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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!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reflections - You Have to Love What You Do!


I recently had a "bad" experience that helped me to better understand and reflect on what I do with my spare time and passion these days. As I was ruminating about various blog posting topics, I thought I would try to put my random thoughts into words - words that might mean something to others as well. After all, life is what you make it!

A little history! I retired from a 30 year career sometime ago and followed that with a 5 year similar work/different setting career. I felt passion for the work I did and enjoyed both the challenges and the colleagues/friends made over the years. I traveled, felt my contributions made a difference, and was proud of my achievements. I was paid decently and was able to build a nice, but not lavious lifestyle.

About 11 years ago, I made a decision to try my hand at something very different - this business of mine buying fabrics, refurbish-able upholstered furniture, transforming the pieces, and selling to local and on-line buyers. I was clueless about the challenges, costs, income-potential - any of it. I just knew that each element of the process made my heart sing.

Growing up in a working class neighborhood and home, I had always loved "interior design" - pouring over the Sears Catalog with my sisters. I put together settings - curtains, furniture, accessories and could spend enormous amounts of time pretending they were mine. I have had recurring dreams ever since I can remember of wandering down a street with houses large and small and entering them to see what they looked like - how they were organized - how the interior reflected the lives of the owners/occupants. I still have that dream every now and then.

I have now been doing this work - and conservatively spend 40-60 hours on average a week - for over ten years. It is not terribly profitable - I squeak by with modest profits. But, I love it!
  • I love buying fabrics and planning how to use those fabrics. 
  • I love going to estate sales, garage sales, and antique markets scouring for the right pieces at the right price. 
  • I love the actual transformation process and continue to be amazed by the "before" and "after" differences. 
  • I even like (love might be too strong of a word here) the wood refinishing that I do if needed (the actual upholstery work is left to true experts - I would not like or love that work).
I find I have enormous patience waiting for sales. Some pieces sell almost immediately - many take a lot longer. I do not get anxious about it. I love hearing from buyers/clients when a piece just thrills them and am always a little disappointed if I hear nothing. I love meeting and getting to know my clients and have developed some long-term relationships with some.

So, what is this bad experience and why has it caused me to do all this reflection. I bought a set of leather chairs from an estate sale that were in "perfect condition". I planned to sell as is - something I almost never do - but these were just beautiful. I paid about 3 time my normal price for the chairs since I was not planning to add considerable fabric and upholstery labor expenses. Between buying and getting them home, the estate sale company owner and her son caused irreparable damage to both the leather and the woodwork. I was heartbroken and reached out to her to discuss and see if any adjustments could be made - I reached out three times and received no response whatsoever. 

I thought about all the things I have done in my business to make things right for my customers who had been disappointed in some element of the purchasing process that was totally outside of my control.  Usually, this involved shipping delays or damage. While the problems were limited, my actions included providing substantial discounts and even allowing a return to make a customer less unhappy. My husband and I recently traveled for four days to Texas and back to deliver some pieces after a shipping company that the customers had engaged dropped the ball. I did these things because I want everyone I deal with to be happy with my work/business. It is more than hoping for more sales - it is a matter of pride and passion for the work. I just hate it if someone is unhappy with any element of my business.

While I did not necessarily expect a refund or even a sizable pay adjustment from this estate sale problem, I did expect the owner to respond to my messages and express some understanding and sympathy for the dilemma, Ignoring it all together suggests she is not passionate about her work and not too concerned about her customers. I just wouldn't want to feel that way about the work that I do! 






Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Upholstery Tricks - Mixing and Matching Fabrics

I am always looking for ways to use fabrics to enhance shapely upholstered furniture. One trick is to use contrasting fabrics as piping to outline the piece. Another is to use a different, complementary fabric on the back of a chair or to cleverly make up for inadequate yardage. I do not like wholly different fabrics used in a helter-skelter manner - some of which I see in magazines and on sale sites - it looks too clumsy and cluttered to me.

Here are some of the ways I have used contrasting fabrics to enhance the upholstery work on my refurbished pieces - pictures tell the story so much better!

Tailored pieces often look good with contrasting piping. It shows of the elegant lines. I chose not to use the contrasting fabric on the buttons because it would create too broken up of a back - the right choice, I think.
Here is a humble looking chair and ottoman in a plain red and white check that is enhanced by the textured contrasting piping. This is also an example of where adding a contrasting piping using a color already in the main fabric does not create additional restrictions to placement of the pieces.
I love how this chair (one of a pair) turned out. The gracious curves in front and along the back were shown off by the contrasting blue piping. While it did limit some placements for these otherwise very neutral chairs, it did make them perfect for a popular blue and white setting. An important element to remember in adding contrasting piping is the likely placement (and versatility of placement) for the pieces. 
Another example of using a color already in the main fabric to create a contrasting piping - in this case a very small yellow and white check. I also like to using contrasting piping to show off the woodwork and the lines created by the woodwork.
I refinished this great settee (one of a pair) using chalk paint with an aged, distressed look. The clean-looking cream linen was set off with a taupe linen mimicking the woodwork colors and enhancing the fine lines of the woodwork. I chose not to put the same piping around the seat cushions because I was not trying to highlight those - in fact, I think that would have taken away from the whole look.
This black and white piping highlighted the textured nature of the primary fabric and makes the whole chair look more interesting. 
This great fabric was outlined with a complementary green piping.  I did want to break up - but only slightly - the size of this pattern and reinforce the flowery colors. 
IT is a little hard to see, but the fabric on this chair and ottoman were outlined in a striped piping with the same colors of green and white.
While it is impossible to know this, I actually had the upholsterers use the "wrong" side of this woven twill fabric as piping  - it blends well with the wooden turned legs.
Here's an example of both a complementary pattern look - using the striped piping with the floral fabric - but also the use of this same fabric to make up for a small shortage of fabric. My upholsterer and I worked out this ingenious solution. 
Another example of inadequate fabric yardage and a solution that works.  I did have to go out and "buy" this striped velvet  and cream fabric - usually I have a lot of options in my inventory.  
I just think this turned out sweet and almost looks like an extension of the fabric pattern by using a contrasting piping that is the exact shade of white in the pattern.
I do like using a contrasting fabric on the back of chair that are fully surrounded by a wooden frame such as these fine examples. 
I hope these "tricks of the trade" are helpful and encourage creative fabric thinking!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

History of Buffalo Plaid Fabrics

Recently sold and delivered French style chair (one of a pair) in teal buffalo plaid!
I have loved buffalo plaids ever since I can remember. The oversized "check" makes any piece of furniture it is on look amazing.

I found this interesting bit of information about the origin of the design dated July, 2014:

It has been noted that Buffalo Plaid is making quite the comeback this season. What many people may not know is the history behind the Buffalo Plaid and how it received its interesting name.  
Originally a Scottish product, Buffalo Plaid traces back to the 8th century and is ranked the oldest Tartan. This particular Tartan became a symbol of the MacGregor clan, a family known for being furious warriors. Because of this, the MacGregors were banished from Scotland by King James VI in 1603 and thus moved to Canada. Buffalo Plaid first made it's appearance in American fabric history in the late 1800s when the Scottish Big Jock McCluskey (MacGregor) from Canada settled in Connecticut. McCluskey did many things during his time in America all while living off of buffalo hunting. After the Battle against the Indians in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, McCluskey bartered for buffalo pelts with the Sioux and Cheyenne and, in return, the natives received the heavy woven Scottish blankets from McCluskey's native home, made of a fabric now known as Buffalo Plaid. link to article
 I do buy this oversized scale fabric whenever I can and wish I could find more (at my price points, of course). Here are some of my favorite transformation using buffalo plaids.

I bought this fabric at Calico Corners Fine Fabrics several years ago. It was not selling well and I bought every piece I could find at about 70% off.  
This lovely dark cream and teal combo was purchased on eBay - I used it on at least four pieces and have enough left-over for another small set of clubs or a similar larger club and ottoman set as above.  
This bluer teal with paler cream combo was just completed and sold to a family in a suburb of Houston. My husband and I delivered it ourselves and saw the beautiful job they were doing renovating a gracious home in the suburbs.
So, I will continue to look for these nice patterns and hope to expand my supply and color choices!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Loving the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach

Colony Hotel - Palm Beach - from their website - link

During our recent trip/vacation to the Palm Beach area of Florida (east coast), which happened to coincide with our 28th wedding anniversary,  my husband and I stopped by the Colony Hotel for their famous pool-side lunch. The hotel is located near Palm Beach's version of Rodeo Drive, Worth Avenue. Interestingly, the reason we stopped here was not because of any prolonged research and planning process but because my husband forgot his cell phone in the car and left me standing on Worth thinking about lunch options. I stopped several passers-by who looked like they might be "natives" (you can tell in this tony area) and asked for recommendations. Both suggested this spot without hesitation - even saying it was better than the famous Palm Beach Breaker's Hotel food and ambience - which is saying something!

Loved the interior of the hotel - soothing shades of greens! 
I was immediately intrigued by the lobby area of the hotel decorated in shades of green and teal - very soothing and a little wild.

I found a year-old article about the 2014 renovation of the hotel:
PALM BEACH, Fla. --  Facelifts are as common as blue skies in Palm Beach, so it was only a matter of time before the famed Colony Hotel had some work done.
Taking the 67-year-old hotel from worn to wonderful, from staid to stunning was renowned interior designer Carleton Varney. Known as “Mr. Color,” he used pinks and greens, sea blue and coral to bring out the Southern charm of the family-owned hotel that is steps away from the shopping mecca of Worth Avenue. Since 1947, the hotel has hosted the  Duke and Duchess of Windsor, President Bill Clinton, John Lennon, Frank Sinatra and many more famous names. link to article
WOW - I loved the space and how it had been transformed.

More details - Colony Hotel in Palm Beach
 From the article I discovered that there were many more beautiful areas to explore within the hotel but I was pleased to have seen what I could.

Lunch at the Colony's poolside restaurant was very nice!
The pool-side setting of their restaurant was very pleasant. I believe my husband particularly enjoyed the views including a bikini-clad guest who was perched practically at our table as she lounged cooly by the pool. Of course, I could be mistaken, maybe he was just looking at me!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Decorating in Green - Spring Dreaming

Japanese Gardens - Delray Beach, FL


Living in the South, we should not be complaining about the winter weather - particularly after hearing from family and friends living in the Midwest or New England areas where they are overwhelmed by record snows and cold temperatures. Inevitably, however, the "spring bug" affects me as we get the warmer versions of this - lots of rain and gloomy skies. I thought I would evoke the feeling of spring by writing about the use of green in home decor - the natural spring dreaming choice.

I have just dropped off several pieces to be reupholstered and have included a number of green fabrics - as always, I cannot wait to see them transformed. I have several bright greens in my current inventory and looked back at my archival photos. Green IS a wonderful color and very versatile.

Here are several articles about using green in home decor - lots of creative suggestions:




Here are some of my own green pieces - lots of styles and hues of this lovely color!



I just listed a lovely French chair newly upholstered with a green patterned linen fabric by Colefax and Fowler called "Snow Tree" - what a great name - just the right combo of emerging spring and leaving behind winter!

link to description
So - I hope that this posting inspires Spring Dreaming - it certainly helped me!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My Kind of Shopping in West Palm Beach

Northwood Neighborhood is a great shopping district - stopped here to admire their refurbishing work!
 My husband and I just returned from a nice trip to the Palm Beach area of Florida (east coast). While there, of course, we checked out the various options for buying "refurbish able" vintage and used furniture (and a fabric shop as well).  We found quite a few shops and almost filled our van on our first full day in the area.

We started out in the Northwood Historic District and found a charming shop called "My New Old Chair" - link. It is mainly a reupholstering business but also sells some charming refurbished pieces. Across the street, we checked out several antique shops and were given some advice about where we might look for the unique (reasonable) pieces I was seeking. He directed us to an area on Dixie Highway (old Interstate 1) near the downtown area of West Palm Beach. It contains many pricey antique shops but some more reasonable ones as well.

We proceeded to check out various shops and made some purchases at this next one - a charity shop dedicated to helping a local senior living initiative. It was amongst the most reasonable shops we visited that day and for a good cause as well.

I bought the three pieces shown and am about to start "chalk painting" each one. Total expenses for the three came to about $325 - not too bad - link to site including how donations can be made to this cause.
Nettie's consignment shop had some nice pieces but prices were a little high for my budget - I loved the great modified wing chair - link to location.
Another great Dixie Highway shop - again, a little pricey - link to Facebook page.
This shop is actually in Palm Beach near the tony Worth Avenue shopping area. It is also supporting a charity. Prices were not bad - I didn't find anything but can imagine finding things here if/when I return - link to Facebook page
I found this great fabric store on Dixie Highway as well. Every bold was reduced by 50% - prices ranged from $8 - $25. I did buy one English print at $12 per yard - pricey for me but a great value.  This store is a "discount house" for their primary store on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach - address is
2025 North Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach, FL
(561) 655-9416
Since 1959, Mac Fabrics has been your best source in West Palm Beach for a tremendous selection of high-quality, low-priced fabrics, trims, and hardware. Our showroom is organized to make browsing for your selection easy! We have a fabric swatch library of over 500 thousand samples, and we have over 500,000 fabrics for you to explore!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chaise Lounges at the End of the Bed - The Flagler Museum Example


Flagler Museum in Palm Beach, Florida - link to website

My husband and I just returned from a relaxing week in Florida - staying near Palm Beach. The weather was cool for the natives (low to mid 60's) but great for us escaping a rather cold, wet winter in the Atlanta area. We had never visited this particular area before and enjoyed taking advantage of many local sights. One of our favorite areas was Palm Beach itself (an island - who knew). It is, of course, famous for its rich residents and its palatial homes (think Donald Trump, Jimmy Buffet).

View from back of Flagler Museum 
One of the earliest settlers was Henry Flagler who appears to be a major founder of all strategic water-front cities on the east coast of Florida. A Standard Oil baron and contemporary of John D. Rockefeller, he fell in love with the beautiful weather and sought to tame the less than stellar natural environment (water-logged, scrubby vegetation, alligators). He built a railroad that initially traveled all the way to Key West and built hotels and homes along the way. One of his lovely homes,  a wedding gift to his third wife, was this beauty on the Intercoastal Waterway. His estranged son's daughter bought it and turned it into the museum we see today. 

When it was completed in 1902, the New York Herald proclaimed that Whitehall, Henry Flagler's Gilded Age estate in Palm Beach, was "more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world." Today, Whitehall is a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as the Flagler Museum, featuring guided tours, changing exhibits, and special programs - from website above.
We had a wonderful docent-led tour of the home and opportunities to take photos of the interior which has maintained much of the original decor and furnishings. I, of course, checked out the upholstered pieces - many of which I would have loved to cart away. One of the decorating trends I noticed was the placement of chaise lounges in most of the bedrooms and often at the end of the beds. This is a design element I particularly like and I think chaise lounges are a great addition to any bedroom - space permitting.

Here are some of the examples - I wish I could get my hands on some of these great styles:







I have a number of settees underway. They do take up a lot of space so I can't overdo them in my inventory. I just sold a custom chaise lounge to a client in Maryland and she has asked me to be on the lookout for another one - she loves a skirt-less look with interesting woodwork and down cushions - so comfortable.
Here are some chaise lounges from my archives as well as my pinterest board on the subject - enjoy - link to pinterest board