I've always wanted to ask someone that in my best Thurston Howell from Gilligan's Island voice. Sadly none of my friends have a summer home.
In Edith Wharton's case, she summered at The Mount (sidenote: the home is facing possible foreclosure). I remember reading The Age of Innocence and thinking, Geez, who lives like that? Apparently the author did. I came across this Slate article about the author's summer home, a "cottage" that she had built back around 1901. The house reflected her character to such a degree that it's often been called an "autobiographical house". The interesting thing that's mentioned is that Edith ushered out the Victorian ideals of design (eclectic, elaborate, ornate, and, well, clutter) and welcomed a "return to simplicity" with clean lines, French furniture, and symmetry. Really? In my opinion, her summer cottage was anything but simple!
Apparently, building extravagant summer homes was the norm for the rich peeps of the era. Check out the Vanderbilts' summer home, The Breakers:
Another place the Vanderbilts called home isn't too shabby either. We toured Biltmore Estate when we vacationed in North Carolina 1 1/2 years ago, and it took us 3 HOURS to see the whole place (the house, stables, gardens, & winery).
This serious little guy greets you at the entrance so I had to get a pic taken with him:
Funny thing? I kept wondering why in the world there was a tiny bed in every grandiose bedroom. Maybe because people were shorter back in the day? I finally asked a tour guide and she said, nope, they were actually king-sized beds. In fact, the bedrooms are so ginormous (tall ceilings & tons of sq. footage) that the king beds looked dwarfed in proportion to the room's dimensions. Here's a stock photo (cameras weren't allowed inside). See what I mean?: