Text by Lauren Eberle | Photography by William Dickey
Making the most of a small space became the ambition of this cottage-dwelling couple, who aimed to integrate their curated collections in a clever, uncluttered fashion.
When Brooke and Andrew Bell hosted their final supper club before moving from their 1940s cottage, the couple pulled long tables outside, lining them up in a farmhouse fashion for a beautiful evening of memory making under the stars. With 10 people around the table, the meal was delicious, the laughter was contagious, and the setup, Brooke reflects, was symbolic of the couple’s cottage lifestyle. “We were always looking for ways to make the most of a small space, and that’s where creativity came into play,” she says.
Brooke, a magazine editor, also lives in an edited, uncluttered way, taking great joy in solving how to best use her space. Take, for example, the Bells’ living area, a long rectangular expanse that positions the dining space on one end and the living space on the other. “Making rooms like this flow and function in two ways can be a challenge,” says Brooke, who chose to anchor the living area with a natural rug, statement art, and a furniture arrangement conducive to conversation while keeping the whole room cohesive with a calming neutral palette.
The heart of the Bell family’s home, positioned adjacent to the oft-used den, is a sunny kitchen featuring crisp cabinetry and clean countertops. A graduate of culinary school and an accomplished food writer and editor, Brooke knew she needed a hard-working kitchen that would still allow easy access to her guests.
After a decade in their home, the Bells discovered that they tended to spend more time in their cozy den surrounded by volumes of beloved books and an antique secretary-turned-bar. This clever alternative for a traditionally formal piece is complete with bar books, sterling jiggers, old horn bottle openers, a silver tray, and decanters.
Other family treasures are housed in a white corner cabinet, where Brooke’s collections of Florentine boxes, oyster plates, her grandmother’s milk glass, and ceramic vegetables offer both soft pops of color and complementary neutrals. Collections of oyster plates can be found in many Southern homes, especially near the ocean.
Brooke’s art selections, too, integrate her neutral sway. A set of six architectural renderings in matching frames hang above the mantel. “This was an easy way to have a strong focal point over the fireplace,” she explains, while fresh blooms complete the vignette. “I love to cut from the yard—choosing herbs, flowers, and other greenery. The whole process feels very Southern to me, and it’s the best way to literally bring the outside in.” Vessels range from a bud vase to the more creative sterling trophy and an old English pub cup. “My motto has always been simply to buy things that I love,” Brooke says. “I might not know exactly where they’re going to go, but I know if I love them, they’ll always have a place in my home.”
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