Wait until you see all the decor ideas from the Biltmore Estate that you can add to your home! I gathered up decor inspiration from this amazing estate and I’m boiling down some ideas you can try out today to add some designer ideas to your home!
I spent a long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina with my best friend and it was AMAZING! If you haven’t added this sweet town to your travel bucket list, do it ASAP.
We can’t wait to visit again, there are so many tasty restaurants and beautiful places to sightsee. We hiked to a beautiful waterfall, saw a concert and most of all, just laughed. It refreshed my soul.
My FAVORITE destination was the Biltmore Estate. Have you been? I’d love to hear your favorite part. I will let you read up on all the Biltmore history on your own, but the brief backstory goes like this…George Vanderbilt built the sprawling estate as a bachelor, it originally sat on 125,000 acres and the 250 -room French Renaissance Estate begin construction in 1889. The Biltmore is known as the largest home in America and this private residence was opened to the public in 1930 in response to the Great Depression. Lucky us, we get to walk the halls, take a peek at how the other half lives, and most importantly gather beautiful ideas and inspiration we can take back to our homes and recreate. I hope some of these insights will assist you in creating a home you adore! Here are the things I saw while touring the Biltmore that I believe are worth paying attention to AND ideas you can copy!
- Ceilings Matter – Possibly the most under utilized design space in houses today is the ceiling. The fifth wall as it is often called gets overlooked way to often. As you can see in EVERY SINGLE ROOM of the Biltmore, the ceiling gets special attention. It doesn’t matter if you just add paint, wallpaper, wood trim or another creative ceiling idea, you need spend more time looking up. I was blown away by the detail and intentionality of the ceilings throughout this magnificent estate. Pay attention to the ceilings in the photos as you move through this post!
- Black and White Artwork – Mr. Vanderbilt was a collector of many things (man after my own heart!), especially artwork. His home was filled with finds he curated on travels around the world and shipped back home to Asheville. Many of the stunning piece on display when etchings. Black and white never goes out of style, especially when you collect pieces surrounding a subject you love – florals, animals, churches or whatever tickles your fancy. The Vanderbilt’s collection was heavy on game animals and etchings of famous figures. What would you collect?
- Plant Stands – This classic piece of furniture was tucked away in multiple rooms of the mansion. Ladies – I am all aboard the plant stand train. These versatile decor pieces can liven up a dark corner or sit center stage. Plant or no plant they look fabulous. I’ve been seeing them around at flea markets and might have a makeover coming at you soon!
- Floor to Ceiling – No minimalist behaviors in this house! Since Mr. Vanderbilt was a collector, he likely needed extra space to show off all his finds, but he also had a large space to fill. Scale is important in decorating and obviously, they had this design rule down pat. I enjoyed how they decorated from floor to ceiling in many rooms without being overbearing. Your eye went on a journey in every space. If the walls weren’t fashioned with animal mounts or artwork, they were dressed in beautiful wall paper or wood treatment, which leads me to the next design idea you need to consider…
- No Wall Left Behind – I think every wall in this gigantic place had some sort of wall treatment. Paint, chair rail, paneling, fabric, texture, brick and more treated each wall with special love and design care. You can recreate this look in your home, even if you have the most neutral of color palettes. Textured wallpaper, fabric wall coverings, painted wood, tons of trim these are all upgrades you can add to your home, DIY style and on a budget, with a little time and effort. Adding interest and texture doesn’t always mean color, but it can. These finishes can truly fit any design style.
- Create Conversation Spaces – Maybe you have an open concept house or perhaps you have tiny rooms, either way create spaces for connection is key. In America, we are the land of the oversized – from french fries to couches. Stuffing oversized furniture in a room in hopes of filling the space is great if you are wanting to lounge, but if you want to gather in comfort and create a cozy atmosphere, try something smaller. Creating small rooms and sitting areas within larger rooms is a classic design idea that allows you to really use your space. Take an honest look at your public living areas and access how comfy they are for guests to sit and chat over a cup of coffee. The Biltmore Home is gigantic compared to most of our homes (I’m making a broad assumption! It certainly is compared to mine) but still felt small and intimate. That is a result of good design and thoughtful furniture size and placement. Don’t forget that rugs help to anchor small rooms within rooms and pull those cozy nooks together!
- Bring Back The Fireplace – It might be because I’m in Texas where it’s hotter than Hades most of the time, but I am mesmerized by the fireplaces in this home. We don’t get to use ours much. Y’all – there were 65 FIREPLACES IN THIS HOUSE! I didn’t get to see them all, but I didn’t meet any I didn’t like. I realize you folks up north probably are more intimate with your fireplace than I am, but I’m on a mission to get to know mine better. The Biltmore added SO MUCH charm to their fireplaces by lavishing them with ornate trim, paintings, marble, woodwork and design. When this home was built fireplaces were used for heat, but they were also cozy gathering places and we can replicate that in our own homes. Show your fireplace some attention and use it as a focal point. You can instantly upgrade your fireplace game by adding decorative andirons, get creative with fireplace accessories, creating a sitting area around the fireplace instead of a TV, painting your fireplace, add new tile, give it a paint job, add some beautiful stone trim or update your mantel.
- Faith On Display – You know I’m a fan of this one! Threaded throughout the home where touches of faith. Floor to ceiling tapestries depicting Biblical stories, crosses and religious memorabilia where subtly displayed in the Biltmore. I love that all these years later an estimated 1.7 MILLION people visit the Biltmore Estate each year, all of them passing by faith-filled reminders. Your home may be the only Bible some people read, so put your faith on display for anyone who enters your home. This can be done by having scripture in your home decor, books you read out for people to see, create a gallery wall of your favorite religious prints (like my Jesus wall), you can wear your faith on t-shirts and more. If it is important to you, make it seen and known!
- No Boring Doors – With each turn I waited to see what the next door would look like. Some where painted to match the trim color, others were uniquely carved, some had extensive mouldings, some had basic hardware and others had ornate knobs and hinges. Doors, like ceilings, often fall to the wayside and are a great spot to show some extra attention in your home.
- Bold Patterns – George & Eidth were not afraid of pattern and I am here for it! The big bold patterns on the walls and fabrics of this home are complete show stoppers! Matchy matchy is rarely a thing in my book, but the way they match the drapes to the bedding and furniture coverings has my heart. This is different than a matching set of furniture, it creates the most custom, high end look around. Try recovering some dining room chairs in a bold pattern then throwing the same fabric up on the windows! You can totally make your own curtains friend – I know you can do it! Here is one way you could try. Regardless if you try the matching situation, at least work some of these bold, vibrant patterns into your home. Don’t be scared, the rooms you see in these pictures have been decorated like this for almost a hundred years and they STILL LOOK FABULOUS!
- VIP Treatment – Want to make your guests (or family members) feel like VIPs in your home? It’s the little details that make that happen! Add card holders to your bedroom doors and put guest names in when they visit – it was a Vanderbilt touch I admired. With all their bedrooms, I’m sure they needed to make sure the valets where in the right place, but it is a small thing that would make a big impact in today’s world.
- Fill Your Home With Music – Back in the day The Biltmore was built and lived in, TV wasn’t exactly a thing. Music filled the gap. We’ve really let that beautiful aspect of life slide away. If you don’t enjoy various forms of music in your home, take a queue from the Vanderbilt’s. Entertaining was an artform back then and live music was definitely in place. We might not be able to do that in our homes and if you’re like me, I don’t have a musical bone in my body, but I LOVE music. We have so much music at our fingertips these days, so take advantage! Get a record player, use a great Bluetooth speaker and pump your favorite playlist through the house, create playlists for events to set the mood.
- Books Add Charm – You guys know I’m a huge fan of vintage books and use them all the time in decorating. I was awestruck by the library at the Biltmore, but also happy to see so many nooks and crannies crammed with books. You can add your favorite books to your shelves or start collecting vintage ones at garage and estate sales. They add instant charm and warmth to a home of any size. You can read my book buying tips here.
- Display What You Have and Use what You Display – This kitchen was obviously the servants quarters, but look at how they had those beautiful copper pots hanging in plain view. I know this was for ease of access and lack of storage, but it is the perfect reminder to get your pretties out in the open! These were the original pots the kitchen staff used. Every meal was served on the best dinner ware, expensive finds and wares were always on display…not tucked away in the cabinets. This inspiration is something you can implement today and it won’t cost you a dime. Make every day a special occasion!
- Candlelight – The Biltmore had electricity but candles and giant candelabras were still in every room. They add such a special ambiance that would be delightful to re-create. In the day and age of flameless battery operated candles you can set to a timer, why not add a bunch to your home and relive the soft glow of the olden days!? Grab some battery operated taper candles here to try.
- Over The Door Decor – We talked about the doors being gorgeous in their own right, but what about the details AROUND the door? Many thoroughfares in this glorious home had additional attributes. Some doors had beautiful scrollwork about the door frames and some had mini “door curtains” at the top. All the ideas are easy to recreate at your house, just look up and see what door spaces could use a little extra love.
- Ode To Marble – Tile, flooring, countertops, accents and more, marble is a staple material in distinct homes of the past century. It is never going out of style and is a stunning material you can use to remodel and update your home. The great news is marble is available in many other ways now – so many home decor accessories have marble accents, making it easy to incorporate marble into your home on a small scale. Marble was even on the spring home decor trend list this year!
- Family Matters – The portraits in the Biltmore were beyond amazing. You and I might not have the funds or ability to have custom painted portraits done of our family, but we can still be sure to display our loved ones. I’m a fan of having family pictures taken at least every few years. If you shy away from pictures, please remember how special you are to your family and loved ones, they want to see you! Instead of cluttering up a wall with a bunch of pictures, pick one and have it enlarged, maybe even in black and white. Every home should have some familiar faces in their decor!
- Greenery Galore – The Biltmore has extensive gardens and a greenhouse design by Frederick Law Olmsted, there are hardly words for how breathtaking the scenery is. Even within the house there were ample amounts of greenery, floral arrangements and lines of sight that allowed you to take in the surrounding gardens. Bring greenery into your home, fresh flowers, clippings from the garden even dried botanicals can add to your aesthetic. Whenever you are able pay attention to the line of sight out of your windows and plan your out door landscape to compliment your inside views.
- Don’t Forget To Have Fun – Perhaps the most surprising room in The Biltmore is in the basement. The walls are covered in a bright dramatic scene that was reportedly painted by guests at one of the infamous Biltmore parties. This room reminds me to have fun, let your house be a home, invite people in and let them be part of your story. Decorate for you and your family and your home will always be in style and it will always feel warm and welcoming. Have fun and make your own decorating rules to express your passions and personality. We don’t need to have a house that is grand, furnishings that are expensive or even a perfectly manicured lawn to invite guests to our home and open our lives to community. People just want to be loved. So share your home and love your neighbor. The Vanderbilt’s did a beautiful job at that above all else.
I’m including a few more inspirational photos for you to grab ideas from here!
This dining room wallpaper had my eye:
Can you believe these stairs and that chandelier!!!???
I’m a suck for leaded glass window panes…
How about these barn doors…
If you go make sure you spend enough time to visit the gardens and greenhouse…
Connect more here: