Let the games begin!
The Bachelor Winter Games debuted Tuesday, bringing drama for former Bachelor Ben Higgins, as well as some connections between the international and U.S. contestants of the four-episode spinoff. The series, hosted by Chris Harrison, includes another standout factor, though: their stunning home at Vermont’s Hermitage Club. where the reality stars snuggled up between events.
The 1,400-acre community of private residences located in the Green Mountains was the perfect spot for the cast to call home, but the franchise’s set designer, Angelic Rutherford, still had to give it a signature spin.
“I needed to infuse it with the Bachelor look and feel,” she tells PEOPLE. She did so by incorporating buffalo plaids, white fur and woodsy accents to create a “romantic blend of modern and cozy that just worked great on camera.”
Because the cast memebers were temporary guests, though, Rutherford had to make a few tweaks to her normal process.
“It wasn’t practical to paint the walls of this resort like we’re able to do at the Bachelor mansion every season,” she explains. “So, I decided to upholster the walls with flannel instead.”
Other elements included a giant sectional sofa, accent chairs and floor poufs that would allow the 25 cast members to all gather together comfortably, as well as a few nooks where they could pair off in peace.
“We had many different areas for group seating and some one-on-one spots that were more private,” she says. “I made sure every spot was cozy and, of course, make-out friendly with warm blankets and soft pillows.”
Rutherford also built in an area for the ladies to prep for their dates in style.
“It’s a great spot for the girls to do their makeup and the pink plaid mirror walls were one of my favorite design elements,” she says.
Much of the décor is handcrafted, but Rutherford also likes to pick up decorative accents from spots like HomeGoods, as well as repurpose items from local stores in Vermont.
“The vintage sports gear — like snow shoes, sleds and old skis — makes for amazing art installations for the walls,” she says. “Also, old flags are a budget-friendly way of adding instant Americana chic.”
The most important detail, though, is the ambience.
“Integrating romance is the foundation of the production design,” she says. “The team was always making sure the fireplaces were crackling and that there were plenty of warm and inviting spaces to relax.”
The Bachelor Winter Games airs Tuesdays and Thursdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.