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Your home is a TEMPLE, and we want to be the high priests.

Archive for the ‘Hotel design’ Category

Please Hold, Exciting Changes Afoot…

Friday, January 24th, 2014


Demystifying Design is evolving, we are taking the blog to the next level… It’s going to be bigger, bolder, and brighter. So stay tuned! We will be back this spring with a fabulous and frisky new look.

In the meantime, take a look at our website,, or join the conversation with us on social media.




Spend a Long Weekend with the Madcaps!

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Meet Us in Manhattan!

Enjoy a long weekend of fabulous lifestyle-themed events, tours, lectures, and insider "hotspots" in New York City with the Madcap Cottage gents this September 19-22!


John and I have lived in New York City for more than twenty years, and, truly, no one knows NYC better than the two of us. Don’t forget that I was the Editor in Chief of Gotham magazine, the city’s Bible for glamorous living, for almost ten years… We are constantly sniffing out the latest and the greatest.

Hence, it was only natural that John and I decided to celebrate the city in which we live by offering a lifestyle-themed long weekend during which we open up our little black book.

Think design.




Insider tours.


Meet and greets.

A glittering dinner at Madcap Cottage in Brooklyn.

A fabulous hotel…

And lots of surprises!

Is this a so-called “design camp?” Hello, no! It’s a long weekend for folks who want to enjoy the best that NYC has to offer. This is open to anyone, from designers to NYC aficionados to style mavens and foodies.

Thursday-Sunday. September 19-22.

Contact us at for more information and pricing.

It’s going to be one Madcap and Marvelous Weekend! Join us!

Let's Be Madcap!

See you in NYC come September!



Tip, Top Trellis!

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Height of Style!

Here's a trellis confection concocted by the legendary Elsie de Wolfe. Stunning, n'est-ce pas?


Welcome to summer! Let’s really make this a truly amazing season and celebrate delicious design.

John and I have been spending a lot of time in the garden with the dogs, so I am channeling a little al fresco fabulousness. My current obsession is trellis. I love it outdoors, but I especially love it indoors and am thinking to redo our foyer up at Madcap Cottage with a wonderful peony-wrapped Chinese wallpaper topped with a trellis from the folks at Accents of France.

Isn’t trellis just delicious?

Capital Style!

I spotted this trellis-wrapped ballroom at The Capital hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas on our recent trip to speak at Tobi Fairley's design camp. Look beyond the banal banquet tables and chairs, and soak up the perfection upon the walls!

Gorgeous at The Greenbrier!

John and I love nothing more than a visit to The Greenbrier, the fabled resort designed by Dorothy Draper in West Virginia. The Greenbrier is sort of design nirvana for us. Here's a clever use of trellis in a sitting room off of The Greenbrier lobby.

Potsdam Perfection!

A metal trellis-wrapped folly that John and I went ga-ga for at the Potsdam palace outside of Berlin. I want one of these. Pronto.

Westbury Wonderland!

If you haven't visited the home and gardens at the Old Westbury estate on Long Island, make a pilgrimage this summer. The estate is a stunner. Check out these gorgeous trellises that surround a lily pond at Old Westbury. Divine!


Putting on the Ritz!

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Paris When It Sizzles!

Here's John standing in the gorgeous Place Vendome outside the Hotel Ritz Paris last Christmas. We had just taken the overnight train from Berlin to Paris, and some R&R at the fabled Ritz certainly soothed our travel-weary selves.


Happy Election Day! John and I stood in line for 3 hours today to vote in Brooklyn… The situation was a mess… And there were no writing utensils to be had to fill-in the voting SAT exam-like “bubbles” once we made it inside. Happily, we happened to have a pen in our bag… Wow! Didn’t we learn anything from the whole “chad” situation a few years back?

On another–and more serene and lovely–note, I thought I would revisit our stay at the fabled Hotel Ritz Paris last holiday season. John and I are so lucky to experience some really amazing hotels, and the Ritz certainly ranks right up there. The Ritz recently closed for a multi-year renovation, so John and I were thrilled to stay for a few nights before the hostelry shuttered its doors for a top-to-bottom overhaul.

I have been to Paris many, many times, but I had never stepped foot inside the Ritz. Frankly, the hotel scared me. I figured that I would be looked down upon or told that the hotel was for guests only or something. But, no, I could not have been more mistaken: The staff was beyond lovely and gracious. There was none of the Parisian attitude that I have come to expect in the City of Lights. And our hotel room, although certainly ready for a bit of freshening up, was luxe and very spacious… And the views over the city were stunning. And don’t even get me started on the myriad call buttons scattered about the bedroom and bath to ring the maid and the valet. I delighted by sitting in the tub and pulling the cord entitled “Maid.”

I cannot wait to see the Ritz when it reopens in two years.

And now it’s time to open some wine and watch the election results…

Deluxe Digs!

Here's our very luxe bedroom on the top floor of the Hotel Ritz Paris. John and I loved all of the gold detailing... Very Marie-Antoinette, n'est ce-pas?

And So to Bed!

An assortment of buttons to push beside the bed. I kept pushing buttons, and John got mad every time there was a knock on the door because of my antics. The "femme de chambre" and I became quite close.

Room with a View!

Here's the stunning view from our room at the Ritz. The Vendome Column in the distance sits in the center of the famous Place Vendome, the Ritz's main entrance.

Marble Marvel!

Here's our marble-clad bathroom with its gold-plated swan faucets. I felt like the Queen of Sheba in this fabulous and over-the-top loo.

Maid in the Shade!

I loved these two pulls in the bathtub for ringing the Maid and the Valet. I want these at home, n'est-ce pas? Fabulous. The Maid was very accommodating and was more than happy to add more hot water to my tub.


Calling the Cotswolds!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Weenie the Wonder Dog!

Here's a totally non-sequitur image of Weenie, just because. Says Weenie, "The dog days are over." Get it, Weenie!


I hope you are having a sin-filled week.

John and I are in London and running around like modern-day Sloane Rangers and scoping out design trends and shopping for a client.

And while I am one half of the Madcap Cottage terrible twosome, I am also the Global Lifestyle Editor at Delta Sky magazine with its six million monthly readers. Wow, six million! Um, yep.

With that said, I thought you might enjoy reading a story I penned in the October issue of Delta Sky about my passion for the Cotswolds region of England. The Cotswolds simply rock. Chic, and picture perfect. And the gardens are simply glorious!

If you have never visited this fairy-tale region of England, book a trip. And pronto.

Here’s the piece!

Calling the Cotswolds!

I love nothing more than the Cotswolds region of England except maybe listening to some Lana del Rey. Read my story on the bucolic region in the October issue of Delta Sky magazine. Click on the image, above.


Memories of China!

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities.

Curious about the far-flung charms of China? Read my feature on Shanghai and Beijing, A Tale of Two Cities, that appears in the August issue of Delta Sky magazine. Scroll down to access a pdf of the story.


Good morning! I am in Florida and headed from Tampa to Sarasota to scope the fabulous Chinoiserie-style furnishings at the warehouse of one of our favorite sources.

But reading the Wall Street Journal this morning and the outcome of the Gu Kailai “trial” in China turns my thoughts back to our recent visit to Shanghai and Beijing (the Kailai scandal broke just as John and I arrived in Shanghai). I wrote a feature on our trip that is running in the current issue of Delta Sky magazine, and I thought you might enjoy reading about our adventures in this mixed-up, crazy, wonderful, and totally weird country.

Welcome to China!

Click on the pdf, below, to read about the Madcap Cottage gents’ adventures…

A Tale of Two Cities


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!


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.


Come Hear the Madcap Cottage Boys Speak!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Let's Talk Trends!

Come hear me and John talk design trends at the Hearst Tower on June 13th from 6pm-8pm. Plus, there will be cocktails, you can drink up, darling buttercups! Bites and spirits, um, yes, please! And don't be stingy with those pours, folks!


What ARE you up to the evening of June 13th?

Why not come hear the Madcap Cottage boys talk about trends, design in general, why we hate beige, and what we spotted at the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Chicago…

We might tell a few jokes, show a video or two, and do a little dance. Just because.

We’d love to have you! Follow the RSVP information in the invite, above.


Crazy-Ass Architecture in Shanghai!

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Modern Marvels!

Here's a nighttime view of Shanghai's Pudong district from our room at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund. Stunning, n'est-ce pas? Ten years ago there were hardly any tall buildings in the Pudong neighborhood. The bottle opener-like building on the far right houses the Park Hyatt Shanghai hotel: The views from the Park Hyatt's 91st-floor restaurant left John and me reeling. Sublime!


I am intrigued by Shanghai. The city is fabulous… Crazy, sleek, chic, dirty, glorious, modern, and throwback, all rolled into one. And absolutely exciting.

The juxtapositions in Shanghai are especially striking: You’ll find glass-skinned skyscrapers surrounded by 50s-era Communist apartments with laundry spilling out the windows. The mix is fascinating.

Here’s a little tour of Shanghai, and it’s amazing architecture.


Shanghai Chic!

Shanghai's buzzy Xintiandi district, a charming historic neighborhood that has been transformed into a pedestrian-only al fresco shopping and dining experience. In typical Chinese fashion, some 3,500 Chinese families were moved to accommodate the building of this very chic shopping mall. In China the government moves people all the time to further progress. And, yes, even to build a mall.

French Kiss!

The historic French Concession neighborhood in Shanghai houses fabulous 1920s-era homes. But turn a corner, and you might come across more tumbledown structures with laundry hanging overhead and air conditioners climbing up the walls. And lest you think that the Chinese still ride bikes in droves, they don't. The Chinese now prefer name-brand cars, like BMW and Mercedes.

Pudong Panache!

Here's another view of the Pudong district by day. The crazy purple-hued edifice is a television tower.