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  • designers

    Loecke, left, and Nixon in the characteristically unconventional master bathroom.

  • kitchen

    Custom cabinets painted Farrow & Ball's Apple Green evoke an English country-house spirit.

  • guest

    Simple tricks such as wallpapering the ceiling can change the whole look of a room.

  • dining room

    The green-and-white theme continues down to the floors; a diamond motif echoes the original parquet.

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The green-and-white theme continues down to the floors; a diamond motif echoes the original parquet.


A Forgiving Wall Treatment

Grass cloth wallpaper gives walls texture and masks nail holes—a real plus when hanging mulitple photos or paintings.

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  • Piling on the Patterns (and stripes and checks!)

    Professional decorating tips and tricks from a Brooklyn row house renovation.

    by Ariana Speyer

    Design duo Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke show us how they gave a Brooklyn row house wacky-but-wonderful charm through clever renovating, bold decorating and easy shortcuts. 


    ~In the Living Room~

    the goal A place where guests feel as if they’ve stepped into a British country manor souped up with splashes of color.

    renovating fix The Tudor-style four-story underwent a substantial yearlong renovation, but some rooms, like the living room, required less work, so they focused on emphatic decorating flourishes. However, they did invest in Andersen wood windows throughout (vinyl had been swapped in for some of the originals) for a sense of tradition.

    decorating fix Decked in a deft mix of florals and graphics, a cozy seating area lets visitors feel immediately at home. Less-than-perfect parquet floors were redone in playful stripes, introducing the fresh green that acts as a universal neutral.

    time-saving tip Using a floor paint by Farrow & Ball, which contains polyurethane, meant that they didn’t have to seal the surface afterward. It’s also super-durable; as Nixon says, “You can spill wine and just mop it up.”


    Living Room Before:


    Living Room After:




    ~In the Kitchen~

    the goal The two love to entertain and cook (Nixon went to culinary school), so they needed a highly useful area that nevertheless captured their outsize personalities. “Just because it’s a work space doesn’t mean it has to be dull,” Nixon says.

    renovating fix The kitchen lacked modern conveniences, like adequate storage or a workable sink and stove section, so Nixon and Loecke gutted it and brought in designer Christopher Peacock to create furniture-style cabinets. “Custom can be expensive,” Loecke says, “but the trade-off is that it really lets us use the space.”

    decorating fix Nixon and Loecke continued the colorful mood with a decidedly un-kitcheny Brunschwig & Fils botanical wallpaper and tiles by Ann Sacks. The straightforward hues and classic design elements of the marble countertop and farm sink have a grounding effect.

    shopping tip An unusual object can help give a spanking-new space a sense of history. What the pair call their “Palm Beach monkey sconces” (the one shown is dubbed Sid; its mate, Nancy, hangs nearby) were Des Moines flea-market finds.


    Kitchen Before:

    before kitchen

    Kitchen After:




    ~In the Dining Room~

    the goal An open area that was both fanciful and functional—not something solely for dinner parties.

    renovating fix Replacing the paneling with a chair rail made the atmosphere lighter. The leaded glass above the doorway was lovely, but it was attached to a frame that had to be removed, so the couple installed a new frame, reusing the glass at their country house upstate.

    decorating fix Positioning a bar at one end and a settee near the doorway made the room more multipurpose. Nixon and Loecke then added personal touches, commissioning friend Given Campbell to custom-color a wallpaper that has an interlocking “J” pattern (for Jason and John, natch).

    DIY tip “Ribbons are a quick way to customize for little money,” says Loecke. To wit, the window-valance trim is fashioned from a strip of grosgrain ribbon.


    Dining Room Before:


    Dining Room After:

    dining room


    ~In the Master Stairwell~

    the goal Transforming the three-flight staircase into a gallery that would tie the whole house together.

    renovating fix Although Nixon spent many late nights stripping the banister, he ultimately decided that its ho-hum design wasn’t worth rescuing. The couple gave in and rebuilt it, but retained the original paneling for its detailing.

    decorating fix Art keeps the eye “constantly engaged,” Loecke says. They sketched out how to arrange their collection of more than 150 pieces—everything from a Mapplethorpe photo to prints bought on London’s Portobello Road.

    pro tip Papering walls in grass cloth offers texture and masks nail holes—a real plus when hanging so many works. “if you goof up, who cares?” Nixon says.


    Master Stairwell Before:


    Master Stairwell After:



    ~In the Guest Bedroom~

    the goal Turning a quiet part of the house into a comfortable, secluded retreat for friends and family.

    renovating fix To concoct a distinct realm for visitors, two petite rooms were morphed into one. A deck made by Trex, which uses reclaimed wood and recycled plastic in its designs, was also incorporated, extending from a new French door that overlooks the garden. Crown moldings were installed—an add that, according to Nixon, “can really provide some architecture and make it feel like a different place.”

    decorating fix Cabbage-rose wallpaper on the ceiling “draws your eye up and away from the sides of the room” for further visual interest, Nixon says.

    quick tip High-gloss oil paint, which was used on the moldings and trim, is “easy to clean and adds a little sheen,” Loecke says.


    Guest Bedroom Before:

    before guest room

    Guest Bedroom After:


    Copyright © Conde Nast Publications. Photographs by Justin Bernhaut.