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At Home in a Madcap Cottage

Jason Oliver Nixon tells how he and partner John Loecke found a home in High Point—and splashed it with color and pattern

Written by Jason Oliver Nixon
  • Dustin Peck

    After 25 years in New York City, it was time for a change. When I was just out of college, NYC was candyland. In my 30s, it still felt spiffy. But now I feared morphing into an old man who cursed and mumbled at passersby.

    My partner, John, and I discussed the options. We looked at historic Hancock Park in Los Angeles, but what to do when a true fixer-upper (no AC, clunky plumbing) clocks in at more than $1 million? We considered Chicago, but, ultimately, I hoped for warmer, not colder. And so our search carried us southward.

    As designers and proprietors at Madcap Cottage, we had visited High Point, North Carolina, twice annually for more than 15 years to attend Market, the furniture industry’s “fashion week.” Something about the community spoke to us. John and I invariably tacked a few extra days onto our biannual visits to explore—places like the Emerywood neighborhood with its 1930s-era homes and the immense Bienenstock Furniture Library.

    “Why not consider a house in High Point?” I asked John. It’s only an hour’s flight from NYC. Besides, we had scoped out the home prices and knew we could live like kings—well, perhaps plucky princes—once we unloaded our Brooklyn townhouse, situated in a suddenly white-hot neighborhood. So we piled our three rescue pups—Jasper, Weenie, and Amy Petunia—into the Subaru and set sail. We visited cozy cottages, a bosky bungalow, and a Mediterranean-style manse. And then, mother of Jefferson Davis, we stumbled onto the House of Bedlam.

    John Loecke (left) and Jason Oliver Nixon tote art into their new home.

    Photography: Dustin Peck

    Interior designers: John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon, Madcap Cottage, 128 Church Ave., High Point, NC 27262; 917/513-9143,  

  • Dustin Peck

    House of Bedlam

    Of course, our future home—a 5,000-square-foot, white-brick, 1930s-era Regency Revival situated on almost three acres (with a meandering stream!)—was not called the House of Bedlam yet, but we knew that we had unearthed the next Madcap marvel. Diehard anglophiles, we fell under the spell of the exterior’s plucked-from-across-the-pond sensibility, crafted by noted North Carolina architect Louis Voorhees. Its elegant proportions and gracious flourishes appeared to have stepped straight from Bath, England.

    Hanging lantern (“Oliver Hanging Lantern” #114935); planters (“Versailles”/Jade #68149, 27-inch high): Frontgate,

  • Dustin Peck

    Great Hall

    The foyer gleams with decorative-paint wall treatments inspired by British muralist Rex Whistler that march up the main stairway and play off the whimsical, hand-painted floor.

    Floors, walls, ceiling (hand-painted); mural: custom.
    Lantern (vintage); bench (vintage Michael Taylor): Madcap Cottage,
    Center table (“Deauville Center Table,” Andre Arbus Collection for Baker): vintage.
    Bench fabric (“Contentment”/Blush, velvet): Robert Allen,
    Wall tiles (hand-painted): custom.
    Ceiling paint (custom); wall paint (“Geddy White” #CW-20; “Stingray” #1529; “Baja Dunes” #997; “White Dove” #OC-17); floor paint (“Blair Gold” #HC-22; “Herbal Escape” #1487; “Winterwood” #1486): Benjamin Moore,

  • Dustin Peck

    Living Room

    Inside, the home continued its period motifs with lovingly crafted fluted moldings, plus a Greek key pattern wrapping the grand living room’s mantel. Dating to 1937, the architecturally rich home was a bargain compared to New York and Los Angeles prices, well under the offer we had just received on our Brooklyn rowhouse. And so the games began! 

    Wallpaper on mantel wall (#SY-204 hand-painted, custom): Gracie,
    Wallpaper on window wall: original to home, glazed.
    Drapery (“Sakura Stripe”/Tiffany); drapery trim (“Modern Bead”/Coral Reef); drapery hardware (“Chess”/Watermark Silver); sofa trim (“Greek Key Braid”/Spa): Robert Allen,
    Ceiling wallpaper (“Vinyl Mirror Mirror”/Charming Copper #7739): Phillip Jeffries,
    Chandeliers: custom.
    Area rug (Nichols); screen at mantel: antique.
    Sofa: Hickory Chair,
    Armchairs: vintage.
    Armchair fabric (“Mill Reef”/Rhubarb); sofa fabric (“Beach Club”/Cream); sofa pillows (“Isleboro Eve”/Daffodil): Into the Garden Collection by Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @ Home,
    Stool at mantel (“Elsie Tabouret” #1697, by Tony Duquette): Baker,
    Stool fabric (“Gem Palace”/Rhubarb): Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @ Home,
    Coffee table; Chinoiserie side table (vintage); table lamps (vintage); mirror over mantel (vintage); tiered tables flanking mantel (vintage); accessories: Madcap Cottage,
    Lamp shades: Lamps Plus,  

  • Dustin Peck

    Living Room

    We dove headfirst into a renovation, removing early 1990s “improvements” (bisque-hue appliances, fluorescent lighting, a dropped ceiling) and channeling a modern-day English country estate. We bought vintage wallpapers on eBay, browsed consignment shops, and created Pinterest boards to share between us. 

    The living room nods to fabled Anglo-American interior designer Nancy Lancaster. The gathering space marries scenic, bespoke Gracie wallpaper with varnished papers that date from the home’s 1930s origins. Beautifully scaled, low-slung furnishings—a Hickory Chair sofa and vintage armchairs covered in Madcap Cottage fabric from Robert Allen—pair deliciously with a red-lacquer secretary and an antique Nichols rug.  

  • Dustin Peck

    Vibrant Dining Room

    Inspired by the bar at Venice’s fabled Gritti Palace hotel, the formal dining area pairs bold florals—from the vintage wallpaper to the Portuguese needlepoint rug—with rich silks, jewel-tone leathers, and plenty of mirrored sparkle, including a vintage Murano glass chandelier. 

    Wallpaper above chair rail: vintage.
    Wallpaper below chair rail (“Marmorino”/Jade #PDG653/08, by Designers Guild); ceiling wallpaper (Chinese Trellis”/Pale Jade #PDG650/03, by Designers Guild): Osborne & Little,
    Paint on custom lattice chair rail (“Yarmouth Blue” #HC-150): Benjamin Moore,
    Drapery (“Mysore Silk”/Petal, from Beacon Hill); drapery trim (“Vine Braid”/Lagoon); hardware (“Casual Elegance” in Gold Patina and Silver Patina): Robert Allen,
    Needlepoint rug (Portuguese); dining tabledining chairsMurano glass chandelier: vintage, from Madcap Cottage,
    Dining-seat leather (“Bella Pelle” in Rose #5006-02, and in Aqua #5006-17): Jerry Pair Leather,
    Cabinet (“Two Drawer Dorothy Draper Console and Curio” #88-052): Kindel,
    Ceiling medallion (“Plaster Centerpiece Empire” #738): Decorators Supply Corp.,  

  • Dustin Peck

    Bijou Bar

    What was once the pantry was transformed into an inviting arched bar space. Vintage tiles picked up on a trip to Lisbon offset white subway tiles from Ann Sacks. The vintage metal sconce pairs wonderfully with a Moroccan-style pendant to illuminate the space. 

    Cabinet: custom.
    Wall paint: Benjamin Moore,
    White subway tiles: Ann Sacks,
    Blue-and-white tiles (from Portugal): owner’s colleciton.
    Quartz countertop: Silestone by Cosentino,
    Lantern (“Shadow Ball Light” #CL0091.BR): Vaughan Designs,
    Lighting controls: Lutron,
    Wall sconce (vintage); accessories (vintage): Madcap Cottage, 

  • Dustin Peck

    Verdant Kitchen

    Taking a page from the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England, Jason and John chose rich green tiles from Ann Sacks and trellis wallpaper from Thibaut, which pair swimmingly with an antique fretwork table and new pieces like Century Furniture stools, a BlueStar range, and a Big Chill “Fridge.” 

    Range (36-inch): BlueStar,
    Range hood (“Ponderosa”/Antiquated Copper, 36-inch): Prizer Hoods,
    Floral tiles (from Portugal): owner’s collection.
    Potfiller faucet (“Quincy Wall-Mounted Potfiller” #P23070-00): Kallista,
    Refrigerator (“Retropolitan”/Buttercup Yellow): Big Chill,
    Quartz countertop (“Doradus,” Nebula Series): Silestone by Cosentino,
    Cabinetry: custom.
    Cabinet hardware (“Hexagonal Bin Pull” #C1651): Rejuvenation,
    Cabinet hardware: cabinet knobs original to home.
    Island (antique); hanging lanterns (vintage): Madcap Cottage,
    Counter stools (“Niles” #AE-3368C, by Thomas O’Brien): Century Furniture,
    Flooring: original to home.

  • Dustin Peck

    Verdant Kitchen

    The inviting kitchen island is an 18th-century Chinoiserie fretwork table purchased at an auction and then raised to its current height. Overhead, elegant vintage lanterns are another nod to the Royal Pavilion’s great kitchen.

    Green tile (“Earthenware Elements”/Lime in Gloss); white tile (“Earthenware Elements”/Candle White in Gloss); trim tile (“Circa Crown”/Lime in Gloss and “Circa Canton Liner”/Whisper Green Gloss): Ann Sacks,
    Ceiling wallpaper (“Majuli Trellis”/Green #T88747): Thibaut,
    Trim paint on window (“Hawthorne Yellow” #HC-4): Benjamin Moore,
    Sink (white Carrara marble #L20303-00, For Town by Michael S Smith); faucets (“Kitchen Faucet with Sidespray, Lever Handles” #P23051-LV, For Town by Michael S Smith): Kallista,
    Quartz countertop (“Doradus,” Nebula Series): Silestone by Cosentino,
    Cabinetry: custom.
    Cabinet hardware (“Hexagonal Bin Pull” #C1651): Rejuvenation,
    Cabinet hardware: cabinet knobs original to home.
    Island (antique); hanging lanterns (vintage): Madcap Cottage,
    Counter stools (“Niles” #AE-3368C, by Thomas O’Brien): Century Furniture,
    Flooring: original to home.

  • Dustin Peck

    Laundry Room

    Pale yellow doors and green trim enliven the laundry room. Bob Collins wallpaper adds an additional dose of whimsy. The Greek-key embellished doors were salvaged from an estate designed by the late Otto Zenke.

    Wallpaper: Bob Collins & Sons Inc.,
    Paint: Benjamin Moore,
    Light: Rejuvenation,
    Flooring (“Bordeaux Gris” limestone): Ann Sacks,
    Wicker console table (vintage); Swedish bureau (vintage): madcap Cottage,
    Door (vintage, salvaged from estate): owner’s collection. 

  • Dustin Peck


    Today, the house is rich with antiques, color, and patterns, many culled from our just-launched Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @Home fabric collection (created at our new downtown design studio/shop). John has taken up saying “y’all.” I swear by sweet tea (well, half-and-half tea anyway). And we are happy.

    Welcome to the House of Bedlam. Traditional. With a twist.

    A pistachio-hue upholstered ceiling crowns this spirited space, outfitted with refurbished rattan pieces.

    Wallcovering on ceiling (“Cove End”/Palm); drapery (“Bermuda Bay”/Palm); sofa fabric (“Isleboro Eve”/Daffodil); sofa pillows, left to right, “Ditchley Park”/Rhubarb; “Cove End”/Palm; “Monsoon Palace”/Daffodil): Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @ Home,
    Sofa (“March” #7625-76, by Mariette Himes Gomez):  Hickory Chair,
    Trim paint (“Harwood Putty” #CW-5): Benjamin Moore,
    Flooring: original to home.
    Rattan chairs; chandelier; coffee table; wicker stool; lamps: vintage from Madcap Cottage,
    Fabric on rattan chairs (“Cove End”/Palm); pillow on rattan chair (“Mill Reef”/Rhubarb): Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @ Home,
    Lamp shades: Lamps Plus,  

  • Dustin Peck

    Madcap Bedroom

    Madcap Cottage fabrics in exuberant patterns and colors create an inviting retreat, where reimagined vintage furniture mingles with eye-catching Thibaut wallpaper.

    Wallpaper (“Giselle”/Beige #T14226); ceiling wallpaper (“Shang Extra Fine Sisal”/Willow #T5016); alcove wallpaper (“Fishing Village”/Light Green #F85329): Thibaut,
    Trim paint (“Spotswood Teal” #CW-545): Benjamin Moore,
    Bed (vintage); cabinet; coffee table; needlepoint rug; lighting; bench (vintage); chair (vintage): Madcap Cottage,
    Bed canopy and skirt (“Tivoli Stripe”/Palm); fabric on love seat and on back and sides of bench (“Mirador Morn”/Oyster); bed drapery (“Viva Acapulco”/Rhubarb); alcove arch fabric (“Gem Palace”/Palm); bench-seat fabric (“Cove End”/Oyster); chair fabric (“Mill Reef”/Palm); drapery (“Windy Corner”/Oyster); valance (“Cove End”/Oyster): Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @ Home,
    Bed quilt: Madcap Cottage for HSN,
    Pillowcases (“Mea Meadow Euro Shams”): Eastern Accents,
    Trim on bed canopy (“Modern Bead”/Coral Reef): Robert Allen,
    Night tables; table lamp; sconce: Madcap Cottage,

  • Dustin Peck

    Madcap Bedroom

    Three closets were removed to create the arched, upholstered alcove, which now holds the vintage canopy bed. 

  • Dustin Peck

    Master Bath

    An 18th-century chinoiserie panel anchors the tub surround and a Nichols rug serves as the bath mat in this enticing sanctuary.  

    Wallpaper (“Praying Mantis”/Butter): Bob Collins & Sons Inc.,
    Ceiling wallpaper (“Shang Extra Fine Sisal”/Willow #T5016): Thibaut,
    Bathtub (“Perfect Small Rectangular Bathtub” #P50047-00); bath faucets (“Hampstead Bath Faucet Set with Standard Spout and Handshower, Black Porcelain Lever Handles” #P22207-BL): Kallista,
    Tub surround (“Calypso,” Nebula Alpha Series): Silestone by Cosentino,
    Antique Chinoiserie panel in tub surround: custom.
    Area rug (Nichols): antique.
    Cabinet: vintage Baker.
    Mirror (vintage); occasional table (vintage): Madcap Cottage,

  • Michael Partenio