As the story develops, listen as the three homes intertwine into one unique message that rang with the clarity of a crystal bell in my unsuspecting ears and vulnerable heart.
Building Biltmore was, at the time, one of the largest undertakings in the history of American residential architecture and the results were astounding. Over a six-year period, an entire community of craftsmen worked to build the country’s premier home. The estate boasted its own brick factory, woodworking shop, and a three-mile railway spur for transporting materials to the site.
It would feature 4 acres of floor space, 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The basement alone would house a swimming pool, gymnasium and changing rooms, bowling alley, servants’ quarters, kitchens, and more. The grounds of the 125,000-acre estate featured acres of gardens and parkland, but also established America’s first managed forest.
Biltmore is still family owned and remains self-sustaining through innovation, creative thinking, and listening to guests. What began in 1895 continues to be an amazing experience for today’s visitors. At its core, Biltmore will always have the natural beauty of the mountains as well as the majestic house and gardens to inspire us and allow us to escape from the every day.
At the second home, I entered through a three-car garage that was finished with a non-skid surface. The four steps from the garage into a hallway of hardwood floors looked like slate. Walking into the den, to my left there was a staircase up to the next level where there were three bedrooms. The wood of the staircase was highly polished and gleaming. The three sofas in the den were big and bold and definitely leather. The glass-topped end tables and coffee table between the sofas were large and bold as well. The wooden cabinets along the wall facing the largest sofa housed an enormous flat screen TV. The kitchen with its stainless steel appliances and marble (or granite?) countertops could be seen from the den. The wall of windows in the den revealed a cabana by the outdoor pool. The outdoor furniture was exquisite. There was a glimpse of a large, formal dining room off from the kitchen. To the left of the den was the foyer and the front door with vaulted ceilings completing the open space opposite the den.
The master suite stretched the entire width of the house just off the den and foyer. The bedroom dwarfed the king sized bed with its matching night stand and dresser. The elegant bathroom revealed tiled floors. Immediately to the right was a double window above a deep jacuzzi tub. Immediately beyond the tub was a double walk-in shower, decoratively tiled with a glass door panels, exposing it entirely. Opposite the tub was a double vanity with marble (or granite ?) countertops. Across from the shower was the toilet closet. The walk-in closet/room was at the end of the bathroom. It was naturally lit by multiple windows. The windows of the master bedroom viewed from the closet/room revealed a sweeping view of the cabana and pool. Was that a jacuzzi just beyond the deck?
The third floor of this home would be the completed basement set up as the ultimate entertainment and media center including a pool table. Additional living spaces were behind the kitchen.
The third home is an 800 ft, 20-year-old apartment. Entering the front door, you step into the living/dining area. The living area contains an end table, a sofa able to seat three adults, a book case, a coffee table, a chair and an ottoman. Beside the chair is a wooden TV tray serving as a table. In the dining area is a dinette table with four chairs and a fake ficus tree.
A bar divides the kitchen from the living/dining area. The back door opens from the kitchen onto a small patio upon which there is the utility room. Immediately opposite the dining area is a small hall-like space revealing an adequate master bedroom; a second bedroom perfect for a single bed, a bookcase, and a night stand; a coat closet, a linen closet; and a small bathroom.
In great detail have I shared these three distinct homes, each a home of love. The contrast between the three is about quality. The handcrafted and specifically designed estate far exceeds even the quality mentioned in the second home, impressive though it is. The apartment is good enough, but nothing special.
I often settle for what is good enough, a cheap imitation for quality. Sometimes I invest a little more, collecting bells and whistles and bit of square footage. But, it is rare indeed when I display a life of Love as though it has been handcrafted and specifically designed.