Heywood Wakefield

Heywood-Wakefield Miami Bedroom Set

We didn’t know with certainty that Michael had found a Heywood-Wakefield Miami bedroom set on Craigslist. Even when David and I examined it, we suspected but couldn’t confirm that Heywood-Wakefield manufactured it. No labels or logos — except for the refinisher.
Furness's Refinishing label
And the wood didn’t have an authentic Heywood-Wakefield finish:
Heywood-Wakefield Miami nightstand
We bought the set from a television production assistant who acquires props for television shows. Is that cool or what? I don’t know where or if this set appeared on TV, but  we found it sitting in his garage. We toted off the vanity, chest, nightstand, headboard and footboard. And a vanity seat that doesn’t match.

When we arrived home, David pulled out his Heywood-Wakefield books and verified the heritage. The original pieces came in Champagne or Wheat finishes but our refinished bedroom set appears to sport a medium-to-dark walnut finish. However, there are areas where the original birch’s golden hue bleeds through the darker walnut color.

Heywood-Wakefield Miami Bedroom Set

Heywood-Wakefield manufactured the Miami bedroom collection for a very short period, between 1941-42, as part of their Streamline Modern furniture line. This popular series became notable for the curved front design.

The Niagara collection, which we do not posses, shows an more extreme example of the bowed front and curved drawers, achieved by steaming and bending solid wood. Leo Jiranek designed both the Niagara and Miami collections.

Heywood-Wakefield Niagara Vanity
Source

Jiranek’s Heywood-Wakefield Miami bedroom set presents a boxier shape than the curvy, sexy Niagara. Yet the gently curved edges convey graceful lines, pleasing proportions, and high utility.

This next photo shows a Miami vanity with an original finish. The matching seat is authentic Heywood-Wakefield. Alas, we own neither this vanity nor stool. I want that stool. Our vanity matches the vanity shape but has a darker brown color. Isn’t that mirror fabulous? Bakelite clips hold the mirror in place.

Heywood-Wakefield Miami Vanity
Heywood-Wakefield Miami Collection Vanity, 1942-41. Source
David’s Woodworking Heroics

In generally good condition, the Heywood-Wakefield Miami bedroom set still needed work. David conducted an inventory of what he had to do. Our next blog post will detail how he improved the worn finish and sticky drawers.

  1. Remove random paint splotches — a cautionary tale to those who paint near furniture. 
    Heywood-Wakefield damge2. 
     Remove top surface paint and blend scratches.
    Heywood-Wakefield damage

    3. Sand all the drawer interiors to remove crud. Here’s an aerial view of the bottom of the nightstand’s top drawer. We’re looking at cigarette burns and unknown spills.
    Heywood-Wakefield damage
    To repeat, David sanded all the drawers. This next photo shows the nightstand’s bottom drawer space. Did a family of dirty pixies live in there? Anyway, once David  finished his sanding, I applied shellac.
    Heywood-Wakefield damage4. Adjust drawers for smooth sliding.
    Heywood-Wakefield damage
    Heywood-Wakefield damage

Finished Products

David staged this photo of the full/queen bed frame on the front lawn right after he finished it,
Heywood-Wakefield Miami Full Bedrameand the nightstand with the lower drawer that drops down. That bottom drawer, once filthy and inhabited by pixies, reveals a much improved interior:
Heywood-Wakefield Miami nightstand
David and Michael moved the Heywood-Wakefield Miami bedroom set — the chest, vanity, full/queen bed frame, and nightstand — into our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery.
Heywood-Wakefield Miami Chest
Heywood-Wakefield Miami vanity
Heywood-Wakefield Miami bedroom set

Heywood-Wakefield and WWII

The U.S. entrance into World War II in 1941 reshaped Heywood-Wakefield’s production and ended the Miami line. In 1943 the company published a brochure to explain its wartime effort of “a grim, strange cargo” at the expense of “complete and harmoniously designed furniture packages,” Source for this and following quotes, p. 29.

Taking a patriotic stance, Heywood-Wakefield explained their conversion to their customers: “like ourselves . . . [our customers] wish we could serve them better; but they prefer that Heywood-Wakefield ‘serve our country best.'”

Instead of furniture, their Gardner, MA, factory shifted into producing bomb nose fuzes, ack-ack projectiles, gun stocks, saw and pickaxe handles, and barracks chairs. Ready Room chairs, a combo of Heywood-Wakefield’s reclining bus seat, a school room writing desk, and a personal locker, were churned out for U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. Practice shells helped train soldiers on five-inch guns, and field hospital stretchers carried the wounded.

Heywood-Wakefield US military bunk beds WWII
U.S. Military Bunk Beds, WWII. Made by Heywood-Wakefield. Source

With steel tubing unavailable for beds, Heywood-Wakefield converted its bentwood into ambulance beds. Their brochure states:

Yes, we can make wood ambulance beds in a furniture factory with comparative ease . . . but, please God, grant that we or any other manufacturer may be called upon to produce as few as possible for our boys and those of our allies. p. 30.

Leo “Jerry” Jiranek

A quick word about the designer, Princeton-educated Jerry Jiranek. He began his association with Heywood-Wakefield around 1935 as a freelancer. For 67 years he designed for companies Bassett, Broyhill, Ethan Allen, Heywood-Wakefield, Garrison, Kroehler, Lane, Thomasville, Along the way he acquired the title “Dean of Furniture Designers.” In the mid-1960s he established the Jiranek School of Furniture Design and Technology in NYC to educate people in the furniture industry.

Heywood-Wakefield — A Timeless Love

A woman visited our booth today, looked at the set, and said, “That’s Heywood-Wakefield, isn’t it?” As a young college graduate many years earlier, she had fallen in love with the design. She’s now a grandmother getting ready to downsize, but she still loves Heywood-Wakefield. Always beautiful, always timeless.

Come back for our next post to see how David worked his magic.

Ann Marie and David

Read details on how David repaired this bedroom set.

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1930s Heywood-Wakefield Living Room Set

1930s Heywood-Wakefield

Romantic Acquisition

A man once posited that time is a flat circle. Against all odds, we rescued the one-of-a-kind 1930s Heywood-Wakefield living room set . . . again.

Two years ago, a woman invited David and me into her home to purchase her mother’s living room set. We wrote about that amazing acquisition here.

1930s Heywood-Wakefield
The seller informed us that her mother, the original owner, insisted it was 1930s Heywood-Wakefield. But the pieces are not listed in the official Hey-Wake bibles, Heywood-Wakefield by Harris Gertz (2001); Heywood-Wakefield Modern Furniture by Steve Rouland & Roger Rouland (1995). Purists disagree with the original owner’s opinion, but more on that below.

The story of our seller’s parents’ acquisition of the set is a touching tale of love, longing and the power of retail therapy:

The Seller’s parents, as newlyweds in 1933, lived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. A friend’s furniture store stood just down the street. One day Mother caught sight of this freshly arrived set of modern furniture. Enchantment pulled her closer. When her husband came home from work later that afternoon, Mother gushed to him about this magical apparition. They went window shopping that evening. Dad didn’t say anything.

The next day Mother, in the back of the house, heard noises out front. She opened the door to encounter furniture delivery men unloading her new living room set. Her husband made a huge, romantic gesture for their first anniversary.

The furniture stayed with the family all these decades. Actually, it has resided in the granddaughter’s home for the last several years, ever since Grandma’s death. As Buyers, we understood the emotional connection with the pieces. I don’t know how the Seller selected us, but they entrusted a part of their family it into our care.

Identity Confirmed

Fast forward to last week, as I scrolled through a multitude of estate sales online. Foolishly, I failed to recognize them, but had the presence of mind to show these photos to my son. Michael, who had bonded with the set while it languished in our booth (and whom I suspect schemed to keep them for himself) espied them. “That’s our furniture!” Sure enough, he was right.
Lloyds Mfg Pre Heywood Wakefield

Lloyd's Mfg Pre Heywood-Wakefield

Stewards of History

For the few months we had owned the set, we displayed it in our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery, along with a statement that we would not break up the set. While we could make far more money selling the pieces individually, we felt an obligation to be good stewards. Maybe there’s a bit of romanticism in all of us.
1930s Heywood-Wakefield

But an unsettlingly undercurrent vibrated. The furniture spoke to Michael. Should he acquire them at a steep discount for his apartment?

The New Owner

Working at the Antique mall, Michael spent weeks eyeing the set. He claims the day he decided to keep the pieces, a woman strolled in and enthusiastically bought them. The next day she returned with a friend. They bought two glasses of wine at the in-house cafe, wandered over to our booth, sat on the new furniture, and toasted good fortune. Sorry, Michael.

Estate Sale Heartbreak . . .

Back to last week: After Michael confirmed the set’s identity I checked the details of the estate sale company selling it. A sign-up sheet would go up at 4 pm the day before the sale. David and I showed up ahead of time. A neighbor assured us the new owner loved her 1930s Heywood-Wakefield set, now in the sunroom. But she had moved and couldn’t take all her furniture with her.

At four o’clock I knocked on the door. The estate sale rep wrote our names on line #1. We’d return for the 9 am opening. That night we discussed our budget, knowing how much we spent the last time and how much the set sold for.

The next morning, the first to cross the threshold, we zoomed to the sunroom. We absolutely didn’t want to see the pieces priced individually. That scenario would drive a stake through our hearts because we took such care to ensure that the collection stayed together.

On the drive over, David told me of his dream the previous night. In mute horror, he walked into a room and saw the pieces priced individually. Buyers surged past, indifferent hands grabbing them piecemeal. In his dream he cried out in anguish.
Heywood-Wakefield Heywood-Wakefield
Sadly, our worst fears were confirmed. Each piece sported a price tag. The total price  exceeded our budget. Sure, they’d be discounted by 30% on Day 2, and a whopping 50% on Day 3. But we knew they wouldn’t remain a complete set very long.

We approached the estate sale rep and offered our story, explaining how hard we tried to keep the set together. Then David had an inspired thought. Could the rep telephone the owner and explain that the people she bought the set from wanted to buy it back? And we made an offer — it was a very long shot. We would hear the answer later in the day.

. . . and Joy

She agreed!

Once David and Michael loaded the set in our trailer, I asked if we should drop it off at our booth immediately.

Silence.

Michael regards this as an intervention. What are the odds that we’d acquire this set — twice? Maybe this time he will keep it.

1930s Heywood-Wakefield or Lloyd?

When I researched the furniture two years ago, I noted that the Lloyd Manufacturing Company of Michigan, acquired by Heywood-Wakefield in 1921, made the set.

Here’s what we know:

  • In the 1920s Heywood-Wakefield was known as the country’s largest chair manufacturer and baby carriage builder.
  • Toward the end of the decade, Hey-Wake wanted and needed to diversify. Well made, affordable, mass-produced furniture seemed a good bet.
  • Heywood-Wakefield hired Gilbert Rohde and assigned the task of designing a modern line. Hey-Wake introduced Rohde Contemporary Furniture in 1931. The set below looks like a precursor to the more recognizable Heywood-Wakefield furniture.
Heywood-Wakefield Gilbert Rohde
“A group of Gilbert Rohde’s designs for Heywood-Wakefield in 1931”, Heywood-Wakefield Modern Furniture by Steve Rouland & Roger Rouland, 1995, p. 19.
  • Heywood-Wakefield debuted their modern line at Chicago’s Century of Progress in 1933-34
  • The 2 Heywood-Wakefield bibles, mentioned above, both identify the solid blond maple and birch furniture manufactured from 1936 to 1966.

Conclusion

That means there’s a gap in identifying 1930s Heywood-Wakefield furniture produced during 1931 and 1936. Could this set come from that period? After all my effort, I’m going to vote yes.

As for Michael winding up with the set, well, check back soon and see what happens.

Ann Marie and David

For another post on our trip to oblivion to pick up a Heywood-Wakefield bedroom set, now  in storage, go here.

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Rearranging Our Booth

Two things prompted the immediate action of rearranging our booth: the sale of a large china cabinet and Spring! Even though the temperature has dropped the last couple of days, I know it’s coming.

Because of the scarcity of storage space at our house, we originally instituted a no-sofa policy. Over time we relaxed the rule. Come to think of it, the weak leak seems to be our son. First he acquired a rattan Rumpus Room, then later a fabulous Heywood-Wakefield living room set.

After struggling valiantly to take back our house from an ever-growing furniture collection, and largely succeeding, the tide began to turn. A few Craigslist scores and couple estate sale finds had the rooms filling up once again. When Michael came to us with a photo of the sofa he found, we put our foot down. No more sofas!

We went to the sale anyway. This is what we brought home: a surprisingly handsome Mid-Century Modern yellow sofa. I set aside my personal feelings once we saw it in person. My mother introduced a MCM sofa very much like this one, only a deep turquoise. She switched  out a massive, beloved sofa that robbed my childhood of an improvised trampoline/bounce house.

This sofa’s in great shape considering its age. The strong lines catch the eye and the light airy color are ideal for pushing us into Spring:
MCM sofa

All the large pieces are now in place in our booth. After playing around with arrangements, we introduced the yellow sofa into the Heywood-Wakefield furniture living room vignette. This new configuration necessitated shifting every piece.
MCM living room

Check out the 3 pillows on the yellow sofa. That’s artwork by British artist Natalie Rymer. I carried them back from England last autumn. Her colors are so perfect for Florida. Here’s another view of the cosy scene:
Heywood-Wakefield living room furniture

We added our hand painted French Bombé next to the yellow sofa, even though it isn’t MCM. While both pieces are different styles, they work surprisingly well together.
Hand painted French Bombe

A pre-Columbian figure and a MCM cornucopia of fruit sit on the Heywood-Wakefield side table:
Heywood-Wakefield side table

On the other side of the room we’re attempting to create a dining experience with the White Furniture Co. of Mebane table and 6 chairs but it looks a bit jammed up right now. Since it’s been here a while, it might be time to rotate out. Close by is the Empire Revival library table that David refinished and I painted. It will make a beautiful homework table, television stand, or desk in a study.
White Furniture Co. dining room table
antique mall vendor space
We still have lots of smaller pieces to bring in. A couple that did make it are this elegant bowl made in Norway . . .
Norwegian Bowl
and a cylindrical pottery vase that’s more decorative than utilitarian — but I like its organic quality.
Cylindrical pottery vase
So, that’s where we are with rearranging our booth for now. Thanks for stopping by. If you enjoyed what you read, please share us with your friends.

Update: I posted this on a Friday and by Sunday one happy customer had purchased all the Heywood-Wakefield living room furniture and another, the yellow sofa. We’re all thrilled.

Ann Marie and David

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MCM Heywood-Wakefield Bedroom Set: A Rainy Quest

The Heywood-Wakefield Tipoff

Our son Michael emails me Craigslist links. Sometimes just a single item that catches his eye, other times dense jumbles of links for furniture and knickknacks assembled during a scouring of Craigslist. Once or twice — I believe — he has muttered about my mistimed response rates.

Thursday morning I opened Michael’s email and found this Craigslist photo:

Heywood Wakefield Sculptura Dresser

Since I wasn’t interested in the stack of empty boxes, I studied the Heywood-Wakefield Sculptura dresser and other Hey-Wake items in sitting in St. Augustine, about 40 miles south of us.

I called David to look over my shoulder at our computer screen.
“What do you think?”
“Let’s call now,” he said.
He phoned, negotiated a price, and said we’d pick up that evening. Michael couldn’t accuse us of failing to act promptly on this one.

David texted Michael about the sale but the message didn’t go through. Michael remained in the dark. I soon texted him asking if he could help move furniture that evening. No, because he had rugby practice. He still didn’t know we arranged to buy the Hey-Wake. His absence would complicate matters because I don’t excel at moving solid wood furniture.

The Estate Sale

But first we visited a local estate sale and pick up a few small items. Anything large would be impossible to transport because we had a Kent-Coffey chest in our SUV. Speaking of which, even if we moved that piece out of our vehicle, could we fit all the Hey-Wake pieces in? Our best guess: no.

How’s this for luck? We encountered an Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery colleague at the estate sale, a generous man who lends us his enclosed trailer from time to time.
“May we borrow your trailer for a move tonight?”
“The answer is ‘yes, you may.'” This white-haired gentleman brims with Southern gentility. I love him.

A quick aside, here’s an abstract painting we bought at the estate sale. Not exactly small, but flat.

Blue Circle Abstract Painting

The Trailer

The trailer is magnificent. Double rows of wall hooks to secure items. Shelves of blankets, padding, straps, hooks, clamps, and jars of bungee cords. We left the estate sale, drove home in the rain, loaded up our hand truck with 12 ” pneumatic tires (a Christmas gift to David) next to the Kent-Coffey chest, and went to pick up the trailer. Only the trailer. We’re still far from heading out of town.

At some point our information caught up with Michael and he offered to skip rugby practice to help us. No, no. We’ve got this wired. It will take about 50 minutes to drive there; we’ll take the drawers out, load them separately, then deal with the cabinet.

Rain, cold and dark engulfed us as he headed to St. Augustine. We could handle that. But the ambiguous directions unraveled us. The furniture couldn’t be at an exact address. No, the seller gave cryptic clues leading to an unmarked building: look for a long dark country road, a driveway 100 yards away from something, a McDonalds (which we never saw), a traffic light, a 2-story house with solar panels on top (couldn’t see it in the rainy blackness).

I exchanged phone calls with the seller. He grew increasing brusque as we became more frustrated. Poor David had to turn the SUV and trailer around a few times in tight quarters on dirt driveways.

This was pretty much our view from inside the vehicle:
Rain Storm at night

The seller drove out to the road and watched for us. And phoned me:
“Did you just go through that traffic light?”
“Yes, where are you?”
“Pull over to the side and wait. I’ll get in front of you and you can follow me.”

Were my tears from joy or exasperation? We eagerly followed him down the road. All he needed was a lighted “Follow Me”  sign to make it clearer to us. By the time we backed into place next to the 2-story building that did indeed have solar panels, the rain had lessened. A small kindness that we gratefully accepted.

The Find

We examined the Heywood-Wakefield pieces and silently rejoiced: a Sculptura dresser, manufactured 1952-59; an Encore side table/nightstand from 1950-55; a Dog Bone (named because of the cut out) footboard and solid headboard.

The two bigger pieces looked banged up but David knows how do bring Hey-Wake back from the dead. The seller showed us other Mid-Century Modern furniture upstairs and asked us to consider buying the pieces at a fair price. He felt we lowballed him on the Hey-Wake, but acknowledged reviving them will take a ton of work. I must point out again: we negotiated the price before we drove down. As far as his other furniture, we weren’t in any shape to consider it.

Out came the drawers and we began to load and secure.

Daylight

We pulled out the furniture the next morning, the sky a brilliant blue and sun pouring down. You can see the damage more clearly but David is encouraged because he’ll be working with solid wood — no veneer. We’re looking at dresser damage in the photo below, followed by the marred nightstand.

Heywood-Wakefield Sculptura Dresser Damage
Heywood-Wakefieldl Encore Nightstand Damage

The Dogbone footboard sits higher than the headboard in the photo below because it’s perched on the rear fender of the trailer. The side rails and the both head and footboard have extensive finish issues.

But once again, Heywood-Wakefield used solid pieces of wood to build their furniture. We don’t have to worry about sanding out a deep scratch in the wood because there’s no thin piece of veneer to confound the restoration. David thinks this will be a fun project but it comes with a learning curve. I have no doubt he will  bring the pieces back to the original Hey-Wake Wheat finish.

Dogbone footboard

Things always look so much better in the light of day — dazzling enough to forget about our damp recovery efforts. I did, however, announce a new policy: I only do pickups during daylight hours.
Heywood-Wakefield Sculptura dresser, Encore nightstand, Dogbone headboard and footboard
Heywood-Wakefield Bedroom Set

I plan to share a cheerier post about St. Augustine, our country’s oldest established city, sometime soon. You didn’t get much historical scenery in this update. Here’s a link to an earlier post about a Heywood-Wakefield Living Room set that we acquired. It’s beautiful furniture.

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Ann Marie and David

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