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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!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Designer Sofa Tips and Secrets - Part I: Fabric

Example of solid color/neutral sofa anchoring the space - color is similar to wall colors.
Solid sofa - color and pattern splash in smaller pieces.

Recently, I cut out an article from House Beautiful (link to magazine), entitled "Designer Tips and Secrets - 50 Things you Need to Know About Sofas". While dedicated followers of my 10-year old refurbishing upholstered furniture business know that "I DO NOT DO SOFAS", many of the tips apply to love seats and other sizable upholstered pieces (which I do refurbish and sell - my anti-sofa mode has more to do with storage and shipping challenges than anything else.)

Here are some of the tips and techniques dealing with the selection of fabric - one of the hardest choices to make. Since my business is almost all about the quality and appeal of the fabric, this is a good place for me to start in reviewing and discussing tips and secrets.
To establish calm, I upholster sofas in a solid that's the same color as the walls and curtains - Barbary Barry
I never use big patterns or trendy colors for large upholstered pieces. The punch of pattern or hot splash of trendy color should come from the throw pillows so they can be easily substituted when you need change - Tom Stringer
Always use dark fabric for skirts so heel scuffs are not visible - Jill Shark Brinson  
Stripes, florals, you name it, I love pattern! But using one of these isn't for the faint of heart.  It says, "I'm bold, fearless, and not afraid of commitment" - Schuyler Samperton 
SO ... many designers suggest using solid fabrics and avoiding patterns or trendy colors.  Yet, there is a "shout-out" for those who dare to be bolder and go with something more eye-catching. My own philosophy is that you can use the bolder patterns/colors if you have serenity in other elements of the room decor. For example, a cream or other neutral rug with calm walls and window treatments sometimes gets just the right balance with a little more "verve" in the upholstered pieces - particularly ones that are the focal point of the room.

Here are some of the fabrics I've used over the years on larger settees and love seats. A lot of the fabrics are solid (and vary neutral) but there are definitely splashes of boldness!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Whites - Wine, Clothing, Decor and More!

See article about summer white wines - link
As we approach the dog days of summer, I am seeing more and more whites in my environment - from clothing to decor and even to wines - perhaps in that order. White is soothing and reflects rather than absorbs the sun making it an ideal choice this time of year in the sunny South.

The US Navy sports summer whites this time of year - I have often wondered how they keep these sparkling uniforms so pristine!

Website for summer whites - Navy Personnel Summer White Uniforms
White and its variations (snow-white, off-white, cream, chalk, blanc, ivory, bone) provide wonderful options for "reflective" summer clothing.

Pinterest Board for summer whites - link
Whites and their variations look great in home decor all year round but particularly sparkle this time of year. There are many ways in which white can be incorporated into decorating - all the way from an all-white motif to splashes throughout the space.
Love this "beachy" look with its textures - the slight addition of taupe also helps differentiate the whites. 

Check out various predominantly white settings here - Pinterest board 

I always have a fair amount of neutrals/whites in my refurbished furniture inventory. It is always good looking and remains the easiest items for me to sell. The colors (or lack thereof) can be incorporated into just about any decor.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fearless Color Combinations!

I faithfully follow House Beautiful link to magazine both on-line and in print - it has been on my reading table for over 15 years. Today, I saw an article entitled, Color Combinations for the Truly Fearless link to article, that showed some wonderful combinations that are probably a little out of the norm but work quite well together.

Several of the color combos show variations of purple/lavender with other colors. Purple is one of the colors I have NEVER yet used on my refurbished upholstered pieces. I have over the years bought nice fabrics that incorporate purple (purple and grey, purple and green, purple and yellow) but have remained nervous about the "sale-ability" of this color combo - other than for little (or big) girl's rooms. I am not sure that this article or the illustrations will make me bolder but some of the other color combos I can readily see.

I have created several collages showing photos from this article with some of the pieces in my current collection that would work in the illustrated setting.

This sweet mint chair would work so well in this type of setting.
Big color for 2013/2014 is this emerald/kelly green - and how wonderful with pink and other warm colors.
I have always loved red and use it extensively in my home. This color combo is one of the "with purples" illustrated in the article - it certainly does draw your attention. My chair is a Henredon and the fabric a matelasse - quite a combo in and of itself!
I see purple in this one too but the intended color combo is red and teal - quite striking. This set of chairs is upholstered in a rich red cotton velvet. 
Nice - and my chairs work so well. They did just sell but I hope to find more in the great look.
Well, this article just shows that you need to be fearless in thinking about color combinations and sometimes to take "... the road less traveled".

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Shout Out to Lou's Antiques - Danville, VA

My husband and I traveled to Wintergreen, VA, to join my brother and his family for the July 4th holiday last week. We traveled in our new Honda Odyssey to do some "shopping" to and from the destination in central Virginia. I am ALWAYS on the look-out for refurbish-able good quality upholstered furniture and thought this trip would allow me to expand my geographic boundaries.

On the way up to VA from the Atlanta area, I had researched some craigslist ads and made appointments in Charlotte and High Point, NC, to see and possibly buy some furniture. At the latter home, we bought two French style chairs which I have already started refurbishing.

On the way back to Atlanta on Monday, we stopped at various antique and consignment shops along the highway and picked up brochures identifying other likely shopping opportunities. This brought us to Lou's Antique Mall in Danville, VA. link to information including location.

Lou's Antique Mall is located in downtown Danville - an old city center that the city residents are clearly trying to keep lively and productive. The Mall itself is large (30,000 square feet) on three floors. I found a lot to look at and the prices were often in the "negotiable range" - a range that I define as what I am willing to pay for a piece and spent money on to sell. If I do not believe I can make any money, I do not waste time on even the loveliest choices. I ended up buying three French style chairs (made in Italy) - well constructed and just waiting for my special treatment.

I was able to negotiate a price I was willing to pay and will definitely be stopping again if I am in this area of the country!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Buying Day Lilies at Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, GA

Tim at the entrance to gardens
On Sunday, my husband, Tim, and I got out of the house early to travel to Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground, GA link to website and visit the gardens there before the day became too hot. We have four season memberships to these great gardens and had not yet visited the summer gardens.

Upon entry, we noticed that they were selling day lilies from their garden and were instantly interested. Many years ago, we had bought several "bucket loads" of newly separated day lilies from a nearby neighborhood seller. He had basically turned his entire back yard into a habitat for day lilies and had huge, beautiful blooms that are just not available in nurseries. The colors and sizes were phenomenal. We planted them at our last home and enjoyed them immensely. Our big mistake was not taking some cuttings along to our new house. This particular seller went out of business long ago and our current day lily stock is prolific but fairly pedestrian. SO ... these lilies looked pretty good to us.

We bought a dozen and had a very hard time trying to decide which ones to go with - too many great choices. We have now carted them home and will be trying to find that perfect spot (sunny and observable). Who knows, we may be back for more!

Cart with dozen plants

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vacation Apartment Renting - London Experience

In front of our Warwick Road apartment rental in London
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful trip to the United Kingdom - half spent in London/Windsor and half in Pencaitland, Scotland (near Edinburgh). For the London portion, we rented an apartment through HomeAway and were VERY happy with our choice. We find that renting apartments on our trips is not only more reasonable (about 2/3 or less of what if would have cost for a much smaller hotel room) and also places us in great neighborhoods and more local venues.  This one was only a few blocks from the Earl's Court tube (metro) station which offers quick access to all the go-to places in London.

We first became acquainted with the option of renting an apartment (in lieu of booking hotel space) in 2004 in Venice, Italy. We had been very disappointed in our initial booking and changed hotels after the first night. We were standing in line for a restaurant chatting with some regular visitors to Venice who told us they rented the same great apartment overlooking the Grand Canal every year and it saved them a great deal of money. They were spending what we were for a far superior lodging arrangement. That started the process of looking for apartment space wherever our travels would take us over the next 10 years.

Thus far, we have rented apartments in the following cities/locations:

  • London (Earl's Court) - see link to HomeAway listing link
  • Lisbon
  • Madrid 
  • Manhattan Beach, CA (twice)
  • Paris
  • Amsterdam
  • Athens
All of these have been good to exceptional.  We've used AirB&B, HomeAway, and VRBO - all provide a good service and lots of listings. Many renters list on more than one site.

Here are some lessons learned:
  • Closely read the reviews of the space to look for comments about location, condition, or other factors important to you such as access to public transportation or noise/activity levels in the area 
  • Ask questions about critical elements to get the definite answers from owners/managers such as smoking policy, ability to park a car if you bring one, whether there is an elevator (many are 3/4 story walkups) and security issues if on ground floor
  • Verify full price for stay - some include listing and cleaning fees and some do not
  • When booked, provide arrival information and find out exactly how you get access to apartment and if there will be someone there to greet you and provide information about the the place and surrounding areas - also find out how you check out
Well, we plan to do this again soon! We loved the Earls' Court neighborhood and found delightful pubs and stores in the area - very local. We felt we were really living in London for the week.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014 Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Projects - an Update!

This great set of chairs was redone in a clean (not distressed) cream color with clear wax. The color was chosen to offset the rich brown color (sold).
I have been using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) for over two years and it continues to be my go-to paint whenever woodwork needs redoing. link to company site.  I have acquired a number of colors but have been using mostly Old White, Old Ochre, Cream and CoCo this year.

I closely follow the work of others - an ever expanding group from all indications - and try to keep a good set of ideas and images on my pinterest page - link.

This posting highlights projects completed in 2014. I will summarize my lessons learned over the years below.

This set of four vintage chairs was purchased in tony Buckhead (city of Atlanta) and needed everything. The woodwork was redone in CoCo to match the taupe and cream woven fabric selected to redo the pieces (professionally reupholstered by my go-to shop - Sun's Upholstery of Norcross, GA).  
I choose the fabric, a traditional green and dark cream toile, before choosing the chalk paint color. The Old Ochre color matches the background so well that is was an obvious choice. I also had to do the rusk seat platform since it had previously been painted. If it had been left natural, I would not have covered it (sold). 
These chairs had such nice woodwork that I wanted to enhance. I choose the Duck Egg Blue to set off the cream fabric - I loved how these turned out (sold). 
This great shaped chair was purchased in New Orleans on a January visit to the city. Once I chose the pale neutral and chocolate linen fabrics, the choice of Old Ochre was easy to make (sold). 
This vintage chair has great lines but the woodwork was awful. I choose the cheery fabric which made the choice of  Old White perfect for the piece. I did distress it (perhaps a little too heavily - I may go back and reduce the level of distressing on this piece).
These pieces all had woodwork and was no longer in good condition so I had to find a good color to coordinate with the fabrics selected. Three ended up with CoCo and one with Old White. The two wingbacks are still available.
So, with over two years and LOTS of projects under my belt, here are my primary lessons learned:

  • Clean the woodwork and remove piping or other obstacles to getting as close to the fabric as possible.
  • Do the first coat with the piece turned upside down so that you can adequately paint the hard to see and get to places.
  • If some brown or red continues to show through the paint after one or two coats, it means that some of the original stain is coming through (and will continue to come through with more coats). Use a clear shellac finish to seal the areas and resume painting.
  • Let each coat dry fully to the touch before adding additional coats - I have used up to four coats on some pieces but two are usually adequate.
  • Let the final coat dry overnight before applying clear wax. Buff once it has dried.
  • Before using dark wax (with some exceptions) use a clear wax coat first. This gives you the ability to moderate the amount of dark wax remaining on the piece. The only times I do not do this is when I am using graphite (dark grey) and want it to look as black as possible or another shade like CoCo for the same reason.
That's it - enjoy!