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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, August 28, 2013

Fine Upholstered Furniture in the Bathroom

Upholstered bench in my own bathroom
Since I am always trying to convince people that they need more fine upholstered furniture (particularly mine) and that there are so many places in their homes for a possible good fit, I feel compelled to share ideas like this one - placing fine upholstered furniture in bathrooms.

I have a lovely bench in my own master bathroom which has had over 12 years two sets of fabric to match the green and cream toile in the room. It is currently upholstered in a loose-weave cream woven pattern with tight-woven trim and round pillows. It is the place that I use to place clothes I plan to wear; sit on to put on my shoes or socks; and, my granddaughters love to pretend it is a boat or a plane. It is a useful piece and I am happy that I have the space.

I researched (googled) the phrase "upholstered furniture in bathroom" and got one good article on the subject from House Beautiful as well as a number of great images - the latter of which I placed on my pinterest board link.
Upholstered seating in the bathroom is not the most common thing to see - it is a rarity to have enough space to accommodate furniture in one of the smaller, more utilitarian rooms in the home. It can look great though - turning a room that sometimes feels cold and impersonal into much more of a sanctuary. It creates...
...a room that functions as more of a hybrid between the a dressing room and the bathroom - a place for taking a long bath and getting ready for an evening out. link to article
The following images are all parked on my pinterest board (see above link) with source information.

This Art Deco chair has great curves to complement this space. 
I often see ottoman in bathrooms as well as large dressing rooms - these are such versatile pieces!
I love tis elegant piece which is probably more "artistic" than comfortable but it would certainly be useful as a place to stack towels or guest toiletries. 
This looks like the ultimate in luxury particularly with the open window. 
Lovely and petite!
 I always have some pieces in my inventory that I think would work in a bathroom setting - depending on the size and set up of the bathroom. Here are some examples.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Week of Buying Adventures!

This has been a busy week of buying "refurbish-able" upholstered furniture. We are getting close to a two-week vacation out of the country, so I am feeling particularly compelled to get out there and check out as many bargains as I can. Sales have also been robust (for my world), so there is even some money and, more importantly, room for more pieces.

The week started with a phone call from one of my favorite vendors, Vicki, who had a nice sale over the last weekend. I had found a set of great Kindel (perfect condition) dining/accent chairs that were priced pretty high. I had left a bid for 1/3rd the price thinking that was the end of it so was surprised to get a call from Vicki saying that the bid was accepted. I picked up the chairs on Monday afternoon and listed them "as is" on eBay. They are currently under bid with lots of viewers. So, it looks like this was a good investment.

I had been corresponding with a couple living on Lake Lanier (North Georgia) in a city called Flowery Branch. They live on a houseboat and were selling a set of Norwalk accent chairs. I liked the look and have had good luck with Norwalk which is a good to very good brand. The styling is generally very good. So, I drove out there on Tuesday to look at (and buy) the chairs which I plan to reupholster in a great Robert Allen "Beacon Hill" velvet on linen fabric to coordinate with the black woodwork,
The trip was not that long and the visit to the marina where the couple is living was charming - photo of chair below.  I did actually go to Marietta the same afternoon to see (and not buy) a set of club chairs and ottoman - the quality was just not good enough.
The "weekend" estate sales often start as early as Thursday, and I checked out sales Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

This was a nice sale and well orchestrated - something that I have learned to appreciate over the years. This is a neighborhood about six miles from my home.
There were definitely interesting things for sale but the prices were a little high. I left two bids - one on the French style chair and another on the set of club chairs (Drexel Heritage) with ottoman. I haven't heard back so think I didn't get either one. 
This was one of Vicki's sales - it was being held in the garage and lower level of this fabulous house. i did pick up the Southwood Martha Washington chairs (plan to redo in a wonderful green and cream zebra stripe). I also left a bid for two wingback chairs and an ottoman and think I didn't get those.
Line of people waiting to get into Dan Carithers home for the estate (moving sale).
On Saturday, we (now traveling with my faithful companion, Ouida), we really struck out - not much to see and most of the sales were Friday/Saturday meaning that all the good stuff was long gone. We did attend an estate sale at the home of nationally-renowned Atlanta-based interior designer Dan Carithers Link to article bout Dan. I attended his design shop closing about two years ago and bought some wonderful fabrics at great prices. His home was actually somewhat modest but very interesting - although everything was pretty pricey. I was told that he is in poor health and was moving.

On Saturday afternoon, I got a phone call from an estate sale I had attended on Thursday and left some bids). I ended up getting three pieces (two of which are photographed below) for 75% off of the price they had been asking. Not a bad deal!
The chair in the middle is one of two that I got in Flowery Branch - see houseboat sale above.
So, pretty good for the week. I even stopped by a local thrift shop that is run by volunteers and benefits pet shelters and pet placement. I have never bought here but I do check and it is a good cause. I bought two 1950-60's era "junior barrister" chairs that have split leather and solid woodwork - I plan to redo both the wood and the fabric but haven't decided what to use yet.

I got tired just writing this posting!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Greyhound Package Express Shipping - a Dilemma!

I have been using Greyhound Package Express for about eight years - link to website. It is available for freight shipping throughout the continental USA and is by far the cheapest AND fastest service around. The size limitation is that one side/reclining angle must be less than 30" but the other can be as large as over 80". I have found that most of my pieces can be shipped using Greyhound Package Express and have offered the service on my listings for a low stated price.  By now, the actual use of this service is in the multiple 100's.

Greyhound Package Express is a "space available" service and uses the cargo space in passenger buses. The pieces are loaded when there is space available which does sometimes mean splitting up multiple pieces but this has not happened a lot. It also means that it might take longer for those hauls that require many transfers from bus to bus. The average timeframe I have experiences is about 5-7 days (compares to 4-6 weeks or longer for freight door-to-door service). The longest timeframe was almost a month to California (from Georgia) and we never did find out where the two chairs that finally arrived safe and sound had actually traveled to in order to get to their final destination. I have had some shipments completed within 2 days.

The process requires that I package the chairs and deliver them to the nearest station (Norcross, GA). The personnel at this station have always been very helpful and professional and I have a long time ago gotten over any squeamishness about going to the station. The buyer picks up at the nearest (or preferred station) on their end - the list of available stations is on their web site on the "locations" tab.

Over the years, I have learned to package very well guided by the type of incidents/breakage experienced over the years. I have found that most damage is to legs and seems to be caused by "dragging" heavy furniture causing the leg to be abraded or snap off. To counter this damage, I made "footies" for each leg covering the bottom with heavy fabric and over coverings. My husband has made slats that help reinforce the strength of each leg when that seemed like a good idea. The damage to legs has gone down to almost nothing as a result of these additional cautions.
Last week's shipment to Grand Rapids, SD. I always include the "fragile" notification and the packaging here is typical including the slats on the legs. 
Packaging materials (other than fabric footies and slats made from scrap lumber at home) principally consists of commercial grade bubble wrap, shrink wrap and tape. I buy the bubble wrap on-line and it is very expensive - I figure that the packaging materials average about $15-22 per item and I always hope I've built in enough of a cushion to cover that cost. The cost does not differ significantly across the country which is why I can quote a fairly reasonable amount without knowing the piece's final destination.
This chair was shipped to Austin, TX, and arrived without incident in about 10 days. The customer could have used door-to-door shipping for just a little more cost but didn't want to wait the 4-6 weeks it would take to get the chair to her.
Now here is the dilemma!  In my descriptions, I always say when Greyhound Package Express is available and at what cost but always add "recommend door-to-door shipping for fine furniture". The damage rate that I (and my customers) have experienced with Greyhound Package Express is about 10% which is high despite all the packaging and precautions. Their claim process also leaves a lot to be desired. It is slow (90 days or more for resolution) and communications are poor. On the other hand, all claims filed by me have been honored for the insured value. That point is worth explaining - for long distances, $300 per shipment is the maximum. For multiple items such as a pair of chairs, I end up sending as two shipments in order to be able to insure for $300 each. So, many items are not fully insured in the event that the damage repair exceeds the value of the pieces.

I have been able to provide low-cost door-to-door shipping to most parts of the continental USA (Don Hill Transport) so have been able to provide a reasonable cost alternative to most customers. I do try to convince them to use this alternative if the difference in costs is not too great although some have expressed frustration with the length of time this service sometimes takes. For some buyers, however, this shipper is not an option (he does not travel to west coast or other hard-to-get to locations) and Greyhound remains the best deal around. The shipment above to Grand Rapids is a good example. I charged $100 for the Greyhound Package Express shipping which covered my costs and got the chair to this very happy customer in less than a week.

The shipping process doesn't always work out as well. A shipment of four chairs (treated as two 2-chair shipments for insurance purposes to get a full $600 of coverage) was sent to Tucson a week earlier than the SD shipment. Two of the four (one in each bundle) were damaged - one beyond repair. I wasn't happy. The customer wasn't happy! Now, I again wonder, if I should be stronger in my precautions and recommendations. And yet, for 90% of the shipments (a lot fewer in recent years than earlier) the process works fine and quick and at low cost!

This is a dilemma!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Contrasting Piping - A Fine Tailored Touch!

Check source through my Pinterest Board - link
I have always liked the crisp look of contrasting piping on upholstered pieces (and other items as well as illustrated in the board above). Using another fabric and/or fabric color to highlight the edges and curves really makes them stand out. I have developed some personal rules about using (or not using) contrasting piping but first I wanted to check in with the experts and bloggers on the subject.

Contrast piping is … a great way to add a little pop of color and turn something average into something amazing! I really like it in small doses. An entire sectional or living room set is too much for me, but on pillows and cushions, headboards, or armchairs--it's great! It really makes something look more tailored and finished, and can tie it in with the color scheme of the rest of the room. link to At Home in Love blog.
Another source (Houzz) provides some rules about using contrasting piping:

Piping Moves Furniture to the Head of the Line

Boldly defining upholstery lines, contrasting piping underscores the strength of a furniture piece's design

A white chair feels fresh and current outlined with black piping.

When choosing piping, correlate with other aspects of the room so the furniture still feels cohesive.
Good example of boldly defining upholstery lines - see link below

For a subtle aesthetic that creates just the right amount of dimension, choose a contrasting piping in a slightly darker shade than the upholstery.

Edge patterned fabric with a color from the print for a bold highlight. link
 I even found a pinterest board devoted to use of contrasting piping with some images as shown below -  source

Another good example of boldly defining upholstery lines from link above.
I love the way in which the piping on this piece shows off the woodwork - one of my reasons for using contrasting piping as described below - from my pinterest images.
I looked at some of the ways I have used contrasting piping over the years - my best photo records only go back to 2010 so that is as far back as I looked. Here are the images from those years.

In reviewing my own use of contrasting piping on upholstered furniture, I have concluded that I follow these general guidelines - many are unique to my circumstances and may not be applicable to others.

  1.  I do not want to limit the use the pieces have in a variety of settings. While I love the idea of using contrasting piping in bright shades like reds and yellows on more neutral pieces, I know the color additions will make it hard for people who I am hoping will buy my great pieces to use in their setting. So, I use contrasting piping of a shade/type that does not limit the flexibility of the pieces. 
  2. I love the look of nailhead trim on upholstered pieces and how they enhance great woodwork as well as interesting angles. Using them, however, adds significantly to my costs (and, therefore, costs I would have to pass on). So, I use contrasting trim to mimic the look of nail heads particularly when applying chalk paint (a good example is the settee in the 2013 collection)  
  3. I have used the reverse of a fabric several times to create a contrasting piping that is still fully within the pattern/color of the primary upholstery work. This can best be done with good woven fabrics that have clear colors on both sides or solids that might have a little variation on the back - lighter or darker. 
  4. I like using contrasting piping to add texture and have used a heavily textured solid with a smoother solid of the same color group to create the custom look.
  5. I have used contrasting piping when I am short of materials - sometimes the ability to use another fabric can stretch a slightly too small piece to fit. Because piping is cut at an angle, it does require a good sized piece of fabric.
I would love to use more contrasting piping but have pretty well stuck to the above rules. For my home (or anyone's home) a more liberal use is a great idea and certainly gives the place a much more decorated and polished look!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sharing - French Country Styling - Trumeau Mirrors

One of my faithful blog followers made a comment on a recent posting about French country style decorating link indicating that she has friends who are expert creators/painters of trumeau mirrors and asked if I'd like an "on-line" introduction. I have one such mirror/painting at home and had not known that this was what it was called:

tru•meau (or trumeaux)

Pronunciation: (trOO-mō'; Fr. try-mō'), [key]
—pl. -meauxPronunciation: (-mōz'; Fr. -mō'). [key]
1. a mirror having a painted or carved panel above or below the glass in the same frame. 
2. Archit.a column supporting a tympanum of a doorway at its center.

Read more: trumeau: meaning and definitions | Infoplease.com http://dictionary.infoplease.com/trumeau#ixzz2c3CvWRBU
She shared some of their great work with me as well as their "bios" and contact information. I, in turn, am happy to share this information with you! I understand that the artists are sisters and think their work is exceptional! ENJOY!

Brandi McKenna    bran1973@gmail.com
Brandi McKenna paints classical landscapes in oils. Working closely with her sister, Dustin Harlan, they design and create together one of a kind custom pieces, reminiscent of centuries past. They are available for commissioned works, classes, restoration, and repair.  Brandi, influenced by French and Dutch masters, paints the "picture" part of the trumeaux.

Dusti Harland   dmh6663@gmail.com

Being an artist and a maker of things comes naturally to Dusti who grew up in North Carolina surrounded by her mother's beautiful antiques, white damask linens, blue willow china, Francis The First flatware, and also in her father's basement workshop, playing with his tools. She would stare at the silver fretwork casserole stands atop the Duncan Phyfe buffet and long to take them into the workshop and cut them up and make them into her own creations.

Captivated by the  world where tools were skillfully wielded by her father, playing with scraps of wood and metal, she developed a love for creating, making things, and altering things into her own designs.

Her father's Shopsmith now sits in her workshop, a three thousand square foot historic brick building, where she and her sister, Brandi, put it to use collaborating on unique pieces like their own version of French Country trumeaux. That's also where she cuts up vintage silver to make jewelry and sculpture, carves beautiful bas reliefs in wood and cobbles bones, lighting and other reclaimed materials into richly textured functional sculpture for the home and body.

Bending things to her will by hook or by crook, or rather by saw and chisel, elbow grease, and countless dremel accessories, the world is her blank canvas.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Personal Delivery is a New Service

Over the last two months, I (often accompanied by my patient husband) have delivered furniture to four locations and we are planning another trip to Asheville, NC, this weekend. It is not a service we advertise or intended to provide - it just happened.

We have offered to deliver if the distance is reasonable (2 hours or less from our home near Atlanta) or the location is one we want have an interest in visiting. We have charged an amount that covers our car expenses and a little extra but less than any shipping process/company I know of would charge so it is a win-win all around.

It started with a customer from Warner Robins who purchased two chairs. Warner Robins (home of Air Force base) is about two hours south of the City of Atlanta. I had already "booked" my husband to travel to the Scott's Antique Markets on the south side (we live north) to look at and purchase a custom headboard for our master bedroom mini-redo. So, I suggested that a short distance further (slight exaggeration here) would not be too difficult. Our buyer loved the idea and we traveled to her home with plenty of time to spare to get the Markets by noon. Easy - easy!

The next opportunity involved a couple from Columbia, SC (about four hours away). We didn't want to travel that far but worked out a deal to meet half-way near Augusta, Georgia (site of the famous PGA golf tournament). We had never visited Augusta although had driven by many times. So, a visit to Augusta was planned and the delivery coordinated on a quiet Sunday.

These deliveries on a weekend morning worked out so well with little traffic and easy coordination, I started thinking more about the personal delivery option while discussing logistics with clients. A new client came along wanting to buy six items from Asheville, NC. We had visited Asheville at least three times over the past 20 years or so but had not been there recently and had a free weekend.We loaded what we could in our trusty van (could only accommodate four out of the six pieces so I did get a shipping quote for the balance) and traveled to the city several weekends ago. I posted a summary of that trip here.

Early the next week, a Georgia buyer bought a chaise lounge and we discussed the process of getting it to her in Summerville (near Chattanooga, TN). I decided that a mid-week trip would work and we agreed on a delivery cost. It turned out to be a questionable travel day with rain and threats of rain (like it has been all summer around here) but I made the trip without mishap and met this delightful customer at her home. She and her family were experiencing some medical difficulties and my delivery trip helped them deal with their scheduling conflicts.

And back to the Asheville client (a delightful Southerner who raises and shows great danes), she bought three more pieces so were back to five total (other set had not yet been picked up by my shipper). We are now loading up for another delivery this weekend - this time stopping by in the North Georgia Mountains to visit friends on Sunday.
Bergere set with small settee and pair of French style chairs are being delivered this weekend.
So, a lot of deliveries in a short period of time. We are finding these easy to accommodate and thoroughly enjoying meeting the buyers of these lovely pieces - it gives me a great sense of their wonderful new homes. We are particularly interested in doing an overnight trip to Nashville, TN. We used to travel there at least annually but it has been 8-10 years since that time and a nice delivery to the area would be a great opportunity.

SO .. if you live in the Nashville area or know of someone who does and need some great heirloom-quality upholstered furniture - this is an opportunity for quick and reasonable delivery!  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Quick Trip to Asheville, NC

Map of Asheville, NC - about 3 hours from Atlanta
Last weekend, my husband and I delivered four lovely pieces to a new client living in Asheville, NC. We decided to make a weekend trip out of the delivery plans and booked a room for Saturday night.  The weather was wonderful (first weekend with no rain scheduled for three months according to the locals which seems about right for us as well in soggy Atlanta).

My client and her husband were charming and gracious and their home absolutely stunning. I love it when my pieces go to such wonderful homes! They live in a stately home and neighborhood abutting the fabulous Biltmore Estate - the largest private home in America.
There's something special about Asheville, and the world is just beginning to discover it. This thriving mountain city features a funky and eclectic downtown, 30-plus art galleries downtown alone, a burgeoning culinary scene, a thriving live music scene and, of course, the awe-inspiring scenery of the Appalachian Mountains. link to official site
We had dinner at the famous Grove Park Inn - in their Terrace Restaurant overlooking the mountains - a great meal and view. The historic property has recently been bought by the Omni Hotel chain. It is a popular venue for weddings and, in fact, one was happening near our seating area.

We have been to the fabulous Biltmore Estates and Gardens three times before - most recently in the fall several years back. This was the nicest visit and weather we have experienced. We arrived early on Sunday (open 365 days a year starting at 9:00 a.m.). We toured the house (no photos allowed) and lingered in the gardens and walking paths before traveling to the winery for some taste testing and wine purchasing.
Views of the Biltmore House - link to website and history.
The gardens are in full bloom. 
Biltmore Villlage area of Asheville
Near the gates to the Biltmore House is a neighborhood called Biltmore Village. An arts and crafts fair was scheduled and set up for the weekend. We strolled the area and ate lunch at acclaimed restaurant - The Corner Kitchen.

This was a great visit. My client is purchasing some more pieces - wish our calendar would allow for a return trip in the near future but it doesn't look likely!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stripes 101

Stripes and more stripes - see source data
I seem to be adding a lot of striped pieces to my refurbished furniture collection lately - I am clearly drawn to stripes of all types and sizes. This posting highlights some of those pieces and provides a little wisdom about using stripes in home decor.

Great striped chair in beachy setting - high contrast stripes - see source data
Stripes 101
Whether traditional or unconventional, stripes—especially on walls and floors—promote order. They have an almost architectural power to redirect the eye and reshape a space. In smaller doses, like on furniture or accessories, they’re “the neutral of the pattern world,” says New York City interior designer Elaine Griffin, as they are low-risk and easy to incorporate into any type of room.

3 Expert Decorating Tricks
1. Use high-contrast stripes in unexpected spots. For powder rooms and foyers (spaces where people don’t linger), strong stripes can be charming. “I love a brilliant stripe in a closet,” says Darryl Carter, a designer in Washington, D.C. “It’s like the lining on a fine coat.”

2. Match the size of the stripes to the size of the room. In general, the larger the space, the wider wall stripes should be, because thin stripes in a big expanse can look like mere texture from far away. And in a small room broad, bold stripes can feel jarring.

I love these horizontal stripes - see source data
3. Blend striped, floral, and solid accessories. A foolproof recipe for throw pillows: Put together three or four designs that are clearly distinct but share a palette. Try a wide stripe, a narrow stripe, a dainty paisley, and a solid. The effect is cohesive, with just enough randomness to feel homey. source - Real Simple

This settee is charming - I must remember to do one like this - see source data
Here are some recent striped additions to my collection and a collage of prior year favorites.

I found this chair on craigslist and had it recovered in a great heavy upholstery weight fabric - the stripes were purposefully done in a differentiated style. The legs were refinished in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
Another craigslist buy - this set was originally upholstered in a leather that had seen better days. I love the stripe!
This great chair was a Goodwill Industries purchase (wonderful brand) and the fabric was an estate sale buy - great combination! 
This craigslist set is one of my all-time favorites. I have not previously found this height set - made by North Hickory of Hickory, NC (no longer in business)!
And here are some of my prior year favorites in stripes - I just cannot get enough of this look!

Great chairs - all!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Visiting the Great Atlanta Fabric Houses

Atlanta is home to two old fabric houses that cater to decorators and homeowners for miles around. They are located in the inner "industrial" area of the city - near the water treatment plant - with views of the Atlanta skyline. Both have been around for over 60 years. One is Lewis and Sheron link and the other is Forsyth Fabrics link. They carry all types of decorator fabrics and Lewis and Sheron has a great line of North Carolina upholstered pieces that can be upholstered in any of their in-stock or ordered fabrics.

On a rainy day yesterday, I accompanied a neighborhood friend in her quest to find the right fabric for two Victorian-era chairs she has just inherited. She mentioned she wanted to visit and, of course, I jumped on the opportunity to accompany her - I cannot resist hanging around great fabrics.

Both stores have an impressive array of fabric choices at pretty good prices that appear to be more reasonable than Calico Corners Fine Fabrics. They have far more choices as well. Forsyth has a "clearance corner" - fabrics are marked $8, $10 and $11. This is still more than I am willing to pay for the fabrics used in refurbishing my fine furniture but a pretty good deal for a homeowner.

The stores both have extensive in-stock availability and many many more that can be ordered at a reasonable price (far below recommended retail).

Racks near entrance at Forsyth - these are linens and cottons.
More racks at Forsyth - arranged by color groups and types of fabrics - wovens and silks and solids were in another area. 
I do love all things blue - this rack is at Lewis and Sheron - they do not separate the types of fabrics - all blues  are grouped together (silks, cottons, linens, silks, wovens).
More racks at Lewis and Sheron - blues and greens are big colors this year.

Look at the fish in the top and bottom fabrics - love them!
Well, with dashing in and out of the rain to get into the shops (with another one in between whose name I didn't capture), I failed to take many photographs. My friend was looking for a mid-size woven print with reds, greens and golds and didn't find many that would work for her. We discussed this color combo with one of the decorators who told us that true red is currently hard to find - it it out of "cycle" for fabric houses. Most of the reds are either brownish or raspberry - not cherry. She did find several gorgeous embellishing fabrics including a crewel but these were $45-60 per yard and even if that is a good price for this type and style of fabric, it is more than she wants to spend. She did feel that the visits were worthwhile and helped her establish some better ideas of what to do with her chairs.

I saw a number of fabrics that I either have in my current inventory or have used. I am always happy to compare these prices - several were in the $40-60 a yard range - which is great for me and my customers. Fun all around!