Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Countdown – Day 11

Biltmore Bound!

Today, my husband and I are taking a day trip to visit the gorgeous home of George W. Vanderbilt. We’ll so enjoy making our way back to the lush estate, nestled in the Biltmore Forest area of Asheville, North Carolina.  Even though we’ve shared quite a few visits, each time always brings the anticipation of a child on Christmas morning.  We can’t wait to see what awaits us behind the entry gate!

Biltmore Gate (2)

(The entry of Biltmore creates elevated expectations.)

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(The Biltmore Estate, as it appeared in a photograph, circa 1900, (source - Wikipedia)  (For a quick video review about the house, click on this link .)

Some Tidbits About Biltmore

Originally built as a family home and country retreat, George and Edith Vanderbilt's 250-room home was built by celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt over a six-year period. Hunt modeled the house on three châteaux built in 16th-century France.

America’s largest home is situated on 8,000-acres and features:

  • 4 acres of floor space
  • 34 bedrooms
  • 43 bathrooms
  • 65 fireplaces
  • An indoor swimming pool, gymnasium and bowling alley

(Cited by NFHA)

Now that’s some retreat!

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As lovely as the estate is, when touring it on a daily basis, it becomes even more magical when . . .

Biltmore_christmas

. . . the Christmas decorations adorn the grounds and the interiors!

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All guests receive a regal greeting.

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The grand staircase balustrade is a designer’s dream.  Custom ironwork and fabulously curved handrails lead you up the limestone stairs.  Topping it off with fresh greens and lush ribbons is like putting the icing on the gingerbread!

BILTMORE XMAS E1

The grand dining hall is absolutely amazing!  There is always a tremendous tree, so large, the ornaments are as big as full-sized basketballs .  (The tree’s height is usually around 34 feet.)  No miniature trinkets would ever do it justice.  Scale and proportion are everything when it comes to good design – including Christmas trees!

It takes a pretty large crew to raise the dining hall tree.  I thought you might enjoy a time-lapse video of the event.  It’s a full day into night -  and - back into day process!  If you look at the top of the room, you might notice the 1916 Skinner pipe organ, which was played to entertain the guests during dinner.

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An upper level “sitting room”.  Two fireplaces are decorated with inlaid marble.  In between, although difficult to see, are precious tapestries.  There are over one hundred Christmas trees, during the holiday event.  Can you imagine cataloging and storing all of the ornaments!

For Future Reference

While our visit, today, will be a roundtrip one, I hope the next time we’re in Asheville we’ll plan ahead for an overnight escape.  (Full weekends, during the holidays, are a real challenge in finding the time.)  Just a skip and a jump from the entry, is a new hotel, and the interiors are to die for!

G Bohemian Hotel

The lobby, of the Grand Bohemian Hotel, is reminiscent of being surrounded by a historic, hunting lodge.  I adore the four-sided fireplace!  Imagine sidling up to it on a cold, mountain evening.

Grand Bohemian Bath

At the end of the day . . . bliss!  I think the editors at Garden and Gun should send me here on assignment, don’t you?

Well, I’ll be heading out in short order!  I’m going to get my “jingle on” and spend some time with a very patient man.  After all, I’ve been writing a blog post, a day, while wearing my interior designer’s hat, and playing domestic goddess in between.  (Not so much on the domestic part, I must confess!)

I’ll be back to posting on Sunday.  I have an inkling it will be short and sweet!

Raising my glass to you! ~ Wanda

15 Days and Counting!

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