Day 1: Asheville, The Biltmore House & Lots of Fun!

So, last week really was a huge highlight for me and I’m still pinching myself! Did I really get to do all of this?

I was so blessed to be invited to participate in a blogger event with Shaw Floors and HGTV Home. They have partnered together to launch a new line of flooring in September and we were chosen to check it all out AND get in on a fun and friendly design competition during the process.

This was a 3 day event and I took a lot of pics, so I’m going to share a few at a time, so you can get the whole picture of this fun trip.  It was all expenses paid and we were treated like blogger royalty.  We couldn’t have asked for more and it will truly be a highlight for me forEVER.  I have some confidence when it comes to designing a room and decorating it, but I did have a few moments of doubt when I wondered if we could cut the mustard?   Would we be proud of our finished room?  I sure hoped we would! I didn’t want to hang my head if the finished product didn’t turn out like we planned.

We were paired up when we arrived with another blogger and I was SO excited to be partnered with my friend, Lindsay with Living with Lindsay, who I met 2 years ago at Blissdom. She’s from Austin, TX and a real sweetheart.  We got along so well in our design collaboration, with no arguing along the way.  We both brought much to the table in choosing the various elements for our room.  With 5 teams set up, the design competition began on the first night with choosing our floor covering.  I’ll tell you more about that later.

After arriving from the airport, we were brought to the Biltmore Inn, a stately and elegant hotel right on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate.  This was my very first trip to the Biltmore and wow, it won’t be my last.  This estate truly showcases the beautiful Smokie Mountains that NC is known for.  I love these mountains and spent many summers of my childhood on vacation in these mountains with my family.

I was a bit starstruck over the royal treatment we were getting and enjoying every minute of it.  The Biltmore Inn is so pretty and this is the lobby area.

Just stunning.  I had just enough time before our evening event started to drop off my bags in the room and take off for a few minutes of picture taking.

In a King suite all to myself, it was luxury to the highest.  A girl could certainly get used to this. 🙂

These fun packages greeted us  on the bed with snacks and details of what was to come.   I was giddy at this point, calling my mom to tell her I was here and about to burst with excitement.  At this point, I wanted to turn cartwheels all over the place, but those days are long gone. 🙂

I ran outside and down this path to check out Antler Hill Village below.  I only had enough time to run down there and back, in the meantime getting a good sweat on since it was swelteringly hot, as summer is around here.  Luckily, I caught the bus back up the hill and had time for a quick shower and change of clothes before dinner.

These views are just amazing, those mountains glowing in the distance.  NC is a beautiful state. 

Here’s a look at the inn from down below and I do believe these are grapes grown for their own winery on site.

A fountain at Antler Hill Village. There was a Tiffany stained glass exhibit going on and I only got to run through it quickly, no pics allowed. 

Walkway near the village.  There seems to be plenty to do at the Biltmore Estate to see plenty of gorgeous sights.  I heard the Inn was only built in the last 10 years, since the estate is trying to stay self-supporting.  I love that.

Across the way from the inn is the beautifully majestic Biltmore House.  OK, so it is not really a house, it is a castle for sure.  This was an amazing place and is truly awe-inspiring to see it up close and personal for the first time.  I was like a school girl and wanted to squeal.

I ran back and got a quick shower, changing in to my fancy dress for dinner and the Biltmore tour.  Made a huge mistake and wore heels.  This was a decision I regretted long before the evening ended and at dinner I took off my shoes.  I wasn’t the only one though.  We got in a big shuttle bus and were taken to the next stop, the Deer Park restaurant.

Where we came in the door to getting our pics taken and lots of Shaw, Empower and HGTV folks greeted us like they were very happy to see us.  They were so fun to hang out with!  We were instructed on what the process would be.  We knew that we were going to pair up with another blogger and choose our flooring, but that’s about all we knew.

First up was Ethan with One Project Closer (woohoo Ethan!).  Was excited to meet Ethan, as I have been one of the winners in their summer Before & After contest 4 years in a row and the back porch project I just did made it in there this year.  If you don’t know about their contest, go on over and check it out.  You can win a gift card!  So, Ethan drew laminate flooring, not a bad draw.

Two more bloggers that I was so happy to meet in person were Cassity with Remodelaholic and Roeshel with the DIY Showoff (both long-time bloggy friends who I had not met yet). They were super-sweet girls and they designed my 2nd favorite room out of all of them.  Of course, I have to pick mine and Lindsay’s room as my FAVE.   They got lucky with the hardwood floor draw.  I drew for me and Lindsay and got carpet.  I had a sad-face at first because I really love hardwoods, but quickly got over it.  There are some beautiful carpets out there.

We had a lot of fun looking at the samples, since all of us blog about home stuff.  Not hard to caress some carpet or pet the hardwoods, that comes easy for us DIY people .

So, Lindsay and I chose a flat textured carpet that was just beautiful and we knew it would be a good backdrop to our project.  We didn’t have a grasp on our project yet, but we had a good start. Next, we picked out an area rug for our space and we chose a blue/green beauty called Delilah.  It was bold and bright, just what we wanted for our space.  And we both love blues and greens.

We were told after our flooring was chosen, that once we arrived in High Point the next day, the flooring fairies would already have our floors installed and ready for us to decorate!  Woohoo, how cool is that?

Instant gratification!

Before dinner, we finally got an up close and personal look at that fabulous Biltmore House that I’ve heard about all my life.  Yes, it is as wonderful as they say it is.  Amazing.  Awesome. Majestic, come to mind.  Sitting on 8,000 acres, the Biltmore is known as America’s largest home (you think that’s an understatement!?)

Built around 1895 by George Vanderbilt, it is made entirely of stone on the outside.  How they did that back in those days is truly amazing.

It was hard to capture the whole house up close, we had to stand way back to get the entire panorama in view.

We only had a little over an hour to see what we could possible fit in and with a guided tour telling us some noteworthy facts, we did the tour inside.  No pics were allowed, but suffice it to say, it is over the top gorgeous and regal.  Just as you’d expect a castle of this magnitude to be.  Glass cylinders filled with flowers water and floating candles

After the Biltmore tour, we went back to the barn where we had picked our flooring earlier and were greeted by this magical sight:  a candlelit dinner in the courtyard, trees swagged with tiny white lights, with tables decked out in fresh flowers floating in cylinders and floating candles on top.

Glass cylinders filled with flowers water and floating candles

The effect was magical and dreamy as the sun was going down.  Glass cylinders filled with flowers water and floating candles

Are you taking notes on these cylinders?  Filled with fresh real flowers and sliced citrus in some, with glass nuggets at the bottom, filled with water and floating candles on top, I’ve done a amaller version of this for Christmas.  Votives scattered around further illuminated the beautifully set tables.

Such a special and wonderful dinner we had.Glass cylinders filled with flowers water and floating candles

I could not stop taking pics of the beautiful center arrangements and look what we have here on our table.  It’s the rug that Lindsay and I chose for our competition.  Great to see it in person!

We all found our seats with these cute name tags.  Got to take these home too.Glass cylinders filled with flowers water and floating candles

Lindsay and I got to sit together and ooh and ahh over it all.  I’m not so sophisticated that I act like this doesn’t all impress me.  It did!  Glass cylinders filled with flowers water and floating candles

Every last detail was perfect.  There were food stations in each corner and we went up and sampled all the fare,which was all absolutely delish.

It was one of the most memorable dinners I’ve ever experienced.  Dining under the stars is pretty awesome! By this time my shoes had come off too.Glass cylinders filled with flowers water and floating candles

Here’s a really good shot of the glass cylinders filled with beauty.  You could SO do this at home, you know?

Me and Lindsay enjoying our evening.

So, that was Day One of Ashville and the Biltmore experience.  Not a bad first day, huh?

If you just can’t stand the suspense until I get to the finished room, click on over to my Southern Hospitality Facebook page, where I have posted some of our decorated space.  How about Liking me while you are over there, if you haven’t done that already.  🙂

Lindsay is sharing a recap on her blog of the rug and carpet selections and our what our room looked like, so click over there to read more about the design process and the flooring options.  She did a great job with that!

I will share more of the whole process too, it was such a fun event to document every detail, from the Biltmore House to the studio in High Point.

Pinch me, pinch me now! 🙂

{This was a sponsored event by Shaw Floors and HGTV Home and 10 bloggers were chosen to participate in a 3 day design competition.  All expenses were paid, however we were not monetarily compensated.  We were not told what to blog, all experiences are shared from my own perspective.  Thanks to both these fine companies for the opportunity, as well as Empower MediaMarketing for all their hard work: Hi, Ashley & Rachael!}

- Rhoda


  1. Rhoda, Joe and I have been to Biltmore several times and love it every time! We have never been to the Inn though and I would LOVE to stay there!!!! The tables were gorgeous and how exciting that they chose YOUR rug to grace the table!!!! Now you KNOW it was a good choice!!! BTW, Geo. Vanderbilt had a RAILROAD built just to bring in the materials for the house while it was being built!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you imagine!!?? We learned that on one of our trips! We went during the Christmas season once and ate at that restaurant too! I was a little disappointed in the Christmas decorations, but then I am totally spoiled by Longwood Gardens!!!! Can’t wait to see more of your trip! XO, Pinky

  2. Now THAT is my kind of Blogger event. I’m glad you had what sounds like a fabulous time. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

  3. I am SO happy for you, Rhoda!! It looks absolutely magical….and I’m so glad you got to go and be treated like royalty! Awesome pics…just pinned a few. 🙂 Heading over to your facebook page to take a peek of the room. Can’t wait to read more!

  4. You’re so beautiful, Rhoda – inside and out! I loved meeting you & Lindsay face to face FINALLY! 🙂 Great pictures too! Hope we have another amazing opportunity and if not … we’ll have next year’s event! Looking forward to it!

  5. Rhoda, I’m so glad you got to do this! Isn’t the Biltmore amazing?? It’s one of my very favorite places in the world. Here are two tips for when you go back. #1. Take the “Behind the Scenes” tour. It’s well worth the ticket price. #2. Stay at the Biltmore Inn. Since it’s on the estate property, you don’t have to worry about taking your car to the house. A shuttle bus runs from hotel to house every so often–you just hop on and get dropped at the door. And as a special bonus, you don’t have to wait in line to enter the house. Other house guests have to queue for house admission and be admitted at a particular time–not so for Biltmore Inn guests. It’s a wonderful perk. And isn’t it a beautiful hotel? It’s expensive, but they often have specials of one kind and another. 🙂

  6. This post just lifted my spirits. I grew up in Asheville and visited the Biltmore House many many times growing up. I even had my prom on the estate. This reminded me of how much I love it there and need to plan a trip this fall. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  7. This is so very cool! I am originally from that area of NC so I loved that part too.

  8. Found this on Pinterest and I absolutely love the centerpieces! What was used to make the bottom of the glass cylinders glow like that? I am planning a party soon and would love to use this idea 🙂 Thanks!

    • Shannon, those are just inexpensive glass beads things that you can get at Michaels or Hobby Lobby. They come in those mesh bags in all different colors. This would be very easy to put together at home.

  9. Rhoda…just came upon this post…I wasn’t blogging when this post was published….I love The Biltmore House….visit there often and stayed at the Inn…it is certainly gorgeous….planning a visit this fall…I never tire of visiting Biltmore for every season!!….You certainly had the royal treatment…the candlelit dinner outside the stables was gorgeous!!

  10. I would love to follow your blog-please add me to your list!


  11. How do you keep the lemons from floating to the top, every time I do it they float.


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