The Glam Pad is a huge fan of the traditional, yet whimsical and exquisitely layered style of John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon, co-founders of Madcap Cottage. We have featured their work, and Jason has guest posted numerous times over the years… and today the Madcap gents are back with a special Christmas tour of their gorgeous 1930s home! Personally, I always find men to be so challenging to shop for, so I asked Jason – who has impeccable taste – to help with some special and out-of-the-box gift ideas. We are delighted to welcome John and Jason today!
Madcap Cottage Must Haves!
By Jason Oliver Nixon @madcapcottage
You reach a certain age where you mostly have everything you want and you no longer crave, say, the trendier items that you might have coveted in your 20s or 30s. Frankly, I would be thrilled with new underwear or a toaster. Wink. With that said, here’s the Madcap Cottage holiday gift list for that special man in our life.
Photography by Bert VanderVeen
- Plan a Road Trip
John and I find that time is the ultimate luxury so we like to gift each other a long weekend away road trip. Think either a wonderful short-term rental or a boutique-style hotel in a walking-friendly town. We pick somewhere within two hours of our home and choose a great restaurant en route for lunch to break it up. So much more fun that sitting around an airport for hours and hours, n’est-ce pas? We live in North Carolina, so we have escaped to Highlander Mountain House in Highlands; The Greenbrier in West Virginia; Zero George in Charleston, South Carolina; and the Hotel Weyanoke in Farmville, Virginia, among many others. We walk, read, pick out great restaurants, and really turn off.
- Collect Colorful Socks
John loves a good statement sock, so I keep my eyes open through the year for socks that boast wonderful prints, patterns, and motifs. I have fond garden-themed numbers in London and Scandi modernist styles in Helsinki. I tie the assortment up with ribbons and stuff John’s bespoke stocking with these leggy lookers. John’s eyes light up when he sees the confetti-like confections. A favorite online source is Rowing Blazers for kicky striped numbers that looked plucked from Eton.
- Order Vintage Design Books
John and I are design junkies, obviously, so we look for vintage and newish garden and interiors books on eBay and such that are more boutique and unusual—and not the bumper crop of new design books that “are of the moment.” We spend the Christmas holiday poring over these inspirational treasures. A few recent favorite finds include Decorating is Fun! by Dorothy Draper; Visions of Paradise: Themes and Variations on the Garden by Marina Schinz; The Family Decorates a Home by Carleton Varney; and Rose Cumming: Design Inspiration by Jeffrey Simpson. And The Chinese Pavilion at Drottningholm is absolute heaven.
- Stock the Bar
I pick up interesting liquors during the course of the year and stock the bar Christmas morning with interesting selections of gins, vodkas, bourbons, and such, all tied with a jaunty ribbon. John also collects ashtrays from hotels from around the world, so every year I add a new ashtray to the bar that I picked up in, say, Iowa or Istanbul. A favorite source for interesting liquors is Fortnum & Mason in London but you have to pick them up there as they can’s ship booze to the US.
- Sharpen the Garden Tools
John and I are mad, mad gardeners, so I have all of John’s yard tools—think clippers, loppers, and chainsaw blades—sharpened and cleaned for the year ahead. I wrap them in brown paper and tie them with a pine bough and ribbon. Functional and fun!
- Commission an Original Work of Art
Every year I find a different artist on Instagram and commission them to paint a portrait of a room in our home, the House of Bedlam. We group the various portraits together and they always make us smile. As a particular room evolves, we can always go back and reminisce on what the room once looked like. A few favorite artists include AE Reed, Dapper & Dreamy, Diane Carnevale, and Funkoiserie. We also love paper flowers from the amazing Ramona Sadiq.
- Order Interesting Seeds for the Garden
Since we love to garden, I source interesting heirloom seeds for John to try in the garden in the season ahead. That might mean globe artichokes or wonderful, unexpected flowers or a vine with a particularly interesting blossom. Look online for interesting seed sources. Turn to Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Wild Boar Farms, and Kitazawa Seed Company.
- Make Christmas Morning Breakfast
On Christmas Day, I bring John breakfast in bed with popovers, scrambled eggs, bacon, and peppermint-scented coffee on a bed tray. He really enjoys waking up to this annual tradition. Gifts need not be expensive, but rather expressive.
- Create a Fun Playlist
There’s nothing better than a great playlist, so every year I craft something fun for John on Spotify that captures a certain vibe or sensibility that speaks to the travel we have planned for the year ahead. This holiday, for instance, I am mapping out a wonderful assortment of music under the theme “Meet Me in Puglia.” Think 80s dance music (Pet Shop Boys’ “Se a Vida E,” for example) mixed with Italian folks songs and a few surprises in between.
- Purchase a Thematic Sweater
John loves to wear unusual sweaters in the winter that boast fun motifs. He is even game for an especially out-there Christmas sweater. This year I have found a great sweater with our childhood hero Babar on the front of the jumper setting off on a far-flung journey.
Such fun tips, and I am in love with John and Jason’s home… an enchanted Christmas wonderland! To learn more about Madcap Cottage and their line of fabrics and wallpapers, please visit madcapcottage.com. You can read and see more about their work via previous articles from The Glam Pad. And for ongoing inspiration, please follow @madcapcottage on Instagram.
For additional holiday shopping ideas from more of The Glam Pad’s favorite tastemakers, please visit our Tastemaker Holiday Gift Guide 2021.