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Restoration Retrospective: Tyrolean Chimney Room

Written By Judy Ross

Posted 04/15/15

Updated 04/28/23

Estate History

As part of our look back at the extensive renovation project that returned the Louis XV Suite of Biltmore House to its current splendor, let’s take a moment to consider the namesake of the Tyrolean Chimney Room: the wonderful tile chimney and mantel.

Detailed view of the tile over-mantel in the Tyrolean Chimney Room
Detailed view of the tile over-mantel in the Tyrolean Chimney Room

The fireplace over-mantel (its correct name) was constructed from a tile-stove known as a kachelöfen that George Vanderbilt likely purchased in his European travels, possibly in Switzerland. Created in the 18th century, Biltmore’s Tyrolean Chimney is made of tin-glazed earthenware tiles hand-painted with exquisite floral designs.

Prior to restoration in 2009, the over-mantel was the focal point of a room used to store beds and frames.

Tyrolean Chimney Room of Biltmore House prior to restoration
Tyrolean Chimney Room of Biltmore House prior to restoration

The Museum Services staff worked with Prelle, a company in Lyon, France that specializes in silk fabrics, to exactly reproduce a figured velvet for the window draperies.

Museum Services and a Prelle representative are comparing the velvet to the colors in the tiles.
Museum Services and a Prelle representative are comparing the velvet to the colors in the tiles.

While the tile was in relatively good condition for its age, Biltmore’s conservators spent hundreds of hours cleaning and in-painting damaged areas of the over-mantel.

Handpainting flower details on the over-mantel
Handpainting flower details on the over-mantel

The painstaking work required a combination of conservation experience and artistic ability.

Detailed view of the handpainted flowers on the over-mantel
Detailed view of the handpainted flowers on the over-mantel

The results show the vivid colors and delicate florals that inspired the room’s striking design.

Tyrolean Chimney Room of Biltmore House after restoration was completed
Tyrolean Chimney Room of Biltmore House after restoration was completed

Learn more about the one of Biltmore’s largest preservation projects to date: restoring the Louis XV Suite—the grandest guest rooms in Biltmore House.

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