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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, April 29, 2012

Chattanooga, TN - A Delivery and Great Day Trip!

When we first moved to Atlanta from Wisconsin over 25 years ago, we drove through Chattanooga, TN, often twice a year - once to return to Wisconsin for the Christmas holidays with family (a 14 plus hour drive) and often to meet my sister in Nashville to celebrate our March birthdays.  We always enjoyed driving through this wonderfully picturesque river and mountain city but seldom spent much time.   It's probably been 10 years since we've made this trek. Then, last week, I sold a bergere chair and ottoman to a new client living in the Chattanooga area.  I figured that is was almost as easy to deliver the piece as to package and ship it and, since the distance is only about two hours away, I felt I could do this quite easily in my trusty van.  I offered to personally deliver the piece and my sweet husband agreed to accompany me - we planned it as a nice day trip!

Today we made out trip in glorious, even a little warmer than usual, spring weather.  I had contacted a neighborhood friend who was a little more familiar with the area and she had recommended visiting the "Bluff View Art District" - an up and coming area with artist studios, bed and breakfasts (B&B), restaurants and views of the river and bridges.  We had a plan!

I took a series of photos and wished I had brought my "good camera" - the scenery and attractions were that special.  Here are some of the images and a STRONG recommendation to anyone who can to visit this lovely spot - we plan to go back and stay at one of the quaint B&B's in the area - hopefully by fall!

Roadside - On the Way 
Downtown Chattanooga
Bluff View Inn - Bed and Breakfast - One of Three Historic Homes
B&B - Bluff View Inn
Rembrandt Coffee Shop 
Part of Walking Tour


Pedestrian Bridge 
Enjoying the Weather
Lot of GREAT Views
View from Brunch Table 
Rembrandt's Bakery

Part of Sculpture Garden
Amazing Sculpture

River Gallery - Sculptures Above Included

This was a wonderful visit - looking forward to coming back!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Consumer Alert - Goof Off - and an Appeal for HELP!

I have been recommending the use of Goof Off for years.  I have been using it for over 10 years to remove dirt, latex paints, smoking residue (you wouldn't believe how much of this is on older furniture that certainly at one one in its life was in a smoking environment), dingy residue, excess oils, etc. etc. etc.  - all from wooden furniture.  In many cases, this was very fine furniture.  The stuff worked beautifully and left the finish intact.  It has been my go-to product to refresh and clean my own things as well.  We have been buying it by the gallon around here!  As of my last gallon purchase, about a month ago, I noticed a significant difference in how it acted:

*  Left white-ish residue on woodwork
*  Removed original stain
*  Roughed up underlying wood (e.g., raising fibers).

I talked to our local Ace Hardware store manager (where this product was purchased) to ask if he had heard of any change in product formulation and he said he had not.  I googled - asking the question about changes in formulation or complaints - nothing!  I wrote the company and did receive an email saying they had not changed the formulation.  The person writing back suggested I check before using (no doubt recommended on the label of all such products).  I bought another smaller can of the stuff thinking I might just have gotten the wrong batch and here is the result:

Can of Goof Off and Evidence of Stain Removal on White Cloth

Stain Lost After Gently Swipe

I wrote the company again emphasizing two points:

a)  I have used this product for 10 years with 100's of wooden pieces and have NEVER had this problem before.

b)  I have used the "new" product on five items - all different ages and finishes - and have had undesirable results in all five.

They are still saying that there is no change and I should just spot-check before using.  This last attempt was very cautious and it immediately started removing original finish.  I will not use this product again as I had been - I will only use it on pieces of furniture that I plan to repaint or refinish.  I am now desperately trying to find a product like my old Goof Off - any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Have Fewer Things but Better Things - Advice from a Decorator

During the week, the newest issues of my favorite decorating magazines came to my door-steps and I have had exciting - even giddy - moments with them already.  I really devour them for ideas, inspiration and confirmation and when I finally am done with them, pass them on to several friends.  This old style "print" medium still works for me!

One article that caught my attention and one I believe in is in the May issue of House Beautiful link and part of its "101 Tips from the Experts" series.  It is called "Have Fewer Things but Better Things" and discusses the decorating philosophy of Suzanne Rheinstein.

Her advice, particularly for young people starting out is:
Have fewer things, but better things.  It's not 10-minute decorating.  If you buy one good thing a year, you'll have five really good things.  Of course, you'll have to take the time to learn about quality and to appreciate it.  But it's worth doing ...
This was a timely article for me because I am at that point in my life (way beyond young) where I only want good quality furnishings in my home and am starting to replace those items that don't quite meet the mark.  I have spent over 10 years learning about what quality looks and feels like and the hallmarks of fine furniture quality.  I have also learned that it doesn't require a big bankbook to acquire the best.  My usual estate and garage sale haunts as well as craigslist have given me the opportunities to acquire some great pieces that, I believe, Suzanne had in mind when discussing her design philosophy.

This is the first of a blog series about acquiring that one good thing (and the next and the next).   I hope it inspires others to not settle for less!

I have just had an expensive renovation completed on my foyer (see yesterday's blog) and wanted the furnishings to reflect that space - providing a lovely opening to my home.   I had several older (literally Victorian-age) pieces of furniture in the space and a chair I had had reupholstered about 10 years ago.  These items were fine - perhaps even a little better than fine - but did not reflect the best I could find to use in this space.  Over the weekend, I found this great Baker Furniture chair on craigslist - it is in wonderful condition and worked in my setting (the easily viewed kitchen beyond is all blues and yellows).  The construction qualities were known to me just by having the Baker label attached although it did add specific details about down composition and inner springs in the seat cushion.  The prior owner, a self-proclaimed decorator moving to Florida, told me this chair had retailed for $2700 and I believe her.  I bought it for $300!

My Baker Fine Furniture Chair in Foyer

I love the chair in this space and was able to insert better furniture for very little money - you just have to be diligent in your search and know what to look for - clearly a good label (and knowledge about that label) helps enormously.  My next blog on this subject will address a wonderful French style chest of drawers by Hickory Chair also bought for this space!

This blog is linked to Miss Mustard Seed's Friday Furniture Link Party

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home Improvement Project - Portico and Door

Last fall, my husband and I made the decision to improve the appearance of the front of our home.  It had been built in 1989 and we had purchased in 2000.  Our only exterior improvement to the front had been to paint the stucco - a color choice we are still enjoying.  In 2004, we had added a two-story addition to the back - a "sunroom" - much evident in all of my website and eBay listings and a "poolroom" on the terrace level.  New decks were also added on both sides.  So, the back of the house looked much more impressive than the front.  We knew that someday we would be selling this house and we needed more seductive curb appeal to bring in potential buyers.  This is the story of that renovation which is now 99% complete.

We started with an interest in changing out the front door to an oversized one incorporating the two-panel door structure and the curved transom above.  I had seen a FABULOUS iron door recently on a craigslist run - it provided a major focal point to the front of this home and was the inspiration to get us moving.  The owner had used JD Glassworks link to website.  

We also knew that our front stoop had been shifting for years and needed replacement as well as at least part of the front walkway which had been buckling because of large roots.  As often happens, the project grew from that point onward!
Before Photo - Front of Home 
We contacted the general contractor we had used on our two-story project in back, Lee House, who had before and since completed other projects in our neighborhood - a well regarded contractor!  We met to discuss the project and quickly added additional elements:

a)  A cover for this great new door to prevent excess weathering - particularly since we were leaning toward using a wood/iron door combination.  This idea evolved quickly to a more extensive portico with stacked stone accents and a curved roofline mimicking the curve of the doorway.

b)  A new stone walkway to complement the stonework on the portico.

c)  A new driveway with stonework inset to (again) complement the other components of the project.

Those were the major add-ons and, of course, ramped this small project to a much more substantial one - with resultant increase in costs!!!

Our first job was to choose the stonework and we joined Lee at a Woodstock stone yard to select both the larger stones for the walk and driveway and the smaller ones for the stacked stone on the portico.

Because we were leaving for a two-week vacation, Lee reversed the usual order of work and decided to do the driveway and walkway before the portico so that our cars could be parked in the driveway and garage upon our return.  The weather (lots of rain) did not help but the work was completed to our full satisfaction!

After the walkway and driveway were completed and before the portico design could be finalized, my husband and I needed to select a front door.  We had several catalogues provided by our builder but didn't see anything that had that WOW factor I had observed earlier.  We drove around and looked at homes with larger doors and portico/porches to get a better sense of what we liked and didn't like as well as what types of combinations were most attractive on homes like ours.

After visiting various areas of the city, we drove around our own neighborhood and found exactly the style of portico we liked (literally around the corner) - so we had our overall design.  Lee worked with a architect to tweak it for our home.  We also traveled to the JD Glassworks storefront in Woodstock and found exactly the door we were looking for - a lovely combination of wood and glass and ironworks!  So, most of our decisions were made and the work proceeded.

Door Selected at JD Glassworks
Work on the portico proceeded with beautiful stonework and a graceful arch overhead.  Then we went into hibernation to wait for our door to be completed - these doors are all custom made and they said six weeks and it took at least six weeks.  (Had we known, we would have chosen the door much earlier so that the project would not need to be delayed this long.)

Other work was completed including first coat painting and installation of a metal roof.  The compliments were already coming in!!

I started changing out the interior foyer decor.  Our JD Glassworks salesman (Wes) told us that we needed to think of our new front door as a piece of fabulous furniture - and that helped a lot.  I decided to improve the quality of our foyer pieces getting rid of older antiques I had bought that were no longer attractive to me and too bulky.  I also wanted to clear as much space as possible around the door so that it could be the star!!

Work Proceeds on Front

Painted and Roof Installed - Waiting for Door 
Inside Decor
So that is the end of the story - the only items left are small touch-ups.  We do need to restore some landscaping in front as well as the planters!  We are so thrilled with the outcome, we area actually talking to Lee about a mini-renovation of our terrrace/basement level - I guess once you start, you are never truly done!!  This project is featured on this link party - Savvy Southern Style and  French Country Cottage

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Before and After - My Own Parade!

I never get tired of seeing the complete transformations possible with upholstered furniture with good bones needing a change in fabric and/or wood finish.  That is what I do and I fall in love with most of the pieces I get back from my great upholsterers - the Lees at Song's Upholstery in Norcross, Georgia.  Some pieces I do keep for myself but most need to go - I only have so much living and storage space.

The process is simple and can work for others:

a)  Buy only good quality pieces that are well constructed and have not been damaged.  There are LOTS of places to find these - particularly in a large market like the Atlanta area.  I frequent estate sales, garage sales, thrift shops such as goodwill stores, and craig's list.   Many of these pieces would be thrown away and add to the already overtaxed landfill problems we are facing.  I pay as little as nothing and almost never more than $100 for a piece (some exceptions for REALLY fine furniture).

b)  Buy fabrics that are good quality; trendy; and a good value.  I shop closeouts at retail fabric stores, discount fabric warehouses, estate and garage sales, and eBay.   I pay as little as $1.00 a yard but almost never more than $6.

c)  Put together winning combinations and have the pieces professionally upholstered.  This is a true skill and requires knowledge, strength and some specialized equipment.  I have seen a few "do it yourself" upholstery jobs and, in my opinion, most are fine to use in ones own home but certainly are not up to professional standards.

d)  Add the finishing touches such as accent pillows, contrasting piping, and other treatments to provide a tailored and polished look.  Some pieces may need woodwork refinished.  Minimally, the woodwork should be cleaned, touched up,  and polished.

Here are some recent transformations - I love everyone!

This set of clubs were purchased at an estate sale - their overall condition was good but very dated.  The tufting treatment is a good example of the expertise required of a good upholsterer.  It is time consuming and difficult work   and relies on strength and precision.  The accent pillows are my standard extras.  This fabric is a very neutral upholstery weight woven cotton-blend.  The cushions were fine and only needed minor enhancement with a Dacron wrap.

This fine love seat was purchased from a Craig's List ad.  It is extremely well made with down-composition cushions, large rolled arms and a tailored skirt.  The piece was reupholstered in a indoor-outdoor tone on tone cream fabric with a tight weave.
This set of great Sherrill Slipper Chairs were purchased from a Craig's List ad.  The construction is impeccable - Sherrill is a top furniture maker.  They are slightly larger and deeper than usual.  I used lumbar pillows instead of square accents.  The fabric is a cut velvet on linen in a place gold.
This wingback chair was purchased at a Goodwill store in Dunwoody.   It features hand-tied coil springs and straight Chippendale style legs - all in great condition.  The fabric is a woven fern pattern - gold on cream.  The woodwork was polished and touched up but otherwise in great shape.  This chair goes very well with the Michael Thomas loveseat above.
Well that's my parade - I hope it inspired others to find furniture worthy of spending a little money on and having a far better piece of furniture than that available at any store for double the price and keeps these lovely pieces in circulation!

I am linked to the following - check them out - Savvy Southern Style

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day 2012 - Go Green!!

From Earth Day photo page on internet.
Yesterday was Earth Day 2012 and a lot of people payed homage to the many ways in which you can celebrate and promote the the world we live in.  One of the hallmarks of Earth Day is to "go green" and reduce the reliance on new manufactured consumer goods.

I researched Earth Day and found the following interesting description of its history and some of the cultural and societal influences - ones I remember well:
Each year, Earth Day -- April 22 -- marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson's New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.
Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center. http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-history-movement
So this is a good time to rededicate ourselves to repurposing, refurbishing, reusing and limiting excess landfill.  One of the founding principles of my personal business - Wydeven Designs - is dedicated to this cause as stated on my website:
This is also an environmentally-friendly - GREEN - enterprise. We are participating in recycling, reusing, and reducing the reliance on newly manufactured products that require precious natural resourceslink to site

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do It Yourself - Sofa Table with Annie Sloan Paint

I have now used Annie Sloan Chalk Paints (ASCP) on dozens of upholstered pieces (woodwork, of course) but had not tried a TOTAL piece - one just for me!  I purchased a sweet little table (slightly taller than normal for a coffee/sofa table) at an estate sale last month for $25.00.  It was solid wood but had some scarring on the surface - just the excuse I needed to redo it with ASCP old ochre paint.  I am on a mission to reduce the "browns" in my house and this was a perfect opportunity to add some lightness to this room!

Here is the finished product - I'll work backwards to the before piece and the steps I took to create this slightly distressed table for my office/den.

AFTER - love how well it matches my rug!
I cleaned the table thoroughly removing old oils and other difficult to diagnose spots.  I then applied two coats of the ASCP in old ochre.

I lightly sanded the table after the two coats had dried but before applying the wax coat.  I understand that Annie herself suggests waiting until after applying the wax to do the sanding.  I can understand why.  Before sealing with the wax, the paint is extremely brittle and "chalky" - so it is very easy to rub too much paint off - which did happen to me in a few places.  I would listen to her advice on this step the next time around.  I felt, however, that the piece turned out just fine and it was a super quick project!!

Here again - in my home office/den - I like how it breaks up the darker colors and "browns" in the room.  A definite step in the right direction!

This blog is linked to the following:  link here and Southern Hospitality and Home Stories A-Z

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour - a Great Atlanta Tradition


 I am a member of our neighborhood's garden club - as much a social group as a group of women who are interested and knowledgeable about gardening - although we do have several certified master gardeners in the group.  This weekend was the annual Druid Hills Home and Garden Tour held in a wonderful old area of Atlanta.  I attended with a small cadre from our club!  The day was overcast and a little damp but it did not rain and we saw all but one garden.  We also spent time (and money) in the great artists gallery that is held during the event.

Druid Hills is an area about 7-9 miles from downtown Atlanta.  When my husband and I moved to Atlanta 25 years ago, this was the area we checked out first.  Unfortunately, the prices were high then and probably higher now.

The following information came from wikipedia - link
Druid Hills is a community which includes both a census-designated place (CDP) in unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, United States, as well as a neighborhood of the city of Atlanta. The CDP's population was 14,568 at the 2010 census.[3] The CDP contains the main campus of Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The planned community was initially conceived by Joel Hurt, and developed with the effort of Atlanta's leading families, including Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler. It contains some of Atlanta's historic mansions from the late 19th and early 20th century. Druid Hills includes the main campus of Emory University, which relocated to Atlanta in 1914. 
Druid Hills was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and was one of his last commissions. A showpiece of the design was the string of parks along Ponce de Leon Avenue, which was designated as Druid Hills Parks and Parkways and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 1975. The remainder of the development was listed on the Register as the Druid Hills Historic District on October 25, 1979.[5][6] Later the Park and Parkways district was consolidated into the Druid Hills Historic District.
Most of the homes on the tour are owned by doctors associated either with Emory University or Hospital or the Centers for Disease Control.

 Here, in photos, are some of the highlights of this year's tour.
This house on Springdale Road is called Boxwood and was once part of a much larger estate built for a Coca-Cola executive in 1912
These were some of the backyard elements at a home on Springdale - the owner-doctor was very involved in all elements of design and planting. 
This was the group's favorite home and garden - a Tutor style home on Oakdale Road - both inside and out!