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Archive for July, 2012

The Art of the Deal!

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Hail, Britannia!

To celebrate the Queen's jubilee and the Olympics, John and I transformed our hall into a shrine that celebrates all things British. Hail, Britannia! We plan to take the space Indian in the fall, so stay tuned. Switch out your artwork frequently... Why not, n'est-ce pas?


I hope you are having a very spiffy weekend. We are about to hop in the car and head up to Boston and Maine for a week: I cannot wait for a little New England sojourn. Think lots of fried clams, antiques shopping, and Yankee-styled cocktails. And I am thrilled to re-visit favorite spots such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and the fabulous Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

John and I were up early this morning and started re-hanging artwork (Our neighbors are out of town, so it’s OK!). We love to change up our displays of prints, photographs, and lithographs to keep our walls constantly evolving, and, yes, you should try this at home. We use small picture hanging nails so that our walls don’t get too dinged up, and we map out our plan on a piece of paper before we break out the hammer.

Here’s a lovely piece that recently did on me and John  and how we hang artwork (click on the image, below). Give it a read, and maybe pick up some fun suggestions along the way. And if you do decide to re-hang some of your artwork, send us photos of your handiwork.

Have a fabulous week ahead!

Art of the Deal!

Click on the image, above, to read's feature on the Madcap Cottage boys and how we hang artwork.


Give It Up for Gladys!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Glorious Gladys!

Here's our sublime new statue, Gladys, at our pal Vincent Manzo's shop, The Yard Sale, in East Hampton circa summer 2011. Gladys finally arrived on our doorstep in Brooklyn today. Bitch must have walked from the Hamptons, good grief! Now this vintage sculpture resides in our backyard...


You might remember from a post last summer that John and I paid a visit to the Hamptons and purchased a very inexpensive and quite chic garden statue at our pal Vincent Manzo’s divine store, The Yard Sale, in East Hampton. We named the winsome lady, Gladys, and we were excited to welcome her into our garden in Brooklyn.

Sadly, due to many reasons (including our crazy-ass travel schedule), Gladys languished at The Yard Sale for many months, and summer 2012 soon rolled around. But, happily, Gladys arrived in Brooklyn today, and the little lass is now basking amongst the greenery in our garden.

Every garden could use some whimsy, some fun, a focal point. Why not add a sculpture or perhaps a gnome or maybe a found object that ignites a conversation to your yard. And, no, that was not a question.

All hail, Gladys! We plan to adorn you in flower necklaces and light candles in your honor.

Empty Nest!

Our backyard looked lonely before the arrival of the whirling dervish named Gladys who zipped in from the Hamptons and plans to stay put.

Base Pleasures!

Our mover, Eric, sets Gladys' base in place. Gladys is a looker, but she and her perch are heavy, capital "H."

Carrying Miss Gladys!

Chester and Eric carry the swooning Gladys into position in our backyard.

Twist and Shout!

Eric positions the coy Gladys. Look at that Gladys displaying her leg like Miss Angelina Jolie on the Red Carpet at the Oscars. Gladys is going to be trouble, I can already tell.

Go, Go, Gladys!

Gladys takes a stand amongst the hydrangeas and iris-filled urns. Sadly, the poplar trees behind Gladys snapped during last week's storm, and we had to cut them way back. Hopefully, the poplars will get leafy again and won't need to be replaced. Stay tuned.


Time for a Little Kitchen DIY!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Kitchen Confidential!

The summer issue of Do It Yourself magazine features John's renovation of his brother and sister-in-law's kitchen in Minneapolis. Scroll down to the "Kitchen Wisdom" link at the bottom of the installment to access the pdf of the story, packed with loads of ideas.


As you probably know, John is a contributing editor at several of the Meredith Corporation’s various magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens. He also produces articles for the likes of Do It Yourself magazine, a terrific and color-filled publication that gives readers gobs of, natch, do-it-yourself options.

The summer issue of Do It Yourself features a fun and whimsical kitchen that John designed for his brother and sister-in-law in Minneapolis.

Here are some of his tips:

-Be bold with color.

-Top it with tin.

-Clean up your cabinets.

To read the whole story and to get some terrific ideas to bring into your home, click on the pdf, Kitchen Wisdom.


P.S. We are so excited to follow our good pal and Meredith Corporation editor Lacey Howard’s upcoming trip to London and the Olympics on her blog, Howardgirlshopthepond. Check it out!


Shaking Our Moneymakers for Tobi Fairley!

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Fairley Tame!

Be sure to read our guest installment on the lovely interior designer Tobi Fairley's blog. John and I were asked our Expert Advice, and so we gave it, and gave it good. Click on the image, above, to read our wry martini of a linguistic cocktail.


I hope you have had a fabulous, relaxing weekend! John and I are upstate and have been getting Madcap Cottage into order: The recent heatwave has our plants needing some major TLC, so we have been watering wildly and drinking wine all weekend. Happily, my dance card is nearly empty this week, so I plan to spend much of the upcoming few days happily ensconced in tiny Hobart, New York.

Today, John and I woke up to a lovely and generous blog installment from our pal Tobi Fairley, the Little Rock, Arkansas-based interior designer who also has her well-manicured hands in all sorts of other businesses. Tobi has been running a series on “Expert Advice” on her blog, so she graciously asked me and John to offer up the goods on what we have learned along the way.

And, as you know, we are no shrinking violets when it comes to offering advice. We are tempestuous tulips and reckless roses to paraphrase E.M. Forster. Give us a microphone, and we will probably pole dance whilst reciting William Carlos Williams poetry as we shake our moneymakers hither and yon and yon again.

So little did Tobi Fairley know what she was getting into when she gave us her platform.

Let’s get down and dirty, designerati.

Read it and weep. Hopefully, as you chuckle.

Enjoy… And thank you, Tobi!


Old School New York!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

What's Old is New!

Read my story in the current of Delta Sky magazine on throwback eateries in New York City. I love dining out old-school style, n'est-ce pas? Put on the suit and pour me some cocktails and pronto. Curiously, John never wants to give me $50 for a trip to the powder room... Click on the image, above, to read the whole story.


Let’s put on another hat today, my hat as a lifestyle writer… Of course, it’s a big old hat with lots of feathers and bows and trim and such. Would you expect anything less?

In the current issue of Delta Sky magazine, I penned a story about Old School Eats, places where you can dine to channel NYC back in the day, a day when there were captains at restaurants and waiters wore tuxedos and tables were well-spaced. Think restaurants with glorious interiors and gobs of flowers and barstools perfect for perching.

Oh, the glamour! I love nothing more than dining out at a throwback joint.

Take a read, and be sure to visit these spots on your next trip to NYC, if only for a cool cocktail at the bar.


A Gorgeous Little Mention!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Let's Get Cozy!

The lovely and talented Nashville style setter Madison Murray Carlos featured our Brooklyn home on her fabulous blog, Cozy Majestic. Wow, what a glamorous treat. Click on the image, above, to see Madison's whole posting. So fun!


My “Dining Chair Dilemma” post sparked lots of feedback, and the consensus seems to be that I did the right thing by buying the plastic sleeve covers for the chairs. Ghetto fabulous, n’est-ce pas?

Moving on… Today, the lovely Madison Murray Carlos showcased our Brooklyn row house on her divine blog, Cozy Majestic, and John and I are over the moon. Madison has such lovely things to say about the Madcap Cottage gents.

Let’s see:

“If I could have anyone swoop into our little bungalow on the hill here in Nashville and put their magic touch on everything, it would be them.”

“Some commonly used phrases on their blog, Demystifying Design, include “Egads!,” “How droll!,”"Ooh la la!,” and “Bang bang, babycakes.” Does it get any better than that, y’all?”

I am just crazy for Madison. I think need a stiff cocktail right this very second to toast this fabulous post. Let’s bust out the Popov and pour 12 fingers. But no ice, it takes up too much room that the vodka could be occupying, n’est-ce pas?

Thank you, Madison! Bottoms up…



A Dining Chair Dilemma!

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Dining Room Delicious!

Here's our dining room in Brooklyn. John and I were inspired by the famous Gritti Palace hotel in Venice to craft something of an indoor garden with lots of Venetian references and whimsy in the space, and I think the results are wonderful. But the dining room chairs needed some work so that they wouldn't scratch the painted floor...


Happy Monday! Um, er. Well, anyhow, the week is off and running…

I am just crazy about our dining room. There’s a fabulous mix of patterns and colors, and the whole space is very soothing and cool and offers a sanctuary from the urban scene just outside the front door. I am especially partial to our vintage Venetian-style dining chairs that we purchased from our dear pal Frannie in California a few years back.

However, the dining chairs had me flummoxed.

Here’s the deal: Our dining room is floor is painted with Farrow & Ball paint, and I didn’t want to scratch the floor when we used the dining chairs. Hence, I hightailed it to Lowe’s for chair pads, the kind that have stickers and attach to the bottom of furniture. But after trying several different types of pads, none would stay put on the bottom of the chairs so I was constantly replacing them. How droll!

My solution? I found a company that creates clear plastic sleeve floor protectors. The small plastic “cap” slips over the leg of each chair and hugs the chair leg, and the felt pad at the bottom of the “cap” stays put as a result. It’s a little like a condom for a chair, albeit with a felt pad at the end.

And I am smitten! Our dining chairs now have felt pads that stay perfectly in place, and the floor has nary a scratch.

John thinks the sleeve floor protectors are sort of ghetto and remind him of slipcovering furniture with plastic, but I disagree.


Plastic Fantastic!

The clear plastic sleeve protector slips up over the chair leg and hugs the leg thereby keeping the felt pad at the bottom of the sleeve in place. Genius! Before you order a sleeve protector, double-check the measurement of your chair leg to make sure you purchase the correct size as the plastic doesn't have much "give."

Padding Perfection!

Here's a dining chair with the clear plastic sleeve protector attached. I barely notice the plastic "cap" that wraps each chair leg. The cushion of felt on the bottom of the sleeve protector slides wonderfully across the painted floor and has solved my woes. John disapproves, but I made an executive decision and the sleeve protectors are staying put.


Good Fences Make Good Neighbors!

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Privacy, Please!

Recently, our neighbors in upstate New York moved their driveway from the left-hand side of their yard to the right. We quickly realized that we would need more privacy, so John and I decided to install a picket fence and new plants to create some separation between the two yards.


I love a good picket fence. It’s so iconic American, and, unlike sky-high fences that close-off a yard, a picket offers plenty of see-through space without being off-putting. Plus, a picket fence is totally dynamic in its lines and rambling good looks and allows plants to poke through and vine about any which way.

Recently, our neighbors at Madcap Cottage in upstate New York installed a dirt driveway on the opposite side of the yard from where their driveway used to be located. And, sadly, our privet hedge that shaded the two yards wasn’t doing so well. So, instead of making a fuss, John and I decided to install a picket fence between our homes that would still allow for plenty of space to breathe but would also mask our neighbor’s driveway and create a semblance of privacy.

Happily, we found a terrific contractor, and the fence has been going in swimmingly. We will soon plant irises and ferns on the neighbor’s side of the fence and Siberian privet on our side of the picket. John and I are upstate next weekend and cannot wait to get started on planting and fine-tuning our newly enclosed yard. Stay tuned for more images.

As they say, Good fences make for good neighbors. Sign us up!

Hence, Fence!

Here's the fence in the middle of installation. Looking good, n'est-ce pas? A picket fence offers some privacy without closing in a yard, and a picket perfectly mirrors the classic American lines of our 1840s-era former schoolhouse.

Plants, Please!

I cannot wait to plant a less cold-sensitive variety of privet hedge on our side of the new fence, and irises and ferns on our neighbor's side. We positioned the fence so that there would be plenty of room for plantings on both sides of the picket fence.


Let’s Go A-House Hunting!

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Houses Beautiful!

The fabulous folks at 1st Dibs have run a feature on the Madcap Cottage boys in their "House Hunting" section... Check it out. Click on the image, above, to read the multi-page feature on little old us. Click through the various pages of the feature at the bottom of the page. What a delicious treat!


Whew, John and I are just back from a few weeks in Florida, and, as you can see from our Pinterest posts, we had a lovely drive up the East Coast back to NYC as we hit various antiques and consignment shops (and BBQ joints!) along the way. Frankly, I plan to spend more time in Tampa: Life in NYC is just too complicated and stressful. And there are such amazing sources for vintage furniture in the F.L.A! But more on all of that later.

We returned to Brooklyn late last night and received a lovely e-mail from the divine folks at 1st Dibs that our “House Hunting” feature had just gone live. Assuredly, you know the 1st Dibs website, THE go-to source for the world’s finest antiques and vintage jewelry and fashion… as well as real estate listings for the world’s chic-est homes. But if you don’t know 1st Dibs, let this be an introduction.

I hope you enjoy our usual sass and wit as John and I discuss a few of our favorite properties for sale on the 1st Dibs website.

And now I have to go deal with a mountain of mail…


The Marvelous Minarets of Tampa!

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

A Taste of the Exotic!

The glorious minarets of the former Tampa Bay Hotel hover mirage-like over the skyline of my hometown of Tampa, Florida. The sprawling former hostelry--now home to the University of Tampa--is truly a stunner, and a visit to the building's Henry B. Plant Museum is a must.


I am slowly starting to re-appreciate my hometown of Tampa, Florida, a city that I really did not like for a long time. And why I didn’t like this burg, I am not quite sure. Was it Thomas Wolfe who said that you can’t go home again?

Little by little, though, I am beginning to enjoy Tampa’s charms, not the least of which is its airport, one of the best anywhere. There are wonderful eateries like Mise en Place and Restaurant BT, and I am just crazy about the glorious Tampa Theatre, one of the country’s pre-eminent movie palaces with its 1920s-era swags and flourishes. There are terrific consignment shops, and I love to zoom across the bay to St. Petersburg and Sarasota. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up spending more time at my parents’ guest house in leafy and historic Hyde Park. Just not during the upcoming RNC to-do…

Today, my parents and I went for a lovely brunch at Sono, the cafe at the city’s architecturally stunning Tampa Museum of Art. I love the view at Sono across the Hillsborough River that looks onto the historic University of Tampa, housed within the absolutely stunning former Tampa Bay Hotel. Crafted by railroad magnate Henry Plant in 1891, the massive, quarter mile-long brick-clad edifice features stunning minarets and other Islamic influences–including divine fretwork–that create a vaguely Morocco-meets-Istanbul in the heart of downtown Tampa.

I am totally inspired by the university’s massive minarets that reach skywards and that are topped with glorious crescent moon motifs. Watch for these stunning motifs to start appearing in the designs of Madcap Cottage… Perhaps on the back of a chair, in fabric, and carved into a table…

And in an upcoming blog installment, I will write about a recent visit to the Henry B. Plant Museum, housed within the former Tampa Bay Hotel that captures the lost glamour of the hotel when it welcomed the who’s-who of the Gilded Age to Tampa via railroad.

Tip, Top Turret!

A view of the University of Tampa from the Tampa Museum of Art, a stunning building created by architect Stanley Saitowitz that sits just across the Hillsborough River from the former hotel.

Al Fresco Elegance.

Here's the stunning porch at the former Tampa Bay Hotel. I am mad for the intricate wood fretwork that wraps the porch with its Islamic arches and decorative motifs. Stunning, n'est-ce pas?