…of living space. The enormity in size and almost crazy ornateness makes it difficult to take in George Washington Vanderbilt’s vacation home, known to us as The Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina.

I had to focus on individual elements to keep from being visually overwhelmed and overstimulated. As somewhat of a minimalist myself, I prefer a nice ‘stand out’ detail. Something that is unique in its space and the remainder being calm…allowing for thought and daydreaming. It’s hard to describe how much there is to see. For example, I missed the pipe organ in the ‘evening’ dining hall because I was focused on the life sized sculptures over the doorway and the wall coverings and drapes and art and more and more and. Phew! It would take years to see it all. How could he keep track of it during construction? Were there plans?

I left with more questions than answers.

I did finally see the ‘blower thing’ that provides the air to the pipe organ in the basement, which is when I realized I’d missed the organ. The blower thing was located in a room all its own with a description of what it was. OK…got it. Just a few thousand steps back upstairs and there it was. I saw the pipe organ in the midst of painted ancestors portraits that need 30 foot walls just to hang with some extra room for reveal and a tapestry or five. I’ve forgotten how tall the room is…big. Then I scurried back down a quarter of a mile or so to see the kitchen that fed all the people the house…housed. I liked the kitchen and it’s blank but happy walls.

It was huge, of course, but I could breathe and take it in.

I took few photos, mostly because it’s hard to fit the enormity on an iPhone. An interesting part for me, I learned in the shuttle van back to our car. There are stables and horses to ride and one can bring one’s own horse for a visit as a guest. They have horseback tours of the property…well, not all of it. GW purchased all the real estate he could see from any vantage point within the house. Some has been sold by the family to maintain the home. It’s still privately owned by the family and it’s still a whole lot of real estate. I’m glad it’s being preserved from an historic perspective, but as a vacation home…well, I’ve been to castles in Europe that were by far smaller and definitely less visually exhausting. Don’t get me wrong…it’s worth a visit or twelve.

There are far better photos online, but these elements caught my eye.

Staircase used by family and guests

In a home filled with life sized portraits…this was my favorite. No idea who she was. I love it’s simpleness.

Wood cook stove in the Biltmore kitchen

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