Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you find interesting ideas and inspiring images. Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated! Check out my facebook page.

About Me

My photo
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!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Farm Fresh Neutrals - Pair with your Favorite Wine

I love this article in the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine featuring advice from San Francisco designer Kelly Keiser.  She supports the use of neutrals in home decor for not just their versatility bur also their emotional value:
"Because we live in such a color-filled, busy world, coming home to a calm, neutral space feels like a breath of fresh air"
Ms. Keiser describes the broad range of neutrals from "buttery yellow" to "rustic brown".   Even colors like beige have a lot of variation from grayish, to greenish, to khaki.  I particularly like the statement she makes about coordinating with neutrals:
"Anything you find in a wineglass works well with neutrals from champagne to rose to merlot."
While the emphasis of her article is on the use of neutrals in backgrounds and paints, it also applies to the furnishings in the room.  Using neutral fabrics in home furnishings gives you a lot of choices in hues, textures, and patterns - a lot of versatility - and work so well with a nice Italian red wine.   Now, who could beat that combination!

Here are some neutral pieces from my current collection:
Baker Loveseat in Schumacher Textured Pale Taupe (black piping)

Hickory Chair Edwardian Chairs in Cream Linen and Crewel 

Vintage Settee in Sunburst Silk

Tall Skirted Chairs in Striped Cream on Cream

Club Chairs in Buttery Yellow (Pair)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fine American Furniture - A Toast to HIckory Chair

I love Hickory Chair - about the best American furniture still being manufactured today!  I just received my October issue of Traditional Home and saw a wonderful article titled:  Better Than Expected.  The article is written in celebration of Hickory Chair's 100 year anniversary.  I also discovered their founding slogan:  "Chairs made better than seems necessary" - a quaint concept but perhaps true.   The company is located in Hickory, North Carolina (of course).  Amongst their many distinctions,  Hickory Chair pioneered the creation of reproduction furniture such as the James River Collection - the oldest collection of 18th century mahogany reproduction furniture in America.  Designers Thomas O'Brien, Mariette Himes Gomez, Alexa Hampton, and Atlantan Suzanne Kasler all have created collections for the company.

I am an avid label watcher and nothing is better than the Hickory Chair label when buying quality upholstered furniture worthy of refurbishing.  I have had quite a few pieces in MY collections and hope to continue to find many more!
Hickory Chair - James River Collection (sold)

Hickory Chair Armless Chairs

Hickory Chair Vintage Club Chairs (sold)

Hickory Chair Sheridan Settee and French Chair (sold)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Before and After - Vicki's Chairs

Vicki's (VT) Estate Sale Sign
I have previously written about attending many of Vicki's Estate Sales in the Atlanta metropolitan areas and finding some great pieces.  I must admit that Vicki is true to her primary customer (the person who hired her to run the sale and maximize their share of the profits) so often I do not get her to agree to my price-point but sometimes I luck out and am able to buy furniture with great potential.  My price-point, by the way, has been carefully developed over more than eight years of professionally refurbishing and selling heirloom quality furniture.  The formula goes something like this:  I  need to be able to spent money on custom, expert upholstery work and throw in a really nice fabric that will enable me to sell - mostly to on-line customers - at a price they are willing to pay.  Put this all together, and I need to get really good prices on my "before" pieces.

Here are some recent before and after pieces purchased at Vicki's sales.  All were refurbished in neutral fabrics.

Before - Custom Finish Wingback Chair

Before - Tall Wingback Chair

Before - Vintage Chair
After - Custom Finish WIngback

After - Tall Wingback (sold)
After - Vintage Chair

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Decorating - Ready for Red

My Red Dining Room
My October Better Homes and Garden Magazine included this great article called "Ready for Red":
Whether you opt for carmine or crimson, scarlet or wine, in fashion or at home, this classic hue will make you feel warm, inside and out.
Hancock and Moore Martha Washington Chair in Red Check
Mitchell Gold (Storehouse) Chair and Ottoman in Red Boucle Fabric

Vintage Ethan Allen Chair in Crimson Red (sold)

Vintage Woodmark Chairs in Ralph Lauren (sold)
The article goes on to say that red is fall's "hottest" color.  Red is actually my all-time favorite color and I love how it brightens any space.  It can be used extravagantly  (my dining room walls are a rich two-striped red wallpaper AND the rug is a red chinese pattern) or in small doses - the article suggests thinking about red shoes as an accessory to a more neutral or black outfit.  Which brings me to my final point, red is a primary color and really does go well with just about anything else - think red and yellow, red and blue, red and green, etc. etc.  Red is such a great addition to any room!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Upholstered Furniture Ideas - Banquettes

Neutral Armless Banquette

The word banquette means “little bench” and is sometimes referred to as a settee or upholstered bench.
  The compact pieces are popularly used to add interesting seating options to kitchens, game rooms and other settings.  They also work well in foyers or hallways because of their narrow proportions and depths. 
Armless Banquette in Silk (sold) 
Armless Banquette in Tapestry

Comfortable banquette seating at a table requires careful attention to the details of proportion. The height and depth of the seat, the slope of the back and the finished material will all impact comfort.  Some otherwise labeled loveseats and settees can often be used for table seating as long as the proportions are correct. The dimensions and proportion of a comfortable dining room chair can be used as a guideline for creating banquette seating. Often custom designed, they can be created to maximize the available space, which might be straight, L-shaped, curved, or a U-shaped design. The best design is one that offers access (or escape) from either end. This eliminates the ‘trapped’ feeling people often feel when they sit in a booth.
Banquette Seating Using Traditional Loveseat
Banquette Seating using Curved Wingback Loveseat

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Buying Upholstered Furniture - The Value of the Spring System

In one of my first blogs, I discussed how I learned about the value of the spring system in upholstered furniture and that it is one of the things I check out carefully before committing to purchasing a piece to refurbish.  I have discovered over the years that many/most people, even those who are quality-minded in buying furniture, are not aware of the spring system and how to tell whether a piece has hand-tied 8-way coil springs.  I am often frustrated when going out to look at a potential furniture purchase and after being assured that the piece does have hand-tied 8-way coil springs that it in fact doesn't have it.  I don't think people are trying to mislead me - they just don't know how to tell.  I always tell them to flip over the piece and LOOK and FEEL the bottom - you can tell in less than a second whether the coils are there.  If all you see and feel is that black piece of fabric covering the bottom, it DOESN'T HAVE COIL SPRINGS!  I just had this experience last week after three messages back and forth to discuss this very thing!  The gentleman still didn't get it until I got there and left without the furniture purchase, again!

I found this great article and demonstration about the spring system and thought it would be useful to share.

Spring systems
Once the frame is constructed, a spring system is installed to support the seating area. Furniture manufacturers employ two main types of spring support systems: standard springs, zig zag Springs and eight-way hand tied springs, coil springs. When the spring system is finished with a top layer of padding, it is commonly called the "seat deck".
Standard springs provide good support at a lower price than the alternative. Most manufacturers offer either sinuous springs or drop-in-springs as their standard, depending on how they make their furniture. Both types affix to the frame to support the seat deck. Standard springs have a formal, very firm "sit" and only move in the up/down direction. In contrast, eight-way hand-tied springs can move in many more directions.
Sinuous springs are heavy-gauge steel springs that have been heat-formed into continuous "S" shapes. They are cut into lengths and affixed to the frame. Drop-in springs are mass-manufactured, welded units that are more cheaply manufactured and considered to be of lower quality than sinuous springs.
Eight-way hand-tied springs have a wide range of movement providing a very even and individual "sit", because they move up and down and from side to side. In the construction of these systems, the craftsman individually ties heavy-gauge coils from front to back, side to side and diagonally (eight ways) to provide the highest level of quality, comfort and durability. This process costs more because it is time consuming and can only be done by hand.

And while you're studying this, here are some pieces of great refurbished furniture that do have the hand-tied 8-way coil spring system.
Huron Chair and Ottoman

Bloomscraft Wingback Chair

Lanier Chairs in Duralee Ikat

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fine American Furniture - A Toast to Sherrill

Sherrill Chairs in Goldenrod Toile
In my search for fine heirloom-quality upholstered pieces worthy of refurbishing costs, a short-cut method I use is to look for certain labels that always convey quality and superior workmanship - even today!   One of the labels I look for and often find is Sherrill.  Lately, I have found lots of Sherrill pieces - mostly club and wingback chairs - and have quite a few in my "before" and "after" inventory.   I have also been working with custom clients who have specified Sherrill or comparable quality for their pieces.
Since 1944, Sherrill Furniture Company and its divisions have supplied custom home furnishings to Major Furniture Stores and Major Department Stores throughout the United States and Canada.  All of our factories are located in the Hickory, North Carolina area. We are very fortunate to have a workforce of skilled technicians who combine time honored manufacturing techniques, and the highest quality materials, to hand build each piece of furniture for your home. Their dedication to their craft, combined with our dedication to maintaining the highest product quality standards, corporate efficiencies, and continuous improvement, make Sherrill Furniture Company the furniture industry leader in producing quality home furnishings. Our mission from the beginning was to be recognized by our customers as the leader in premium home furnishings by exceeding their expectations for excellence in quality, fashion, innovation, and service. The mission still continues. We are very proud to present Sherrill Furniture Company products to you for your home.
The Sherrill website is very informative Sherrill.  I love the site's demonstration of hand-tied 8-way coil springs as they are installed and secured inside of the seat frame of a chair.  Hand-tied coil springs are a quality factor I look for in all the pieces I buy and use it to gauge overall quality if the label is missing.  The coils add so much to the long-term comfort and stability to a fine piece of upholstered furniture.  Sherrill pieces all have the coil springs as a standard construction feature.

Here are some of my refurbished Sherrill pieces.
Sherrill Club Chair (total of two chairs and ottoman)
Sherrill Wingback Chair in Green Damask
Sherrill Wingback Chair (sold)

Sherrill Wingback in Thomas O'Brien Linen

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Look for Less - More Refurbished Values

I started a series yesterday showing a well designed room (House Beautiful or Traditional Home Magazines) and the idea of using refurbished heirloom-quality furniture to lessen the cost and provide a great value proposition.  Not only is the cost of refurbishing (or buying already refurbished) upholstered furniture much less than the cost of buying comparable quality new pieces, it is getting harder and harder to actually find comparable quality good pieces.  Many furniture stores and outlets have closed over the last few years because of the economic downturn - even in a huge market like Atlanta (Georgia), there are very few quality furniture stores.  So, for many consumers, it has become necessary to buy  custom orders at high cost.  

Refurbished Chair

There is a huge - almost unlimited - marketplace for quality pieces that are begging to be reused and refurbished.   It's a tribute to green decorating and cost cutting - what a nice combination!
House Beautiful Room
Refurbished Chair (pair plus ottoman)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Look for Less - Value in Using Refurbished Furniture

I enjoy looking at the many decorating magazines and find lots of inspiration for refurbishing fine upholstered pieces.   The cost of new pieces, particularly those of comparable high-end furniture makers is huge (and there is some question about whether the pieces are in fact as well made as their predecessors).  If you pay attention to going prices of GOOD furniture, as I do, these are not unusual:

  • Upholstered Chairs - range of $1500-$3500 (check out Baker)
  • Upholstered Chaises - range of $1500 - $3000+
  • Settees and Loveseats - range of $1500 - $5000
  • Ottoman - range of $800 - $1500
I recently reviewed a grouping of House Beautiful living room photos on their website and would like to suggest that a similar look could be achieved incorporating some of the kind of pieces I refurbish and sell and that consumers can do this for themselves.  In addition to the satisfaction gained by reusing and repurposing already manufactured pieces of heirloom quality furniture, there is a great value proposition here!

House Beautiful Living Room
Refurbished Chair - One of a Pair
House Beautiful Living Room
Refurbished Settee

Monday, September 12, 2011

Green Decorating - Some Inspirational Ideas

I was again looking for inspirational words to share about reusing and refurbishing furniture as part of a planned green decorating project.  I found this article and source and wanted to share the information and source (underlining added):

Combining new and antique with recycling and "don't-make-'em-like-this-anymore" style to create something fabulous and green, services like that found atMetroSofa rescue old and antique sofa and chair frames and gives them a new lease on life. After repairing the frame, they work with you (and do a few themselves) to pick out new textiles, cushions and finishes with green production and manufacturing in mind.
The finished pieces can be classics reborn, a delightful modern infusion on a classic style, or a little bit of both; if you can dream it, they can help you realize it with a totally unique, totally you sofa or occasional chair. 
Another article pointed out "top ten things you can do to go green in furniture" and listed the following prominently - I underlined some key ideas:
Vintage Refurbished French Style Chair

Refurbished Wingback

Refurbished Art Deco Chairs (60-70's)

Refurbished Club Chair (one of a pair)
With all the slick, mod, "eco" brands jumping into the market it can be hard to keep in mind that pre-owned goods can be the most green purchase of all. Vintage and second-hand and furniture requires no additional resources to manufacture, is often locally sources (cutting down on transportation), is pre-offgassed and eases the load on the landfill. Quality vintage furniture can also have excellent resale value (sometimes selling for the same price it was bought) which certainly can't be said for most new furniture, green or otherwise.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Red, White and Blue Day!

I have been watching the 10-year memorial services for 9/11 all morning.  I listened to the events at the Pentagon broadcast on NPR while I walking along our Neely Farm River Park.  It is such a beautiful day here - it was such a beautiful day that day in 2001!  I was still working for the Federal government at the time and on a conference call with a colleague in Crystal City, Virginia.  Crystal City is right next to the Pentagon.  As we were talking, he commented about the appearance of a low plane through his window and a sudden crash.   The rest of the day was spent in a fog - trying to get word of friends and colleagues in Washington D.C. and NYC and also anxious about anyone we knew who was flying that day.   I did not personally know anyone lost but know so many people who do.   I was going to post some of my red, white and blue pieces but decided that words alone are better for this day!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cues and Clues from the Great Designers - Ralph Lauren

I have subscriptions to ALL the great home decorating magazines and spend countless hours perusing both articles and advertisement (seems about a 50/50 split to me).  Clearly, both give cues and clues about what is and is not fashionable - and sometimes what a particular designer is trying to make fashionable.  I have always been a fan of Ralph Lauren and have loved him particularly because of his passion (perhaps even stubborn passion) for all things blue.  I think he has single-handedly kept the blue and white palate alive when others have predicted its demise numerous times. Ralph Lauren, of course, does promote other color groups and styles as well.  I just got the October 2011 issue of Architectural Digest  and turned the page to find several very glamorous looking Ralph Lauren spreads with black as the primary color.   He has created his usual elegant look - very hollywood and upper East End!   Some of my refurbished furniture, I think, would look great in his settings!
Hickory House Chair and Ottoman 

Vintage Settee in Sunburst Silk
Vintage Chaise in Flocked Velvet 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sharing - Tobi Fairley has a Great Blog

This great young designer (out of Arkansas) has a great blog and is making decorating news on many fronts.  I read her blog faithfully and found this article today about blue and white decorating which is, as readers know, one of my favorite color combinations including for in my home.
Contemporary Blue Velvet Wingback

Country French Chair in Blue and White (only one available)

Blue and White Cotton Twill Skirted Wingback Chairs

Here's her statement on facebook as well as photos of some of my great blue and white pieces:

Blue and white are perfect for any room! The two colors play so well off of each other and they can transform any ordinary room into a fresh and clean look. Here are some examples of how to create the perfect look using these colors. Enjoy!