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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!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sharing - Darden Strauss Designs

Detail - Silk Pillow

Darden's Silk Pillow 
I met Darden (Atlanta area) last year and became a big fan immediately of her work - she's got a great website and is sponsoring a custom pillow give-away.  Here's the website - check her out!  link to site and contest  I have attached several photos of the custom, silk pillow that she is giving away - beautiful!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Farewell to Mrs. Song - and a Plug for her Charity

Song's Upholstery - Norcross

My upholstery shop owner, Mrs. Song, is leaving.  She has decided after many years running the shop that she wants to devote time to a Korean Charity (more on that later) and retire.  I have been using Mrs. Song for my personal upholstery needs for over 20 years and for my Wydeven Design work for almost 8 - this represents well over a thousand pieces of furniture that she has done for me.  Her first language, despite decades in this country, continues to be Korean which has created some interesting dialogue and a few misunderstandings over the years.  Her work has always been impeccable and she oversees the work done in her shop very carefully.  I am sad to see her go and not just a little nervous about future work.  She has introduced me to her successors - a Korean couple - one of whom does speak English well (better, she acknowledges, than herself).  She keeps telling me ... everything will be same, same, same - just she won't be there.  I intend to stay with the shop and hope for the best.  It is not only convenient (about two miles from house), but she (and new "owners" - although I must admit to not being certain if that is the correct title) allow me to store my "before" pieces at the shop and some "after" pieces.  This storage helps enormously because my other pieces are stored in the lower level of my house and I have well over 100 pieces right now. My husband has said on more than one occasion that he wishes I had become interested in something much smaller, less bulky - collecting large pieces of furniture is definitely a challenge.

The charity that Mrs. Song will focus on is called YesDaddy link to website.  It is a church-based organization that works with children/orphans to help them in many ways - it seems predominantly in Korea.  Mrs. Song told me she will be spending as much as a year in Korea soon working with the children.  It looks like a wonderful organization and I told her I would share it on my blog.  

Mrs. Song's last full day in shop!

Good luck Mrs. Song and thank you for everything you've done for me.  I know we've supported each other during these difficult economic times and I know I have been her #1 CUSTOMER for years.  She promises to pop into the shop every now and then and I sure hope to keep up with her new work!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Saved from the Dumpster - Another Installment!

BEFORE - Chaise Lounge
I just photographed and listed (ebay and on my website - link to website) a chaise lounge refurbished/upholstered in a great Thibaut fabric (USA manufacturer dating back to the late 1800's link).   I picked this piece up several weeks ago at a neighborhood garage sale - it had belonged to the seller's mother and was truly in deplorable condition - the seat cushion was nonexistent and it didn't attract too many buyers.  I made my usual structural checks to make sure it was worthy of the time (and significant expense of redoing) and also admired the overall size and styling.  I did pay for it (not much) but I think the seller would have just given it to me to take it away.

My upholsterer, Mrs. Song, and I discussed how to redo and revitalize this piece.  I chose the Thibaut fabric (Geraniums - part of their piccadilly series - also available in wallpaper) for the majority of the piece and decided to enhance with a crisp striped green and white cotton.  I find stripes look wonderful as piping because of the angle you use (piping is always done on the bias).   Mrs. Song was unable to save the seat cushion and made a very nice replacement with the high-end seat cushion foam she uses in her shop.  The cost was a little higher than usual but the results are self-evident - a really nice, comfortable piece of furniture waiting for its new home!

Detail - Piping

AFTER - Chaise Lounge

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Before and After - Martha Washingtons (with some History)

I always thought that Martha Washington Chairs were English in origin but didn't know what they were called there - assuming that the Brits were not adopting our egocentric naming convention.  Wikipedia offers the following:
A Gainsborough chair (also known as a Martha Washington chair in the United States) is a type of armchair made in England in the eighteenth century. The chair was wide, with a high back, open sides and short arms, and was normally upholstered in leather.
BEFORE - Hickory Chair Martha
The American furniture-maker, Hickory Chair, describes their  model "A Classic Martha Washington chair features fluted, straight Chippendale legs, hallmark receding arm posts, and characteristic shaped crest rail."  

The model they were talking about is in fact the one I just refurbished - having purchased this pair from a nice couple in Buckhead who were selling their aunt's furniture.  The chairs were in almost perfect condition so the refurbishing process was not as dramatic as others.  For this pair, I chose a fabric I still had from last year's Kay's Kovers Fabric Sale (see previous blog) - a VERY heavy linen with an embroidered velvety cranberry oversized pattern - I think they turned out just beautiful!

In addition to the Hickory Chair transformation, I picked up two Hancock and Moore Chairs as well - one a more traditional Martha Washington while the other a shorter version (with some interesting fretwork on the base).  It's Martha Washington time at Wydeven Designs!!
AFTER - Hancock and Moore - Shorter Version

AFTER - Hancock and Moore

AFTER - Hickory Chair Marthas

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekend Update - Fabrics and Other Purchases

WOW - what a great buying weekend.  In addition to some great pieces of furniture that will be featured in future "Before and After" blogs, this was the bonanza weekend for fabric purchases.

Here are the pieces of furniture:

  • From a Brookhaven estate sale - tight-seated curved settee
  • From a Gainesville (dragged poor husband on this LONG drive) Craig's Listing - two tall deep-wing (and hand-tied coils) chairs
Kay's fabrics

Kay's fabrics

Kay's fabrics
The fabric purchases were the most exciting.  Previously, I have mentioned that a local workshop (Kay's Kovers) who is also an old neighbor, has an annual $2.00 a yard fabric sale that is well attended by her faithful - I have been going for at least 15-18 years.  I bought over 100 yards of gorgeous fabrics - ranging in less than a yard to a 16 yard piece.   I have already selected a bonded cream silk with an embroidered starburst fabric for the above settee - can't wait to see the finished product.

Brookhaven estate sale fabrics
In addition to Kay's sale, the Brookhaven estate sale also had several bolts of blues and yellow fabrics from Calico Corners - I bought four of them ranging from 2.5 yards to over 16.   I may use one of the the two wingbacks.   

Finally, I found a 8-9 yard piece of vintage heavily embroidered crewel fabric at a Dunwoody estate sale for $40.  I subsequently looked up this type of fabric to determine value and found that pieces like this sell for $125-$200 A YARD - they are hand-made (often in India) featuring wool or other yarns on a flaxen / linen background.  I've had simple crewel fabrics before (machine made) but never anything like this.  I think I will use it on some Martha Washington or other simple chairs that can really highlight the pattern - too much would spoil the effect.

Hand-embroidered Crewel Fabric 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Before and After - Another Country French Chair and Ottoman

BEFORE - Chair and Ottoman 
Recently, I purchased a great-looking slightly-oversized country french chair and ottoman at a neighborhood sale - you may recall this photo which shows not only the chair and ottoman (admittedly somewhat obscured) but my Dutch cousin meeting my soon-to-retire (alert here for those who use her) upholsterer, Mrs. Song.

I love anything French in decor and design and particularly like bergere chairs - this chair was labeled as one by the seller.  I find that many people label any French style chair a bergere but here is a definition and distinction:
A bergère chair is a large arm chair usually associated with the French Country style of decorating. It usually has an upholstered seat, possibly with a loose cushion, an upholstered back, upholstered arms and exposed wooden frame. A bergère chair is often displayed with a matching ottoman or stool.
The distinction here is that the arms are fully upholstered - not exposed.   In doing my "research", I noted that many examples of French chairs are labeled "bergere" even when they have exposed sides (like my chair here) - these are labeled "bergere" by places like Ballard Furniture, etc.   SO, I believe I have found a distinction that many do not follow.

If I could specialize in doing nothing but variations on French style chairs and other pieces, I would; but they are hard to find and expensive to purchase.   I just sold a great looking three piece set including two French style chairs and an ottoman - on it's way to Texas.  I do keep my eye out for these chairs whenever I can.

AFTER - Country French Chair and Ottoman
 I had this great set (not really a bergere but usually labeled as such - I find) upholstered in a great blue and white toile from Waverly (USA manufactured) called "La Belle Champagne" - one of my recent fabric finds at Fabric World (see previous blog).  I love how it turned out and wish I had more room in my house to add this piece - it matches half of my rooms!
Thomasville True Bergere Chairs

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zodiak Watch - Gemini's Love Yellow

Classic Chair in Cornflower Boucle (PAIR)

Hickory Chairs in Yellow Stripe

Wingback in Yellow Italian Fabric
I love getting my decorating magazines and was REALLY excited to get five magazines on the same day yesterday,  Traditional Home (my favorite), House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Country Living, and Better Homes and Gardens (great recipes as well).  These will give me enough reading and ogling materials to spend many happy hours curled up on our deck's cushy furniture.  I get such inspiration from these magazines and keep going back to them for ideas and reinforcement.

I caught a note about Gemini (May 21-June 20) in Traditional Home link that said that "the twins are the life of the party .." AND "Yellow is their color".   The June, 2011 issue has many illustrations focusing on yellow.   I love yellow and can't get enough of it in my home - it's a brighter, more cheerful "neutral" and lightens up every room.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Before and After - Cane Sided Chairs

I am going to be showing more before and after photos - the obvious transformation is so compelling and I'm hoping that it will inspire others to refurbish rather than toss well-built heirloom pieces.  First of all, I automatically reject a couple of categories of "used furniture" that is readily available but not worth redoing:

  • anything bought at Ikea or Rooms to Go (quality not worth it)
  • anything that has been obviously repaired or is REALLY badly scarred (unless you plan to repaint)
  • anything that has a strong odor that may indicate mold or insect damage inside the piece
I have had several occasions to redo chairs with a nice side caning and love the tall wingback style version of these.  It is important to make sure that the caning itself is in excellent shape (no breaks or obvious repairs) - caning is very expensive to have professionally repaired and hard to match with existing pieces.   

BEFORE - Cane Sided Chairs
I bought these latest chairs from a antique collector - they were in good shape but featured old, tired tufted upholstery.  I would guess that these chairs are of 60's vintage.

I selected a nice toile featuring a traditional red on deep yellow background pattern called "La Petite Ferme" giving them a French country look.  I added a deep red for piping to reinforce the red of the pattern and added my usual feather-filled accent pillows.  I love how these turned out.

AFTER - La Petite Ferme Chairs
AFTER - detail

AFTER - Previously Redone Chairs (SOLD)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Before and After - Country French Chairs

Several weeks ago, I had a very productive weekend buying half a dozen great refurbishing projects.  Included was a pair of tired looking wing back chairs with extensive wooden trim - a look which is hard to find and I love.  These type of chairs can be restored to fit well into a French country decor.  Clad in the right fabric, the wood trim and elegant shape make them ideal for this look.  The fact that this particular pair is a little wider and deeper than normal makes them even more versatile and comfortable.

BEFORE - French Country Chair (one of a pair)

The fabric I choose is a fresh looking deep marine blue woven boucle (densely woven) with a cream white textured piping trim.   The trim shows off the woodwork (cleaned and polished) and the blue fits so many settings and decors.  I was refurbishing a French Settee at the same time and thought the pieces went well together - that piece, however, sold immediately and has already been shipped (Phyllis, take note of this comment in case you'd like to add these chairs to your purchase).  

My favorite location for these chairs would be a water (beach, lake, stream, ocean) location - I can see myself luxuriating on one of these while staring out at the sky and sea!!!

AFTER - Redone in Blue Boucle Fabric

AFTER - Wood and Piping Detail

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Color Combinations - Working with Neutrals

Detail of Hickory Chair Wingback - Taupe and Cream Damask
I thought talking about neutrals would be easy.  In doing my (admittedly limited) research, I found many different definitions and illustrations about what is a neutral.  I thought Wikipedia's definition of a neutral color scheme interesting:
A color scheme that includes only colors not found on the color wheel, called neutrals, such as beige, brown, gray, black and white.
A decorating source (http://yourdecoratinghotline.com/exploring-color-neutrals/) used a very broad definition:
Neutral is a very broad category.  It covers everything from buff to chocolate brown; from ivory to mocha; from tan to espresso.  At the lightest end of the neutrals you’ll find ivory, bone and cream.  Add a little gray and you’ll get mushroom and taupe.  With a little yellow undertone straw, sandstone and biscuit will warm your walls.  Khaki has a hint of green.
Neutral Tufted Loveseat (sold)
Discussions about "the feel of neutrals" were particularly useful - Neutrals convey calmness and can be either refreshingly cool or softly warm.  What all the discussions had in common was the versatility of using some or many neutrals in decorating and how easy it is to add just small color accents to change the look.   I must admit, I am a brighter color person but do like to add neutrals to a more colorful setting to create a sense of balance and peace.

Sandstone and Cream Damask (sold)
Cream on Cream Pattern 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Color Combinations - Working with Pinks

This is the 6th installation in this color combination series.  Pink is a color choice that makes many people nervous but it can be both fresh and warm in just about any setting.
Pink is so much more than bubblegum! From youthful and exciting to sweetly sophisticated and soothing, pink can create many different moods depending on the shade.
Bright Fuchsia Pink Clubs (sold)

There are lots of recommendations in decorating magazines, websites, and blogs - just google "working with pink in home decor" and I found enough to write a book on the subject. The shade(s) of pink you choose as well as the complementary colors are the critical components of how a room actually works and thought the following guidance useful (source:  Home Made Simple website - also see marthastewart.com):

Mint green and other pastel accents like baby blue make a light pink palette feel cheerful and sweet.
Chocolate brown adds a deliciously fresh spin to a variety of pink shades from raspberry to cool mauve. The combination creates a warm feeling that makes a space feel comforting and grounded.
Metallic shades like bronze, brass, silvery gray and gold can make a deep pink room feel luxurious and add a bit of old-Hollywood glamour.
White or black provide the perfect backdrop for a bright pink palette. White makes a space feel crisp and feminine, while black adds a classy, modern look. 
Pink and Green Checks on Hickory Chair Club Chairs
The pinks I have used in my refurbished pieces tend to be more of a rose pink - one that is suited for more sophisticated (read adult) settings but certainly could work in children's rooms.   I love pink particularly with black and whites and greens and have a lot of the latter color combination in my home.
Deep Pink with Green Accents (sold)
Coral Pink (sold)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Color Combinations - Black and White

Black and white flocked velvet settee (SOLD)
This is the 5th installation of my color combinations series.  I LOVE black and white combinations and almost always have something in my inventory in this great look.  Interestingly, I have also learned that it takes longer to sell than other colors and yet, the buyers, are really, really happy when the pieces arrive and are integrated into their decor.  I am curious about why people are hesitant to use this combination.  It seems you really cannot make a bad decision using black and white - either alone or with another color to add punch (e.g., light/warm greens, reds, golds/yellows, etc. etc.).

Hickory House Chair and Ottoman

I googled "black and white in decor" and got a ton of hits.  It seems every magazine, designer and even blogger has an affinity for this color combination and all the photos look wonderful.

I found information categorized in many ways:

  • Decor for nurseries
  • Decor for teens
  • Senior housing
  • French country
  • Modern - Contemporary
I loved the quote attributed to Coco Chanel:
“Black comprises everything. So does white. They possess absolute beauty. They are in perfect harmony.” -Coco Chanel 
I think people who are hesitant to use the color in their home need to spend some time looking at examples of its use by checking out magazines and websites - it is easy to see why, once embraced, it becomes a source of decorating pride!!
Vintage Ethan Allen Chairs

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Before and After - French Settee

Here's a quick blog demonstrating the unbelievable transformation possible with fine old pieces.  This is a purchase from an estate sale several weeks ago.  It was hidden in a sea of old stuff - many not too exciting but I recognized the high-end construction features including fine woodwork and tufting on the back.

Before Settee
The piece was also reasonably priced - which is not often the case at estate sales.   I bought it immediately.

In the meanwhile, I had picked up a nice piece of blue and white checked cotton fabric sold by someone who had used the fabric in a room - this was a nice size leftover.

I asked Mrs. Song, my upholsterer to keep the tufting on the back but eliminate the tufting on the seat cushion adding some filler to make it more comfortable.   I just picked it up and listed it on ebay and on my website - it's already getting quite a bit of attention.  I LOVE how it looks in my sunroom - wish I could keep it!

After Settee
Wood and Double Cording Details

Tufting Details 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Color Combinations - Working with Yellows

In conducting my (brief) research for these blogs, I like to look at a variety of opinions and ideas and glean just a few to make my points.  I found an article about "working with yellows" in Southern Accent (link) describing the viewpoints of decorator Thomas Jayne that made a lot of sense and covered so many basics.  He, agreeing with others I looked at, first makes the definitive point that yellows are tricky and are somewhat difficult to work with.  Then, he goes on to describe SO MANY ways that yellow is the ideal background or foreground for many decors.  I have used yellow extensively in my home starting with a single paint strip and using three different values of the same yellow color - from deep to pale - in all hallways on most of my first floor and some of the second including one bedroom.  I have found that it provides a great basis for other colors and keeps the whole house cheerful looking even in gloomy weather.

Here are some of Jayne's rules about using yellow:

With its versatile nature and sunny-side-up appeal, it’s little wonder that yellow is a perennially popular choice for interiors. “I think yellow is a fundamental color to decoration because it’s the basis of a warm palette,”
Yellows such as pale citron or mellow ocher are usually easier to incorporate than high-voltage tones, which can quickly become overbearing.
You might think of yellow as challenging to pair with other colors, but in reality, it’s incredibly versatile. “It’s a primary color, so you really can’t strike out [adding just about any other color]
Err on the side of excess -- with just a couple of different yellows, you risk a mismatched effect. “You can combine two shades of a color pretty easily, but if you add a third, it gets more difficult,” Jayne says. “When you add a fourth and fifth, it gets easier again.”
 A little yellow goes a long way - in its brighter incarnations, yellow has a certain boldness that must be kept in check.
When using white and yellow together, keep the white tones warm.
Deep Yellow with Cream (sold)

Mellow Cornflower Yellow

Yellow with Cream Stripe
I have loved adding yellow pieces to my inventory and have been so pleased with the results that clients have reported.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weekend Update - Neighborhood Sales

This is a great garage and estate sales weekend here in the Atlanta area - it is almost impossible not to see multiple neighborhood and other sales throughout the area.  Usually, I travel 40 miles or more on a Saturday morning getting to the better sales but yesterday I was able to stay pretty close to home with several top-notch neighborhood sales.   In the Dunwoody/Sandy Springs areas I found  great sales in the Deerfield and Dunwoody Club neighborhoods.  Neighborhood sales are organized within a neighborhood and bring in a lot of customers because it is easy to get around to a lot of sales in a reasonable period of time.  I have also found that the best prices are found in neighborhood sales - people have cleaned out their homes and just want to get rid of stuff. My own neighborhood has at least one neighborhood sale per year.

A special treat for me this weekend is a visit by Dutch cousin Monique who is studying in Richmond, Virginia.  She accompanied me on my sale route and got a taste of what this American custom is all about.  She also met my upholsterer shop owner, Mrs. Song.  We had a wonderful time and I nabbed a number of great buys:

  • Vintage channel back chair
  • French bergere style chair and ottoman
  • Modern style wingback
  • Skirted chaise 
Monique waiting outside of estate sale

Monique and Mrs. Song (see my french chair set purchase on right)