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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!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sharing - Writing Blogs by Colour Me Happy

I have now been writing this blog since February of this year and am close to 5000 "views" from all around the world - this is fun and kind of exciting.  The original recommendation to do a blog came from a friend who is an exceptional painter and has been a successful writer for many years.  I asked her to recommend some ways I could add to my marketing efforts for my "little green refurbishing business".   She immediately said - start a blog and keep it going!  One of the challenges is to find new and interesting ways to keep it going without being TOO focused on the original intention which is selling my refurbished classic upholstered furniture on-line.   I have found a number of themes that I have woven through my blogs that have led to finding fellow bloggers - which is very inspirational.  There are creative people out there with thousands of followers and multiple topics.  One that I have been admiring is "Colour Me Happy".   link.  As suggested, the author is a "color expert" but weaves that interest into many topics - all well developed and displayed.  This is one of the best blogs I have found to follow and mimic.

She offers three general recommendations for writing design blogs - which is probably a good description of my type of blog:

a)   Be bossy (but in a charming way).  People research and follow blogs to get answers to investigate and get answers to questions.   So, express your opinion and help others find solutions.  I have been extensively checking out "Annie Sloan Chalk Paint" blogs to get advice on using the famous paints and found them immensely helpful.

b)  Define your aesthetic as best you can.  Being "wishy-washy" on blogs does not create followers or readers.  Sometimes it takes a while to understand "your aesthetic" but writing helps you achieve that.  I find that I have a definite decorating style (more eclectic than traditional) and writing the blog and following others has helped me develop a clearer sense of that style.

c)  Don't try to please everyone.  The beauty of blogs and the mass communication that it supports is that there are sites and resources for everyone.  The article suggests that you define yourself (your product/suggestions) and stick with it.  It also suggests that you should promote what you like and post what appeals to you.  That's what will bring people back!


I have found her blogs to be particularly useful and in honor of the sentiment that I should please myself and be a little bossy - I am showing some classic pieces I have that I think are just wonderful and would love to find homes for ... in the spirit of a little self-promotion and clarity about what I like!!  These are elegant and would fit well into a well-edited eclectic setting!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

You Choose Fabric Sales - Before and After - An Update

Several months ago I started selling "You Choose Fabric" upholstered furniture on eBay.  I regularly get comments and questions from potential buyers indicating that they love a particular piece but would need to have it in another fabric in order to use it in their decor.  So, I started showing the "before" pieces with some fabric options and a price tag that included custom upholstery work by the masters at my local Song's/Lee's Upholstery shop in Norcross, Georgia.  Here's an analysis of that effort and a status report.  I have sold three items in the "You Choose Fabric" category and show before and after below.  I have found it hard to sell this way and conclude one or more of the following:

  • It is hard for people to visualize how a piece of furniture can be transformed from a not so great "before" to a wonderful "after" piece of furniture until it is complete.
  • People often don't know what they want until they see it - then it either is a "YES" or a "NO".  I have had a lot of questions and on-line discussions with potential buyers who are not able to make up their minds about whether they want to go ahead with a particular fabric even when they clearly like the piece in question and are somewhat clear about fabric choices.
  • Even if I have a buyer and a willing collaborator, they are nervous about the outcome.  I have had to say that I will not require them to buy the pieces if they don't really like the results.  Fortunately all around, this has not yet happened.
It is easy for me to list the "You Choose Fabric" options so I will continue to see to sell some pieces that way but I am not finding it as easy to do as I had hoped.

Here are some great transformations:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Adventures - Including Some Beefs

I know I've already posted today but couldn't resist sharing my more recent experiences with the famous Annie Sloan Chalk Paints.  I am almost finished with my first piece and ready to bring it to my upholsterer for a redo - I tentatively selected a really nice heavy plaid fabric (from famous local designer closing business sale) but am a little concerned that it doesn't look sufficiently "French".  It does, however, match well with the finished paint.
Finished Chair with Tentative Fabric Selection
My overall assessment:   It is definitely a more uneven, "chalkier" (really!) finish than latex or spray but does have an interesting look.   I still don't know about the wax.  I put on two layers - all the youtube videos and blogs I researched advise putting on thin layers - letting dry (up to 24 hours) and buffing.  The interesting thing is that the wax can itself tells you almost none of this - particularly waiting to buff.  If you were trying to follow only instructions provided by the company, I'm not sure you could do this.  And here is my beef - WHY would the company itself not provide better instructions for the VERY high cost of this product - maybe even a sheet of tips and techniques instructions in each can?  Evidently, there is a $25 book I can buy to get some of those.  The other thing I've concluded is that the reason this is called a "girl's paint" (patronizingly, I think) is not because it is so easy and messy-free to use but because most men I know would not spend hours (at least) checking out blogs and videos to get information about how to use this product.  And, we all know, men would not spend $25 on an instruction book and actually read it!!

Enough of my rantings.  I never give up on anything so I started project number two today - a country French style (American made) chair and somewhat mismatched ottoman.
Pieces I am about to Refinish with Annie Sloan Paints
Since I have concluded that the first coat is really mostly a "primer" type coat, the painting process did not take as long.  I had planned to take the cording off to get to all of the wood on the chair but it proved to be pretty tightly attached so my upholsterer will have to struggle with that - and hopefully not too much paint will come off or be missing.  Having finished the first coat,  I notice an interesting phenomenon that was slightly present on the first chair but is very pronounced on this piece - the paint dries in a crackle-like finish.  I'm not sure I dislike it, it just wasn't planned and I doubt if I could do it if I wanted to .... interesting!  I will have to investigate to see if this is unusual and why it may be happening.

See Crackle Finish on Painted Piece - After One Coat

Project Number Two - After One Coat

In Praise of the Vintage Look

Recently, as I was working on my painting project (see prior blog), I found an article in the newspaper I was using as a drop cloth entitled "The Vintage Look is Increasingly Trendy" by Emily Weinstein of the NY Times.  In it, she talks about the growing popularity of the handmade, the old, and the authentic.  She laments, to some extent, the fact that the major furnishings retailers such as Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn and West Elm are featuring new items based on vintage designs which of course makes them much less individualistic and authentic.  The market for vintage does seem huge.  In traveling several weekends ago to the Scott's Antique Market's monthly extravaganza in the Atlanta area, I was amazed at the number of people both exhibiting and actively buying - obviously in quest of that which is unique and authentic.   This brings me to my own quest for the well-build American vintage upholstered furniture pieces that I seek and refurbish - and that I sell throughout the country.  I hope that a comment made in the article is accurate:  "... the style's popularity has been a decade in the making, and won't be fading soon"!
Vintage French Chair in Silk Plaid
Vintage Cane-sided Wing Back Chairs (sold)
Vintage (60's) Club Chairs

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My First Attempt at Using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint - FINALLY!

Setting up my Supplies
I have had a series of blogs about Annie Sloan Chalk Paints http://www.anniesloan.com/.  First, I was convinced to use the  paints at a designer's garage sale over a month ago.  Then, I visited several shops in at attempt to buy the costly but evidently magical chalk paint (and waxes).  Finally, I ordered the chalk paint online from a shop called Cottage Attitudes in Alabama link to shop email address.  Vicki, the proprietor, has been a great contact.   The shipment arrived the next day!!

So, today I am using the paint for the first time.  It's a dreary Sunday morning here in Georgia but the temperature is mild so my garage is a perfect spot for the work.  My sweet husband helps set up the chair to make it easier (and less stressful on my back) to paint.  There are almost NO instructions on the can including drying time, minimum temperature to use in (suggest not letting the product freeze), or much about application techniques.  I choose a French style chair I had picked up several weeks ago that has a dirty wood finish with hints of black as my first project.

Chair to be Refinished
Detail of Wood Finish
Even though the instructions do say that cleaning the woodwork is not necessary, I cannot help but use my favorite wood-cleaning product (Goof-off) to take off  surface dirt and oils.  My rag comes away almost black so I am glad I took this step.  Next I opened the Old White Annie Sloan Paint can and stir.  It is as smooth as silk and has the consistency of heavy buttermilk!  So far so good!

I use a 1" nylon brush and it takes about 40 minutes to do the first coat.  The label does suggest that only one coat is needed for most applications.  I am studying the finish which is doing some interesting things and it does look like an old French style finish.  It is not quite as smooth as I would like and, with no prior experience, I am not certain whether the waxing step will take care of some of that.  I think I will apply another coat and see what happens.
After One Coat
One thing that is surprising although I had been told about this - the paint has no odor that I can detect.  One seller told me that you can use in in your kitchen and clean up at the sink!  Well, that's something to think about if the weather turns colder.  More later on this subject!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Craigslist Buying - Research and Results

I have previously discussed using craigslist as a buying source and thought I would provide an update.  I continue to check out the craigslist "furniture by owner" section - I try to check it at least 2-3 times a day.  In the Atlanta metropolitan area, it is widely used and updates are constant.  Really great and reasonable items go fast so it is good to be the first to see it and respond.

First, I never (or almost never) respond to:
  • furniture descriptions without photos - with the volume online and even for "free items", a photo needs to accompany any ad to provide at least a clue as to what the item looks like and whether further inquiry is worth it
  • postings that do not allow me to send an email with questions or a request to see the item (requires a phone call or sometimes text) - I always have questions and actually do not want this level of engagement at this point - a phone number with they actually respond is always useful
  • postings that are not straight forward (e.g., go into lengthy detail about why owner is selling or how very beautiful and desirable the item is ...)
  • postings with prices that are WAY too high or even just a little high but with a statement that price if firm - I have found that these people are easily insulted when I offer less so I don't bother
I use the following search criteria when scanning large numbers of listings to make sure I didn't miss anything:
  • desirable labels - Sherrill, Hickory Chair, Baker, Henredon
  • categories - settees, bergere chairs, chaises, French chairs
Collage of Recent Craigslist Purchases (all BEFORE photos)!
I just got back from a nice fall trip to the area of Marietta, Georgia, and made a great Hickory Chair loveseat purchase (amongst those in photos above) which I look forward to refurbishing and offering for sale.  Shopping using craigslist requires diligent and patient searching; extensive questioning before getting on the road; and, I find, tolerance when you get there and the item turns out not to be what you were hoping for - which happens to me about 40% of the time!  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Visiting The Roost - Another Annie Sloan Paint Adventure

The Roost Gifts and Decor in Avondale Estates, Georgia
Today I took a trip to Avondale Estates near Decatur, Georgia (suburb of Atlanta), to visit a shop listed as one having Annie Sloan Chalk Paints (link).  I have traveled far and wide to acquire this highly recommended product and my adventures continue.  I met the proprietor immediately - he was painting a piece of furniture outside his shop actually working with the product.   He was VERY pleased with how well the product works and showed me a number of items in his wonderful shop that had been refurbished with the paints.  We discussed techniques and options - I had arrived!!
The Roost 
The Roost - See Great Table 
I loved the shop and hope to come back.  However, he was very short of paints and out of the waxes .... so, I am about to give in and order these babies on-line.  He did graciously offer to be a contact for advice and ideas so the trip was well worth while!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Search of Annie Sloan Paints - Scott's Antique Market

Near Entrance to North Building - Scott's Antique Market
This is the third in what is turning out to be a series about my attempts to buy Annie Sloan Chalk Paint website.  During my last adventure, I had traveled to Senoia, Georgia, to visit one of about three locations in the entire state of Georgia that carries this British product.  Annie Sloan Chalk Paints are heralded by all as THE product to buy to easily achieve French style finishes - something I am really interested in doing.  The  shop owner in the "Color Me French" section of the downtown Senoia shop was out of a key component of the process - the waxes.  She told me she would be at the next scheduled Scott's Antique Market with her products (held in South Atlanta once a month on the second weekend of the month).  Despite my interest (nee passion) for this type of thing and my almost 25 years in the Atlanta area, I had never been to this market although others had suggested it for years.   Before making the trip, I verified that the famous waxes had arrived and would be available.  SO, naively, I dragged my great husband on a pleasant, fall Saturday afternoon to the market.  Even though I had visited the website (Scott's Antique Market) and found it was marketed as the "World's Largest " and covered 33,000 square feet, I figured we would just arrive and glance around and find the paints easily.  We parked in a huge lot and found vendor after vendor both inside and out of several permanent and semi-permanent structures.  I was easily and frequently distracted by the great items on display - not at all the decrepit antiques and odds-and-ends I was expecting.
Scott's Antique Market - Vendors Near North Building
After some aimless wandering, we finally approached the customer service desk and, luckily, one of the ladies knew about Annie Sloan paints and the person selling them in the South Building - across the highway in another part of the market all together!  We took a shuttle bus (normal-size Greyhound-like bus which quickly filled up) and traveled to the equally large parking lot and vendor space on the southern location of the market.  The space and vendors were even more interesting on this side - seemed to be more home furnishing oriented and better quality.
Vendors in South Building
Despite these major distractions, we did eventually find a fabric  seller (YES) who knew of the Annie Sloan paints seller but woefully told us that an emergency of some sort had caused her to close up early and she was gone.   SO ... I am still without my paints and more determined than ever to buy some.

We did conclude (well, actually me more than my husband), that this was a very interesting visit and one I would (probably solo) repeat in the future - particularly after finding that the fabric seller had some great prices on North Carolina fabrics and most were sold on day one or two of the sale.  So, next month, expect to hear of my further exploits at Scott's Antique Market - probably on Thursday of the December sale.

In the meanwhile, I may just order these paints on-line and forget the need to actually see and discuss the product face-to-face.  This is getting too hard!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Annual Chair Donation - Benefiting Habitat for Humanity

Dunwoody United Methodist Holiday Festival Displays
We have some great friends who are very active in a local church, Dunwoody United Methodist, and have leadership roles in the Church's Habitat for Humanity program.   The church has an annual Holiday Festival which includes all sorts of artisans, casserole bake sale (I contributed two), book and treasures from the attic sales and a silent auction.

This is the second year I contributed some of my refurbished chairs to the silent auction.  The church make enough money from this well attended event that they were able to build two houses last year - a wonderful accomplishment.

My daughter and I spent the morning checking out the sales and buying quite a few holiday gifts.  This is a premier event in our neighborhood and a wonderful example of people working together for a common cause.   It was a lot of fun too - and, before leaving, I noted that several of my chairs had bids on them ... so, I am happy to contribute!
My chairs at the Silent Auction

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Happiness Factor in Decorating!

Great Entryway with Lavender (see principles below)!
I was intrigued by this article in House Beautiful entitled “10 Ways to Make Your Home Happier”.  website Happiness is an important element in our daily lives and if there are ways to enhance it, I’m all for it. I know for me, the way I decorate and what I choose to place in my immediate environment does   make me smile and feel somewhat smug – important happiness factors. This list of ten is derived from different stylists, decorators and others – I thought the list was worth sharing even though there are some principles I am not as sure about as others – a sense of happiness is such an individual thing!

1.   Mix it Up - "The most interesting rooms mix cultures and periods," says real estate broker Royce Pinkwater. "I like to juxtapose high and low. It makes it more casual and homey."

2.   Choose Colors That Flatter You – Some colors just make you look better - lavender is supposed to be very kind to skin-tones.

3.   Decorate With What You Love – Stylist Craig Schumacher’s decorating look is layered: "I bought things I knew I'd never tire of, and I've found out that if you love something, you'll find a place for it." His living room is furnished with antiques and vintage pieces, including a faux fireplace added for its architectural interest.

4.   Remember the Power of White Paint - "White reflects light, so it sends off a wonderful energy, a prism of color that you aren't necessarily aware of," says designer Susan Noble Jones.

5.   Choose Furniture With Curves - Round shapes, such as a living room's lamp drum shades and coffee table, make a space feel inviting.  Upholstered furniture can be curvaceous as well!

6.   Keep Seating Neutral - Stay away from large pieces upholstered in a bold color or busy pattern — it will make a room feel heavier. "When the sofa is white, it feels lighter, more conducive to conversation," says designer Pat Healing.

7.   Make a Colorful Statement in the Entry - First impressions count. "I think you need to make a strong statement in entry halls — to give an indicator of what you'll see in the rest of the house."

8.   Include Some Whimsy - "Little surprises keep a house from becoming too serious," says contributing editor Frances Schultz. "It's fun to put items in unexpected places.”

9.   Go Bold in a Small Space - "The smaller the room, the more drama you need," designer David Netto says.

10.        Create Beauty by Contrast - The juxtaposition of humble and fine materials creates intrigue and keeps a room feeling interesting and attractive.

Source Article:  From a fresh coat of white paint to choosing comfortable, neutral furniture, decorating experts share their advice on how happiness starts at home. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fabric Shopping Update - Fabric World

I have previously reported on Fabric World - an Atlanta metropolitan area fabric warehouse that has great everyday prices and occasionally phenomenal sales.  I have become such a devotee that I am averaging a trip about once every ten days.  I take photos of fabrics for clients looking for a particular color, pattern, or texture.  I also buy two (or more) rolls to add to my collection and strategize its use on pieces that are not yet refurbished.  Today was a very nice day for this trip - the autumn colors are nearing their end - but still breathtakingly beautiful.  

Here are some today's purchases and one idea of what I might do with the bright green linen-textured fabric!
Heavy Woven Fabric with Greens, Cranberries and Golds on Cream
Linen Blend Bright Apple Green
Brandywine Chair that I am Considering for the Green Fabric!?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Comparison Shopping - 1stdibs.com!

As I read the various decorating magazines and, specifically, the sources shared by well-known designers, I often see references to 1stdibs - the on-line source for 1000's of furnishings and other decorating items (http://www.1stdibs.com/)
A brief history:
Founded in 2001 by Michael Bruno after visiting Paris flea markets, today 1stdibs is the go to source for the world’s leading interior designers and in-the-know wealthy consumers to find antiques, design, estate jewelry, vintage fashion and art. With headquarters in New York City.
After seeing the advertising and references so often, I decided (today) to check it out.  Although you can see photos of the wonderful items that can be bought through the site, you do need to register to see the prices - which was easy to do.  The result, however, was a bit shocking - the prices are REALLY, REALLY, HIGH!  I did some additional google research and found a lot of articles about the pricing structure and the term "1stdibs envy" was introduced - as in "When I want to dream about furnishing my house with impossible to find and buy items, I go to 1stdibs.com to see what they have available".  In early 2011, they opened an actual bricks and mortar store in the New York Design Center in Midtown with 53 dealings occupying 33,000 square feet.

1stdibs store in New York
So, I guess I'm not feeling too threatened by this particular competitor.  It is nice to dream, however, and now that I have found them, I will check the site out every now and then for inspiration and to see what the competition is doing!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Neutrals with Color Accents - BHG Ideas

BHG Neutral Room with Color Accent - from website
I am increasingly impressed with the quality and quantity of ideas emanating from a magazine I never thought much of until recently for decorating ideas - Better Homes and Gardens link.  Their magazine and website is FULL of great decorating photos and suggestions by category, by color, by style.  Unlike so many repetitive commercial emails, I actually look forward to theirs and spent time checking it out - I am never disappointed.  Today's link has some great fall decorating ideas one of which I plan to pursue once the sun comes up - going out to get some fall foliage and placing it in various vases around the house to liven things up.

The pieces I have refurbished in neutral colors seem to be the first to sell - they are easy to work with and customers even want the "white-white" colors that may seem daunting to some.  The following are all sold but I have some more neutral pieces in the works and several traditional style wingbacks in my existing inventory on http://wydevendesigns.com