American’s Largest Home® & the psychology of color
The Vanderbilt’s famed Biltmore® in Asheville, North Carolina, set a high standard for gracious hospitality, soothing comfort and exquisite décor when the family first took residence in 1895. The grand home with 250 rooms, built in French Renaissance style under the guidance of George W. Vanderbilt, was regarded as cutting edge and trendsetting. From its indoor heated swimming pool to its stunning library and luxurious finishes, its sense of style was unparalleled.
That rarefied style also applied to the bedrooms of Biltmore – at that time, 35 in total.
Each bedroom was designed carefully to create a gracious sleep environment for family and visiting guests. The rooms featured luxurious bed linens, roller shades and thick curtains made from finely woven fabrics to regulate temperature and block out light. Decor was customized to the space and its intended occupant, giving each bedroom its own unique personality. The choice of wall treatment played an important role as well, whether it was French-made wallpaper or a carefully selected paint color.
Modern day visitors of Biltmore are still in awe of the beautiful shades used throughout bedrooms of the grand home.
Time for a color refresh in your bedroom? You are cordially invited to be inspired by the beauty of Biltmore…
The regal power of red & gold for your bedroom
Pairing a rich red with striking gold evokes luxury, wealth and love – characteristics that the Vanderbilt family embodied. One of the grandest guest rooms in Biltmore, the Louis XV bedroom, likely made guests feel as though they were spending the night in a palace. Sadly, more than 100 years of hospitality caused the ornate fabric and detailing of this room to split and tear, while exposure to sunlight from the majestic mountains surrounding the estate had faded the gold to more of a cream color. This prompted a three-year restoration process that began in 2007, where Biltmore’s conservation staff, curators, craftsmen and artisans removed the brittle fabric, reproduced these hand-woven masterpieces, repaired moldings and trim and installed masterfully unique velvet panels. Every second of work shows in this stunningly beautiful room, now restored to its former glory.
The use of red in a bedroom is significant. Those who study psychological effects of the color red say it sparks strong feelings, including warmth, comfort, passion, joy and excitement. It was a fitting hue to use in the Louis XV room, where George and Edith Vanderbilt’s only daughter, Cornelia, was born.
Interesting facts about the color red:
- Increases respiration rate
- Raises blood pressure
- Enhances metabolism
- Used as a warning color, such as stop signs
- Associated with energy – energy drinks, games, cars, sports activity and highly physical activity
Your bedroom is feeling blue – in a good way
The Claude bedroom took a different approach. It was named for George Vanderbilt’s favorite painter, Claude Lorrain, one of Europe’s top landscape artists at the turn of the 19th century. The remarkable silver and rich cobalt blue wallpaper set the mood, reflecting the family’s status while also creating a soothing atmosphere.
The Vanderbilts chose a soft pastel shade of blue for the Morland bedroom, inspired by English painter George Morland. Exotic Indian-style fabrics were used, along with replicas of hand-painted bed draperies, inspired by those that George and Edith fell in love with while honeymooning at an Italian villa in 1898.
Blue is synonymous with feelings of calmness, serenity, peace and tranquility. For a country estate like Biltmore, blue was an ideal color to promote rest and relaxation. Many of its guests travelled from big cities in search of respite from the stresses of urban life.
Interesting facts about the color blue:
- Soothes the mind and promotes physical relaxation
- Slows human metabolism and suppresses appetite
- Helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate
- Studies show people are more productive in blue rooms
- Weight lifters can lift heavier weights in blue gyms
Setting the bedroom scene in green
For the eclectic Van Dyck bedroom (named after 17th-century artist Anthony Van Dyck), a golden green is front and center. This Bartlett-pear green is such a distinctively beautiful contrast to Van Dyck’s black-and-white prints and the terra cotta and camel-colored wallpaper that adorn the walls of this striking room.
Why green? Green is the color of spring, a lively color that signifies a reawakening or renewal and growth. In a room painted green, you may feel refreshed and energized, ready to seize the day.
Residents and visitors of Biltmore would appreciate those qualities as they spent their days enjoying the expansive grounds and its bounty of flora and fauna. From a psychological point of view, green has been widely recognized to soothe feelings of anxiety or nervousness – a fitting choice especially for bedrooms.
Interesting facts about the color green:
- Improves vision
- Easiest color on the human eye
- Most popular decorating color
- People waiting to appear on TV often relax beforehand in “green rooms”
- Green means GO!
How to choose your bedroom color, even if you don’t live in a home like Biltmore
Biltmore offers a delightful array of colors to choose from when painting your bedroom but you may also want to consider modern-day scientific findings around the impact of a bedroom’s paint color has on sleep quality. It’s a topic that has been studied extensively by researchers and some of the results are surprising.
The worst color for sleep? According to one survey, it was purple. Though it is associated with royalty, for many people, it’s also the shade that inspires creativity and increased brain activity, causing vivid dreams and even nightmares. Research showed that participants who slept in a purple bedroom had the least restful sleep at just five hours and 56 minutes.
Certain colors work better in particular rooms of your home to help promote the activities that would occur your living spaces. It goes without saying that you want colors that encourage eating in your kitchen and colors that promote sleeping in your bedroom.
- Living room/ foyer– Use colors that rouse conversations, such as reds, yellows, oranges and beiges.
- Kitchen – Stimulate appetite and encourage conversations with reds, yellows and oranges.
- Dining room– Red can inspire conversation and hearten the center of your home.
- Bedroom – Sleep is essential and the best hues to help you find peace in your bedroom are blues, greens and lavender.
- Bathroom– Create a clean, calm environment with a cool white, blues, greens and turquoise.
- Exercise room– Get your energy flowing, concentration on point and keep yourself motivated with bold, beautiful reds, oranges, blues, greens, yellow-greens and blue-greens.
- Home office– Go green to promote concentration and improve vision.
The best color for sleep won’t be much of a surprise. Blue is the hue. Like the blue in the Claude bedroom of Biltmore House, this color inspires feelings of calm, which bode well for good sleep quality. The aforementioned study found that participants slept a blissful seven hours and 52 minutes in a blue bedroom. If that’s not your favorite, you can also go for the runner-up – yellow. It is easier to relax in a yellow room, but the choice of shade is important. Stay away from bright primary yellow and opt for a softer tone instead to reap its benefits. Green, like the green in Biltmore House’s Van Dyck bedroom, is also a worthy alternative for its soothing and comforting qualities.
We’re drawn to our favorite colors and we often want to be surrounded by what we love, but be mindful to how your favorite color may be affecting your sleep. Let yourself be inspired by the Vanderbilt’s and their daring, sophisticated style, deeply individual for each room of their home. While you may not have 35 bedrooms in your home, showcase your unique personality with your favorite colors and evoke the energies you want to enhance your living spaces.
Hungry for more Biltmore in your life?
- Bring the flavors of Biltmore to your breakfast table
- Bedtime reading habits, inspired by Biltmore
- Good morning habits from the Vanderbilt family