The House of Bedlam: A Madcap “Auntie Mame Meets Bunny Mellon” Country House

updated Apr 30, 2019
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The dining room was Inspired by the bar at the Gritti Palace hotel on the Grand Canal in Venice. Bright jewel colors and floral prints abound. There are also a lot of mirrored items to shine and glimmer. (Image credit: Bert VanderVeen)

Name: John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon of Madcap Cottage
Location: High Point, North Carolina
Size: 5,000 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

If there are any two people most qualified to write the bible on print and pattern mixing, it’s John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon, the dynamic designers behind North Carolina- and New York-based interior design firm Madcap Cottage. Their brand-new book, Prints Charming by Madcap Cottage: Create Absolutely Beautiful Interiors with Prints & Patterns, is destined to be the go-to for inspiration on adding layers and layers of color and pattern to a home. And the grand 1930s-era Regency-style home they share, nestled in a leafy neighborhood of High Point, North Carolina, is the patterned playground that perfectly exemplifies their philosophies on design. (Namely, that it should be fun!)

John and Jason founded their design firm with the idea that environments should be completely one-of-a-kind, refined, exceptional spaces that fit both the needs and wants of their clients. But above all, this design couple is known for fun spaces that are gorgeous to look at and cozy to use. These are NOT museum-like rooms where nothing can be touched. In fact, in John and Jason’s home, their three rescue pups have full run of the home and all its furniture.

“If a room isn’t used often, that’s a sign of bad design.”

As you look through the incredibly detailed, layered rooms of their home, it seems each room is inspired by elaborately grand historical interiors, from English muralist Rex Whistler’s work in the dining room at the Welsh estate Plas Newydd, to the bar at the Gritti Palace hotel on the Grand Canal in Venice and more.

“We cull inspiration from our travels, from books that we read, from vintage films, from Roxy Music and The Cult, and from our passion for adventure. We love pops of color and pattern; we are a little English in our quirky, witty sensibility but we also celebrate an easy-breezy American vibe; and we firmly believe in traditional with a twist, modern with a splash of the classic, an appreciation of history, and a celebration of a life well lived.”

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: The Madcaps wanted to create a home that married our design sensibility with extreme livability. It’s all about a marvelous mix.

Favorite Element: Our three pound-rescue pups, Jasper, Weenie, and Amy Petunia. Our home is dog friendly, and the posse is allowed to sit upon anything. We all have kids and dogs and drink red wine, and a home should reflect an easy-breezy sensibility. If you cannot kick back, what’s the point. We also love the amazing Greek key motif that appears throughout our home, from the front façade to the fireplace.

Biggest Challenge: Finding 1930s-style shower doors with nickel door pulls and fanciful trim. Solid glass doors with modern chrome hardware and those clear plastic water seals are just not our thing. We wanted shower doors that felt like they had stepped from a still of “The Thin Man” film series. We finally found a source that could give us exactly what we wanted, but it took a while to track them down.

What Friends Say: They never want to leave, we have to shovel them out after our frequent dinner parties, dear lord. Or tuck them into the guest beds upstairs.

Biggest Embarrassment: None! We believe that good design is all about having fun; there are no mistakes or embarrassments when crafting a home. With that said, do we have laundry piled up waiting to get folded on occasion? Yes. But very occasionally, and usually only after we have returned from a very long trip. But, overall, we run a really tight, organized household. We keep a House Calendar that prompts us to sweep the attic and mechanical room and change the air filters when it’s time.

Proudest DIY: John and I can hang wallpaper and change out light fixtures and are crazy-mad gardeners. But we aren’t necessarily DIY-ers, though: We prefer to hire really talented folks to paint and wallpaper for us. These trades are experts and can do a far better job than us. Our days of inviting friends over to paint in exchange for beer and pizza are long behind us.

Biggest Indulgence: We aren’t about indulgences, we are about layering in investment pieces where it makes sense. With that said, we are suckers for a good auction — especially an auction tied to a great tastemaker of the past, such as C.Z. Guest or the Duchess of Devonshire — and purchase pieces from these estates to add to our own home, as well as the homes of our clients. There’s nothing like a good provenance. Who wants a home that look like it stepped out of a catalog or showroom? A sense of history and layering is key to really making a room sing.

Best Advice: There are no rules. Create rooms that make you happy. If you are happy in your home, then all is well in the world.

Dream Sources: Auction houses, both locally and globally. At auctions, you can find amazing treasures that boast incredible history and provenance at wonderful prices.

Thanks, Jason and John!

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