Friday, May 27, 2016

Otto Zenke Homes for Sale

After learning about Otto Zenke, thanks to Wednesday's guest post by Jason Oliver Nixon from Madcap Cottage,  I thought it would be fun to explore two Zenke homes from the MLS.  Zenke favored the Regency and Georgian style, but with a theatrical twist... black and white floors, dramatic staircases, fanciful doors and windows. The first home we will tour today was built in 1954 and is located in Greensboro, North Carolina. Zenke worked closely with architect Mott Schmidt to create this masterpiece...








This beautiful home sold in 2014, but you can still see the listing with additional images and information here, and take a virtual tour here.

The next home on our Zenke tour is located in Thomasville, North Carolina. The current owner is an avid Zenke enthusiast who decorated in true Zenke style with fine antiques and a generous dose of Southern charm...







Note the black doors leading into the parlor. They complement the entry doors and are all original Zenke. 









Click here for additional information and a virtual of this Zenke home.

That concludes Madcap Cottage week at The Glam Pad! To tour the Madcap gents' home, please click here, and to read Jason's guest post on Otto Zenke, click here. And stay tuned... Jason will be guest posting again soon! Did you know he is a professional writer in addition to decorator superstar? Such talent! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Zenke with a “Z”

Madcap Cottage week continues at The Glam Pad, and today I am thrilled to present a special guest post by Jason Oliver Nixon. On Monday, I featured the stunning 1930s Regency style home Jason and his partner John recently renovated in High Point, North Carolina. You may have noticed their fabulous Greek key embellished doors, salvaged from an estate designed by the late Otto Zenke. Since moving from New York to North Carolina, Jason and John have become enthralled by Zenke. Never heard of him? Neither had I...

Jason and I recently corresponded when I posted the following image on Instagram... He recognized Zenke's work, and I was intrigued to learn more. The Madcap gents have become avid collectors and historians of Zenke. Fascinated by this relatively unknown legend, Jason graciously agreed to share his knowledge through a guest post... and provide a tour of the Madcap collection. Enjoy!

Suspended umbrella by Otto Zenke from the 1970 Garden Decoration book, House and Garden. 

By Jason Oliver Nixon:

The Madcap Cottage gents love nothing more than poring through the vintage design books that we collect by the dozen and scatter about our 1930s-era House of Bedlam home in High Point, North Carolina. Early on in our careers, we fell in love with Dorothy Draper and soon became enamored of Billy Haines, Sister Parish, Nancy Lancedszaaster, Syrie Maugham, and a slew of gone-but-not-forgotten design world luminaries.

But it wasn’t until we started trawling Greensboro, North Carolina’s amazing consignment shops that we learned of the incomparable Otto Zenke. Chances are that you have never heard of this NYC native who hightailed it down south in 1937 and created bold-faced interior design projects such as legendary financier Richard Jenrette’s NYC maisonette (profiled in Jenrette’s coffee table book, Adventures with Old Houses), and neither had we.

As John and I scoped vintage finds in Greensboro after hoofing it about at Market—years before we, too, eventually decamped from Brooklyn “a la Zenke” to High Point—we would occasionally unearth a fabulous, deliciously theatrical gilt shell sconce that bore the name “Otto Zenke” emblazoned upon the back. We felt simpatico to his vibe, a mix of tradition and theater, the historic and highflying. And so we jumped online and read all that we could find about this mysterious Mr. Zenke. And there isn’t a lot penned about Zenke, it seems, and that’s possibly because his works were not widely captured in photography like the vast cache of imagery that exists for his very marketing savvy peer Dorothy Draper.

Otto Zenke-designed home in County Clare, Ireland. The fabric is Paule Marrot's Guermantes, which is still available today through Brunschwig & Fils. Image via The Peak of Chic.

Image via The Peak of Chic

There are occasional Zenke homes that go on the real estate market, and it is well worth attending an open-house afternoon to poke about. The delicious miniature rooms that Zenke lovingly tended can be scoped at the Greensboro Historical Museum. But, sadly, of the dozen vest pocket-sized rooms that are still extant, only three are on display.

From the Greensboro Historical Museum website:

“Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1904, Otto Zenke studied interior design and started his career at B. Altman & Co. in New York before moving to Greensboro, North Carolina, where he worked as chief decorator at Morrison-Neese Furniture Company during the late 1930s and 1940s. Zenke opened his own design studio and showroom in 1950 called Otto Zenke, Inc. He designed and decorated primarily residential properties for another three decades and eventually opened offices in Palm Beach, Florida, and London.”

Otto Zenke's work on the cover of House Beautiful, November 1965.

Happily, the Madcaps have discovered several Zenke finds upon our hunts, and these treasures pepper our High Point pad. We situated the aforementioned gilt-glazed shell sconces in our master bathroom, a wonderful rolled-arm bench in our bedroom, sconces in the foyer, a painting in the basement, and a mirror in the living room—and have scattered various Zenke-licious accessories throughout. We have spoken to friends whose families knew—and hired—Zenke and have read the occasional local article about the guru and literally shriek when we uncover further treasures.

image via O. Henry magazine

We hope that Zenke has a resurgence, a splash that will introduce him to new generations. We hear that his library and papers reside with a Zenke family member, and we would love to see these documents eventually make their way to the Bienenstock Furniture Library, the world’s largest design library that happens to sit on Main Street smack in downtown High Point. And then maybe Zenke will receive the contemporary accolades that he so deserves.

Until then, the Madcaps are having a serious case of Otto-mania! And you’re invited to join the party.

We have a pair of vintage, ribbon-decorated Otto Zenke sconces that takes place of honor in the House of Bedlam foyer, aka the Grand Hall. The hand-painted walls in the space are a nod to famed British muralist Rex Whistler and also channel our style muse, the late American heiress Bunny Mellon.

In the House of Bedlam basement, a painting that Zenke commissioned for clients in the 1960s covers a cozy wall. Note the trompe l’oeil envelope with Zenke’s address painted upon it. The bench beneath the painting came from the C.Z. Guest auction in upstate New York last fall.


A pair of gilt shell Otto Zenke sconces in the House of Bedlam master bathroom. Chic, no? The curtain panels are crafted of Mill Reef, a Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen Design fabric pattern from our debut collection. The wallpaper is from Bob Collins and Sons in Palm Beach.

The Greek-key embellished doors were salvaged from an estate designed by Zenke. 

In the House of Bedlam master bedroom, we recovered a vintage Otto Zenke roll-arm bench in our Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen Design fabrics. When we purchased the bench, it was wrapped in a dun yellow Naugahyde. We kept the original Zenke tag when we had the bench refurbished.


Thank you, Jason, for sharing your knowledge surrounding this impressive and influential designer. I have now developed a serious case of Otto-mania and will be on a mad hunt for additional information and treasures! Further images and details on the life of Otto Zenke can be found in the October 2013 issue of O.Henry magazine (beginning on page 60). And make sure to check back on Friday, as I will feature two Zenke designed homes from the MLS! 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mad for Madcap Cottage!

It's Madcap Cottage week at The Glam Pad! I am a huge fan of John Loecke and Jason Oliver Nixon, the dynamic duo behind the design firm Madcap Cottage. Known for their whimsical use of color and pattern, John says "If you are looking for beige and boring, bark up someone else’s tree. We live and breathe whimsy..." Now that is my kind of design!

Based in North Carolina and New York, The Madcap Cottage gents are a whirlwind of activities including a recent renovation of their 1930s Regency style home in High Point, North Carolina, a bedding and home goods line for HSN, a garden inspired fabric collection for Robert Allen, and specially curated vintage and antique collections for 1stdibs and One Kings Lane.

Today, let's tour Jason and John's incredible High Point home, which was featured in the April issue of Traditional Home.  After 25 years in New York City, they decided it was time for a change... The pair had visited High Point twice annually for more than 15 years to attend Market, the furniture industry’s “fashion week.” The community spoke to them, and kismet led them to find their dream home. They dove into a renovation, removing early 1990s “improvements” and channeling a modern-day English country estate.... 

The 5,000-square-foot, white-brick, 1930s-era Regency Revival is situated on almost three acres with a meandering stream. Diehard anglophiles, Jason and John 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.

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.

Inside the architecturally rich home, period motifs continue with lovingly crafted fluted moldings, plus a Greek key pattern wrapping the grand living room’s mantel. 

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.  

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. 

Today, the house is rich with antiques, color, and patterns, many culled from the just-launched Madcap Cottage for Robert Allen fabric collection.

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.” 

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.

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. 

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

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

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

Pale yellow doors and green trim enliven a chic laundry... 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. Click here for additional sneak peeks! 

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

John and Jason have truly turned this architectural gem into a masterpiece through their historical appreciation, attention to detail, and impeccable taste.  It is positively stunning! Did you notice the salvaged Otto Zenke Greek key doors? Throughout the home, there are many additional Zenke treasures... Are you familiar with the mysterious Mr. Zenke? Stay tuned to learn more about this legendary decorator on Wednesday... Jason is guest posting at The Glam Pad! And Friday I will feature another Madcap/Zenke treat.

To learn more about Madcap Cottage, please visit their website. You will also want to follow their blog and Instagram. To read more about their High Point home renovation, please visit Traditional Home. Additional images and details can also be found in the May issue of O.Henry magazine (beginning on page 72).
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