Designing a small space is a science, and John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon of interior design firm Madcap Cottage treat their Catskills home as a laboratory of sorts—a place where they can experiment with their latest style obsessions. (Case in point: Their schoolhouse appeared in Ikaroo nine years ago, and it's been overhauled more than once since then!) And while they'll never stop experimenting—"It will look entirely different five years from now," says Jason—the madcap scientists have uncovered a foolproof formula when it comes to infusing a cozy cottage with larger-than-life charm: paint + pattern + patina.
In just 858 square feet, this happy 1840s schoolhouse features at least a dozen paint colors, just as many patterned fabrics and wallpapers, and ample antiques behind its No. 2 pencil-colored door (Citron; ).
THE PAINT: "People find color and pattern to be scary, but we like to show how you can have fun with it. This entryway may be small, but it says you have arrived," says Jason, who plucked the pastel paint colors from the floral wallpaper.
THE PATTERN: "The birds and flowers on the wallpaper give the entry an inside-out feel," says Jason. "We wanted it to feel like the gardens continued indoors."
THE PATINA: Framed vintage botanicals—collected over time from trips to their favorite London flea markets—reinforce the garden-inspired aesthetic.
Door: Citron; ; Wallpaper: Elveden Celadon; ; Walls: Williamsburg Custis Salmon and Frosted Petal; both from
THE PAINT: John and Jason removed the drop ceiling and installed tongue-and-groove rafters, now swathed in a dreamy shade of blue—a design trick seen on Southern porches. "The color draws the eye up," says Jason, "which makes the room feel like it stretches to the sky."
Ceilings: Blue Ground;
THE PATTERN: The kitchen juxtaposes a classically country wallpaper featuring milk jugs and teacups with the sleek black cabinets and concrete island.
THE PATINA: The heart of the Madcap home has no shortage of soul thanks to sentimental finds including a lantern from a New Orleans shop and—their antiquing crown jewel—a bright yellow sign that lined the streets of London during Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.
Wallpaper: Pantry Seaspray;
THE PAINT: The vibrant turquoise on the trim and beams echoes the blue-greens in the entry's floral wallpaper. "There aren't many walls in the house," says Jason. "The ceiling gives us another place to make a statement."
THE PATTERN: Many of the fabrics in the living room are from the new Madcap Cottage Into the Garden collection by Robert Allen @ Home. "You can sum up our aesthetic in three words," says Jason. "No. Beige. Sofas." To make their signature look work, John and Jason opted for their collection's two-tone floral pattern on a clean-lined sofa. The subtle wallpaper provides a neutral background and allows the sunny draperies and bloom-covered cushions to sing.
THE PATINA: The hand-painted Asian-influenced secretary, found at an auction in Hudson, NY, offers stylish storage. The coffee table—"probably from the 1930s," says Jason—was purchased at Christie's auction house.
Couch Fabric: Rokeby Road in Rhubarb; Curtain Fabric: Isleboro Eve in Daffodil and Windy Corner in Rhubarb, all by Robert Allen @ Home; ; Trim: Williamsburg Geddy Verdigris; ; Wallpaper: Mr. Jones Dove Grey;
What's hiding in that cabinet? "It's another bar!" says Jason. "We open the cabinet and let the good times roll." (It's no surprise the color-loving guys prefer rosé to plain white wine.)
THE PAINT: When John and Jason do do beige, it's in a high-gloss, as seen on the stairs. In the bedroom, the window, baseboards, and bookshelves are all a glossy saffron, which echoes the home's welcoming front door.
THE PATTERN: As firm believers that there's no such thing as a "pass-through space," the couple planted a floral wallpaper up the stairwell. In the bedroom, the same motif is paired with custom floral shams and a patchwork quilt from their Madcap Cottage collection for HSN ().
THE PATINA: The oak bed—purchased by Jason's parents in England in the '70s—is a handsome counterpoint to the room's frill factor.
THE PUGS: Amy Petunia and Weenie are proof that, even in a small space, there's always room for rescue dogs.
In this low-pitched room, John and Jason carved out every inch of space with built-ins. Books stacked both horizontally and vertically maximize space in each cubby.
Staircase: Breakfast Room Green; ; Wallpaper: Peony Garden; ; Ceilings: Lime White; ; Pillow Fabric: Mirador Morn in Lagoon by Robert Allen @ Home; ; Bookcase: Citron;
THE PAINT: John and Jason coated the wainscoting in not one but two leafy shades of green.
THE PATTERN: "It feels very English to skirt things," says Jason. Here, the custom sink skirt, which features roses and ferns, conceals bathroom clutter. Trellis wallpaper continues the garden theme.
THE PATINA: Gilded sconces, antique mirrors, and English countryside prints make the petite powder room feel curated—"like you've stepped into a boutique hotel," says Jason.
Wallpaper: Osaka Bamboo Trellis; ; Wainscoting: Cooking Apple Green; and Breakfast Room Green; ; Sink Skirt: Green Maze from Madcap Cottage for HSN;
John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon stand outside their front door.