Christmas always makes me so nostalgic. I long to curl up in fluffy warm blankets, and sip a peppermint mocha by a crackling fire. Everything looks better in soft glowing light from a fire, especially ourselves. If you steer your mind away from the bustling big box Black Friday nightmares, you may be able to remember that Christmas is filled with romance and magic. I always long to return to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC during the Christmas season. Biltmore embodies the Victorian Christmas spirit.
If you are not familiar with the Biltmore Estate, construction began in 1889 by George Vanderbilt, and was completed in 1895. Biltmore was designed as a quaint French Chateau for the Vanderbilt family in the Blueridge Mountains of North Carolina. By no means is Biltmore quaint, it has been labeled many times as one of America’s most famous castles.
Biltmore at Christmas is simply divine. I can hear Handel’s Messiah softly playing when walking through the main doors. As you move toward the grand dining room, you can smell the cinnamon and ginger spiced Wassail that has been expertly combined with their Biltmore Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The pictures do not give justice to this magical experience, but if you set your mind to it, you can have this experience in your own home at Christmas.
Look at this picture, and really let it absorb into your senses. Think about how the softly lit room dances across the fabrics, how the patterns in the fabric set the scene, and how it must feel to have dinner in this grand hall.
When capturing the essence of Biltmore in your home, consider all of your senses. The perfect fabric to establish your touch memory is something that has significant texture. A deeply hued red damask would be an excellent choice, such as K7661 Wine Heirloom as seen here. The fabric should feel lush and rich to the touch. This classic heirloom pattern is very reminiscent of a fabric selection that Mr. Vanderbilt would have selected to impress even the most dignified guests.
George Vanderbilt enjoyed entertaining a variety of guests. Once the ladies retired after dinner, the men would often move into the Tapestry room to brag about their hunting adventures and drink the finest brandy available at the time. The Tapestry room is draped with heavy golden and green threaded tapestries. The fabric in this room was woven from a finely spun silk thread, and in this process the tensile strength of the thread was substantial. The thread that created the tapestry was so strong that it has defeated the effects of gravity for over 125 years.
While velvet would be a very appropriate fabric choice for comfort during intriguing conversations by the fire. We want to achieve the essence of Biltmore, not exactly invite the ghosts of George’s dinner guests. K5944 Fern Swirl would be a beautiful choice for fashionable fabric. This fabric is a soft plush microfiber with a modern design. The color can blend beautifully with golden hues, especially those from twinkling white lights on a magnificent Christmas tree.
As you can imagine, many of the colors present in Biltmore are rich jewel tones which are very indicative of the Victorian era. Notice the unexpected splash of blue ribbon on the Christmas tree in this photo. The royal blue is quite a departure from the red, green, and gold themes. However, the blue gives a subtle freshness to the room.
K5923 Wedgewood is a classic velvet that could have the same effect on goose down throw pillows in your loft.
George Vanderbilt wanted everyone to know that Biltmore was a Vanderbilt property. The strong “V” is present in concrete work, over doorways, and even on the rooftop of the mansion. As you bring the essence of Biltmore into your home, don’t forget your monogram.
Take your time, and enjoy the romance and splendor that the essence of Biltmore can bring into your home. One last thing, don’t forget the red wine for the cinnamon and ginger spiced Wassail!