here’s the living room before:

And here’s how the living room looks now:

The upstairs study has both a desk she can work at and a daybed for visitors:

The bedrooms were so tiny in the house that she combined two of them to make one spacious master. Here it is before:

And now:

In this little arched niche, she added a mirror and turned it into a kind of vanity:

Love the built-in drawers in the upstairs hallway:

The Guest Bedroom and Bath:

She says that she went against the decorating dictum that you shouldn’t use high-gloss paint on imperfect walls because she likes that reflective quality it has in small rooms.

Here’s how the kitchen, which was a 1960 addition, looked before Frances got her hands on it:

Look at how charming that same galley kitchen looks now:

Tom Samet, a decorator and friend, helped her along the way. I love this little seating area they fit into the kitchen:

There’s a butler’s pantry that was being used as a laundry room. I’m guessing this may have been the kitchen before the other one was added on. Here it is before:

And now:

The pool looks so elegant with these fountains that she added:

House Beautiful magazine has featured all of the before and afters of the cottage as part of an ongoing series. You can see photos of her dining room, which doubles as a library, on Frances Schultz’s website. (Thanks to Maggy for helping with this one!)

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  1. A.Men says

    Love everything she did to improve the cottage. Truly knows her business. Cozy and wonderful!

  2. says

    What a beautiful home she created and in such a lovely area! I will be looking into the dressers fitted into the hallway concept as we are still working on our own upstairs renovation…there were some great ideas coming out of this house.

  3. says

    I see this sweet little cottage every time I look at a House Beautiful magazine. It’s so nice to see more pictures from you! So charming:)


  4. says

    What a wonderful cottage! I love that she didn’t go overboard and ‘modernize’ it too much. So many times people buy a home for its ‘charm’ and then proceed to rip all the charm right out of it!

  5. diana says

    Totally charming… definitely demonstrates bigger is not better… you can live,entertain, and work in the wonderful home… perfect!

  6. says

    I love cottages and it’s nice to see a house in the Hamptons that’s not a 7,000 square foot shingled copy of a cottage.

    • says

      Totally agree, Patience. Give me this cozy cottage over those mammoth constructions any day. Inside and out, Bee cottage is so warm and inviting; a perfect place to call home.

  7. Barbara says

    Absolutely lovely! I’m going to model my home on this, as mine is small as well. I love how she did not knock down walls for the popular “open” look and kept to the original plan. It’s perfect that way. Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. jennifer says

    Cute! Not crazy about the shiny walls or the all blue room (ceiling too)?

  9. Kymberly says

    Beautiful and well done although the pessimist in me always wonders how much the special lenses and angles used in pro photography do to “help” the illusion of spaciousness along? <- Still loving it though. :)

    Also not sure how "“My first decision was to preserve its cheerful, cozy spirit. No knocking out walls or ceilings or rearranging the floor plan.” works with "combined two rooms to make a master."

    I'm not trying to nit-pick semantics. Truly curious. Beautiful coverage as always!

  10. says

    I loooove the built-in drawers in the hallway! If we are ever able to build our own home, I want built-ins wherever I can have them. Her kitchen is stunning too. :)

  11. Maddie says

    I love this house. Frances made so many wonderful choices, and it shows how you can really have a beautiful, livable home on a smaller scale. I looked forward to her Bee Cottage column each month in HB to see what new rooms she would tackle. My only complaint was that the pictures were small in the magazine and there weren’t nearly enough. Thank you so much for grouping all the pictures together for me to save to my lap top idea scrapbook .

  12. Jared says

    I absolutely love it! I would have no problem whatsoever living there, I really don’t mind small spaces. I think I’d actually prefer a perfectly adorable house like this rather than a big mansion. So much easier to maintain!

  13. Lisa says

    Does any one know where the rug in the master bedroom is from? I LOVE it!

  14. says

    I could retire in a house like this and “bee” content for the rest of my life! (sorry for the horrible pun)

    Absolutely lovely!

  15. Bridget says

    I love the house. But I think I’d love it more with less furniture inside.

  16. whislerpotpie says

    I have enjoyed the information about Bee Cottage in the magazine – so great to see more of it! Off to see your other cottage features…we live in a Storybook Tudor cottage and are working on our cottage gardening!

  17. says

    Good Morning! I have been following this in House Beautiful too. Thank you so much for pulling all of the images together. Such a sweet little hideaway!

  18. says

    This is the perfect fantasy cottage – whenever I’m overwhelmed (which is often!) I going to imagine myself there – alone!
    Mary x

  19. says

    Wow! Beautiful! I love everything about it, especially the paint colors. I want a little cottage I can fix up now!

  20. Elizabeth Ballinger says

    I agree with Mel Mel -it upsets me to see people buy a house for it’s charm and then rip it all out! I too love the built in bookshelves. This is my first posting on your website -but I’ve been reading it for a while now. You do a beautiful job and I’m glad I’m not alone in my love for houses and their interiors. Thanks so much!

  21. Mopsy says

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. I could move right in. I’m definitely going back and taking notes. Thanks for sharing this one!

  22. Sunny says

    Absolutely wonderful! Must disagree with her on the use of glossy-sheened paints, however. That teal bedroom–gah!

  23. shabbychick says

    This little cottage is big on charm! Is anyone else in love with that overstuffed striped sofa??? And I’m so envious of her collection of blue and white dishes! It all puts me in the mood for cookies and lemonade before a nap by the pool….ahhhhh :)

  24. Kelly says

    I’ve loved following this column as well, this little house is just divine! Give me this cottage with that beautiful garden over a mansion any day!!!

  25. Kim says

    What a beautiful and charming cottage. It looks like a place that would be used in a tv show or movie.

  26. says

    What a charming little cottage! Loved every bit of it. Thanks for sharing. Hope your evening is grand. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  27. Maggy says

    Lovely post, Julia! Guess I don’t have to tell you how impressed I was of the thoughtful renovation Frances gave “Bee Cottage” .. so many wonderful ideas, and her porch and gardens are to die for! I read in her blog that there is a final, online-only installment of the “Bee” series planned in December, with a flip-book of pictures and design tips, etc. Can’t wait!

  28. says

    Oh my goodness, Julia and Maggy! This is the nicest thing I’ve ever seen or read. Thank you. And thank all of you for your kind words! To clear up the “combined two rooms for the master suite,” the rooms are combined only in that they both serve “the master.” One room is a dressing area and study, while the other is the actual bedroom. They are still separate rooms, across a little hall from each other. No walls were moved and floorplan unchanged. Sometimes clarity is sacrificed to brevity. Thank you for calling this out, and no apologies for nit-picking about semantics! Semantics are important.

    • says

      So nice to hear from you, Frances! Thanks for clearing up the master suite thing. I didn’t catch that distinction. Love your cottage! :-)

    • rob whitaker says

      hands down my favourite cottage ever, its kind of odd how the english cottage look got developed into US cottage style, and the americans do cottage style so much nicer (you only have to think of Ralph Lauren to see how the US interprests brit style better then we do here!). its beautiful. i’d like coffee at your breakfast table in the kitchen after a long sleep in that beautiful bed. well enough of being goldie locks, back to work in wet wet england. thanks julia and frances.

  29. Brenda says

    Such a great cottage, warm and cozy. Thanks for the post, Julia

  30. says

    Amazing transformations!! I love the green living room!! And the kitchen is beautiful!!

  31. jodi from new jersey says

    I love this cottage and I did catch it on “Nate”. Love Nate ,too. I’m working on getting up the nerve to send him some kind of house proud thing . Thanks for a fun post.

  32. Carolyn says

    I, too, have been following this in HB and loving it. I find it particularly interesting because it’s similar to my house – a 1920’s Cape Cod with three dormers in the front. I haven’t changed any of my original floor plan either and I have my dining room table off center as well because of the traffic flow. I totally concur with Mel Mel above. It always floors me when I see prospective buyers on House Hunters saying they want an older house with original charm, and then they’re horrified by the small bathrooms and kitchens and old tile or a crack in the plaster. Really, what are they expecting? I’m glad Frances clarified about the expanded master bedroom – I do think I remember reading about that in the magazine, now that I think about it. I think the landscaping and pool are pretty amazing, and I adore the shutters and gate color.

  33. Wendy says

    What a lovely, bright, airy, cozy, open, friendly home she’s created. I love the garden too. I was puzzled by two things, though. Did she put in a second kitchen in the old butler’s pantry? That confused me. And I also thought there was a lot of peculiar placement of chairs in the photos. Like in front of the beds! Strange. And one yellow upholstered chair just sitting out right next to the stove. Who would do that? That pretty yellow would last until the first time you fried bacon…

    Beautiful house. Beautiful post.

    • Mimi says

      You might not realize that when photo stylists show up to shoot a house, they frequently rearrange items to include things in a photo (to show color or style concepts for their magazine “story”) that might not be there normally. For the same reason, they sometimes add items that don’t belong to the homeowner (that the editors bring & take with them before & after the shoot). When things look peculiarly placed, they’ve probably been placed by a stylist just for the photo.

  34. Mary says

    WOndering if you could share the blue kitchen paint color wit us?! Beautiful renovation…thank you!

  35. Nita says

    I’ve always loved her column and have been looking for all the rooms. Isn’t it sweet?

  36. says

    Hi Julia! I’ve been following Bee Cottage all year in the magazine- it’s great to see these nice big photos! Love it!

  37. says

    What a charming cottage! That tufted blue chair in the master is to-die-for! And that kitchen! Gorgeous! Thanks for the beautiful post.

  38. susie DeBor says

    Love this cottage. Would love to find the Bee tray in her living room. Any help?

  39. Beth A says

    It’s perfect. Why don’t builders of new homes ever make something like this?

  40. says

    I’ll be sad to see the last of Bee Cottage in HB. I love the way Frances brings a southern accent to this adorable Hamptons cottage, and how she filled it with things she loves. I’m totally over the whole beige/greige Belgian sparse thing. Give me color, knickknacks and REAL books and worn Oriental rugs any day.

  41. Elisha says

    I’ll add my name to the long list of people who’ve been following the progression of the Bee Cottage. I hadn’t previously seen a picture of the niche/vanity in the master (GREAT idea!) I’ll have to steal that one. Though I would add a small drawer underneath to store stuff so not so much would have to be on top. Cute!

  42. Susan says

    Makes me feel like I’m looking in a fairy tale house–I love cottages!

  43. Maureen says

    Quite charming; my favorite image is the last. However, while I like her use of color, I am a little bewildered by the patterns (both striped and geometric).

    Also struck by how the details could go from feeling overly placed (two faux starfish behind that darling blue chair) to marvelously organic (mismatched paintings reflected in the vanity).

  44. Terri says

    Any idea of what that divine blue/green color is on the ceiling in the butler’s pantry? Same as the guest bedroom? I love it. The house is full of charm.

  45. says

    …this is absolutely my favorite house!
    so so charmed by the designer as well

  46. Ashley says

    This is absolutely adorable! I especially love the kitchen!
    I can’t tell what the counter tops are made of…are they dark (like a black color) or are they wooden?

  47. says

    I love these little cottages! And how sweet she has made this one. I’m so glad to see she left the original floor plan largely intact. I’ve seen so many homes that were mucked with and just look awful now as a result. This one is keeper and a charmer. Kudos.

  48. Mimi says

    The “canopy” treatment is a brilliant solution to making a bed “fit” a problematic dormer ceiling slope (the bed extends beyond the slope & the slope doesn’t allow room for a headboard. I love what she’s done with every room in the cottage & the property’s landscaping & cottage garden – from the layout & space planning to the color palette & decor details, so many brilliant & charming touches throughout. Thank you for this lovely post