How To: Refresh That Interior


The Madcap Cottage gents believe that good design should be available to all, whether you have access to an interior designer or not. Hence, the Demystifying Design blog is all about bringing good, accessible—and yet always-aspirational—design home and thinking outside of the box to craft interiors magic. If you want to look like your neighbors’ home, go read another blog. But if you want to create bespoke interiors that overflow with personality (not ours, but yours!) and pizzazz, then you’ve come to the right place.

Today, we are taking you down a short path to a few fun tweaks that can quickly and easily transform your home and take that “nice” and make it a knockout.

  1. Layer, layer, layer! Use antiques and vintage pieces to bring decorate with layeringyour home’s storyline to life. Rooms that feature all-new furnishings and accessories look like showrooms, and who wants that? In the former Madcap Cottage front hall in Brooklyn, an antique English hall tree mixes with vintage and contemporary art. The ottomans tucked under the faux bamboo table offered the perfect occasional seating at the frequent dinner parties.
  2. Add a game table. Why always sit in your dining room at dinner parties? And the kitchen can become such a mess withadd a game table cooking and whatnot, so you might want to always pull up to the kitchen island. Our suggestion is to find a vintage game table that you can place in a cozy corner of the living room where you can segue from cocktails to dinner, board games to more cocktails. Here, the Madcap gents’ House of Bedlam living room with a vintage chinoiserie game table that we painted to give it new life.

  3. Use wallpaper to hide a room’s architectural flaws. wallpaper in decoratingFor example, here’s a 1950s-era bathroom that the Madcaps are designing in Sarasota, Florida. We kept the original pink tile and added a fun tropical wallpaper not only to play up the tile—but also to mask the soffit that runs along the ceiling. The wallpaper tricks the eye into not noticing the soffit thanks to the profusion of traveler’s palm leaves.
  4. In the same Sarasota, Florida design project, we used a jauntydecorate with stripesgreen-and-white cabana stripe paper from York Wallcoverings to lend visual interest to a long hallway that had anything but pizzazz. Thanks to the paper, the hallway now has architectural élan and seems much larger than it truly is. Some artwork upon the walls, and the space will be complete.
  5. The Madcaps are huge fans of catalogues and big-box stores: Good design resides everywhere. Here, we took the Naples

    chair updateRattan Chair from Grandin Road and custom upholstered it in the Mill Reef pattern from the Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @Home collection. A rich blue contrast welt adds the perfect punctuation mark to the seat. Lesson to be learned: Take the “store bought” and tweak it to make it your own.

Raleigh, North Carolina Showhouse

2017 Raleigh, North Carolina Showhouse

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls:

Recently, we were asked to participate in a showhouse in our backyard—well, Raleigh, North Carolina—that would benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs Serving Wake County, and we decided to jump in.

John and I have designed several showhouses over the years, and we love using our passion for interior design—and our love for telling a good story—to help a great cause.

Soon thereafter, however—and over multiple martinis—we questioned whether we were taking on too much…

Raleigh, North Carolina Showhouse

We arrive at the stunning custom home crafted by DJF Builders that would soon transform into the Boys & Girls Clubs Serving Wake County Showhouse.

The Pros:

  • The wonderful team behind the showhouse asked us to design the home’s main public space, the Family Room, hurrah!
  • We would showcase our fabrics for Robert Allen @Home, including the just-released A Collector’s Eye collection
  • We love the Boys & Girls Clubs, a great cause that can really change a child’s life!
  • We are crazy about the quality and vision of DJF Builders, the Raleigh-based custom-home firm that was building the showhouse.

The Cons:

  • John and I had heaps of travel planned just before the showhouse opening, so would we be able to pull off a showstopper?
  • Honestly, we are a bit nutty with the workload right now, so, again, could we pull it off with grace under pressure?

Well, John and I rallied—and aligned ourselves with amazing partners—and our Family Room has come together swimmingly.

Stay tuned for updates from the gala party on March 23. Will we see you there?

Here’s the storyline that we wrote and some behind-the-scenes images from the work in progress:

Step inside the Family Room, aka, the Rumpus Room, and you are whisked off to the isle of Mustique, that glorious British enclave that mixes a spirited dose of tropic-luxe tempered with continental chic.

“Would you care for a libation,” she offers. “Call me Canasta. Canasta Jones. And how about a rubber? A rubber of bridge, you naughty boy!”

Raleigh, North Carolina Showhouse

Of course, we broke out our watercolors and set to work sketching our vision for the Family Room.

Ah, but that’s a tale for another day, n’est-ce pas? To bring our whimsical storyline to life in glorious, cinematic Technicolor, we turned to our friends at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams for a mix of crisp, chic upholstery, upholstered in Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @Home fabrics. All upholstery will go to Raleigh’s Green Chair Project after the show house wraps up to make a family in need’s life that much sunnier! We layered-in our Cove End pattern in Daffodil upon the window treatments from the Madcap Cottage for Smith + Noble collection. The case goods from Woodbridge Furniture shimmer in the sun with their bespoke brilliance, from the Linwood game table and the Merrion side chairs to the Montecito Etagere that holds far-flung accessories courtesy of Ballard Designs. The lighting was plucked from Currey & Co., and the shimmering Mansion chandelier that dangles overhead offers just the right mix of tall, tan, and absolutely terrific.

“Hello, stranger, peel me a grape,” you coo, and he obliges.

The heaven-sent wallpaper, the tantalizing Bali Leaves from York Wallcoverings, pairs deliciously with the Stonington Gray hue from Benjamin Moore.

Welcome aboard, close your eyes, and dream of balmy, palmy afternoons. “Destination unknown,” she purrs, and you follow her lead, visions of endless, sun-kissed legs and Cherries in the Snow lips filling your head. Dream, dream big. Bold. And bespoke. For no one remembers the shrinking violets, mon petit chou. “Share the fantasy,” she says, the sound of thunder, the crash of a far-off drum, a whiff of opium and Fracas, mixed, and night fell like a shade.

See some of the details of our room:

fast, fabulous, and fun design

Design: Fast, Fabulous, and Fun!


We hope you are having a great week! The Madcap Cottage gents are in Sarasota, Florida working on the overhaul of a mid-century ranch home as part of our “Fast and Fabulous” interior design program, a flexible program that allows for a design overhaul at a reasonable cost and fast-tracked time frame.

fast, fabulous, and fun design

The Madcap Cottage gents understand limited budgets and tight time constraints, so we have developed an interior design program that makes getting a piece of us easy…

Have you heard of this Madcap Cottage offering?!

No? Here’s an overview:

The “Fast and Fabulous” scheme allows us to create the home of your dreams from a distance, on a controlled budget, within a retail-ready framework, and on a narrow time frame.

Instead of meeting in person, we schedule a series of Skype calls and email questionnaires that will allow us to get inside your head to bring your design vision to life. You will need to be quite involved in the process and provide us with detailed measurements, etc. All items that we select will be retail available so that you can order furnishings, accessories, window treatments, etc. on your own.

The Timeline:

  1. Pre-Virtual Meeting #1
    1. You provide us with the following:
      1. Detailed measurements: we provide a template that delineates exactly what we need
      2. Description of a story line: i.e. How do you want the home to function and how do you see the home being used
      3. Design likes and dislikes
      4. Any inspiration pictures you want to share
      5. Overall budget broken down by category: from construction & finishing to furnishings
  2. Pre-Virtual Meeting #2
    1. We collect all information from Pre-Virtual Meeting #1 and send a package of inspiration interiors to you
    2. After you receive the package, you give us your feedback and comments
  3. Virtual Meeting #1
    1. We send a presentation with initial broad thoughts on the space and how it would be used
      1. This includes suggestions for:
        1. Wall treatments
        2. Lighting
        3. Other matters that impact construction, remodeling, and space planning
    2. We delve into furniture placement, but not specific pieces
    3. You give your thoughts and responses, and we discuss via Skype
  4. Virtual Meeting #2
    1. We present a final design plan using the information and discussion from Virtual Meeting #1
    2. You give your feedback and we cover one set of major changes/revisions
  5. Virtual Meeting #3
    1. We present any revisions, budget and numbers from the selections made from Virtual Meeting #2

Your final plan includes:

  • Specifications and pricing on all products
  • Ordering information on all products
  • Detailed drawings of each space based on client’s measurements
  • Detailed paint and finish plan

Are you ready to get fabulous fast?

Learn more about the Fast and Fabulous design program by emailing us at jason@madcapcottage.com

We can’t wait to get started!