Hi, I’m Caroline! And I’m McKenzie! We are the proud founders of Design the Gap. We are two best friends with a passion for fashion and design. When you see the bold font that is me (Caroline) speaking. And when you see the regular or understated, as I like to say, font it’s me (McKenzie) speaking.
Come with us on all our fashion discoveries and furniture finds!
Have you ever visited a place that was so enchanting it made you feel like you were transported back in time to a place where Mr. Darcy was awaiting your arrival, Carson took your coat, and Lumiere lead you on a grand tour inviting you to “Be Our Guest”?
This time machine in disguise of a family home has been an inspiration to artists, musicians and designers all over the world for years. Finally, lucky for us, the latest people to be inspired by the Vanderbilts and their lovely home are the designers from Fine Furniture Design. Known for its Timeless Furniture, FFDM is the perfect manufacturer to produce the Biltmore Collection. This collection takes the classic beauty and detail found in the halls of this estate and brings it into your home. We accepted an invitation to further explore this captivating home and the furniture inspired by it; so grab your camera and comfortable shoes ‘cause we’re going Behind the Ropes and taking you with us!
When we first entered the house I had expected all sorts of squeals and high pitched noises to come out of our mouths, however, for one of the few times in either of our lives, we were speechless. Sigh. Talk about making a statement. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of George and Edith Vanderbilt’s guests felt amazed like I did when they walked through the heavy, stone doors. Heavy?? Let’s be honest, we didn’t touch those doors, they were opened for us #we’reimportant #theyactuallykeepthemopenallthetime . Can you imagine walking through the front door of your home and being welcomed by a butler in this setting? I absolutely can, I’m sure that in all of my past lives I was a princess. Uh huh, sure you were, back down to the nitty gritty… The first room on the tour is the Billiards Room, the original “man cave”.
The Vanderbilts loved entertaining their guests whether it be through hunting, dancing or just playing a good game of cards. I may not have as many living rooms as the Biltmore but I love to entertain just as much. Seriously, you should see this girl at a game of Apples to Apples. I love that this table is all inclusive, you can get your checkers on, backgammon or bust out the monopoly board! I call the hat! Fine I’ll be the little iron. All this talk of entertaining is making me hungry, let’s head to the Breakfast Room.
Does anyone else hear the angels singing or is it just in my head? If you guys are wondering why she’s hearing angelic voices just look up towards the heavens. That ceiling is positively divine! Having deja vu? That’s because the ceilings in the Breakfast Room and Foyer have similar designs. Now that we all have neck cramps from gawking at the awesome geometric patterns on the ceiling, check THIS out!
GAMETIME! I spy with my little eye something shapely.. name those shapes! I cannot say I love these pieces enough times! Isn’t it cool how the form of these classic shapes have been reinterpreted and brought into the 21st century?!
Pace yourself for a classic Caroline stage 5 freak-out, as we enter the salon that housed the paintings by none other than JOHN SINGER SARGENT!!!!!!!! You were warned I apologize for your eardrums. While Caroline is singing his name and dancing, lets take a look at a small table that makes a big impact on this collection. This little guy made such an impression that it is one of the few pieces that is a replica. Take away the gold leafing and you’ll have an end table almost exactly like the one that held George Vanderbilt’s pipe or Edith’s afternoon tea. If only that table could talk, I bet it has heard everything from politics to social scandals and if there’s one thing the staff of Downton Abbey has taught me its that there is always drama a foot.
Let’s not dilly dally, next we enter a currently closed to the public, aka “under construction” room that Edith’s sister, Pauline, stayed in when she visited. Back in the day (and by day I mean the turn of the century) one didn’t go visit friends or family for the weekend, you stayed for straight up seasons. Talk about making yourself at home! Edith spent most of her time in this room reading, writing, and changing (about 5 times a day), so it is only fitting that the two pieces inspired by this room are her writing desk and vanity. And, might I add, that her writing desk is one of only two in the collection.
While you’re inspecting these pictures carefully, let me enlighten you on what is going on beneath the beautiful exterior. Each piece in this collection is handcrafted from premium solid woods and veneers. I feel like the word “veneer” is a dirty word to some people. In all actuality a veneer is just thin pieces of wood that are applied to the body of the furniture. This allows the carvers to create a much more intricate detail on the surface. Exactly, some of the nicest casegood (wood) pieces in the world are constructed with veneers to showcase detailed designs in the wood. Don’t forget that all the drawers are constructed using English Dovetail! For those of you that know what that is, FIVE POINTS! For those of you that don’t, find out.
Did you get all that? You will be tested later… now that I have stressed out all the overachievers out there, lets take a look at a look at one of this girl’s favorite rooms in the house (I feel as though I have said that before)! It’s a guest room that has a gorgeous bed from George and Edith’s Parisian apartment. When you sleep in a bed like this, I feel like you should be melodiously awoken by singing birds and mice (but only the cute nice mice that wear hats, shoes, and shirts). This bed has the perfect amount of girly meets classy lady. Coco Chanel would approve!
Last but not least, we come to the Servant’s Quarters. The Vanderbilts definitely did not look at their household staff as most people of their status might. In fact, every single year Edith Vanderbilt used to buy Christmas presents for all of the children that lived on their estate. AND, she didn’t just choose a standard doll for the girls and truck for the boys, no, this wasn’t good enough. She actually kept a log of all their names and chose presents specifically for each child. What an amazing woman! We could go on and on about how amazing this couple was, but there’s magic in mystery and some things we will leave for a visit and experience of your own at Biltmore Estate. Where were we? Servant’s Quarters. Ah, yes. Thank you. Mhm. Check out this gem over in the corner! Let’s take a closer look at this buffet and it’s splendor, we need to call in the big guns to find out more about this beauty. Let me introduce you to the Licensing Director for Biltmore, Donette Miller who stated that originally this piece would have been displayed in a room that the Vanderbilts regularly dined in. *Shout out to Donette! She was the most amazing guide and definitely is responsible for both of us falling irrevocably in love with the Vanderbilt’s and their estate. WE LOVE YOU DONETTE!* Clearly, FFDM liked what they saw as this is another piece, like the small table from the Salon, that is an almost exact replica. I don’t know about you but I could totally see this piece in my dining area. Oh, absolutely! This piece has fantastic lines giving it amazing movement at the base.
Now that our tour is over, we hope that you have fallen just as in love with this collection as we have. FFDM has outdone themselves in creating a line that is timeless and classic yet totally transitional. To the Biltmore and FFDM we give two, ahem, I mean four thumbs up!
The time has come (the Walrus said) to talk of other things…. of dining rooms and floor plans and living like a king (or queen). Want to live like the Vanderbilts but have a gap in your way? Is your gap that you love all these pieces but aren’t sure if they’ll fit your space? Or, that you like how the line incorporates traditional and transitional styles but aren’t sure of how to blend them? Call, email, tweet, facebook, instagram us…pretty much any form of communication short of smoke signals. Just get in touch with us and together we will fill your gap!
Until next design,
Caroline & McKenzie
We out (mic drop)