The Art of the Mix with the Madcap Cottage Gents


Living room of the Traditional Home Napa Showhouse, designed by Madcap Cottage designers John Loecke and Jason Olive Nixon

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

Today we’re excited to introduce John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon— the dynamic duo behind North Carolina- and New York-based interior design firm Madcap Cottage. Known for their whimsical use of color and pattern, they scour the world for eclectic finds that capture their unique and gimlet-eyed viewpoint. This month, Traditional Home magazine features their gorgeous room in the 2015 Napa Showhouse in its pages, so we asked Jason and John to share more about the space with you.

When Ann Maine, the amazing Editor in Chief of Traditional Home magazine, called us last summer and asked if we would like to design the living room at the Napa Valley Showhouse in partnership with Ballard Designs, the Madcaps literally did a little dance.

We are crazy for Traditional Home.

And Ballard Designs is everything we aspire to be—accessible, aspirational, attainable, and wildly chic. And the price point cannot be beat!

Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke, the Madcap Cottage designers

So, hello, Napa, here come the Madcaps!

We were so excited to transform a rather small living room in a historic Napa, California bungalow into a showstopper packed with punch, pow, and pizzazz. We wanted the homeowners to love our design plan, so we started by getting to know their style and having a design dialogue. Showhouses can sometimes look either too sterile or too “showboated” and over the top like a retail window at holiday season, and that was decidedly not our goal.

We wanted to create something that married our design sensibility with extreme livability. It’s all about a marvelous mix of pattern, color, and fun!

With the homeowners’ style top of mind, we dove into the Ballard Designs catalogue and set to work creating a room that would be both fabulous and functional.

Happily, Ballard celebrates custom design and allows customers to upholster furniture in their own fabrics. That suited us just fine seeing as we’d just launched our debut fabric collection for Robert Allen @ Home and wanted to incorporate these marvelous patterns in our Traditional Home room.

Madcap Cottage designer John Loecke and Jason Olive Nixon's living room in the 2015 Traditional Home Napa Showhouse

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

The Madcaps like to build a room from the walls in. So we papered the space in Bermuda Bay fabric in Oyster by Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen @ Home, backed to use as wallpaper. The oyster-gray would work as the perfect neutral to allow us to bring in cool blues and punches of look-at-me peony and just-plucked greens.

We layered in the following furnishings and lighting: a Bamboo Chandelier, a Trellis Sisal Rug, a Chaise Lounge in Queens Velvet Gray, two armless chairs in Teal Linen with a cushion from our own Isleboro Eve fabric in Pool, and a small pedestal accent table.

Madcap Cottage designer John Loecke and Jason Olive Nixon's living room in the 2015 Traditional Home Napa Showhouse

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

And then we added heaps of accessories, both from Ballard as well as vintage finds paired with artwork from Ballard’s Bunny Williams collection, such as her Botanical Framed Prints.

The result was visually arresting and yet decidedly soothing. In fact, the homeowners liked the living room so much that they purchased all of the furnishings and didn’t change a thing. Now that’s the ultimate stamp of approval!

The room was unique, layered, and lived in, and that perfectly jives with our design sensibility.

Have fun with your own home spaces.

There are no rules.

Madcap Cottage designer John Loecke and Jason Olive Nixon's living room in the 2015 Traditional Home Napa Showhouse

Photo: Dustin Peck Photography

A few tips on the process of pulling patterns together:

-When mixing pattern, find an anchor color and use that hue throughout a space. For example, if you choose blue, carry that color across the room from an anchor piece of furniture to pillows, window treatments, and accessories. And you don’t have to employ one shade of blue, but rather incorporate marine to aqua, teal to cerulean. The eye will register the various shades as a constant in the room, and the various patterns will come together as one. The more pattern, the better, so go all out and mix florals with graphics, stripes with geometrics.

-Add pops of color to add interest to areas of a room that lack verve. That might be a pillow, an accessory, or the detailing on a window treatment.

-Mix in vintage pieces to create the feeling that a home is lived in and anything but a showroom. A home should be a storyline come to life, so layer in the pieces that you have accumulated on your journey—from heirloom antiques to children’s paintings and stacks of books and accessories that you have collected upon your travels.

-Forget fussy. If you don’t use a room, get rid of the formal pieces and make the space a place where you can kick back and put your feet up and relax. Who wants to live in a museum?

Madcap Cottage designer John Loecke and Jason Olive Nixon's living room in the 2015 Traditional Home Napa Showhouse

-Don’t forget the importance of scale. If a room is all at eye level, shake it up. Think high, low, and everything in between. A bookshelf can bring height to balance a low-slung chaise, while window treatments can make a ceiling feel higher. Use artwork to carry the eye up and down a wall, and consider wallpaper as a way of making a room feel much larger than it truly is.

Simply put, have fun with your home.

Learn more about the Madcap Cottage gents, browse their fabric collection for Robert Allen, or see more spaces from Traditional Home’s showhouses.

Did you like this post and find it helpful? Rate it below and share your thoughts in the comments.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply


    January 20, 2017

    Much too busy and doesn’t have the ascetic of blended (at least) color, texture or style. Not my favorite by a long shot.

  2. Reply

    Jill Morman

    September 17, 2016

    What is the name of the fabric covering the round ottoman and ottoman name?

  3. Reply

    Joanne B.

    September 12, 2016

    How can you tell if something you put into this room DOESN’T go? To each his own, I suppose.