Visiting the Vanderbilt Mansion

We're renovating, exploring style and design with a dash of cocktail making and cooking thrown in. 

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I’m such a history dork! I seriously love all history and could watch hours, upon hours of the The History Channel, or even better the H2 Channel (you know, the alien shows). To get us in the mood to start making some decisions about the renovation of Stonyford, we decided to visit some of the glamorous estates in the Hudson Valley. Commodore Vanderbilt visited Stonyford to buy a horse, so I wondered what his house looked like. Let’s just say Stonyford is a cute country house compared to his place! I might go as far to say Stonyford could be the Vanderbilt garden shed.

Historically, the Hudson Valley was the get away from NYC for the rich and richer. Back in the day there was no air conditioner in homes, and the city was especially gross in the summer. So why not go to your other house in the Hudson Valley, where the breezes blow and it is sometimes ten degrees cooler? Exactly what I was thinking too. We didn’t have any AC this summer and we were scared. Like real scared, I was seeing us sweating and being unproductive for 3 months. But I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it was pretty cool all summer. There were a handful of days that were hot, and I can deal with that. I can’t see putting AC in our house. We could easily AC the bottom floor, but to only use it for a few days a year? We’ll get to that after we finish ‘everything else’ which essentially is everything.

We wanted to see these grand estates to check out things like what I mentioned above. How did these grand houses deal with AC and heating, or cracked plaster walls? What was the scale like and how fancy was the kitchen and bathrooms? How did the ultra rich live 150 years ago? Here’s my assessment: I’d be a better person if I had fancy plaster work in my life. Seriously, this house was so decked out, you don’t even need furniture. Save your money! You can just lay on the floor and look at your ceiling!

My take ways from the Vanderbilt Estate are the overall scale is just so huge. And the plaster work was off the charts, leaving no detail unattended. Compared to the fanciness of the house, the bathrooms and kitchen were really sleek, almost modern in a sense. We were excited to see that the sink in our downstairs bathroom is the same as the sinks in the Vanderbilt Estate. The use of subway tiles, floor to ceiling, in the kitchen was really beautiful, and utilitarian. The all white floors and all white walls and sinks were very sleek. The only place that’s a gut reno in our place is the kitchen and mud room, so we’re prowling for ideas. I also loved all the palm type plants, they have a sexy, drape like quality about them that feels very lush and over the top.

Here’s a link to the Vanderbilt Mansion if you’d like to visit. I highly recommend it, it’s a great day. The estate was donated to the National Parks Service, so you can tour the house and grounds.

Capturing some of the rooms what difficult because they were roped off, but we have a few good snaps to share. Also here’s our Instagram of our bathroom, with the same sink as the Vanderbilt Estate! Do you have any house museums you love to visit?

Interior detail. Look at the ceiling!
Exterior detail. 

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