Looking for fresh Christmas decorating ideas this year? Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke of interior design and lifestyle brand Madcap Cottage are known for their eclectic and whimsical style. In this post, they take us into their bright and colorful home as it’s decorated for Christmas. Read on as they share their decorating process and inspirations this season.
When do you start decorating for Christmas?
Welcome to a very Madcap Christmas! John and I start talking about the holidays in September and come up with a theme and storyline to bring the Madcap Cottage vision to life. Think fun. Color. Unexpected. Never fussy. We then figure out how we can bring that story a reality through Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, and ornaments. And then we start decorating the first week of November and usually spend a good two days pulling it all together. We love maxing out the time that we can enjoy the holidays and keep our decorations up until just after New Year’s Eve.
Indoors, the House of Bedlam is transformed into a wintry holiday wonderland. We placed this Frosted Yukon Spruce in the living room. So realistic and easy to install!
What is your holiday decorating process like?
At Madcap Cottage we think in terms of storylines and look to history, travel, fashion, and vintage magazines and design books for inspiration. We come up with a few ideas and then drill down on what would deliver on the goal of surprise and delight and how we can implement our plan. We love to create holiday magic, but we are not going to rent a cherry picker or pull a Clark Griswold “Christmas Vacation” to-do with a million lights stapled to the roof—that’s just not our reality. Think fabulous but also fast and efficient. We usually ask a friend or two to help and order plenty of pizza and have the free-flowing Prosecco as a thank you. Then we all go out for a really fun dinner to celebrate our hard work.
Balsam Hill Fraser Fir garland, a glorious blue tree, and paper honeycomb balls set a festive tone in the foyer. The result is fun, whimsical, and fantastical!
Are there favorite spots in your home that you love to decorate?
We love to make “moments” in our home magical, such as the mantel, a dining room tablescape, or the area around the front door. If you think small, you can make a major impact without having to spend a fortune. We are not big on draping lights all over our front yard—we would rather create a focal point such as the front door, for instance, and really make that area shine.
Have fun with ‘moments’ in your home like this mantel decorated with ornaments in the House of Bedlam living room.
Describe your signature style when it comes to interior design.
Think fun and exuberant. Nothing fussy. Tradition with a twist. A nod to history with our eyes firmly focused on the future. We love mixing decades and styles and pairing vintage and antique finds. Color. Prints. Patterns. Nothing beige.
The tree is lit! The Oakville Outdoor Tree is topped with a sparkly star. We painted the galvanized tree collar a signature Madcap pink hue. Note the vintage Santa above the front door.
How do you incorporate seasonal décor into your styling and interior design?
We love pairing traditional holiday motifs with unexpected elements that we have picked up along our journey. For example, we might mix wood fruit that we found in Morocco with ornaments from an Iowa consignment store, miniature Mexican tin sculptures, and grandmother’s German glass balls. And we always mix in heaps of ribbon—there’s no better way to finish off a look than with yards of grosgrain, Dupioni, and more!
Doesn’t this wreath look pretty embellished with a little ribbon? If you don’t know how to tie a great bow, watch tutorials online.
For more Christmas ribbon decorating ideas, check out this video.
What color scheme did you choose for your home this year?
Although we love red and green, we also like changing out our color scheme every year and this season we are going for shimmer with pale greens and pinks. Really have fun with your color scheme and bring in some wonderful hues such as rich blues, deep purples, golds, and silver.
We love pairing traditional holiday motifs with unexpected elements… This season we are going for shimmer with pale greens and pinks.
Please share your inspiration for this year’s décor theme.
There is so much volatility in the world right now… So we turned to vintage inspiration to help channel a time when things were a bit calmer and a tad more comforting. We love the idea of family coming together and really spending quality time together. Hence, we wanted to create moments in various rooms of our home, the House of Bedlam, that really invite and evoke a spirit of joy and delight.
This year, we turned to vintage inspiration to help channel a time when things were a bit calmer and a tad more comforting.
What are your favorite Balsam Hill pieces, and why?
Balsam Hill is truly one-stop shopping for creating an amazing, super-memorable holiday season! The Christmas Drum Tree Collar is an especial favorite as it really anchors the tree in a big, bold way that you don’t find with a tree skirt. And we love Balsam’s amazing Magnolia Garland that captures a spirit of southern gentility and grace. And the pre-lit wreaths are so amazingly realistic but never shed so we can hang them in places where we don’t have to be concerned with constantly vacuuming up needles.
The Magnolia Leaf Garland adds holiday cheer in the House of Bedlam kitchen. Why not decorate a kitchen, hallway, or bathroom for the season!
What are some of your go-to tips and tricks that you follow when decorating for Christmas?
Create a storyline then bring that vision to life. That story could be as small as a decorated tabletop tree that incorporates ornaments crafted by your kids or as big as multiple trees decorated in different styles. Then create a plan to make your idea a reality. Shop the ornaments that you already own and bring out pieces that you haven’t used in years. Layer-in plenty of nostalgia such as the tree topper angel that your son created in first grade or the wreath that your daughter made with a glue gun.
We added lots of colorful ornaments and a bright red tree collar to give this frosted tree extra pizzazz.
When it’s time to decorate your house, light a fire, open a bottle of champagne, and make the decorating process a wonderful journey that leads to an even more amazing destination. Always have a toolbox at hand that you load up with a hammer, nails, a few different types—and sizes—of screwdrivers, plastic tabs for hanging wreaths, floral wire, and other essentials. Keep a ladder nearby. And give the kids some fun projects so that they really feel like they played an important role.
What are some holiday traditions you look forward to each year?
In other years, we love traveling to New York City and viewing the amazing store windows at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks that so inspire us. But this year, we won’t be traveling so we are lapping up simple pleasures. We enjoy making pomander balls with oranges and cloves to scent the House of Bedlam with an amazing, spicy scent. We light fires every morning during the days leading up to Christmas so that guests wake up to magic and can curl up and sip their coffee in style.
This Christmas, we wanted to create moments in various rooms of our home that really invite and evoke a spirit of joy and delight.
We always have plenty of Prosecco cooling in the fridge in case friends stop by unexpectedly. For Christmas Eve dinner, we do duck cassoulet instead of turkey and add plump lobster meat that we order online to our stuffing. On Christmas day, we make popovers that we pair with locally made strawberry jam and invite the neighbors over for a festive, easy brunch of shirred eggs, biscuits, and a Bloody Mary bar.
How will you make your Christmas extra special this year?
Christmas will truly be extra special this year—what a strange year we have had! Last year, we took a road trip to wonderful Des Moines, Iowa with our four pound-rescue pups to see John’s parents, and that was a lot of fun. But this year we plan to hunker down at home and crank up the sound system and cook like crazy, enjoy hot baths, read books, take the dogs for long walks, and prepare ourselves for the year ahead.
All set for Christmas dinner at the House of Bedlam—expect it to be followed by a big dance party!
Our neighbors will come over for a festive black-tie Christmas Eve dinner. The theme is “An Evening at the Copa,” so expect the numerous disco balls at the House of Bedlam to spin like mad and watch for a big dance party scene after dinner. The dress code on our handwritten dinner invite asks that you “sparkle,” so let’s see how our frisky neighbors interpret that mandate. We hope that there will be lots of glittery green eyeshadow and heaps of sequined mini dresses a la Edie Sedgwick for the ladies and sparkling tuxedo slippers for the gents. We shall see.
For more interior design and styling ideas, follow their colorful adventures at Madcap Cottage.