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DEMYSTIFYING DESIGN

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

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Archive for the ‘Tips for Design Small Spaces’ Category

Please Hold, Exciting Changes Afoot…

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Gang:

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, www.madcapcottage.com, or join the conversation with us on social media.

Tra-la-la!

 

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Lessons Learned at Burghley House!

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Burghley Brilliance!

Here I am outside of Burghley House, the Cecil family's 16th-century pile in Stamford, north of London. Note the "ha-ha" behind me, the cut in the lawn that separates the manicured portion from the section where the livestock roams. From the house the ha-ha is not visible and the lawn looks seamless.

Gang:

As you know if you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, John and I are just back from three weeks in England. We are lucky enough to visit the UK several times a year, and it is truly our second home. In fact, I think we know London better than we do New York City. Which, by the by, is A-OK with us.

Each August, we travel to the United Kingdom for an extended visit, and we tick off a slew of great country homes… We rent a car and head off from London. There’s nothing better than seeing an amazing home to offer design inspiration. John and I always return from England with gobs of ideas floating about in our heads.

This past trip, we visited several amazing homes and palaces, including Kelmarsh Hall, Waddesdon Manor, Hatfield House, and more. First up was Burghley House, the amazing 16th-century home crafted near the market town of Stamford by Sir William Cecil. The house is a stunner and well worth a good long morning’s visit. There’s so much history there…

Go pay a visit to Burghley for yourselves…

Here are some ideas that I lifted from Burghley House that you can bring to your own home…

Kitchen Confidential!

Why not display your pots and pans on your walls... If they are good-looking pots and pans, that is. And granted, you might not have a 40-foot-plus ceiling like the Cecils, but you can still make an impact whether your kitchen is postage stamp-sized or sprawling.

Thoroughly Modern, Silly!

Why not mix a modern sofa with ancestral portraits and paneling? The Cecils did, and it works swimmingly!

Fringe with Benefits!

Embellish a chair. Add some embroidery, add some brush fringe... Have fun with seating. Why not take a humble chair, and use a glue gun to take it from so-so to sublime.

Mix, Match, Marvelous!

As the Madcap Cottage gents always say, mix and match patterns. Here's a sitting room in Burghley House with gobs of patterns in it. Do try this at home, even if it's simply having some fun with your throw pillows.

Bucket List!

Here's a fabulous barrel that I spotted in Burghley House's gardens. Take a garden barrel from the like of Lowe's or Home Depot, and give it a eau de Nil paint treatment... Voila, perfection!

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Scenes from a Showhouse!

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Breakfast Club!

Here's a "before" shot of the breakfast room at Adamsleigh, the historic home in High Point, NC that John and I transformed in partnership with Thibaut Design. The gentleman to John's right is Jerry, our fabulous North Carolina wallpaper hanger.

Gang:

As you know from reading our blog religiously, John and I were asked by Traditional Home magazine to team up with the fabulous folks at Thibaut Design and transform a roof at the Junior League of Greensboro, NC showhouse this past spring. The Madcap Cottage gents had a blast, and working with Thibaut was divine.

The images of our transformed breakfast room will appear in the October issue of Traditional Home magazine, but I wanted to give you a teaser of just what some wallpaper and some vision can do to a room.

Let us know what you think!

After Glow!

Here's our breakfast room transformed. All of the fabrics, wallpaper, and upholstered pieces are from Thibaut Design. We layered in lots of antiques and a rug from World Market so that the room wouldn't look like a showroom. Fun, n'est-ce pas?

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Scenes from Randolph Street Market!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Gang:

As you know if you follow us on Facebook, this past weekend John and I were invited by our dear pal and interior design guru Kenneth Ludwig to display our vintage wares at Chicago’s Randolph Street Market. So John and I packed up the trusty Subaru with all sorts of fun finds and headed to the Middle West. Once there, we unpacked and combined our treasures (along with larger pieces that we had left in Chicago on a recent visit for this very purpose) in the striped Sally’s Cabana with Kenneth’s gorgeous upholstered pieces and case goods. Along with Kenneth’s terrific staff and his wonderful partner, Darren, we hawked and hustled and had a blast.

Here are some scenes from our long weekend at Randolph Street Market. Enjoy!

Escape from New York!

All packed up and ready to go. We left the dogs behind in NYC with a pal who house sits for us often.

The Big O!

Randolph Street Market sits just down the street from Oprah's studios. If you are a fan of Oprah's, this might impress you.

Men of the Moment!

John with the incredible Kenneth Ludwig, our host. Kenneth runs a divine showroom in Chicago's Merchandise Mart AND has Studio KL nearby. If you don't know Ken, you should.

It Takes Two!

Hanging out with the wonderful and hilarious Darren Fink, Kenneth's partner. Darren is a treat!

Banner Day!

Here's one of the Madcap Cottage banners that we had "run up." Fun, no?

All Wrapped Up!

John unpacks our wares...

Propping, propping!

John and I hung loads of Chinese lanterns and created charming "vignettes" throughout the tent. Amazingly, the green-painted pine hutch didn't sell, but it can now be purchased at Kenneth's Merchandise Mart showroom, #1445.

Stripe Tease!

Here's Sally's Cabana in action... Chic, nest-ce pas?

China Syndrome!

Two of our fabulous vintage Fitz & Floyd china figurines that we sold...

Top Germans!

Here I am hanging out with the gal who ran Randolph Street Market's rollicking beer garden. Lord have mercy.

Mildred a Go-Go!

The delicious Mildred who works with Ken gets packed up by Miller and John Covington... Mildred is a pistol and goes by the nickname "Whitney Houston."

Packed Up

The trusty Subaru is packed up and ready for the long haul back to NYC. The drive is fine until you reach Pennsylvania, and then it is endless and D-U-L-L!

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Beachy Keen!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Deep Blue Sea!

Here's the living room of a beach cottage in East Hampton, New York that John and I designed several years back. Note the soothing tones of blue and white paired with a mix of patterns. We also added some whimsical elements such as the wicker table to make sure that the space looked "layered" and never too retail. John and I used indoor/outdoor fabrics throughout this space to keep the feeling "easy-breezy." We don't ever want to create interiors that are too precious where you can't spill the odd glass of wine. Poo-poo the precious, we say!

Gang:

Morning! John and I are off to meet with a fabric company that might want to do a partnership with us… Stay tuned, we are super excited! And tomorrow we are driving down to High Point, North Carolina to take some meetings and meet a real estate agent, dogs in tow. We are on a multi-year plan to get out of New York City, and we are thinking that the Emorywood neighborhood in High Point might be the perfect next step. Stay tuned on that, too!

Turn to the image of the cozy East Hampton, New York cottage, above, that John and I designed a few years back. Why not bring some beachy-chic style into your home this summer. Think blue-and-white hues with lots of throw pillows and eclectic objects. And don’t think that a “refresh” need be expensive. Why not turn to spot-on retailers such as Restoration Hardware, World Market, and others to tweak your space. And, of course, don’t overlook flea markets and yard sales… As John always says, “Good taste need not be expensive, but it should always be expressive.”

See you in North Carolina!

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A Tour of the Traditional Home Showhouse!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Gang:

Come along for a tour of the fabulous Traditional Home/Junior League of Greensboro showhouse and the breakfast room that John and I designed with loads of Thibaut fabrics, wallpapers, and furnishings…

Breakfast at Adamsleighs!

Traditional Home magazine's stunning Tori Mellott interviews me and John for Editor at Large TV. Click on the link, above, for a video tour of the showhouse...

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Chester Court: A Work in Progress!

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Welcome to Chester Court!

Welcome to Chester Court, our historic dead-end street next to Prospect Park in Brooklyn!

Gang:

As you may know, John and I live on a historic cul-de-sac in Brooklyn in an up-and-coming neighborhood called Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. It’s a neighborhood that’s on the move, but it still has some “rough and tumble” moments. Not that it’s violent, but we need some street calming on our major artery of Flatbush Avenue (the Broadway of Brooklyn) and there’s a real problem with littering. But it’s definitely getting better… And John and I are helping…

As one of the folks spearheading the Chester Court Block Association, I am always thinking global and acting local. Little by little we are taking Chester Court from nice to knockout, and lots more on all of this later, including some history on this wonderful oasis. Last summer, for instance, I helped get street trees planted, and the city put in a new sidewalk and repaved the streets.

This morning, I tackled the two tree beds on my side of the street that really need some TLC. Last summer, these just-installed beds were covered in mulch but over the winter they got rather nappy and have been “used” both by dogs and careless cigarette smokers to throw their butts. So I brought home some 90 iris and day lily plants that I dug up at Madcap Cottage upstate, and I planted the stash bright and early before it got too hot. P.S. By using plants already in my arsenal, I was able to transform a space dramatically without spending any money… Do try this at home!

Check out my handiwork.

Bed Head!

Here are the two tree beds on Chester Court that really needed some TLC. Scroll down to see what two hours and about 100 irises and lilies can do to a once-forlorn space.

Green with Envy!

Here's the tree bed on the other side of Chester Court that I planted with irises last summer. The irises have held up swimmingly and inspired me to use them on the two tree beds across the street. I gave this tree bed some weeding today, and it looks great.

In the Bag!

Here are garbage full of iris and lily plants that I dug up last weekend at Madcap Cottage in upstate New York. Irises don't need much water and require an annual thinning out.

Pick Up, Please!

I crafted signs that I laminated at my local FedEx Office outpost to remind folks to clean up after their dogs. Plastic ties keep the signs in place.

Lots of Turnover!

I turned all of the dirt over in the tree beds to aerate the soil and make planting easier. The soil is surprisingly rich...

Dirty Deeds!

And here's the finished results with the lilies and irises in place. A few neighbors will help water the tree beds, and the hearty perennials should take off quickly. I petitioned the city for metal tree guards, and those should be installed by October... I will report back on how the plants are doing.

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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?

Gang:

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!

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Transforming Your Dining Room Table!

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Dining by Design!

Why not transform your dining room table when it's not in use by loading it up with lots of delicious objects. Here, a stunning table that I spotted at The Rug Company showroom in NYC's SoHo neighborhood.

Gang:

Are you ready for Memorial Day? I sure as heck am. Give me a bottle of rose wine and a daybed, and I will be conked out in the shade with Jasper, Weenie, and Amy Petunia. I need some serious sleep catch-up time.

If you are a Facebook follower, you know that last Sunday I guided a terrific group from WithIt, Professional Women in the Home Furnishings Industries, on an afternoon-long tour of NYC’s bustling SoHo neighborhood. We started our tour on a drizzly and dark day at one of my most favorite outposts, The Rug Company, on Wooster Street. The Rug Company is the genius British company that crafts the most delicious rugs in all sorts of amazing colors and sizes. Plus, the Rug Company folks have developed relationships with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith for fashion luminaries to bring their vision to the floor, literally.

As I was looking about the stunning Rug Company showroom, I noticed their wonderful displays upon a dining table and a library table, and that got me thinking. Why not “prop” your dining room table when it’s not in use… Add gorgeous coffee table books, a few glass garden cloches, some objects, and maybe a gorgeous orchid… Transform that barren landscape into a whimsical wonderland.

Here are a few ideas.

Wonder Full!

I am obsessed with the cheap-and-chic items to be had at C Wonder. Here, the Monogram Geo Plate emblazoned with an "N." Yummy! They have all sorts of colorful finds for the home.

Table Talk!

If you are starting your dining room from the ground up, Arhaus is a wonderful source for inexpensive dining tables. Here's the Kensington Small Dining Table, on sale for $1,999.

Ring-a-Ding!

Turn to the folks at Terrain for glorious accessories, such as this bell jar cloche, a steal at $32.

Natural Selection!

Taschen is a great source for wonderful coffee table books, such as the color-packed and very graphic Cabinet of Natural Curiosities.

 

Round We Go!

Use this library table that I spotted at The Rug Company as your style inspiration, and have fun (and confidence!) with your selects. This is the perfect project for the Memorial Day weekend...

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Tip, Top Terrific Thomasville!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Pearl of a Girl!

Here we are with the absolutely delicious and innovative Lisa Hanly, the wonderful vice president of communications at Furniture Brands International, the parent company of Thomasville.

Gang:

John and I are just back from an amazing two weeks in North Carolina for the High Point Furniture Market… We launched our fabulous new Madcap Cottage pillow line (available on our website for now, Madcap Cottage, and coming soon to a very chic retailer near you) and crafted a room for the Junior League of Greensboro/Traditional Home magazine showhouse. We also met many amazing folks, including the terrific Lisa Kahn-Allen and her spot-on husband, Phillip Allen; gorgeous and fun Lisa Mende; Southern spitfire Anita Phipps; antiques guru Todd Nabors; and so many other wonderful folks. Lots more to tell on that front.

A highlight of our visit to furniture market was the tour of the stunning and really exciting Thomasville showroom. John and I used to drive out to the Thomasville factory-cum-showroom in tiny Thomasville, NC during Furniture Market, and the experience wasn’t very illuminating… The Thomasville brand was a bit tired and needed a big kick in the butt. The best thing about our visit to Thomasville was the giant Duncan Phyfe chair sculpture downtown (John and I would scamper about the enormous chair and pose provocatively, natch).

Well, that was then, and this is now.

Fast forward a few years, and Thomasville now occupies a high-style showroom in the High Point nexus, the IHFC tower. And it is headed up by two dynamos: Lisa Hanly is the head of corporate communications for Furniture Brands International, the parent company of Thomasville, and she really gets “it.” Lisa is a dynamo, capital “D.” And Greg Heller is Thomasville’s vice president of retail, and he has brought his beautifully trained eye to the furniture company.

And, folks, the results are stunning.

Thomasville is back, and in a big, bold way. And not just for Heller’s gorgeous furnishings, but also for bed linens and all sort of other delectable home goods.

Here are a few of our favorite Thomasville introductions…

And just to come clean, Thomasville did “host” my hotel room for three nights at High Point in their role as a blog sponsor, but I wouldn’t write about the brand if I wasn’t goo-goo, ga-ga for it. A stay at a Sheraton can only go so far, n’est-ce pas?

Hello, Heller!

Greg Heller, the creative force behind the "new" Thomasville, gives the Madcap Cottage gents a tour. And, wow-ee!, we were smitten.

Rhombus Remarkable!

The gold-flecked good looks of the Rhombus Accent Table had us wanting to sip cocktails so that we could perch them just-so upon this libidinous looker.

Ting, Tang!

Wow, the Tang Etagere left me reeling. Chic, and an amazing price point, to boot!

Scarlet Fever!

John and I fell in love with the arresting Broome Tray Table, and we want two of these for our home upstate. Faux bamboo and a deep red, delicious.

 

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