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About Me

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My name is Gerrie Wydeven doing-business-as Wydeven Designs. I have been conducting this small GREEN business since 2004. Wydeven Designs, based in the Atlanta, Georgia area, sells CHAIRS, LOVESEATS, CHAISES, SETTEES and other fine, well-constructed refurbished upholstered pieces. I love to travel, cook, take photographs and generally follow style and decor topics as well!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Custom Wood Treatments - A Nice Touch!

I am starting to experiment more and more with custom wood treatments on my refurbished heirloom upholstered furniture.  While I like the look of the "natural" wood and do believe there is always a place for it in any setting, I also gravitate toward custom finishes - painted/enameled surfaces; unusual stain colors; and, special finishes such as crackling.  Sometimes the painting is necessitated by the extent of existing finish problems and the fact that staining pencils and beeswax alone cannot make the wood look good again.  But sometimes the draw is to create drama or a better match with the fabric used.  I have painted using a small brush and regular (usually more durable outdoor) paint as well as the spray cans (enamel) that can be used on most surfaces.   I have not tackled the more ornate finished but think that I ought to try ... someday.   My upholsterer, Mr. Lee, has been a willing participant in the process and does a fine job as well.

A number of renowned designers recommend the use of some painted surfaces in all settings feeling that a sea of "brown" is too boring or uncreative.  I agree - here are some recent pieces that have "custom" wood finishes - I think they look great!
Ikat Wingbacks (Pair) - Enamel Spray Finish to Match Fabric

Vicki's Wingback - Crackle (pre-existing) Finish

Vintage Ethan Allen - Painted Finish to Match Fabric (sold) 

Brookhaven Settee - Painted Finish to Offset Cream Fabric

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Before and After - Why I Love Wingback Chairs

I love the shape and comfort of wingback chairs.  I have bought and refurbished more wingback chairs than any other single chair style.  There is a lot of variation and most look wonderful redone.  The variations include overall scale from compact (usually 40" high or less) to very tall (as high as 52" or more).  The size and shape of the wing also varies widely as well as the angle - some are very straight-forward while others have a butterfly wing quality to them.  Another variation is the size and shape of the legs ranging from shorter and stubbier to longer with cabriole, Queen Anne or classic chippendale shapes.

Before Chairs

After Chairs - Custom

After Chairs - Side View
Wingback chairs work well in any decorating setting -  traditional, contemporary or eclectic.   I know some people believe they are no longer "in style" but I encourage those folks to pick up any decorating magazine and study the rooms - there are a LOT of wingback chairs featured and one very high end designer, Ralph Lauren, seems to love them!

This is a set of chairs manufactured in Montgomery, Alabama, with great construction features that include wonderfully braced legs, an elegant wingspan, and hand-tied 8-way coil springs in the foundation - a great combination.  These were custom refurbished for a customer - she choose the chairs (from several sets that I had) and the fabric from my selection.  I think they turned out so well!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Before and After - Vicki's Wingback Chair

During a particularly good shopping weekend in July, I reported on a number of chairs I purchased at one of Vicki's Estate Sales (one of my favorite local estate sale coordinators/sellers).  The chairs I picked up had good bones  - my go-to list of features includes:

  • hand-tied eight-way coil springs in the foundation
  • solidly constructed woodwork in good shape - no breaks or bad scarring
  • handsome, classic styling and proportions (not oversized or clunky)
I had found just such pieces and they have now been refurbished with great results - here is one that is particularly tall and believed to be a Hickory Chair (great North Carolina manufacturer).   The chair was custom reupholstered in a heavy pale gold on gold (tone on tone) woven cotton blend fabric with a less traditional look and texture.  

Before - Tall Wingback 

After - Tall Wingback

Detail - Tall Wingback

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Decorating Colors - Earthy Green

I happened upon an article on the Better Homes and Garden Website called "Express Your True Nature with Earthy Green" which not only showed some great green decorating ideas but also identified some wonderful shades of green - each with a different personality and style.  http://www.bhg.com/decorating/color/colors/decorate-in-earthy-green/?rb=Y#page=1

The shades of green highlighted include the following - I have tried to find some of my pieces that I believe demonstrate the particular shade well:

Ripe Avocado Green
Ripe Avocado Green Set (Sold)

Mellow Jade Green
Mellow Jade Green - Damask Wingback

Charming Apple Green
Detail - Fresh Apple Green (Sold) 
Pure Celery Green
Pure Celery Green (with Gold) - One of a Pair

Fresh Pistachio Green

Neutral Celadon Green
Neutral Celadon Green with Taupe and Cream - One of Two

Lush Lime Green

Breezy Grass Green
Breezy Grass Green (Henredon) Club

Organic Sage Green
Organic Sage Green Club - One of a Pair

Friday, August 19, 2011

Green Decorating and Design - Quick Sharing

My passion for the business of finding and refurbishing great pieces of heirloom furniture is equally about my love of fabrics and chairs (really, when seeing an old movie, I study the furniture in the room as much as pay attention to the actors and what they are doing - check out the great wingback chairs in "The Philadelphia Story") and my interest in green design and decorating.  With that in mind, I look for kindred spirits who have the same passion.  I think I found one today in this blog http://www.greenyourdecor.com/ - a site called Green Your Decor - Your Guide to Stylish, Sustainable Decorating by  Jennae Petersen.  She provides lots of tips - in a very stylish blog - on a wide variety of green design topics.  Check her out!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Decorating Colors - Happy Go Yellow

Extra Tall Wingback in Tone on Tone Gold

Custom Chair and Ottoman

French Loveseat in Yellow Braemore Print

I have had a series of blogs highlighting articles in the most recent issue of House Beautiful and feel I should give other magazines their due.  The September, 2011, issue of Traditional Home http://traditionalhome.com features three designers' use of yellow or gold in their work.  Julie Kays says, "I used yellow because it reflects light instead of absorbing it.  And the color changes the room's personality to a happier one."  Barry Dixon introduces a bright yellow to his palate saying, "We needed a color to ignite the room with warmth and sparkle".  Camille Saum uses a lovely yellow to cover her dining room chairs and add an element of surprise to her rooms.  I LOVE yellow - using it throughout my house as the primary wall color.  I have used three colors from single paint strip to do 80% of my house.  Yellow and gold in upholstered furniture can be combined with almost any and all color groups and works in contemporary and traditional settings.  As these designers acknowledge, yellow equals happy and fun!

Goldenrod Toile on Club - One of a Pair

Yellow Floral Print on Club - One of a Pair

Monday, August 15, 2011

Decorating Colors - Tone on Tone

This is the fourth blog in this series inspired by the September, 2011, issue of House Beautiful - their annual color issue.  This article describes the decorating philosophy of designer Betsy Brown who likes to use tone-on-tone neutrals in her projects.  Layering and contrasts, she indicates, are key to using neutrals.  Some suggestions she includes:

  • Use extreme contrasts to highlight the neutrals (e.g., a roomful of beiges and cremes needs a dose of black - see yesterday's blog - black and white drama)
  • Use textural contrasts like rough and shiny in juxtaposition because light plays off of these so differently
  • Pair humble and elegant, smooth with coarse, ancient and modern, and diminutive and massive
The designer loves neutrals because they provide a non-competing stage for other items in the room and create a very comfortable setting.

Camelback Settee in Creme Linen

Set of Hickory Chair Armchairs in embroidered Creme on Creme Linen

High  Point Vintage Chair in Dark Creme Linen-Blend (textured)

Vicki's Wingback - same fabric as High Point

Oak Post Armchair
I have a fairly large section on my website devoted to "neutrals" and am always on the lookout for creamy linens and textured neutral fabrics.  They are very popular and amongst the quickest to sell.  People worry about using neutrals because of potential soiling but I have found that they hold up as well (and better than many) darker hues - I've had some for over 20 years despite children, grandchildren and pet-sitting!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Decorating Colors - Black and White Drama

This is a third in a series based on the September, 2011, color issue of House Beautiful.  An article called "Drama Dahling" presents the ideas of designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard creating a "MGM" moment.  While using other colors throughout the home, Martyn creates a black and white foundation in a variety of ways (in addition to use on upholstered furniture pieces:

  • High-gloss black front door
  • Black and white checkerboard foyer (I LOVE this look)
  • Ebonized floors
  • Black borders on curtains
Brookhaven Settee in Starburst Silk with Ebonized Legs
The designer feels that the "white" should actually be an antique white/ivory to tone everything down.   I have used the black and white combination for many of my pieces and also like to "ebonize" legs to provide a great contrast.  

Here are some of my great black and white pieces - ones that could certainly support more than a little drama in a wonderful setting!
Briarcliff Chair with Ebonized Legs

Vintage Ethan Allen with Ebonized Legs (SOLD)

Wingback Chair and Ottoman with Ebonized Legs

One of a Pair - Art Deco Chairs

Friday, August 12, 2011

A New Direction for Wydeven Designs - You Choose Fabric Pieces

I get at least one or two questions a week asking if I can redo a piece of furniture in another fabric OR if I have another piece just like it that I can do in another fabric.  They love the piece but cannot use the fabric I chose.  Each item I sell is a unique find - I do not have a warehouse (or space for a warehouse) of pieces waiting to be redone.  I am currently looking for specific pieces for four clients because they have fallen in love with something on my site but want it in another fabric!

I have resisted selling "before" pieces because it so hard to imagine how great these pieces can look redone.  I am going to try to list more pieces under a category called "You Choose Fabric" which shows photos of pieces before they are redone and some fabrics that would work.  The pricing I've established includes the selection of a fabric from my vast collection (I can share photos and swatches when we get to that point); expert upholstery work by the masters at Song's/Lee's Upholstery in Norcross, GA (around the corner from my home); and, sometimes additional items like a set of accent pillows.  Special treatments like trims and brass heads would be extra as well as refurbishing the woodwork with a new enamel color (clean-up and touch-up of woodwork is of course a standard treatment and included).

SO ... we'll see how this goes and I may do more of it.  Here are some of the pieces currently being sold as "You Choose Fabric" on ebay.

Highland House Ottoman (actually photo from their website - same ottoman)

Hickory Chair - One of a Pair

Vintage French Wingback

Brooke Ridge French Chair

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Decorating Colors - A Symphony of Blues

This is the second in this series inspired by the September, 2011, issue of House Beautiful - their annual color issue.  This article presented the ideas of designer Rhoda Payne who feels that blues don't need to match - they just go together so well!  She is obviously a woman after my own heart because blue is my favorite decorating color - I have blues all over my home.  I also collect blue and white porcelains and spread them in with any and all other color schemes.  Some refreshing ideas include:

  • Using periwinkle blue to paint windows and shutters to create a friendly look
  • Using an aqua blue rug with multiple different blue colored accents in living room
  • Using delft blue wall tiles and a wedgwood blue walls in the kitchen
  • Using a pistachio stained kitchen cabinets
The overall look is young, fresh, and, yes, FRIENDLY!

Blue "Figi" Chair

Detail - Different Blue Shades - Robert Allen Loveseat, Chair and Ottoman

Blue and White Twill Wingback Chairs

Blue and White (Chatham Hill) Club Chairs

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Decorating Colors - California Surfer Chic

I just got the September 2011 issue of House Beautiful - their annual color issue.  I love this magazine and get a lot of ideas (and just plain enjoyment) out of reading/studying again and again.  One article displays very bright colors in what the featured designer (Mona Ross Berman) calls California Surfer Chic.  The colors are bold and bright and crisp - very "bright, sunny and a little out of the box".

Bright Rose Club Chair (one of a pair)

Loveseat in P. Kaufman Graphic Print (Indoor/Outdoor Fabric)

Woodmark "Dorothy" Chair 

I have been focusing on decorating styles lately and am not sure where this one fits it - but probably more contemporary and eclectic   than traditional.  I have a number of pieces that I think fit this mode of decorating!  I even have a great orange piece - the designer indicates that orange is her favorite color because it feels like a younger, fresher version of red.  Large crisp graphics are also liberally displayed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Refurbishing Upholstered Furniture - First do the Math!

I am often asked about whether a particular piece of upholstered furniture is worth redoing and how much it will cost.  To answer this question, you do have to answer those two parts separately.

Is it worth redoing?

Unless a piece of upholstered furniture has good bones and the construction features have the ability to yield multiple re-upholstering cycles, it is probably not worth redoing.

Here are two major rules/criteria I live by:

·      Does the piece have a solid seat foundation?  All upholstered pieces rely on the strength of this structure to make sure that many years of sitting (with varying size/weight requirements) will not cause “system failure”.  The best foundations include hand-tied eight-way coil spring construction.   It is SO easy to tell if this structure exists although many people seem oblivious to this test.  I always tell people to “flip the piece over” and see/feel the BOTTOM of the seat construction – if there are coils, they will be very easily observed; if not, the bottom fabric will only cover air. 
·      Is the woodwork in good condition – not broken or badly scarred?  Woodwork can be painted to cover imperfections but bad repairs or evidence of structural problems can shorten the life of a piece of furniture or make it so fragile that it cannot be easily moved or shipped.

How much will it cost?

Reupholstering the furniture is the major expense since expert hand labor is involved although fabric costs can come close.   I have found that the marketplace for buying good value fabrics is getting smaller and smaller with this economy and even an existing fabrics store like Calico Corners is changing their business model from one that stocks bolts and sometimes sells at a significant discount to one that only carries samples and has clients order just enough for their pieces.  Fabric warehouses do exist in larger metropolitan areas and ebay does offer some deals on fabrics.  But, overall, the marketplace has shrunk over the past five years.

Here are some average prices for expert upholstery work in my neck of the woods.  I have found that saving a few dollars to get a better deal is not worth it if the outcome is a less professional job and have had over a 1000 pieces upholstered in the past eight years.

Chart of Average Upholstery Costs and Fabric Requirements
Range of Upholstery Costs
Range of Fabric Requirements in yards

Chaise Lounge
Chair – complex
Chair – Simple
Chair – Cushion Only

The upholstery cost variables include whether the piece is skirted or not, separate seat and back cushions versus tight-seat construction, tufting, size, and other complexities. 

The fabric requirement variables include size, whether the piece is skirted or not; separate seat and back cushions versus tight-seat construction, and size of pattern and matching requirements.

So, it is important to complete the entire analysis before proceeding with a refurbishing and re-upholstery project.  It also makes sense to work with professionals including having someone (like me) do the analysis and put the whole project together for you – it may well be worth the cost including any shipping required. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Go Green - Another Voice for Furniture Reuse

I find that the internet provides many ideas about how to design and decorate using green principles.  There is a whole industry growing up around these concepts.  One key element of this trend is to look around for those items that are already "produced" or "manufactured".  Precious resources have already been harvested and used; labor and commerce have already been involved in the production and transportation of the goods; and, further resources would have to be spent on waste removal and treatment.  This latter issue is emphasized on an internet site I found this morning - The Daily Green by GoodHousekeeping.com.

Instead of tossing out old and worn furniture, reupholster it to bring new life, and cut down on waste and further resource use.  Many antiques dealers would kill to get their hands on the bones of much of the furniture that is unceremoniously thrown away, left out in the weeds or even burned as firewood. Between 1960 and 2001, discarded furniture and furnishings swelled from 2.2 million tons a year to 8.1 million tons, reports the EPA. Furniture is bulky stuff that takes up a lot of landfill space.
Waverly Huron Fabric on Chair and Ottoman

Tufted Loveseat in Braemore Print
One of my blog series deals with the topic:  Saved from the Dumpster!   I have found MANY great pieces of furniture heading there and have saved them by refurbishing, reupholstering and putting them into the marketplace for purchase and re-use. One of my favorite sayings is that a fine piece of upholstered furniture can service this generation and many generations to come!   Here are some examples of fine pieces brought back to life!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Go Green - A Case for Refurbishing Heirloom Quality Furniture

I am passionate about making the case for finding, refurbishing and reusing heirloom quality upholstered furniture - it is what my business, Wydeven Designs, is all about.  I find that this "type of business" is hard to categorize and when doing internet research  have been challenged to find "key words" to embed into my own website to help people find me and my wonderful pieces of refurbished furniture.  Today, I googled using the following phrase:

"green design - refurbish and reuse upholstered furniture"

I was thrilled to find that my website was the first listing shown - although my son did remind me that "they know where you are and sites physically located nearby would automatically show first".   Regardless, I was thrilled!  I also noted another site that I had not visited before - a company located in Ottawa, Canada.  http://www.carriagehouseottawa.com/my-philosophy/  and went on to read the argument they are making about the value of finding and refurbishing quality furniture.  I knew that I am not alone out there!  

Wydeven Design Refurbished Heirloom Furniture

“We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, We borrow it from our Children” ~ Native Proverb

My Philosophy is about Sustainable Design. about being creative and taking the time and care to invest in older quality furniture. Also, the time to know what it is that you are investing in when purchasing something new. There are good investments to be made, both with older furniture and new. Unfortunately, today, we are seeing more and more, inferior quality built furnishings on the market, even when the price tag is high. The majority of furniture being built today is manufactured to last an average of ten years. Looking at our purchasing power with a mind for sustainable living is My Philosophy that I call CERES CREATIVE.

“One heirloom sofa will last as long as 21 disposable sofas”