The Biltmore Estate is a landmark American home. To preserve it for generations to come, curators were anxious to protect the furnishings—the artwork, furniture, carpets, wood floors and, of course, the draperies—from the dangerous rays of the sun. They recommended the professional installation of Vista Window Film, a high-tech solar control film that eliminates 99.9 percent of the damaging ultraviolet rays. Vista film also reduces glare and eliminated hot spots saving energy by cutting down heat gain.
The CHF School, Swannanoa, NC, offers five-day classes that take students out of the workroom and on location in the Biltmore Guest Cottage on The Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC. From concept to completion, The Total Experience class shows students how to work with a real client in a real environment, including design, fabrication and installation of a window treatment for the home.
This class included Christi Cooper, Karen Curcio, Brenda Howard, Jann Newton, Jodi Stanford and assistant instructor Scot Robbins of Scot Robbins and Co. (see D&WC, February 2005, page 22), distributor of the Parkhill Swag System. The project of the month was to create a treatment for the Living Room at the Guest Cottage. The challenge for the living room was to create a formal treatment in a room filled with Biltmore reproduction furniture.
GATHERING THE ELEMENTS
The Guest Cottage walls were covered in a beige, large-scale floral wallpaper and the hardwood floor was covered with a red and navy Oriental carpet. Oversized upholstered furniture included the colors coral and taupe.
The fabric selected for the treatment was a navy damask provided by Kravet. The color matched perfectly with the blue in the Oriental carpet. Next, we contacted Trims Unlimited, which generously provided a beautiful tri-color tassel trim in navy, red and beige, which were colors used throughout the room. Resin Solutions also helped us by providing a fabulous wood pole and finials in an antique gold finish.
With all the elements in place, it was time to choose the design. With Scot Robbins leading the design concept, the idea was to create a swag treatment raised in the center with a short rod and finials. Stationary panels would be used along with sheers to soften the look of the building located just outside the window. The entire treatment was to be trimmed in tassel fringe.
The window treatment design consisted of three standard swags placed across a dust cap board and two raised swags attached to a pole above the board. To achieve the raised look, Scot showed the students how to attach a block of wood to the top of a dust cap and screw the rod to the block. This gave the treatment a nine-inch lift in the center.
In order to determine the size of the lifted swag, a weighted cord was pinned to the board then placed over the top of the pole. The drop of the swag was measured from the top of the dust cap board. To determine the cut size needed to make this raised swag, the cord was removed from the top pole and placed just below it on the dust cap board. A new drop measurement was taken from the cord. This became the new drop measurement for the swag pattern.
The pattern was cut from the lining, then tested on the pole again before the face fabric was cut. When tested on the pole, marks were placed on the lining to locate the original bias fold. Because the lifted swag was cut from a standard swag pattern, the original bias was now skewed to the left side and needed to be relocated and marked before placing the pattern on the fabric.
Students spent two days cutting and sewing the four panels, four cascades and 10 swags for the two windows. The Parkhill Swag System was used to create the interlined swags. The stationary rod pocket panels were lined, interlined and fabricated to crash four inches on the floor.
Trim was attached using Rowley Co.’s fringe adhesive along the bottom of each swag and the inside edge of the panels and cascades.
ASSEMBLY AND INSTALLATION
Once the fabrication was complete, it was time to assemble the treatment. The center swag was attached first. The neckline of the swag was overcut, pulled up and stapled to the block of wood that held the pole. This prevented the block from being seen in the room.
Then the other two swags were attached to the dust cap board. The two raised swags were attached to the dust cap board, lifted and stapled to the pole. Cascades were gathered and stapled to the ends of the board.
Our team of students created a work of art befitting the theme of the historic living room perfectly! Installation was completed by the CHF School installation class, led by Beth Hodges (see D&WC, January 2005, page 26). Her students did a fantastic job of hanging two window treatments on the last day of their class.
Everyone involved was proud to say that they were a part of creating a treatment for a very historic piece of property.
Next month’s installment will feature the North Tower Room at The Biltmore House. The North Tower Room is decorated in a mixture of styles from the late 18th and early 19th centuries and has a rich history with the draperies and upholstery restoration.
Margie Nance owned her own successful workroom for 10 years in Charlotte, NC. She teaches several classes at the Custom Home Furnishings School. She is also the director of education for the school and for the CHF Educational Conferences.