It is a well known fact that Brits don't work the minimalist trend very well. There's a well documented interiors history that proves that more is always welcome around this country. Just have a walk around the beautifully restored stately homes with their often exuberant decor, colour, pattern and patina.
The English country home may be getting a 'toning down' lately but for me, it should not shy away from it's true identity. Wallpapers with bold patterns should be used in more homes, together with lush fabrics, trimmings, and lots and lots of antiques. Besides, the Collector trend is getting bigger and the UK is nothing if not full of antiques shops and flea markets with hidden treasures.
I think this is one of the reasons I have recently decided to turn the guest bedroom into a delightful "eclectic B&B with a twist" room, to reflect the extravagance of floral prints in what is going to be a riot of colour. I am really proud of that room, I really am, and cannot wait to share it with you. But do you know who truly is my inspiration for it? Read on!
The Madcap Cottage inspiration
Some time ago I came across a duo of designers based in North Karolina. They were big on florals, big on colour and big on pattern clash. So basically, everything I really like. John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon go by the brand name Madcap Cottage and are inspired by interior design legends like Dorothy Draper and Cecil Beaton.
The Madcap Cottage duo, as photographed for One Kings Lane
These design mavericks search high and low for unique, vintage and antique furniture and have filled their home (and the homes of their clients) with colour and pattern that will just make you smile. Think burnt orange lacquer tables, bold florals mixed with stripes and Greek references too (Yes! Brownie points for that! #proud).
So you can imagine my delight at being able to INTERVIEW them for the blog, with the opportunity of their new book release aptly called Prints Charming by Madcap Cottage: Create Absolutely Beautiful Interiors with Prints & Patterns by John Loecke and Jason Nixon .
Me, interviewing the Madcap Duo. I may actually be living in an alternative universe and not even realise it.
An interview with Madcap Cottage's John Loecke and Jason Nixon
Hi guys, thank you so much for taking the time to share your interiors thoughts with Seasons, let's get straight to the point! Describe the Madcap Cottage style in 5 words!
Fun, sophisticated, travel-inspired, pattern-packed, liveable.
What does ‘home’ mean to you?
Home is a place that puts a smile the moment you walk in the door. It is a place of memories and traditions, a place that captures your personality and brings it to life. Home is relaxed, easy, functional, and fun.
How important is colour as an element of your own home?
Colour and pattern are essential elements of our home, the House of Bedlam. There’s not a white wall in our place, and beige really doesn’t exist in our world. To quote the iconic American interior designer Dorothy Draper, “Banish the beige,” and we couldn’t agree more. Life is short, live it in Technicolor.
What do you see as the main challenges when designing a home for a client?
We capture our clients’ stories and bring them to life. You sometimes have to dive deep to really understand what they want and to drive the conversation—and that’s both a challenge and a lot of fun.
A recent client, for instance, originally wanted a home that looked like a fabled Art Deco Miami Beach hotel. As we moved the dialogue along, we learned that he really wanted Chinese Art Deco and a slice of Shanghai from the 1930s. We love getting inside our clients’ heads to bring their storyline and vision to life. Each chapter in our book is a different clients’ home so you will see that our design portfolio is quite diverse.
Tell me a little about your new book. What should we expect to find in it and how long has it been in the making?
It took exactly one year to craft our brand-new book from Abrams, “Prints Charming: Create Absolutely Beautiful Interiors with Prints & Patterns.” We began this amazing project in the spring of 2016 and wrapped up the writing, endless photo shoots, and editing in the spring of 2017. And that was after months of writing a proposal, reworking the proposal with our book agent, and shopping the book around to prospective publishing houses in New York.
Each of the chapters in our book is a space—a home or apartment—that we designed, so the book’s photo shoots had us hopping between interiors that we had crafted in New York City, Iowa, Florida, upstate New York, and our hometown of High Point, North Carolina. And then it was back to NYC.
We live in North Carolina, but we are lucky enough to work all over the world, from New Orleans to London, the Hamptons, and our own backyard.
We were inspired to pen this colourful tome not because we harboured illusions of crafting a bestseller, but rather because our clients have always found pattern a tad perplexing and we wanted to give permission to embrace prints and patterns.
How can your new book help home owners in their design efforts?
At Madcap Cottage we believe that decorating should be fun and never grim and glum. It should be an adventure—one whose end result is rooms that burst with personality and that put a smile upon your face the moment you step through the front door.
The key to crafting this décor-driven bliss is patterns. Forget white walls and neutral furnishings. It’s time to dream big, and transform your home with the wonders of pattern! “Prints Charming” is your passport to pattern.
For ease of use, the book is divided by pattern-themed chapters instead of, say, by rooms, so if you think you have an affinity for “Pattern is Romantic” you can start there and hop between “Pattern is Sophisticated,” “Modern,” “Timeless,” “Masculine,” and so many more.
Pattern is not granny, and it’s definitely not going anywhere but up—just look at what is happening on the fashion runways. Hello, Gucci!
Is your style easy to live with and how do you add a modern twist to it?
Our style is absolutely easy to live with, it’s all about layering and creating rooms that bring your personal style to life. If you want to live in a showroom, that’s not us but we can certainly recommend another designer who could fit that bill.
We love using modern art in our spaces that combine traditional with ethic and bohemian. It’s all about a marvellous mix. If your home feels like you, that’s the perfect testament to good design. If it feels like a museum, what a snooze.
What is the secret to working successfully in a team?
John and I are a good ying-yang to each other and come to the table with different skill sets. Respect is important and remembering that we are not each other’s assistants. And weekly date night is important, too, with wallpaper and spread sheet conversation strictly verboten.
You have an ongoing relationship with design brand, One Kings Lane. How did that come about?
We have been lucky enough to have partnered with One Kings Lane for many years, and the relationship has been wonderful. We met the original owners of One Kings Lane at an event, and the rest is history. A New York cocktail party can have a lot of legs.
The Madcap Cottage collection on One Kings Lane
What's next for Madcap Cottage?
We would like to become a lifestyle destination a la Laura Ashley back in the firm’s heyday when you could pop in for home essentials as well as fashion and accessories. Although our clothing wouldn’t make you look pregnant! Layer-in plenty of Paul Smith whimsy throw into the mix. We would like to have a retail presence in Japan in the next five years.
And finally, can we expect to see you again in the UK soon?
We just showed at 100% Design at Olympia with our new fabrics and wallpaper collection, all of which is available at Simon Playle on the Kings Road in London. We had an amazing stay at The Kensington Hotel, saw the Balenciaga show at the V&A and “Queen Anne” in the West End, and supped at our favourite London town eatery, Maggie Jones’s. And then we headed north to Biddulph Grange and some other National Trust properties that give us so much inspiration.
We hop across the pond every other month and are saving our pennies to eventually purchase a tiny bolthole in Wiltshire. Think Cecil Beaton on a budget.
I bet you are already on EBAY trying to find Staffordshire dog figurines and etageres. Well, join the queue! To get more inspiration, get your hands on their book now and don't forget to follow them on Instagram too!