Design & Décor, Living with Style


Frances Schultz on ‘Beeing’ Happy at The Bee Cottage

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

One of life’s greatest pleasures is re-connecting with friends from past lives. Frances Schultz and I had known each other in Atlanta thirty years ago; she was with Southern Living, I had my catalog company, Papillon. Two young career girls who would both go on to write books, live in New York, work for magazines…not at the same time, though.

frances_wm

We had lost touch, but still managed to take notice when “news” surfaced. Her latest news is a charming, elegantly-sized part memoir, part decorating guide titled, The Bee Cottage Story, for which she was just honored by the Horticultural Society of New York.

bee-cottage

Frances’ years as a writer and world traveler, coupled with her long-standing associations with House Beautiful, Veranda and Southern Living, as well as her books on decorating and entertaining (one of her first books, Atlanta at Table, included our farm in Covington, Georgia) have well-served her in the story-telling genre.

The Bee Cottage is a tiny, tiny East Hampton shingled house that is packed with light, color and Frances’ brand of joie de vivre.

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

The Bee Cottage Story is pure Frances, loaded with practical advice, accompanied by whimsical watercolor drawings and written with wit and soul (in spades!)

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

Her ‘before and afters’ are especially instructive.

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro
The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

But it is the subtitle of her book that speaks volumes and is the first reason to grab this book…before it goes out of print, again… “How I made a muddle of things and decorated my way back to happiness.” And the sub-subtitle could just as well be…

“There is no magic pill for a muddle-free existence, but there may be a way to keep one muddle from spilling into another.”

As Charlotte Moss (another Southerner) put it in one of the many testimonials on the book’s back cover: “Frances Schultz is a rare, straight talking Southern belle of a bird.” This talent was what had the large audience at the Horticultural Society luncheon both laughing and crying at the same time, hearing her tell her stories in her own words, sharing the sentiments, failures and successes of her life and career. Giving an audience the chance to hear her life in “plain speak” is an art form that makes you want to run up and hug her.

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

Yes, this is a bit of a book review, but it’s really highlights of the lessons and wisdom that she so eloquently expresses in The Bee Cottage Story. We all need to read this! Here are my favorite “Living 101” quotes from Frances.

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

“Maybe it is not so much perfect bliss we seek, but rather self-awareness. The Buddhist principle of detachment from self-imposed suffering is in its essence the ability to recognize our own neurotic patterns and step aside from them. We aren’t necessarily “cured” of them; we just aren’t caught up in them. The openness and effort to learn sustains our momentum to grow and change.”

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

“By being true to who we are, we know who we can be. Being authentic allows us to see our soul’s blueprint, intuit our purpose, fulfill our mission, and make our hearts sing. Anything else is clutter. So the journey continues with another series of choices – not in paint colors and curtains, but in priorities, in recognizing what’s important, in winnowing away what no longer serves, in finding my own truth. At the end of the day, it’s all housekeeping.”

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

“It is one of life’s greatest reliefs – right up there with the ending of your child’s school play –  to realize that no one person or relationship can fulfill all your needs, much less mirror them. Just as no one person, situation, thing, or house will make you “happy,” as if happiness were an egg that hatches when you pick the right nest.”

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

 “The house,” whether cottage or castle, stands for who we are, how we live, and how we love ourselves and others. I wish for you a home you can be yourself in, and a self you can be at home in.”

The Bee Cottage Story
Photo Credit: Trevor Tondro

It’s not usually fair to give away the ending of a story, but when it’s as happy as this one you might thank me for bending the rule a bit. As Frances’ dedication in the book  said…”to Tom, our story is just begun.” (Pictured- Frances,  her sister Duval and her husband Tom Dittmer.)

The Bee Cottage Story

If you enjoy this article, please share it!
Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

11 thoughts on “Frances Schultz on ‘Beeing’ Happy at The Bee Cottage

  1. Loved this entry, BBP……Frances and her life/wisdom remind me of how satisfying are the simple things in life. Kudos for capturing this lovely lady so well.

  2. It seems that Frances has built her life on her own terms and in her own way and found happiness by doing so in the end!! Thank you Bettie!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

    1. Well said, Karena! It’s such a wonderful, feel good story…and Tom is a doll. Here’s to happy endings…

  3. Dear Bettie,

    I always love reading your precious, insightful and most eloquently written thoughts! And I just finished Francis’ latest, soul-revealing book.

    Both you and she are among the most charming of those charmed! And most special because I know you two live all the passion, care and style about which you both write!

    Thank you for being you and for your most coveted friendship!

    All hugs,

    Ellen Avellino

    1. THank you, thank you, dear one. And weren’t we lucky to be with Frances on that wonderful day? I was so inspired I wrote this journal piece on the train going home! She was very touched…xo B.

  4. Hi,
    I have been searching all over the green garden lattice wallpaper she used. Would you happen to know the name of this wallpaper?
    thank you

    1. Hi Christine, here’s the answer from Frances Schultz re. the wallpaper:
      Wallpaper is Carleton V Trellis and right there in caption on page 87

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *