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Home on the Range!

Home on the Range

The fabulous BlueStar Cooking range in the House of Bedlam kitchen.

Gang:

John and I are so tired of sterile white-on-white kitchens with white countertops, white subway tile zipping across the walls, and stainless-steel appliances. B-O-R-I-N-G!

Who wants clinical when you can bring color and pattern into your kitchen. And, no, that was not a question.

“Oh, but white is classic and never goes out of style,” you say.

Well, frankly, color doesn’t go out of style either, just don’t choose “of-the-moment” hues such as the avocado and orange color ways that were so popular in the 70s. Choose colors that aren’t too bright and garish. If you need something “on trend,” go for it with your kitchen wallpaper.

As for colors to employ, think pale greens, buttery yellows, gray, inky blues, and more when it comes to cabinetry.

As for appliances, stainless is so 2007. Snore. Boring. Why not bring some color to your appliances such as we did at the House of Bedlam with our divine BlueStar Cooking range in a pale green shade.

So let’s talk about BlueStar Cooking.You can choose from over 750 colors.

And the configuration options are equally endless. Bespoke chic, we are crazy about customization in this decidedly un-customized world.

Plus, of course, the performance of the BlueStar ranges is exceptional and chef quality.

And the ranges are built in the United States, and we love that!

We asked our friends at BlueStar for a few testimonials from satisfied customers.

Here’s one from a gent in Vancouver, Canada:

“I was able to fire up my shiny new BlueStar for the first time yesterday, and I can’t thank you enough. Everyone who I spoke/emailed with at BlueStar has been outstanding with fantastic and friendly service, and the entire experience has really been top-notch. The stove itself really is an amazing piece of machinery. My contractor, who had never heard of BlueStar, couldn’t stop talking about how nice it was, and I think that may have turned him into a future customer as well. My 2 year old daughter walked into the kitchen and saw it for the first time and just said “cool!” She obviously has excellent taste.”

And here’s another from a woman in Newton, Massachusetts:

“Yippee! I just ordered my second Blue Star RNB. I own a 30″ RNB in a home in Wisconsin. I’ve had that for two years, and it is a workhorse and looks as good as the day I bought it. I did exhaustive product research before buying BlueStar. I focus on reliability and functionality instead of talk-show celebrity endorsements. This product hands down beats the competition. So, since we are moving to South Dakota, my new kitchen has to have a BlueStar range. So, Blue Star #2 will soon be on the way. Thanks for an outstanding product.”

So when it comes time to refresh your own kitchen, the Madcaps suggest giving BlueStar a once-over.

We are smitten.

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Five Questions For: Hannah Alderson, Robert Allen

The talented and textile-minded Hannah Alderson.

Gang, meet Hannah Alderson, Director, Design & Merchandising, Robert Allen!

John and I are so lucky to work with the amazing studio team at Robert Allen (now the Robert Allen Duralee Group) to bring our fabric vision to life. Among the shining stars who help us on the Robert Allen design front: Donna Rinaldi, Lucy Maitland, and Holly Merry. We are also so very fortunate to work with the brilliant Hannah Alderson, the Director, Design & Merchandising at Robert Allen and a shining star in the glittering textiles world. Smart, creative, a visionary… and Hannah’s really darn cool, to boot.

So, dear Hannah, let’s unveil your stellar bio:

“Hannah Alderson has served as Robert Allen’s Director of Design since 2011, where she is always on a search for the next great color story. She grew up in Brooklyn, studied painting at Harvard, and received her MFA in Textiles from Rhode Island School of Design. Her work provides her an opportunity to touch and feel every conceivable fabric available under the sun as she seeks out the most inspiring linens, wools, cottons, velvets, and prints for Robert Allen’s collections. Her all-time favorite fabric is denim.”

Wow, impressive.

Let’s dive in!

  1. MADCAP COTTAGE (MC): Tell us about your position at Robert Allen and what a typical day is like for you.

HANNAH ALDERSON (HA): I am Design Director for all collections under Robert Allen’s residential division which means I play with fabric all day, and sometimes trim.

On a typical day I am meeting with textile mills that are showing their latest collections. Mills visit our lower Manhattan studio from Italy, Turkey, India, Belgium, and, of course, the US. I am usually looking for great embroideries, interesting wovens, textures, and, of course, pattern. When I start a project, I develop a creative brief, but I love to be surprised. Sometimes a mill will come in with something fantastic that we didn’t know we wanted and we will make it work.

When we find something we like, we will either develop it with a new piece of artwork or color it in the color palette we have developed for the upcoming season at Robert Allen.

My favorite days, of course, are when I get to work with the Robert Allen @Home team on the Madcap Cottage collection. I particularly love the beginning of a project when we scope wide and soak up all of your amazing influences. EDITORIAL NOTE: Swoon.

With every design project, I keep the ‘big four’ parameters in mind: Color, Pattern, Construction, and Application. I usually start with color.

While we develop our own color chips in our CAD studio, it is important to actually see how that color translates from a paint swatch into three-dimensional yarns and fabric. For example, a mossy green might be beautiful in a silk-velvet, and look dead in a cotton twill. That is why we have our mills develop color blankets, or trials, of each pattern that we want to put into the line. As for pattern: it’s all about the layout and scale (I always say go bigger). A great pattern should work on a pillow… or a stage curtain. Hopefully the repeating pattern creates a rhythm and environment that becomes something greater than the sum of its parts. Madcap Cottage’s Bermuda Bay pattern is the perfect example of this kind of drama!

  1. MC: Where do you find inspiration? Is there one city that is especially inspirational? A certain magazine? A favorite book? Movie?

HA: Ever since I can remember, a wander around the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been my go-to to kick start inspiration. I like to start with no particular destination and take turns into obscure galleries. Open storage in the American Wing has lovely vignettes of cups and glasses and can inspire color palettes. My favorite quiet spot is under the main staircase where you can see Coptic textile fragments from the 3rd century. The Arts of the Islamic World galleries are a must on every trip.

For the last two years I have visited Florence by myself at the tail end of my annual trip to Lake Como for a textile fair. I take the same wandering approach there that I take at the Met, going everywhere on foot with only a vague sense of my final destination. That process of getting a little lost, of looking, and, of course, taking pictures gives me so much energy for my work. I feed on it all year. This year I became fascinated with the engraved marble tombs on the floor of Santa Croce. I still haven’t made it to the statue of David, but rain brought me to the Uffizi this year (usually I like to be outside) where I saw Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’ for the first time. I almost died. That dress!

In all of my wanderings I try to incorporate some vintage clothing hunts. I am a sucker for a 1960s dress suit. I have collected over the years some very snappy pieces though they are getting harder to find (and fit into). My style icon is Ingrid Bergman in the film ‘Indiscreet.’ There is one scene where she is wearing this amazing printed opera coat and kisses Cary Grant on the banks of the Thames. Goals.

  1. MC: What do you see coming up down the road on the fabric front, any trends? Any colors?

HA: Great patterns are always in style. I think the lasting ones usually have some grounding in history. The history of textiles is like one long remix: styles and motifs get reinterpreted over and over again. As for color, I just watched a documentary on Fabergé and am obsessed with the cobalt blue on the onion domes of Russian Orthodox churches. They often have gold stars. I have to make this happen on a fabric.

  1. MC: Is there a designer from the past or a certain era that has really influenced you?

HA: I have some favorite textile designers I never get tired of: Vera Neumann, E.A. Seguy, and Leslie and D.D. Tillett. I have lately become fascinated with the ceramics Finnish designer Birger Kaipiainen. My favorite painter is Alice Neel.

  1. MC: Tell us about your home and your personal style. What would surprise us about your home?

HA: That my sofa is badly in need of new fabric! I keep saving it for the next Madcap line… I’ll need to consult with you. Chintz, please. I love a green room. My favorite room color is Gumdrop by Benjamin Moore. My favorite piece of art is a big vintage botanical print from Kabinett and Kammer in Andes, NY which was a gift from my aunt-in-law, Brooke Alderson. Pink, green, and sunny yellow are my go-to colors for a cheerful home. Is there anything more pleasing than a bookshelf full of Nancy Drew yellow- and black-spined books? My twin sister and I split our childhood collection—she got the even-numbered editions, I got the odd.

I love vintage ceramic lamps, too. Overhead lighting is the worst. When I was a teenager, I removed the ceiling light bulb in my room. Blanche Dubois, even at a young age. As for my personal style, I keep it simple (except for special occasions). When I’m showing fabric with a lot of pattern and color (like Madcap), I don’t want to compete!

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Five Questions for: Jana Platina Phipps, AKA Trim Queen

John and I are simply mad for Jana Phipps, a dear friend, the most knowledgeable person we know in the “trim” space, and the force between the Trim Queen blog and social media presence. Jana knows everything about trim. And we mean everything. So here’s a little more about this design-world force from her bio: […]

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Five Questions For: P. Gaye Tapp

John and I are crazy about interior designer and blogger P. Gaye Tapp’s incredible new book How They Decorated, a must-have design Bible from Rizzoli ($55) that chronicles the highly individual, incredible decors of the likes of Bunny Mellon, Georgia O’Keeffe, Fleur Cowles, and Mona von Bismarck, among many others, paired with stunning visuals.

Interior Designer and Blogger P. Gaye Tapp

Says John, “The book shows how real people live. It’s not decorators flaunting their homes. These are real people with real taste and a real sense of style. It’s about personality. Everything doesn’t have to match or be perfect, furnish your home with pieces that you love. Have a point of view. How They Decorated captures this sensibility that is too often lost in today’s beige world.”

Last week, John and I were lucky enough to have been invited to dine with the charming Ms. Tapp in Winston-Salem, NC, and we decided to get inside her head, if just a tad.

But first, a little bit more about Ms. Tapp in her own words:

“I have been an interior designer for more than 30 years and have an abiding passion for the original in design, fashion, and history. My blog, Little Augury, was born on New Year’s Eve 2008. It began as a way of continuing a conversation with a beloved mentor Sandford Peele and the promise to keep just a bit of his wit and wisdom alive by sharing it whenever possible. As a born-and-bred Southerner, I am passionate about things that have been passed down to me, and also to clients that I work with. It’s the backbone of beautiful rooms in the South. Traditions are important to me, with an eye always looking back to the past, in the hope of understanding what is authentic and what will endure in the future. My favorite quote is by 16th-century philosopher and author Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St. Alban who said: ‘There is no Excellent Beauty that hath not Strangeness in the proportion.’

Perhaps I was born in the wrong era, but I make the best of it by living a bit in the past. From an early age I’ve loved reading, and in elementary school began reading biographies. Little has changed. Reading is like a lullaby—I cannot go to sleep without reading for an hour or so. My reading interests range from mysteries to British novels to history. I profess to being a bit of an Anglophile.”

So here we go with the Madcap Cottage queries…

  1. Madcap Cottage (MC): How do you define great style?
    • Gaye Tapp (PGT): Great style is personal style. To a large degree, it’s undefinable. My niece Liz is so self-aware and free from ‘fashion rules.’ She dresses to please herself and always exudes confidence! In rooms, as Gloria Vanderbilt says, ‘Decorating is autobiography.’ That says it all! Gloria Vanderbilt is the essence of authentic personal style. The word ‘authenticity’ is bantered about so much on social media, but to have great style it’s a must.
  2. MC: What is the most magical room you have ever seen, and why?
    • PGT: As magical rooms go—any room with books would apply. The most magical rooms are the rooms I’ve seen photographed by Horst—meaning rooms past. I find seeing rooms captured when they are ‘lived in’ fascinating. Pauline de Rothschild, who I write about in my book, had a small Paris retreat where the walls of her salon and bedroom were covered with old Chinese panels. Her bedroom at Mouton was her sanctuary—it might be the most beautiful room ever as observed through Horst’s lens.
  3. MC: Who is someone today who inspires you on the design front and why?
    • PGT: It would be hard not to include two great design—and life—forces, Charlotte Moss and Nicky Haslam. Charlotte’s passion for design is contagious. Her at-home library is filled with pieces of design history and photographs of women who have inspired her. Nicky Haslam’s joie de vivre resonates in everything he does, from his country house to his London flat to his passion for fashion and song. Both continue to be inspired and therefore can’t help but inspire.
  4. MC: We have been awash in beige and gray for years, do you see design moving into a more personal realm?
    1. PGT: I do hope rooms are moving to embrace personal style. It’s the job of designers to inspire clients to participate in the process. How They Decorated is all about personal decorating, even when the women I profile called decorators in to do their rooms.
  5. MC: What’s your favorite destination, cocktail, and hotel? Well, that’s three questions in one, but why not?
    • PGT: I love London, I don’t drink, and I’m not a hotel aficionado… Once you get there, does it really matter?

How They Decorated, with Mona and Harrison Williams in their Palm beach living room

living room
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Ready, Set, Transformation: Accessorize It!

Gang:

It’s spring, so why not take a tired room and give it new life. And we don’t mean start anew. Rather, refresh, refresh, refresh! Never clean house: Layer on details and accessories that will really make a space sing. Good design should take what you have and only make it better.

Turn This…

tan sofavanilla chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into This…

living room

In this living room feature that we produced a while back for Better Homes and Gardens magazine (this is actually our House of Bedlam living room stripped to its bare bones!), we took a vanilla chair and sofa and gave them a new lease on life with the Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @Home fabrics and some delicious details.

Here’s How, Tricks of the Trade:

  • Of course, layer-in throw pillows… But why not switch out your decorative pillows every season to keep a sofa feeling ever fresh and inviting? And don’t forget contrast welting on your pillows to add a visual punctuation mark.
  • Add tape treatment to your window treatments. Here, Cove End in Palm from our Robert Allen @Home collection took blue-hued curtain panels and gave them extra oomph. Ask your tailor or seamstress to tackle this project.
  • Switch out the seat and back cushions on a chair for some sparkle and pizzazz. Any Calico outpost from coast to coast can do this for you. And don’t forget to ask for contrast welting! Here, the Windsor Park fabric from our Robert Allen @Home collection, Into the Garden, makes a dramatic pattern-rich statement on this Toulon chair from Ballard Designs.
  • Slipcover an ottoman such as this pair from Ikea. Ikea, really? Oh, yes. Good design resides everywhere. We love how these petite ottomans tuck under the metal coffee table from Ballard.
  • Change out your art for something fresh and new such as this oversized piece from our friends at Z Gallerie.
  • Mix in vintage and antique accessories that you have picked up in flea markets and upon your travels. It’s all about a wonderful storyline and provenance when bringing your personal brand vision to life. Pier 1 is nice and all, but what can you really say about the back story of the sundry accessories that you loaded into your cart there, n’est-ce pas?

Share your accessorized spaces with us on Instagram at @madcapcottage!

madcap cottage for smith & noble
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Welcome to Madcap Cottage for Smith & Noble

Gang:

madcap cottage for smith & noble

The Madcaps make their Smith & Noble debut in the Early Spring S&N catalogue. We are thrilled to be in the mix!

The Madcap Cottage gents are so excited to announce our latest partnership, a collaboration between the MCs and Smith & Noble, the forward-thinking window treatments vendor!

“There’s no better catalogue- and online-driven source than S&N,” says John. “We have received the Smith & Noble catalogue—and used their product—for years, so the fit is absolute perfection. We are very lucky to have new partners with such vision and reach.”

Browse the S&N collection of window treatments—from drapes and shades to blinds—and layer-in the Madcap Cottage assortment of fabrics from our Robert Allen @Home collection, from tropic-luxe Bermuda Bay to garden-plucked Isleboro Eve and India-inspired Monsoon Palace.

“We believe in the democratization of good design,” notes Jason Oliver. “Fabulous interior design should be available to all, whether you have access to an interior designer and design center or not. Smith & Noble is the perfect vehicle to give élan to your windows without the need to ever leave home. And at a wonderful, accessible price point to boot! Who needs brick and mortar in this day and age.”

So get ready to take those tired windows and make them tip-top terrific!

madcap cottage for Smith & Noble

Here’s John at the Smith & Noble HQ in Corona, California.

madcap cottage for smith & noble

Our Windy Corner pattern in Oyster becomes a loose, gorgeous shade crafted by Smith & Noble in the kitchen at our cozy cottage in upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains.

madcap cottage for smith & noble

Also at the Madcap Cottage cottage in upstate New York, window panels made of our Daffodil-hued Isleboro Eve fabric pattern with a rich teal-blue grosgrain trim. Thank you, Smith & Noble, for helping us craft such window treatment perfection!

A Collector's Eye

The Launch of A Collector’s Eye, Our 2nd Fabric Collection!

Gang:

A Collector's Eye

Collection 2.0, A Collector’s Eye

February 20th, the Madcap Cottage gents’ second fabric collection for Robert Allen @ Home, A Collector’s Eye, launches at showrooms from coast to coast!

Wow, what a treat to craft 60 gorgeous SKUs that offer surprise and delight, that deliver magic at a very accessible price point, and that feel hand touched and special. Think patterns and bold colors, paired with exceptional linen slub neutrals.

Each piece in the new collection layers beautifully with the patterns in our debut offering, Into the Garden, so build upon the fabulous fabric foundation to craft a home that sings with style and bespoke brilliance.

Welcome to a brave new world, the Madcaps are storytellers, so here’s the inspiration behind our vision:

Adventure takes flight upon the road to Canton. A boatman crosses the river, and it’s a Technicolor dreamcoat adventure and fretwork and fabulous and eau de Nil-hued birds chirp in the violet hour. It’s a vintage Opium ad and Rupert Everett beckons, and all is well in the world.

Vintage embroidered pillows collected upon a trip to a fabled Irish castle estate inspire a wonderful “work with” pattern, and, yes, we will have another martini, olives on the side.

Settle into a banquette at a fabled Hollywood nightclub of yore, and hear Miss Peggy Lee croon an especially spirited rendition of “Fever.” What a delicious way to burn, n’est-ce pas?

The scent of magnolia in the air, Fracas upon the wrist, a candle fluttering in the garden on a cool February night and hello, Carmen Miranda, it’s all just a bit bananas, n’est-ce pas?

Stroll the streets of Venice, and get lost between Canareggio and the Arsenale: Soak up the sights, and take a seat canal side with a glass of Prosecco, the lilting of gondoliers in the distance offering up “Volare.”

We carry you to the fabled Cloud Club high atop the Chrysler Building and, yes, it’s Alaia, we transport you to the English countryside and especially favored country estates and verdant gardens such as Hidcote and Rousham (Hello, Angela, do take us upstairs!), and we traverse the byways of Beyoglu in Istanbul.

Hello, Mrs. C.Z. Guest, would you like a Southside, and where’s Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness kicks back in Balenciaga and Millicent is rocking out to remixes in Charles James gold lame and Doris Duke will take you to Shangri-La and how.

It’s Jamaica back in the day and Harbour Island, and don’t be late, dinner is at 10pm under the stars, and has anyone seen Slim Aarons?

 

We are in Palm Springs, and there’s Dolores Hope and Sunnylands is just grand and John Lautner just fell in the pool.

But this Pan Am Flight 001 is taking off, dear friends, so let’s wrap up this postcard. Wish you were here.

It’s a magic land where the elite meet to greet. Tall, tan, and terrific. Won’t you join us?

View the entire collection, and the story behind each of the exceptional fabrics here.

We hope you enjoy the new collection as much as we do!

To purchase the fabrics, find your nearest retailer and, be sure to send us photos of how you use A Collector’s Eye in your own home…

Auntie Mame!
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Auntie Mame!

There’s nothing like a little Auntie Mame to make the holiday season sparkle.

Gang:

The Madcap Cottage gents wish you and your family a festive and glittering Thanksgiving holiday… we’re here to share our Thanksgiving Flick List this year!

We are hunkered down in North Carolina and will be spending Thanksgiving with dear friends at their very chic farm in nearby Thomasville. Think turkey and trimmings and heaps of crisp white wine paired with gorgeous conversation and plenty of shenanigans.

A favorite Madcap Thanksgiving annual tradition is watching heaps of stylish vintage movies that transport us to other worlds and glamorous climes–paired with loaded-up turkey sandwiches and Champagne, naturally. There’s nothing like a throwback movie to add a bit of glitter to the holiday season.

Here are ten Madcap Cottage holiday silver screen staples, movies that pack plenty of style, wit, and interior design bliss:

  1. Auntie Mame
  2. Now, Voyager
  3. Evil Under the Sun
  4. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  5. The Women
  6. Shampoo
  7. The Philadelphia Story
  8. A Single Man
  9. How to Marry a Millionaire
  10. A Room with a View

What are your holiday traditions? And do you have any essential holiday flicks?

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and be safe!