The summer vacation season is almost here. With my hectic schedule, I sometimes find it challenging to plan a get-away for long stretches of time. There are so many beautiful spots within a short driving distance. So when I want to experience a little more luxury or enjoy a special retreat in just a few days, a bed and breakfast inn often comes to mind. All you have to do is pack a bag and hit the road. Beautiful scenery and gardens are waiting, along with a plush mattress and bedding – with breakfast included!
Since I live in North Carolina, I’m blessed with both the coastal and mountain regions. Early summer is especially beautiful in the mountains, as the laurel and wildflowers make their annual showing. When it gets hot and muggy, the breezes on a rocking chair porch bring a cooling relief.
On my agenda, for one of my next trips, will be The Black Walnut Inn in Asheville, NC. The inn was built in 1899 and was designed by Richard Sharp-Smith, the supervising architect for the Biltmore Estate. It’s on the National Register of Historic Buildings, and the proprietors, Peter and Lori White, bring their vast experience in the culinary world to the inn. For those who enjoy bringing along their four-legged family members, the inn has two pet-friendly suites. Truly a gorgeous place!
I’ll have to admit, I have such a fondness for these lovely old inns, I like to capture some of the essence of them in my own home.
It is so nice to capture some moments in time, in the vacation spirit, when you open your own door.
How would I recreate that spirit? Just read on.
Have you noticed how most inns have some sort of garden feature or hidden courtyard area? I decided long ago, rather than have a lot of grass; my back yard would be divided into several spaces. It allows for me to create focal points. You’re seeing an early spring photo of one of my perennial beds, after a shower. I would love to have an iron gate with the patina, like the one shown. The Mélange Artesia Chest, from Hooker Furniture, would certainly be a wonderful way to capture that design in my interiors!
Of course, part of the best B&B experience is the wonderful food and the table settings. Breakfast is almost like brunch, in most. If you’re hiking around the mountains or popping in and out of local shops, it will sustain you until the dinner hour. A few may offer tea services or afternoon treats. They absolutely do use their dining rooms and the good china! Even PB&J tastes better on pretty dishes.
You can sometimes find little inglenooks in older homes or inns. These typically began as corners near chimneys, for keeping warm, and then they became alcoves or other cozy sitting spots. It’s a space that’s perfect for a small settee or a lovely chair and ottoman. At the end of the day, but not quite bedtime, it’s the best spot for reading a book or carrying on a quiet chat. (If you’ve brought your iPad or tablet along, you can use that as the excuse for being connected; just leave off the emails – agreed?) The point is, we often jump from full-blown activities to bed and taking some time to wind down promotes better rest. I can imagine how lovely the Sam Moore Kudrow Settee or a pair of Keltie Chairs would be in a special corner.
Now that you’re all relaxed, it’s time to climb into a beautiful bed. I do love a shelter style bed! I recently used one, from Hooker Furniture, in a client’s guest room. (I hope to share those photos with you, in another article.) I’m glad to know there are options and this particular design, the Grandover Shelter Bed, is a wonderful balance between masculine and feminine. The winged elements are so elegant and the leather finish is very practical. Can you imagine snuggling in for slumber and then to be awakened, in the morning, by a warm stream of sunlight? Just put breakfast on my tray and I’m there for the morning!
Finally, the whole experience is rounded out by the little details which add a layer of refinement – beautiful bedding, fanciful china, the clink of crystal, a thick, thirsty towel. All of these are items which can be collected over a period of time to layer into your home retreat. I think it’s a perfectly good excuse for making an exploratory trip for field research!
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.