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DEMYSTIFYING DESIGN

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

Archive for the ‘Weekend warrior’ 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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High Point Highlights!

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Bookish Charms!

Here's John outside of the wonderful and inspiring Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library just down the street from the Krispy Kreme in High Point, North Carolina.

Gang:

As you know from reading this blog religiously, John and I are simply smitten with High Point, North Carolina. High Point is an amazing small town perfectly situated between two larger cities, Greensboro and Winston-Salem. It’s actually a wonderful walking burg, especially if you live in the charming Emerywood neighborhood. And now that the city is starting its Ignite! program to revitalize its downtown, things are going to heat up even more.

Granted, High Point is a town where you have to dig a bit for the hidden gems. On the restaurant front, I love Blue Zucchini, Kepley’s BBQ, Tipsy’z Tavern, the Penny Path Cafe, and Mayberry. There are some terrific antiques shops, and the homes in Emerywood are gorgeous.

On our last visit to HP, John and I stopped into the Bienenstock Furniture Library on Main Street, and we were frankly blown away.

From the Bienenstock Furniture Library website:

“With more than 5,000 furniture and design specific volumes, The Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library is the largest furniture specialty library in the world. The rare book collection contains volumes published since 1640 and includes a collection of the original works of 18th century furniture masters Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite, as well as a complete 26 volume set of Diderot’s Encyclopedia published in 1776.

This is one of the few, if not the only place in the world where design professionals, scholars, students, and the public can don a pair of white gloves and examine the original works of the pioneer designers in our industry.”

John and I were in heaven as we browsed the amazing books that fill this charming former private home. We cannot wait to hunker down for a few days amongst the collection and cull inspiration.

Next time you are in High Point–perhaps in the days leading up to fall market–stop in at the Bienenstock. It’s true treasure!

Shelf Life!

Design enthusiasts will go nuts for the bookshelves that are filled with every design book imaginable.

Be Seated!

The Bienenstock interior is chic and contemporary, and there are plenty of comfortable seats for settling in to peruse the amazing design books.

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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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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!

Gang:

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.

Fashion.

Food.

Lectures.

Insider tours.

Access.

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 jason@madcapcottage.com 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!

 

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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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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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We Must Cultivate Our Garden!

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

A Tree Doesn't Go in Brooklyn!

Here's what our Brooklyn backyard looked like when John and I moved to Chester Court from Manhattan in 2006. Bleak, n'est-ce pas? But we had a vision...

Gang:

I hope you are having a very spiffy Memorial Day weekend… John and I have just arrived at Madcap Cottage in New York’s Catskill Mountains, and it is cold and wet, wet, wet! This is Amy Petunia’s fist visit to Madcap Cottage, and she is in love. She has run about the yard with Jasper and Weenie (rain be damned!) and is now curled up on a Madcap Cottage bespoke dog pillow.

As I think about the garden planting that I was hoping to accomplish today (and hope to do tomorrow), I wanted to show some “before” and “after” shots of our backyard in Brooklyn. In case you didn’t know, John and I love nothing more than having some dirt under our fingernails. I ran a landscape installation company in Florida back in my salad days, and I even considered getting my Masters in landscape design once upon a time. I can install a sprinkler system like nobody’s business…

Our Brooklyn garden is functional and soothing and doesn’t require a lot of water. The goal was to create a lush sanctuary with lots of green and “moments” of color, and I think we accomplished our mission. John and I planted every item in this garden, so we feel very proud when we settle in al fresco and take in our handiwork. Cocktails in hand, natch!

Take a peek at the adventures of a pair of mad gardeners…

Garden a Go-Go!

John and I installed the garden three years ago. The fencing is from Trex, and the trees--including the birches on the left-hand side--are from FastGrowingTrees.com. The antique urns hail from a bric-a-brac shop in East Hampton, NY, and the faux bamboo green garden chairs are currently up for sale on One Kings Lane! In case you are wondering, a new building went up behind our garden just before we were about to start planting. Hence, the wall behind the Trex fencing that doesn't appear in the "before" image.

Garden of Earthy Delights!

And here's what our Brooklyn backyard looks like today... It's actually a tad too leafy, so we will be doing some re-landscaping this summer. Our birch trees are now almost 60 feet high!

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