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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, February 22, 2014

Beautiful Friday for Sales

Since my husband retired at the end of last year, he often becomes my companion for "estate sale shopping", particularly on Fridays. I am increasingly finding that most good sales start either Thursday or Friday and not too often on Saturday. Thus, Friday has become my primary day to buy refurnish-able upholstered furniture. He describes his role as "carry and haul assistant" - which I will not dispute!

Yesterday was a beautiful day in the Atlanta area with clear blue skies and temperatures into the low and mid 60's. We, like much of the country, have had a very rough winter and this was a nice change.

We traveled to a number of locations to check out the listed sales.
This was our first sale - handled by Ann & Dell, a selling team that has been doing this for years and years. The prices were pretty good and I bought the chair for $50. It does need everything and I was able to talk them down from $75.
I left three bids at this sale and have not yet heard if I got any of them. The first chair was actually pretty well priced at $250 - if is a beauty. I, however, am such a cheapskate that I just couldn't do it. I bid $160 which is very high for me.
This was the first of two "Vicki" sales - one of my favorites although this particular sale did not have much to offer. The Victorian love seat was tempting but had pieces of wood missing.
This was the other Vicki sale - lots of upholstered furniture although most of it was oversized and not me. The prices were very high and Vicki told me that the sellers wouldn't entertain low-ball bids so I passed. 
Best sale of the day also handled by a known estate sale organization. I was able to negotiate a very nice price for two Ralph Laurent (YES) love seats - all down, a rose-ted slim wingback which I hope to sell as is, and a set of square ottomans. Not too bad!  I even was able to get a dress, silk blouse and cashmere sweater thrown in - what a deal!
SO, this was a great day and now I need to find enough fabric to cover the two love seats - about 30 yards will be required which is far more than I usually am able to buy at one time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Great Sources for Refurbish-able Furniture

As a continuation of my tenth anniversary postings, I thought I'd summarize the sources of my great refurbish-able upholstered furniture.

Regardless of source, it is important to remember the quality criterion to ensure that the high cost of refurbishing is worth the expense.

  • Look for pieces with high-end USA labels - e.g., Hickory Chair, Henredon, Southwood, Baker, Kargas, Sam Moore. Most of these (not all) are still made in the USA. Many great older labels are out-of-business and/or have been bought out and integrated into larger companies. Also, many companies used to make better USA-produced furniture but are no longer as well-made (Thomasville comes to mind). 
  • Absent labels, look for signs of good foundation construction. One of the best signs is the presence of hand-tied eight-way coil springs which look like large round coils and operate independently to stabilize the foundation. 
  • Look for woodwork that is sturdy and does not have evidence of breakage or water/insect damage.
I love looking for and finding these great pieces and am not easily discouraged. For example, I probably buy less than 40% of the craigslist items that I actually go out and look at. Even after asking a lot of questions, it is still necessary to see and feel the product to make sure that it is worth redoing.  

Here are my primary sources!  As I've said over and over - anyone, can do this. It is not only environmentally responsible but can be fun and rewarding!
This is probably my least favorite source. Prices tend to be high and I so much want to be the one to find the pieces and not buy them from someone else (at a higher price than they paid, naturally) who found them first. I only buy at my cheapskate price point and most things I see come no-where near that point. 
Craigslist is a great source but requires due diligence (you have to look a lot to be the first one to spot a good deal), getting a lot of questions answered upfront before heading out to see the pieces, and, time/mileage to get out to all the locations. Again, finding the right piece at the right price point for me is critical. 
Estate sales are fun but the prices are usually pretty high. They are generally run by professionals who know the prices they should be getting and are trying to get something for themselves on top. Not a lot of deals to be had but I still manage to get some - often on low-ball bids.
Garage sales are generally the best places for deals - people just want to get rid of their excess stuff! 
I have gotten some pretty good deals at the local Goodwill Stores particularly on Senior Citizen Tuesdays (25% off ).
So, here are my sources!  Do you have any to add?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Before and After - It'a A GREEN Business

Every now and then, I reflect on the reason I love doing what I do - the AMAZING transformation of old, tired (sometimes saved from a dumpster) upholstered pieces into wonderful and even trendy "better than new" furniture. It is so gratifying to see these pieces change by the professional application of new fabrics and the occastional touch of paint. As I think about ten years in business, this is really what it is all about and why it continues to excite me!

Here are some recent transformations and all of my not-so-secret sources!

I bought this piece at an estate sale in Buckhead (heart of "tony" Atlanta neighborhood). It cost me $50 and was in pretty sad condition. The fabric was bought on-line (eBay) from one of my go-to fabric houses - a woven blue and white check. 
I bought four of these chairs for $25 each from a Craigslist ad. They had been part of a collection of eight in a large estate. Two of the wooden legs were in great shape and left as-is and two were chalk painted in graphite. The fabric, a deep rose-red cotton velvet was bought at a local fabric warehouse - Fabric World in Stone Mountain. I add my Ikea accent pillows ($7.99 each for feather/down combo) to most of my pieces.
This graceful Henredon chair with limed oak finish came from a moving/estate sale (one of my favorite sellers - Vicki) in Brookhaven. It was in reasonably good condition and only needed new fabric to make it pop. This is a another Fabric World fabric purchase.
This chair came from the same "Vicki" sale as the one above. It was  star in this wonderful house. The newly applied fabric was purchased at a garage sale last year held by two women who are in the business of making custom bedding and drapes. I bought about 20 yards at the sale for a great price - less than $50 total.
This set of chairs was purchased at an estate moving sale in the Chastain Park area of the city. The house was ultra-modern - an unusual shape for the area. This was the second time I had seen these chairs at a sale in this house but this time they were within my price point - $100 for the pair. The striped linen/chenille fabric came from Fabric World - the Stone Mountain fabric warehouse. 
These vintage chairs were purchased at a Buckhead  moving sale - right on the main drag  (Paces Ferry Road near the Governor's Mansion). I paid $150 for the pair. The most interesting thing about this sale is that it was being held by Jeff and David,  two customers of mine from several years ago. They bought over a dozen items from me at the time - it was great catching up! The cotton velvet fabric came from Fabric World.
Here is the other set of Carter chairs done in an eBay fabric (cream chenille in tone on tone texture). This is the set that has the redone (chalk paint) legs.
Well, this set of "before and after" stories tell some of the tale of my work and passion.  It is nice that such a green business can be so much fun and rewarding!

Friday, February 14, 2014

10th Anniversary for Wydeven Designs – A Brief History

One of my first chairs sold - I called it "David Chair" because it had originally been done by this local designer.

I am amazed that I have been doing this for ten years!  I still have a strong passion for finding great fabrics and heirloom quality upholstered furniture in need of refreshing (and often rescuing). I plan to do several postings on this subject! 

Here is a brief history:
  • 2004 – Working with local upholstery shop (Song’s Upholstery of Norcross, GA), started producing refurbished pieces for sale through a website developed by a work colleague. Sold my first chair (red toile fabric oversized wingback chair) to my brother in Alexandria, VA, and started to get acquainted with the shipping logistics involved.

  • 2004-2005 – Rented a space in a shop “Eclectic” in the Chattahoochee District near downtown Atlanta. Paige, the owner/operator, had found my products on-line and asked if I wanted to help her launch her business. She gave me a lot more space than I paid for and staged my pieces with fine rugs and original artwork – a great setting but virtually no traffic.

  • 2005 – Shop closed and I sold some of my pieces at a high-end consignment shop – Now and Again – in Buckhead, near downtown Atlanta. I started listing on eBay link and selling some of the pieces directly through personal contacts and referrals.

  • 2006-2012 – Sold items primarily through eBay, some directly to new and referred clients and some through Etsy link .  During this period, my upholsterer’s shop changed hands and the Lees (now operating as Sun’s Upholstery) took over. They continued to provide me great upholstery expertise and services AND (no small matter) space to store “before” and “after” pieces.
  • 2011 - Started using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to personally redo woodwork for some of my pieces. Prior to this, I had my upholsterer spray paint wood when necessary.

  • 2013-2014 – Invited by One King’s Lane link to submit pieces for their “Vintage and Market Finds” market. For the past three months, this has been my primary venue for selling even though I continue to list on both eBay and Etsy (at a much reduced price).

  • 2013 - Had my most profitable year selling 132 orders (often of multiple chairs/pieces) to over 100 clients – about 15 repeats.

  • 2013 – Started a minor delivery service within a reasonable range of Norcross, GA – traveled as far as Asheville, NC (overnight twice) to Columbus, SC, to Robins-Warner, GA. 

2014 – Not looking to end this anytime soon!!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dreaming in Gray - a BIG 2014 Color!

Shade of Gray - A BIG color for 2014!
source via my pinterest board
Today is a cold, rainy, snowy-mix day in Atlanta and it has inspired me to look for the brighter side of this color choice.  Gray, in all its permutations, is one of the big colors for 2014.  It is a color with surprising range from dark and "calm/cold" to lighter and livelier. It is a neutral that works with almost any other color - particularly with splashes of brighter colors.
A mix between black and white, gray is by definition a neutral. But its varying shades, from light dove to dark charcoal, make gray as versatile as any color. article on Better Home and Gardens website - source 
The color grey doesn't have to be dull, cold, and boring. It can actually be quite hip and romantic. Depending on the shade, it also matches and coordinates with about any color in the rainbow. link to eHow article - source
love the addition of yellow - see source above
A splash of orange - see source above
I have a client in the area who is renovating a wonderful late 30's house in the historic Marietta area - a northwestern suburb of Atlanta. Her primary color choice is gray and she and her husband have created the most amazing kitchen primarily using various shades of gray and other neutrals (great expanses of marble). She has purchased almost a dozen chairs and other upholstered pieces from me in various shades of neutral - all to go into this wonderful setting. Her only two color exceptions have been a deep blue velvet wingback chair and a patina-rich green caned accent chair.  She is convinced and has convinced me that all shades of neutral work well with gray but also that an insertion of a key other color can be wonderful. She has promised me that I can come back into her setting once it is all finished to do some photography - so with any luck, there will be one or more postings on this subject in the future.
Select a third color to bring interest into your room. Depending on the shades of grey you're using and your décor, you may want to choose a third color to liven things up. If you have a modern décor, this color could be black. If you have a formal look, you may want to incorporate silver or blue. A splash of red or green will bring excitement to your rooms. Source

Here's a great color palette with various shades of gray and golds - see source above

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Introducing an Artison Whose Works I will Include in My Collection

Spring Display at Entrance of North Building - Scott's Antique Markets
Last weekend was Scott's Antique Markets (link to website) weekend in Atlanta and I went with my usual companion, Bette. We love to visit the markets and have accumulated our favorite sellers/vendors over the last 18 months. One of our favorites is Sharon P. (card name is "Antiques and Interiors - Buy and Sell Estate Antiques"). She had a regular booth in the South Building (Scott's has very distinct North and South Building locations - separate gates, parking, everything). She was one of the reasons that the South Building was our favorite. For the past four months, we did not see Sharon and couldn't figure out what had caused her to disappear.

Sharon's Booth
This time, we visited the North Building and, miracle of miracles, there was Sharon surrounded by her usual array of great furniture - most hand-refinished and upholstered by her. And, of course, she told us that FOUR months ago she moved to this building to be closer to her daughter who is also a Scott's seller.

We caught up with Sharon and I proceeded to check out this months goodies. Sharon hunts out fabulous antiques and vintage pieces and redoes most for sale at Scott's - apparently her only venue. She admitted to pretty much selling out and bringing new pieces each month.

Her technique for redoing woodwork is different than mine (as most readers know, I have become an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint fanatic). She uses a lacquer paint which is harder than chalk paint and distresses the pieces before applying a clear finish. The look is a little harder and probably a little more durable. She uses various shades of neutral (off-white, cream, putty, pale grey).

Sharon also does her own upholstery work and mostly uses neutral European linen that she buys in large volumes. Occasionally, she will use a silk or other fabric - again mostly in neutral shades.

I had bought a few pieces from her last year (before she disappeared) and proceeded to buy first a set of four chairs (photo above), then a set of benches and lastly, a set of Sherrill French style chairs - all wonderful.

I am now offering the pieces for sale (with a slight uptick in prices of course). Her work is exactly the kind of product that underlies my passion for this business. She takes heirloom quality pieces and transforms them into something not just very usable, but also very trendy and made FAR better than anything you can buy today at twice the cost. I hope to have a good collaboration with her on these sales - I can buy her things and share them with my eBay, Etsy and One King's Lane clients who cannot get the markets themselves. A WIN-WIN!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Latest Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Project - Four Chairs

Latest ASCP Project - Four Carved Chairs
It has been some time since I've reported on my more recent Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) projects and I continue to be a devotee. I was heartened to find that a shop in nearby Norcross, GA (Chalk it Up - link to website) is a stocklister for ASCP and I stop by every now and then just to talk "chalk painting".  I need to sign up for an advanced class to learn some new techniques.

The set of chairs were purchased at one of Vicki's estate sales - she has become one of my favorite Atlanta-area sellers and often gives me a good deal if she can. Upon arriving at this sale, she told me right away that she thought there were some "projects" for me in the garage and I found these.

The four chairs had obviously been sitting around for some time. The paint was awful - a chipped, stained mustard color. The shape of the chairs and woodwork design, however, were very nice and they were of the age and construction quality that included hand-tied eight-way coil springs in the foundation - almost never seen these days in this type of upholstered piece. I bought them for $80.

The chairs sat around for some time before I proceeded to redo.  I choose a color called "CoCo" - a taupish-brown and finished the woodwork with first clear and then dark wax to enhance the carvings. I have about 10 colors to choose from and usually, as was the case here, make a selection after selecting the fabric.

I choose the ASCP color finish to coordinate with the fabric.
The chairs turned out beautifully!

I really liked how the chairs turned out. I am now looking for more projects!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weather Dominates Florida Trip - Marco Island

Photo of Marco Island beaches - Marco Island, Florida (from tourism website -  NOT our photo)!
My husband and I left last Tuesday for a short anniversary trip to Marco Island, Florida - about as far south as you can reasonably drive from Atlanta (almost 11 hours). For those paying any attention, Tuesday was the day of the snow-meltdown in Atlanta - major gridlock and stories of endurance and courage. We were leaving as the weather forecasters were announcing the snowfall totals could reach 2-3 inches - not much my most standards - but combined with the way-below freezing temperatures and lack of ice/snow treatment and removal equipment, a major inconvenience at best and, at worst, what the city actually experienced.

While escaping this terrible situation, we were not spared weather woes. Marco Island is a beautiful island - from their website:
Nestled on Florida’s west coast and adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico is Marco Island, Florida. As the largest barrier island comprising what is known as southwest Florida’s “Ten Thousand Islands,” Marco Island is known for its mangroves and close proximity to the Everglades, its beautiful, pristine beaches, fine dining, outdoor recreational activities, and tropical climate. link
We stayed at the Boathouse Inn - located at the northern tip of the island knows as Old Marco Island. It was highly rated on TripAdvisor and the most reasonable place we could find for four days. It was also right on the water - which we love! The Inn is really a well maintained old-time type "motel" with rooms on the first and second levels. The rooms had no views other than the ones at the end which overlooked the bay. It did have a great dock and pool area and appeared to be a very prolific fishing spot since we did see a number of fisherman actually catching fish right out by the dock.

Our weather was not great and just kept getting worse - a lot of cold rain (heard from several locals that this was the first occasion they had to turn on their furnaces).  We hated missing all the things we had planned - a eco-tour through the Everglades, a sunset cruise on the Gulf, wandering the beaches, etc. etc.
while dodging rain-drops, we did stop by this great little consignment shop on the main drag. 
We did enjoy being in this part of the Island and found nice restaurants and shops in walking distance.
We were disappointed by the weather and once we heard that the roads in Atlanta had finally cleared, actually returned a day early - just as they were predicting sunshine over the next several days and a return to the normal 80 degree days. We will definitely have to go back!