Tag Archives: business

Preparing Your Gulf Coast Garage for Summer

AC Seen from OutsideAs a homeowner in the Gulf Coast region, you can protect your home’s garage doors from summer weather by making a plan and by taking action to implement it. The first of June is the official start of hurricane season, and your prompt action can limit or avoid damage to your home’s structures. Planning for weather events that are predictable is a duty of responsible homeowners.

The National Hurricane Center cites sustained wind speeds at up to 95 mph for Category 1 and up to 157 for Category 5 storms. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale indicates that frame structures are especially susceptible to damage from wind, and garage doors that are typically constructed of wood or similar materials are vulnerable.

Make a Plan

As part of your general household defense plan, the security of a garage door will improve the structural integrity of your home. Successful efforts to stop hurricane winds from entering a garage can prevent extensive damage to the interior of your home. Interior doors that are not designed to resist impact can easily collapse in hurricane conditions. Captive wind forces inside a garage are extremely destructive, pushing upward and outward to destroy walls and roofing systems. Defensive methods that are commonly used in garage openings to limit wind damage include:

• Impact-Rated Garage Door – Hurricane-force winds pull as well as push against garage doors, shaking and weakening them in the process. Impact-rated doors are designed to withstand forces of extreme wind conditions and flying debris. Some are reinforced within each section of a door to provide increased resistance to winds. Prices start around $900 for a one-car garage door and $1500 for a two-car door.

• Braces – Vertical braces made of aluminum strong enough for use on airplanes strengthen a door and make it more resistant to hurricane winds. For about $200 per brace, you can add to the security of your garage door. The quality of your existing door governs the performance of braces that are a retrofit product. Doors that have glass windows or those that are in poor repair may not get as much protection as those that are solid or new. Manufacturers may choose not to offer guarantees for braces applied to substandard doors.

• Hurricane Panels – Steel offers the best protection from hurricane damage. Aluminum panels are lighter and less capable of deterring damage. Installation of either type of material is a difficult task, and the quality of installation has an effect on effectiveness. Poorly installed panels can add to flying debris and cause damage to people or property. Panels for doors of various sizes are available for less than $1000.

House with a Lot of WindowsImplement a Plan

To assess the need for garage door protection, you may choose to hire a home appraiser. Some companies offer a free evaluation of garage doors to assess the wind load that they can tolerate, their ability to resist impact, and their compliance with local building codes. Checking for effectiveness of protective measures and the cost of installing them is a first step you can take to prevent hurricane damage.

Taking the next step to get the work done is the way to make sure that it is done correctly. The space occupied by a garage door opening is sufficiently large to require installation by someone with professional expertise.

With these tips in hand, the author has begun fortifying his Houston overhead door.

Window Tinting a Gulf Coast Home

Kitchen with Window TintWindow tinting makes any interior space cooler, more private, and more enjoyable; this is particularly valuable for homes in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast region. The addition of window tints can not only reduce cooling expenses, it will protect furnishings and art from the bright sun while also making it harder for intruders or strong winds to break a window. However, it’s important to choose the right team to tint the windows in any private home. Here are a few tips homeowners can follow when searching for a window tinting company.

Selection

Not all window tints are created equal. Some are darker and will cut more of the natural light. Special coatings are required to block the UV rays and protect fine artwork from fading. Security tints that hold glass pieces together when a window is broken are also specially designed and labeled. Look for a company that has a good selection and can provide you with the right window tint.

Experience

Look for a company with years of experience. They may also specialize in window and commercial tinting, but they should definitely have a few years of experience in residential windows. It takes time to learn how to smoothly install window tint that is free of bubbles or scratches.

Insured

When a contractor works on any home, they should have insurance. While it is not likely that a window tinter will break something inside a home, it’s still better to choose a company that protects its customers by investing in insurance. With this coverage, homeowners are protected in the unlikely event that something in their home is damaged or broken.

Timely Services

It’s also important to invest in a company that will provide timely services. When homeowners make the decision to invest in window tint, they don’t want to wait weeks or months to have it installed. Look for a company that can provide fast service to start benefiting from window tinting right away.

Ask About the Clean-Up

Installing window tint can be messy. The technicians will have to use water to get all of the air out from between the windows and the tint. Talk to the company you are considering about the installation process. Find out what steps they take to protect your home and clean up any mess afterward. The best companies will use protective covers under the windows, and they will clean up the entire mess after the tinting is installed.

Window FixGet Multiple Quotes

Talk with several companies and get more than one quote. This is the best way to find the most reasonable prices on window tinting projects and save money. Taking the time to talk with different companies also lets homeowners ask questions about scheduling, how long the project takes, and what steps are taken to keep the area clean.

Ask for References

Finally, ask for references for any tinting company. Reputable companies are happy to provide references for their work including pictures of homes and businesses they have worked on. Don’t be afraid to call the references and ask for more detailed information about how the company did, how long they were in the house, and how pleased the customer is with the work.

Window tinting can lower energy bills and help homeowners save money. The best tinting will also make the home safer by protecting furnishings from the sun and even intruders. Finding the right company for a residential project will require a little research, but homeowners will be much happier with the finished product when they hire a reputable, experienced company. From a decorative tint on a New Orleans bungalow, to a window film in Houston, homeowners across the Gulf Coast have been able to enjoy their summers again by pursuing this simple home renovation project.

The 4 Most Luxurious Spas in New Orleans

FacialSpa at Windsor Court

The spa at Windsor Court is located inside the elegant Windsor Court Hotel, in the heart of the French Quarter. Enjoy the many luxurious offerings at this full service spa, catering to your every need. Once you enter the spa, you are greeted by friendly, courteous staff that will provide you with the accessories you need for your relaxing session. Guests are provided with robes, sandals, and a private locker for personal belongings. The facility also offers a pool and gym area for those receiving treatments.

The Windsor spa offers personalized treatments from facial, nail, and hair to full body treatments. The spa also offers personalized treatments and spa packages for wedding parties upon request. The spa recommends that you make reservations before arriving; this will be helpful so that they can provide the best service to you.

Guerlain Spa at The Roosevelt New Orleans

This spa is not only known for being linked to one of the more well-known names in town, it is also known for its luxurious offerings. Guerlain Spa has been known for excellence throughout its 180 years of operation. During each session, beauty experts perform a systematic analysis of the skin to determine where their primary focus should be – environmental, nutritional, emotional, or physical. The analysis helps therapists determine a treatment that is specifically tailored to your personal needs; this is one of the signature touches Guerlain offers to their clients. Guest service is the spa’s top priority.

The products used at Guerlain are a full line of high quality products from the prestigious Guerlain Paris. The spa also offers hydrotherapy facilities, makeup services, and a VIP treatment room. Exclusively offered to hotel guests is a special treatment called the Waldorf Impériale, a two-hour body massage and facial. The spa also offers a state-of-the-art fitness center and a relaxing rooftop pool for guests to enjoy.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa New Orleans

The Ritz-Carlton Spa, New Orleans has gained enormous recognition not only for its gorgeous decor, but also for the elegance of its spa treatments. The spa offers over 100 therapies, all of which are customizable to meet the needs of clients, as well as a fitness center, retail store, and valet parking. The staple of The Ritz-Carlton Spa is absolute indulgence in every sense. The atmosphere alone is enough to help you relax and forget about the world, with draped chandeliers and therapists to pamper your every need. The spa is equipped with 22 luxurious treatment rooms as well as relaxation lounge areas, steam rooms, and saunas. Spa packages are available for couples and wedding parties, upon request. Reservations are encouraged to be made one week in advance.

Girl and hair

Woodhouse Day Spa

The Woodhouse Day Spa is a full service luxury spa located near the French Quarter. Upon arrival you are greeted by friendly staff that will provide you with a luxurious robe and a delicious beverage. The spa offers 70 invigorating and rejuvenating spa treatments that offer a unique approach to maintaining the health and beauty of your skin. Woodhouse Day Spa offers signature body wraps and massage therapies, the most popular being the four-handed massage. Tension release and deep relaxation is achieved through the spa’s signature technique called “intent combing science.” The spa offers many services including waxing, hand treatments, foot treatments, body treatments, and much more. Appointments are available seven days a week.

Next time you find yourself in the Big Easy, be sure to take some time to let yourself be pampered. Whether you’re young or old, male or female, New Orleans has a wide variety of luxury spas for every preference.

In researching various spa offerings in the Gulf Coast, the author found that many of the most luxurious locations utilized equipment from one company: T4 Spa

Achord Eye Clinic

Written by: Jill Martinez

The most effective advertising we do, to tell you the truth, is not anything we pay for or can even control to a certain extent,” reports Dr. Shonda Achord. “We get a lot of our business from patients who refer their friends, family members or co-workers to us because they’ve had a positive experience here.” True to form, the moment I entered Achord Eye Clinic the staff offered ample amounts of smiles, assistance and freshly brewed coffee. I even noticed them greeting patients by their first name and immediately delving into enthusiastic bouts of spirited conversation. The friendly atmosphere coupled with Dr. Achord’s sixteen years of experience and laid back charm are enough to inspire hope in those of us who have been worn thin by the crassness of the modern health care industry.

“Here’s the difference,” begins Dr. Achord. “ I have always made it a point to spend the same amount of time with each patient, even if they are just here for a routine eye exam.” And that is, in fact, a big difference. “Often times, patients will say that they’ve never had such a thorough eye exam before. And I take that as a huge compliment,” she says, smiling all the while.

Dr. Achord first became interested in optometry while working at a local optometrist’s office in Gonzales as a college freshman. There began her journey into what has now become her life’s work and passion. After obtaining her degree from LSU, she continued her studies at the University of Houston College of Optometry, one of the top ranked optometry programs in the nation. But home is where the heart is, and Dr. Achord knew she wanted to return to Louisiana to set up shop and settle down.

It’s been nine years since Dr. Achord launched her own full service optical business, and she hasn’t looked back since. In addition to offering the best in name brand designer eyewear such as Gucci, Fendi, Kenneth Cole, Silhouette, Kate Spade, Coach, Dior, and Vera Wang to name a few, Dr. Achord specializes in hard to fit contact lens cases, most notably patients with keratoconus.

Keratoconus is a condition that causes the cornea to bulge forward resulting in a raised peak on the surface of the eye. In these cases, normal soft contacts will not fit, and unfortunately most doctors don’t want to invest the time or resources to stock and fit the rigid contacts necessary for these patients to retain their vision. This is where Dr. Achord can and does help. She’s established her business by serving those who’ve been turned away because their conditions are deemed too labor intensive and are not cost effective enough to treat. Patients who visit Achord Eye Clinic are never turned away, and usually after meeting Dr. Achord they never want to venture far from her care.

Achord Eye Clinic
12726 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70810
225-767-3937

Acadian Brick and Stone: Paving the way to a new gold standard

Written by: Jill Martinez

It’s been a hard road to hoe since his days working in oil field management almost five years ago, but Darriel Green and his wife, Dione, have stayed committed to their vision to create a service oriented business which provides quality brick and stone products to both residential and commercial projects in the Lafayette area. “Looking back, I get a lot of personal satisfaction knowing that we excelled at a business people told me years ago wasn’t even worth my time,” says Darriel Green. “We’ve been able to grow our business from a cramped modular building in a dusty, dirty brick yard to an expansive state-of-the-art showroom which features an array of brick, flooring and roofing selections. The journey has been tough and tears have definitely been shed, but in the end, myself, my wife and my amazing staff have stayed focus on our core company value – to always treat others as you would like to be treated,” notes Green. “That’s always been our standard, and it continues to set us apart within the industry time and time again.”

In addition to their general emphasis on hospitality and good will, Green’s success is also derived from his specialized selection of antique bricks, especially those extracted from areas around South Carolina, Virginia, St. Louis, and Birmingham. Without carrying the weight of all the green hype that permeates the market today, recovering and reusing bricks is and has always been a great way to recycle materials. And that is exactly the eco friendly manner in which antique bricks are produced. “People in Louisiana and throughout the Southern part of the country love the rustic character and charm of antique bricks. It is a more specialized product, so I have to travel around to different areas to select the best quality bricks available,” he says. “We have some that date back from around 1870.”
Amid all of his success in the industry, Green is probably most proud of his antique brick floor tile. “I burnt up almost $2,000 of equipment in a single day trying to slice antique brick to get just the right hardness, texture and color,” Green recalls. “And we are talking about a product that took an entire three years of this kind of exhausting experimentation to perfect.”

When Darriel and Dione began a renovation of their home in the area, their natural instinct was to use brick in the flooring. Instead of outsourcing the job, Darriel made up his mind to produce the flooring himself – a decision that in the end bolstered his business tremendously despite the many setbacks he encountered along the way. “The antique brick floor tile has been a really great product for us. It’s changed our business, that’s for sure!” exclaims Green. And although Green continues to expand his product selection, grow his markets, and target larger and larger areas, the service-oriented foundation he set into place years ago remains the same. For the Green family and the loyal, dedicated staff at Acadian Brick and Stone, it’s not what they are selling, but the way in which they relate and respect each and every customer they interact with that makes all the difference. “I can’t emphasize that enough. You can buy bricks in many different places, but being able to trust that you’ll get what you want, when you want it, and for the price you agreed to pay is such a relief to the homeowners and builders we deal with on a day to day basis, that they keep coming back or refer their friends and family,” he explains. It is amazing how far a smile and a dose of good old fashion respect will get you. Darriel and Dione Green could not agree more.

Acadian Brick and Stone
2431 S. College Road
P.O. Box 82207
Lafayette, Louisiana 70598
337.235.9516
www.acadianbrick.com

On the Right Track: StreetcarShops.com

Written by: Leroy Jenkins

If you live in, or frequent, the “Red Stick,” chances are you’ve noticed the StreetcarShops.com vibrant billboards on Bluebonnet, or even opened your mailbox to discover a personalized booklet of reward cards for your redeeming pleasure. Custom-painted by award-winning artist Terrance Osborne, the StreetcarShops.com artwork embodies the company’s mantra, “We Take You There,” encouraging you to live locally and support your city’s economy. And there’s no better encouragement than incentive.

StreetcarShops.com is a user-exclusive website that offers unlimited access to reward card offers available in your city; and you can find rewards for just about anything; sweet deals for your favorite restaurants, discounts on vet check-ups for your pet, and even gift cards for taking the time to test drive a new BMW. They’ve got everything, and the site even empowers you to share these rewards with your friends and family through the familiar portals of email and Facebook.

Once StreetcarShops.com has enough offers in a given city, they will start mailing out keepsake reward card booklets to you every three months. And if you’re wondering how to get your hands on one of these babies, it’s simple. Just sign up online, and you’ll be on the list to receive your very own booklet as soon as it’s available.

StreetcarShops.com mails over 25,000 booklets each quarter, and will also send them to nonmembers, based on certain demographic criteria; but if you really want to ensure you receive a book, it’s best to sign up. Whatever you do, don’t wait around your mailbox. All of the current offers are always available online for you to print anytime, as many times as you like, so you can start using your rewards right away.

If you’re bracing yourself for the proverbial “catch,” don’t hold your breath, because there isn’t one. StreetcarShops.com is completely free to consumers; no credit cards, commitments, or fine print-laden contracts to haunt you later on. The intrinsic idea behind StreetcarShops.com revolves around local living; creating and fostering a symbiotic relationship between retailers and consumers. The key for advertisers is to devise an offer that will attract new customers, as well as reward existing patrons for their loyalty, all without haphazardly giving away merchandise simply for a chance to make a sale. This mutually beneficial arrangement is why StreetcarShops.com advertisers allow, and even welcome, repeat redemption of their offers. Everybody wins.

The obvious competitors are the popular “50% off Deals of the Day,” but when comparing StreetcarShops.com to the myriad of these websites, it becomes increasingly clear that local businesses don’t need to sell the farm to attract business. Many of the restaurants and retailers who advertise with StreetcarShops.com have experienced excellent responses and above average redemption rates, all without needing to give a 50 to 90 percent discount to hundreds of customers who may never come back. If you ask founder Roger Smith (and any economics expert), he’ll contend, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

StreetcarShops.com has released several reward card booklets in Baton Rouge and Ascension Parish and currently hosts a slew of online offers for Shreveport, New Orleans, and the Northshore, with plans to mail booklets in these areas later this year. Plans are also in place to build more StreetcarShops.com “tracks” across Louisiana and beyond, as well as unveil some new applications and exciting web updates to help you live locally and reward yourself when you do.

I spoke with Roger Smith, the founder of StreetcarShops.com, to find out more about his “hybrid marketing” methods and plans for the future.

What gave you the idea for StreetcarShops.com?

I knew there was a need. There is a huge, gaping hole for local businesses trying to target their local audience. StreetcarShops.com fills that hole by positioning a business in front of their local audience for pennies per household. It’s a “hybrid marketing” campaign that blends traditional media with the new web and social media campaigns that make this work. There has been a lot of buzz about the web for the last 15 years or so, and the stories of what works keep changing from all of the so-called experts. All of the hype has small business owners confused as to what they need to do to be effective on the web. Most of them believe they need a website, but the problem is that web sites are very expensive to build and maintain. It’s also difficult to build a site that consumers will really engage with. The other problem is that making their target audience aware of their particular site requires a large budget. The one thing that a business does need is a web presence at a local level, and StreetcarShops.com does this better than anything else out there.

What is your favorite thing about the program?

It works. We are receiving great feedback from people that have advertised in the program and also generous support from consumers that are using the reward cards as introductory offers to do business locally.

How are you different from your competitors like Bargain Bee and Living Social, and how do you differentiate yourself in the market?

We are very different from the purchase online coupons in the fact that it costs the consumer nothing to use StreetcarShops.com. It’s a complimentary offer from the local business. It’s a win for the consumer as well as the business. That’s one of the things that makes this work.

How does StreetcarShops.com stay mutually beneficial for both consumers and local businesses?

The offers don’t break the back or the bank of the business making an offer. It’s a financially sound offer for both the consumer and the business. We encourage our advertisers to change their offer monthly, or as often as they like, to keep their customer motivated and engaged.

What are the benefits of going online if you’ve already received a reward card booklet in the mail?

The online component of StreetcarShops.com provides upgraded offers from retailers and also features offers in other cities, which is ideal for those who travel. Going online also enables you to forward offers to friends and family.

What kind of response have you experienced from consumers and advertisers?

The responses have been incredible. The most common question we hear from consumers is, “When are you coming to my city?”

How do you plan to expand StreetcarShops.com, and how do you see it evolving?

I see StreetcarShops.com becoming the local portal for businesses to get their message to consumers at a local level. StreetcarShops.com will continue to evolve, and we will keep putting the BEST product of its kind out there. We will keep doing all of this right here in Louisiana. Right now 100 percent of everything about this product is produced here. I am very proud of that. Everything we do is upscale, chic, and first class, and that will continue.

What cities do you plan to launch StreetcarShops.com in next?

Our plans for expansion into new areas depend on finding the right people. We will grow into other cities around the country as we find qualified candidates. We are looking for people who want to make a much better than average living and who want to keep their independence. It’s a business opportunity for someone with the right skill set and determination to succeed.

Are there any new online features or promotions we should be on the lookout for?

Right now we have a promotional giveaway of limited edition Terrance Osborne prints. He is a two-time jazz fest poster artist. We have commissioned him to work with StreetcarShops.com. All you have to do is send your comments to talktome@streetcarshops.com and tell us why you love StreetcarShops.com to receive your limited edition print. We also just gave away an iPad 2 to Joann Torres, so keep checking StreetcarShops.com and “Like us” on Facebook. We may do it again.

Testimonials

“We’ve been a member of StreetcarShops.com for nearly a year now, and we are extremely happy with the initial results. Within the first three quarters, we’ve seen over $100,000 in sales associated with the reward cards. The average sale per customer using their StreetcarShops.com Rewards card is actually 50 percent higher than our typical transaction. Clearly, StreetcarShops.com has been a great value to our business, and we will continue to use their services in the future.”
>>> Mitch Mayes, Louisiana Nursery

“StreetcarShops.com has been a GREAT marketing tool for The Londoner Pub & Grill! The redemption rate is fantastic; we have seen immediate results every time it has been published. We have been able to reach a lot of new guests with this product, and the StreetcarShops team has been wonderful to work with. I truly feel this is a partnership. They really work hand in hand with us to promote the business. I highly recommend it for anyone who might be interested!”

>>> Rob Irwin, The Londoner Pub & Grill

StreetcarShops.com

Romancing the Stone: D&D Ornamental Concrete

Written by: Simonette Berry

Where can you encounter a giant gorilla, a baby dinosaur, a slumbering dragon, and an angel with a six-foot wingspan surrounded by a host of genuflecting saints? Not in your dreams or even Disneyland (they don’t have saints), but the epic statuary section of D and D Ornamental Concrete. D and D has been offering an inspiring collection of statuary, fountains, birdbaths, garden furniture, and garden ornaments since 1986. With four acres in Napoleonville and another acre at the Baton Rouge location, D and D’s huge selection, among other things, has made it the largest wholesaler and retailer of statuary in Louisiana.

D and D was founded during the oil bust in the 80s and has grown steadily since its inception, thriving even through today’s recession. Founder Mike Dubois grew up working with his parents, Helen and Paul Dubois, at Dubois Nursery in Houma, where they carried a small selection of stone statues. Mike and his wife, co-founder Patricia Dubois, were attracted to the idea of being makers of their own destiny. With the help of Mike’s parents and a retiring statue manufacturer that offered to show them the tricks of the trade, the young couple started D and D Ornamental in 1986. “We started selling to other nurseries that I knew through my mom’s shop, and pretty soon I had a steady clientele. Almost every year we’ve earned more than the one before,” he says.

Patricia worked by Mike’s side as a statuary painter for the first 10 years the business was in operation. Now, she runs the Baton Rouge store and manages the accounting while Mike focuses on sales, production, and fountain installation at the Napoleonville location. People come through both stores on weekends in droves. Though D and D does a good bit of retail, the biggest business comes from wholesale customers; the company serves hundreds of them throughout the Gulf Coast region. “Wholesale was always our biggest market,” says Mike. “My mom’s nursery business gave me lots of ready-made connections, and word spread fast. For the first 15 years or so, it was word of mouth only. We didn’t need to advertise; we could barely handle the business we had! Now, we’ve expanded enough to advertise, and about seven or eight years ago we created the website. People can shop from their homes just by looking through the online catalog.”

“A lot of people come out just to look around. If you come here, make plans to spend a little time so you can see everything. We love having people, and we hardly ever lose customers once they’ve bought from us. Our prices are very competitive because we make 80 percent of everything we sell. So many people say to me they can’t believe how good our prices are, but I explain that we try to give our customers the same benefits we have.”

Mike pumps new life into the business every year with original sculptures, fountains, and ornaments. “We hire a sculptor from time to time to create new work or to do commissions. He’ll come into the shop and sculpt the pieces, and from those we make our own molds. He just did a huge fleur de lis fountain for us. He’s done giant tigers, 14-foot alligators, large Jesus and Mary statues, life-size angels, all sorts of things.”

“Our religious statues are very popular, especially here in the South. People tend to buy them especially after hurricanes, I’ve noticed. We have a lot of original religious pieces and a large selection, so people come from as far away as Houston, Shreveport, and Lake Charles to get them. It’s a fun way to meet people. The Wall Street Journal even did a feature in 1999 about our Virgin Mary statues.”

Driving around south Louisiana, you’ll find D and D pieces proudly displayed in front lawns, schoolyards, church courtyards, and businesses. St. Charles Avenue’s twin vistas, Audubon Park and Tulane University, are dotted with D and D classic benches, urns, and planters. Less than a mile away, Ursuline Academy has a seven-foot custom-made religious statue on their lawn. “The 12-foot-tall crucifixes with Jesus are popular around here, too—you’ll see them out on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge and in some of the church courtyards,” says Mike.

D and D statues are also popular for lighthearted lawn decor and advertising gimmicks. “The big blue gorilla statue on Highway 90 is ours. There’s one like it in Plaquemines Parish in a man’s front yard. He dresses it up like Santa, the Easter Bunny, sometimes like an LSU player. He makes the news just about every year,” he chuckles. “It’s a good feeling to ride down the road and see pieces you made 20 and 25 years ago in people’s yards. It’s a good feeling to make something that people want,” says Mike.

Bella Pietra, Bella Famiglia: The Stone Gallery

Written by: Simonette Berry

In business since 1999, the Stone Gallery is a sprawling, one-acre stone yard in Harahan. This is not your average stone experience; at the Stone Gallery, you can purchase slabs of stone for the same wholesale prices that are usually only offered to stone fabrication shops. There are stone selections to fit every budget. After 10 years in the business, the Stone Gallery owner, Johnny Altobello, Jr., decided his company was going to change the way natural stone was sold in southern Louisiana. He decided to clearly mark each color of stone with the name of the stone, the size of each slab, the price per square foot, and the price of the slab. “It’s the most honest way that I know of doing business,” says Johnny. “Customers leave our facility with all of the information they need to make an educated decision about their project. We take the mystery out of buying natural stone.”

“Our one-tiered pricing system is very important to me,” Johnny continues. “There are no games or gimmicks here, just premium quality material at wholesale prices. We charge the same price regardless if the customer is a stone fabrication shop, homeowner, contractor, or designer. Homeowners can buy their stone directly from us, and we will hold it for them until their job is ready,” he says. The Stone Gallery will also ship customers’ purchases to the stone fabrication shop of their choice, or if they don’t know a stone fabricator, one can be recommended from their list of preferred fabricators.

There are different grades of natural stone, just like there are different grades of diamonds, emeralds, and other gemstones. The Stone Gallery imports and sells only first-quality, premium grade natural stone, the highest grade available. “We have quality control people in Italy and Brazil who select the first quality stone just for us. Before we purchase the material chosen by our quality control staff, I must approve each stock. And I’m picky,” he laughs.

The Stone Gallery has over 150 colors of natural stone in stock and has access to hundreds more. The most popular have historically been marble and granite, but exotic quartzites are starting to take the market by storm. “It’s a natural stone that’s harder than granite, and it comes in some really gorgeous colors. The only stone harder than quartzite is a diamond. People are starting to ask for more exotic stones in unusual colors, so we’re importing more and more quartzite and unusual granites every month,” says Johnny.

“People’s taste in natural stone continues to mature. They don’t want the same colors of stone that they see everywhere; they want new, bold and fresh colors. We specialize in the unusual. When we opened in 1999, there were probably 10 colors of stone in this market. As we grew, I reinvested our profits into exotic stones, bringing colors to Louisiana that no one had ever seen. Some of the most popular exotic quartzites are Palomino, Fusion, and Symphony. We have many other colors that are here or en route from Brazil and Italy. We’re always adding new colors to our product line.”

By popular demand, the Stone Gallery also started carrying Blanco sinks and faucets. “Our customers wanted to be able to get everything they needed for their kitchen in one place. They told us that if we had sinks, tile, and backsplash ideas, they wouldn’t have to run all over the city! So, we’ve made it a one-stop shop. We also carry an extensive line of DuPont stone care and maintenance products, as well as stone remnants and half slabs of marble for vanity tops and smaller projects. Like the larger, full slabs of stone, these smaller pieces are on display in the stone yard and all marked with the stone name, size, and price. Customers can also shop by taking the virtual tour of our stone yard on our website, stonegalleryno.com,” Johnny says.

The Stone Gallery is the oldest wholesaler of stone in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and it has been a family owned and operated business since day one. Johnny started the business on a small covered lot on Airline Highway. “It was me, the forklift, a cordless phone, and the office trailer. Bathroom breaks and lunch breaks were luxuries,” he says. Though many members of the Altobello clan have worked at the Stone Gallery over the years, the sales team now consists of Johnny Jr., his wife and business partner Carolyn, their son Johnny III, and Johnny’s brother-in-law, John Bordes.

The family staff gives personalized golf cart tours to assist customers in selecting the perfect piece of stone for their project. While on the golf cart tour, you ride through rows and rows of beautifully displayed natural works of art. The Stone Gallery is truly an art gallery of stone, with an extensive natural stone and porcelain tile selection for flooring and backsplash materials. Carolyn offers free design services and advice for customers who purchase their countertops from the Stone Gallery. Once Carolyn and the customer have agreed on a backsplash selection, they again visit the stone yard with a sample of the backsplash to see it next to the slabs of stone selected for the kitchen or bath.

“I’ve done a number of things in my professional career and liked all of them, but none as much as this,” says Johnny. “It’s great to see our customers get excited when they find the perfect stone for their kitchen or bath. This isn’t a job; it’s a passion, and it’s one shared by my entire family.”

The Stone Gallery
5600 Mounes Street
Harahan, LA 70123
504-733-5566
stonegalleryno.com

LED-ing the Way: Valley Supply

Written by: Simonette Berry

The lighting industry is undergoing radical changes with the dawn of the green movement. In south Louisiana, a region not often thought of as a frontrunner in green technologies, Valley Supply in Houma has been sewing these seeds of change for years. Owner Cecil Zeringue, whose family has run Valley Supply for over 30 years, says he remembers customers requesting “long life bulbs” ages ago. “It used to be that the typical customer would walk into our store and ask George Chaisson for our long life 130v bulbs. They were known to live through power surges and last quite a bit longer than the 120v bulbs. I used to get a big kick out of these conversations, especially when they were in Louisiana French!”

The seeds of change were planted with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), which contained, in part, energy saving standards and requirements aimed to move the country towards more energy efficient lighting. The intent was to shift the nation’s focus away from inexpensive, fuel-hungry, standard incandescent light bulbs that use only the basic technology invented by Thomas Edison over 130 years ago. The shift prompted manufacturers, not only in the U.S. but worldwide, to increase research and development for more energy efficient lighting technologies. LED (Light Emitting Diode), OLED (Organic LED), CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp), Halogen, and Cold-Cathode light bulbs are not necessarily new inventions, but these technologies have now become more affordable and available. “Embracing these new technologies has allowed consumers to save on maintenance cost, conserve energy, and have a wider pool of options to choose from,” says Zeringue. “It’s revealed some pretty cool lighting strategies and created real ingenuity in the marketplace.” “There are so many different manufacturers throwing their hats into the LED ring,” he says. “It’s kept us very busy lately on the research front. We have several customers, business owners and electricians, who are pretty hip on the LED potential. They’re always stopping by to learn about the hottest new technology and give us feedback. So, we have to stay on the cutting edge.”

“We are also seeing many customers in Terrebonne and Lafourche who really want to change the way they consume energy. Our community was hit hard by the oil spill, and in many ways I think everyone here wants to do their part, no matter how small that might be. ‘How can we save money? Could we reduce our energy usage? Do we really have energy efficient options that make sense now?’ That’s what we’re all saying these days.”

“We are continually field testing, learning, listening, and seeking out the right products for our customers and the trade-offs that occur between the different technologies and manufacturers. It is easy to make this complicated, because the new variables and choices in lighting have suddenly increased tenfold,” said Zeringue.

“We’ve had to learn a whole new language at Valley Supply to communicate with customers and distributors about things such as Kelvin temperature (whiteness of the light source), lumens per watt (amount of light per energy usage), CRI (Color Rendering Index; a fancy way of factoring the depth of color upon an object when illuminated), and the multiplicity of shadows created by the number of LED sources from a single light bulb. It can really push us at times, but it’s fun to learn,” says Zeringue.

“LEDs have been getting much of the press and excitement in our world, but they’re not the answer for every application and every customer…at least for awhile. I’m seeing some interesting lower cost solutions with TCP’s Infrared Reflective Coated Halogen bulbs and their shatterproof armor coated Insta-bright dimmable CFLs. They have great potential as well. So far this year, LED bulbs have taken off in the task lighting arena, with applications such as under-counter and cove lighting applications. LED landscape lighting and recessed down lights have also been in high demand. RAB Lighting has a great, affordable 20-watt wall pack that has become pretty popular as well.”

“The quality and right amount of light is very important to us and our customers. I don’t know anyone who enjoys climbing up a ladder on a consistent basis,” he chuckles. “Sometimes, though, the less expensive standard incandescent can still be the better overall option. It really depends upon what is most important to the customer in their application,” Zeringue explains.

Lighting isn’t the only area Valley Supply has updated. They also have a Facebook page, where Zeringue is constantly posting photos from their Lighting Market and demo videos. “It’s a great place to interact with our customers and share things with them that they wouldn’t normally get to see,” he says.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that many factors go into whether a new product or technology will succeed in our region: performance, compatibility, cost, quality, life-expectancy, and availability. I think it also depends on companies like us who actively listen to our customers and manufacturers to bridge the gap. That is our job. We enjoy what we do and we greatly appreciate the great people of this beautiful region. Nothing makes me happier than to hear from someone who was well served at Valley.”

Valley Supply Co. of Houma
1000 Barataria Ave.
Houma, LA 70360
985-872-1431
valleysupplyco.com
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Timeless Design: Supreme Ornamental Ironworks

Written by: Simonette Berry

Graceful scrolls, vine tendrils, and ornate old world designs are interwoven into the rich fabric of Louisiana’s architecture in the form of historic ornamental ironwork. Iron is a timeless medium; old houses are restored around it. Wood rots, bricks crumble, and cement sidewalks crack beside the gracefully aging balconies, railings, fences, and window grilles of yesteryear that stand strong through hundreds of hurricane seasons and frosty winters. These works of art crown the homes and businesses that local families hand down for generations.

Karl Adams, founder of Supreme Ornamental Ironworks, was drawn to the old ironwork in the Vieux Carré long before he began creating it himself. At the time, he owned a muffler and quick lube shop, where he enjoyed restoring classic motorcycles. “Every Saturday, I used to ride through the French Quarter with three friends of mine, and I’d stop and look at the ironwork. I still go there for inspiration today. I like studying the old European style, where the roots are, and looking at the workmanship. I’m always researching and looking for inspiration. I learn something new every day.

Adams started playing around with ironwork in 1994 in his shop. He made garden gates and small ironwork panels for friends and enjoyed the creative spark that happened with each new job. In 1998, a local contractor asked Adams to create a 200-foot fence across the front of a new cemetery. After creating a long, elegant fence, much larger than anything he had done before, Adams realized he had found his true calling in ornamental iron. Since completing the cemetery project for the Houma Thibodaux Archdiocese, Adams has gone on to build dozens of custom fences and architectural elements for their many schools, churches, and cemeteries over the past 13 years.

Three years ago, Adams made the final leap away from auto work and closed his muffler and quick lube shop. He converted the building into another fabrication studio for Supreme Ornamental, whose two facilities now span over 7,000 feet and feature cutting edge CAD design technology. Supreme Ornamental Ironworks now specializes in creating wrought iron fencing, gates, New Orleans-style posts and ornamental designs, staircases, balcony railings, and various architectural elements. They also offer custom awnings, chimney tops, dormers, flashing, and other ornamental iron pieces done in copper and colored metal. “I have eight specially trained team members. I could have 25 if I wanted, but for the quality of what I want to produce, I need a small, tightly knit team. I want to be positive about the quality of what I put out there, and I’m not out to do mass production,” says Adams. “I’m very particular about each piece of ironwork being completely solid. Everything we put out is a high quality, refined product, so no bolts or tack welding. After the construction is done, each piece is sandblasted, primed, and painted with industrial marine enamel. These pieces will stand the test of time.”

“I do everything hands-on. When you call me for a job, I make an appointment and we’re going to spend at least an hour together at first. Then, I’ll invite you out to the workshop to see how things are done. Then, we sit down to create the final design. I am with my clients every step of the way,” Adams says.

Adams and his team spend three weeks out of each month constructing and finishing; the rest of the time, they are on the road, installing work throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. “If someone wants our work, we will travel wherever they want us to,” he says. After Gustav, Adams was called to Mississippi to painstakingly replicate and restore damaged ironwork that dated back to the 1800s. He is most popular, though, in South Louisiana, where he has woven old New Orleans ironwork styles along the main boulevards of Thibodaux and Houma. His work can be seen at the Ellendale Country Club, the Baton Rouge Country Club of Louisiana, St. John’s Episcopal Church (the oldest church south of the Mississippi River), in every home in the Acadia Plantation subdivision, and throughout countless other commercial facilities, businesses, schools, churches, and homes. “I’ve worked for a lot of high-profile, popular people, but I respect their privacy. Sometimes I won’t even take pictures. I’ll just say that I’ve worked on some pretty amazing projects in my time.”

“I wanted to create a company that no one else around here had, something people had never heard of. The fact that everything is custom designed, built by hand, and tailored to the customer’s needs is what has made us so successful. I like building something you can’t find anywhere else. If a person can explain what their vision is, we can create it. We can build anybody’s dream.”

Supreme Ornamental
2870 Hwy 1
Labadieville, LA
(985) 526-0056

Outdoor Living: Adams Aluminum

Written by: Simonette Berry

Have you ever walked outside on a beautiful day, ready to enjoy a cool drink by the pool or tan on the patio, only to discover you need to clean your pool, rake the yard, or douse yourself in bug spray before you can relax? We are lucky to have gorgeous weather in Louisiana almost year-round, yet often our tropical climate presents other challenges: the constant leaf debris, clouds of giant mosquitoes, and the occasional snake or family of raccoons that drop in for a visit.Imagine for a moment a hassle-free, tranquil area that you can use anytime of the day or year: your own outdoor living room. At Adams Aluminum Pool and Patio Enclosures, Richard Adams has been realizing this dream for his customers since 1979. “It’s basically an invisible barrier that allows you to open up your house and enjoy the outdoors without the nuisances. No leaves to rake, no flies getting into the kitchen, or extra maintenance costs. Anytime you walk outside, you’re set free!” 
he says.

Adams Aluminum enclosures enable customers to enjoy spending more time outside year-round entertaining, cooking, exercising, meditating, or just relaxing; and all with very little maintenance. Enclosed pools don’t require the use of as many chemicals to keep them clean, which creates a healthier environment for you to swim in, cuts down on costs, and allows a longer life for your pool finish. Some enclosure materials can also act as a UV barrier, allowing you to enjoy the warmth of the sunlight without damaging your skin.

“People are moving their lives outside these days,” Adams says. “In 32 years of specializing solely in custom enclosures, these projects have evolved from the construction of simple deck enclosures to the creation of full outdoor living spaces. Now instead of a barbeque grill on the patio, people are building full-service kitchens with granite countertops, double ovens, and warming drawers. Next to that is often a fireplace with a flat screen TV, loveseats, and couches made with water resistant material. The area becomes their second living room, and they can watch the game and cook dinner while the kids play in the pool. It’s a great way to enjoy family time or entertain guests.”

Adams Aluminum designs each enclosure to fit seamlessly with the existing architecture of the home. The finished product appears as if it were part of the original design, but also blends into the background, allowing the beauty of the natural surroundings to shine through. Often they continue the roofline of the house or mimic the shape of an existing architectural element in creating an enclosure design. “If there’s a wing on one side of the house, we might frame the enclosure on the other side to mirror it,” he explains. While most companies only offer one or two designs, Adams Aluminum can create enclosures in all shapes, sizes, and materials. “Today it’s become common for the homeowners associations of subdivisions to require more blending with the existing architecture. We can match any style, and we have the ability to incorporate stucco, brick, and wooden elements into our enclosures.”

Adams Aluminum has a 15,000-square-foot facility in Mandeville and decades of design experience. The staff has the technology and experience needed to design and fabricate a wide array of architectural styles. “We take tremendous joy and pride in designing our enclosures,” says Adams. “We gain a great sense of accomplishment when people tell us that our enclosures are superior to others they have seen.”

In addition to catering to the needs of homeowners, Adams Aluminum works closely with several architects nationwide on both residential and commercial enclosures. Adams Aluminum has created custom enclosures for homes designed in the essence of Frank Lloyd Wright, A Hays Town houses, Arthur Rutenburg, and many historical homes and plantations. Some of their commercial work is in the garden suites of the L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort and in the St. James Place assisted living community. The latter glass enclosure was created to enable residents to enjoy aqua therapy year-round. Adams Aluminum screen and glass pool and patio enclosures are found throughout Louisiana and in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Outdoor living has allowed the clients of Adams Aluminum to do things they only dreamed of before. “Now people are creating outdoor living environments within our enclosures. As they get older, people often downsize their homes, get rid of the extra bedrooms, and spend more time outside relaxing and doing what they love. They have created beautiful water features with landscaping, lighting, and palm trees. A few customers have made butterfly gardens inside of their enclosures or allowed their parakeets and cockatoos to fly freely within these spaces instead of keeping them in birdcages,” says Adams. “Imagine having an extra room in your house bathed in natural light year-round. It’s there for all the family to use for any purpose, and it can only increase the quality of living and entertaining in your home. The possibilities are endless.”

Adams Aluminum
68469 James Street
Mandeville, LA 70447
(985) 626-8813
adamsaluminum.com

The Secret to Success: Brian’s Furniture

Written by: Simonette Berry

Louisiana has many “locals-only” secrets; where to get the best boudin (Hebert’s Meat Market in Maurice), where to go hear the best music (if you don’t know, ask a local), and where you got them shoes (according to the French Quarter scam artists, they’re “on yo’ feet!”). In the heart of downtown Port Allen’s historic district, there is another well-kept secret; a city block transformed into a shopper’s paradise. Brian’s Furniture is anything but a simple furniture store. The 40,000-square-foot complex is made up of four specialty shops offering indoor and outdoor furniture, accessories, art, and miscellaneous architectural pieces. You’ll find everything from bedroom sets and patio furniture to original Louisiana art and a life-size Star Wars C3PO and E.T. for your lawn.

At one time, Brian’s was a 5,000-square-foot warehouse that offered interior furnishings only. Thirty years later, it has become a destination spot where shoppers stop to spend the day. Brian Fourroux, owner of this unique, family-run business, says his success is no secret. He is constantly recreating and adding to his space. Brian works with his wife, Keri, and his nephew, Tyler, to keep each space lively and never the same the next time you visit. “We’ve become the superstore of outdoor living. People come from all around to see what we’ve got,” Brian says.

“Saturdays are big here,” he says. Across the street from the large indoor furniture store, Brian converted his father’s old service station into a quaint, New Orleans-style courtyard. On certain weekends, a musician plays traditional jazz, his melodies filtering sweetly through the sunlit rows of chairs, statues, and fountains. Several artists hang their paintings along the fence, and you’ll often find Brian’s in-house artist painting on the patio or decorating the sugar kettles and furniture in brilliantly colored finishes. A variety of aluminum patio furniture, mailboxes, lawn ornaments, bronze and copper fountains, and garden ornaments fill the space. “The jazz and the art on the fence give the space that old New Orleans feeling. It’s got charm. People love it,” he says.

Brian’s Furniture offers a milieu of outdoor elements. The New Orleans courtyard is filled with the largest selection of unique outdoor furniture, architectural pieces, mailboxes, light posts, and miscellaneous outdoor accents. “We have New Orleans-style light fixtures in aluminum and copper, and over 20 different styles of mailboxes alone to choose from.” A popular item is Brian’s custom designed fleur-de-lis patio set, which he had custom designed around the fleur-de-lis that was once on the old Huey P. Long Bridge over the Mississippi. The fine workmanship and designs of Brian’s aluminum patio furniture almost supersedes its other charms. By virtue of being aluminum, it’s easy to move around and rust-free; and the pieces are all powder coated, which makes the product virtually maintenance free.

“Our niche is the New Orleans-style courtyard, but we have much more to offer, and people see that once they walk in the door,” he says. Brian’s Furniture just added another location within the complex; a sugar kettle yard. “We have hundreds of sugar kettles, probably the largest collection and selection in the entire southern region. We have cast iron sugar kettles guaranteed not to rust in two, three, four, five, six, and seven foot. We call the seven-foot sugar kettle ‘the coonass hot tub!'” he laughs. Brian’s Furniture also offers fiberglass sugar kettles made from molds of old Louisiana sugar kettles, with New Orleans, LA stenciled on the rim. “We have the fiberglass in two, three, four, five, and six foot. They are absolutely beautiful kettles, and once the natural aging process begins, you can barely tell the difference between the fiberglass and the iron.

In the main furniture store, Brian has a huge selection of indoor home furnishings. “In our main store, we specialize in reclaimed cypress pieces,” he explains. “I have a talented carpenter, a true Louisiana craftsman who was trained as a cabinetmaker. He creates beautiful consoles, desks, dining tables, end tables, armoires, buffets, and many customized pieces from Louisiana cypress wood.” The main store also houses Brian’s mid- to high-end imported reproduction accent pieces for the home. Next door is Brian’s furniture warehouse, where you can find great deals on discounted pieces. Biannual auctions are held in the warehouse (for more information on the auctions and special events, subscribe to the newsletter at www.briansfurniture.com).

Brian’s Furniture also features over 400 pieces of art by local artists inside the main store. Every week he spotlights a few of them, creating a constantly rotating wall space filled with Louisiana imagery and local color. If the music and art doesn’t grab you from the street, the comic relief out front will. Brian’s sense of humor shines through his choice in statuary; his street looks almost like a scene from a fantastic children’s book or television show. “We’ve got a life-size tiger, a huge alligator, life-size cigar Indian, a giraffe, and a six-foot-tall pelican along the fence out front. It adds a unique touch to downtown,” he chuckles. “Bring your camera!”

Living Like George Jetson: Select Automation homes of the future

Written by: Lauren Noel

However cliche the title sounds, it is literally the only way to describe the things that Select Automation of Mandeville has to offer for your home. Security systems of the highest quality, lighting control systems, media and audio systems, or all in one package: anything you can think of to create your very own “smart home,” Select Automation can install and maintain for you.

When I began working on this story, I had no idea what “select automation” even meant. When I spoke with someone from the company, all they told me was that I had to visit the store to get the full effect. Wow, did I ever! I was taken into a conference room set up as a model home with all the different amenities that Select Automation had to offer. From there, it was a presentation of automatic lighting adjustments, security cameras, audio options and movies galore, throughout which my jaw stayed on the floor.

I had no idea these sort of things were available for a home. They offer an audio system that loads (and stores) up to 1,000 CDs (and album artwork) for you to choose from at any time with the push of a button, or a security system that rings all of the phones in the household ring if someone presses the doorbell and allows them to converse through the phone and an intercom outside. Say you are miles away on a beautiful vacation, but you are worried about the safety of your home. Using a “smart phone,” you can check all of your security cameras around the property, ensuring your home’s safety. One last thing that I will mention has to be my favorite of the available options. Using Select Automation’s system, you can set your lighting, television, or audio to a wake-up time, where at any given time your TV or any song will turn on to wake you up, while your lighting can gradually increase over ten minutes to slowly awake you. Now really, how cool is that?

The most important thing Select Automation offers is their certified technicians that install every piece of equipment, including wiring—which, by the way, is installed within the walls of your home, eliminating ANY exposed wiring. It also helps to know that you don’t need to install everything at once, or at all. You can pick and choose from any of their customized packages for what you think is the most beneficial to your home, and you can customize based on pricing—which is also surprisingly not that bad.

I could go on and on describing the things that Select Automation can do for your home. However, the best thing I can recommend is a visit, because that is all it took for me to become convinced, and I am sure you will be, too.

Select Automation
68445 James Street
Mandeville, LA
985.871.7717
www.selectautomation.com

Following the Music: Dancing in Louisiana

Written by: Simonette Berry

I’ll never forget learning to Cajun dance on the worn wooden dance floor of Mulate’s Restaurant in New Orleans, my little feet poised on the toes of my mom’s high-heeled shoes as she walked me through a slow waltz. I was utterly mesmerized as my legs magically moved in time with the giant pairs of legs gliding past me. Fast forward 23 years and I’m still enchanted by Louisiana music, learning new steps every chance I get, and attending dance classes to learn new styles. I’ve grooved to Rockin’ Doopsie, two-stepped to Rosie Ledet, second-lined to the Dirty Dozen, undulated to Tab Benoit’s sultry swamp blues, swung to the Cottonmouth Kings, salsa danced to Los Poboycitos, and shaken it to TBC Brass Band on the corner of Frenchmen and Chartres. Twirling through countless festivals, backyard ballrooms, and fais-do-dos each year, I’ve noticed that a dance renaissance has risen from the ashes of Katrina-struck Louisiana, creating a whole new generation of dancing schools. There are lessons throughout the state for such a variety of dance styles that you could spend your whole life taking them and never learn it all. What a better way to spend August, when the festival junkies go into withdrawal, college kids flee to cooler climates, and restaurants and clubs often close for reno(vaca)tions. The best way to follow the music in this heat is to act a little bit like a vampire—wait until the sun is laying low in the sky before you emerge from your air-conditioned cave to hit the streets and heat up the dance floor.

In New Orleans, the hottest steppers on Frenchmen Street are the swing dancers. It only takes a few weeks of practice to get the hang of the basic moves, and before you know it, you’re jumping, jiving, and wailing to the best traditional jazz, big band, and swing music on the block. There are three free beginner classes weekly: 5 pm on Sundays at d.b.a. on Frenchmen, 9:30 pm on Mondays at Mimi’s in the Marigny, and 5 pm Wednesdays at the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen. Nola Jitterbugs, the company that puts on these free lessons, is stationed above Maison on Frenchmen Street, where they teach workshops and classes every Monday in August. Classes are cheap, fun, and packed with people. You don’t need to bring a partner, and it’s a great way to make friends and meet potential dancing partners on your level.

The NOLA Jitterbugs are one of the sponsors for the annual Satchmo Summerfest, a three-day-long celebration of Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and his musical legacy held August 4-7 at the old U.S. Mint in the French Quarter. Nola Jitterbugs will be hosting an indoor dance floor and free dance lessons between bands at the Back O’ Town Stage. Also, check out the free event “Satchmo Swing Dance” in the Stage Door Canteen at the D-Day Museum. The D-Day Museum is another hot spot for swing dancing, weekly swing dance shows, jazz concerts, and lessons.

Traditional Louisiana dances are easy to follow and great to learn for festivals and fais-do-dos, when someone will inevitably walk up and ask you to dance. One of the best ways to pick up a few Zydeco steps is to go to Zydeco night at Rock-n-Bowl in New Orleans every Thursday. You’ll go from partner to partner, dancing the night away and learning basic steps from each one. To get schooled in a fusion of Cajun Jitterbug, Whiskey River Jitterbug, Zydeco, and Cajun Two-Step, register for a class with the Cajun-Zydeco Dance Association. They teach at Tooloulas in Slidell on Mondays and at Rock-n-Bowl on Tuesdays.

The Cajun French Music Association in Baton Rouge offers free dance lessons starting at 7 pm before each CFMA dance (admission $10). Located at UTC hall on Florida Blvd, this month’s dances feature Blake Miller and the Vermilion Playboys on August 12 and Wallace Trahan and Rice and Gravy on August 26. The CFMA also has a chapter in Lake Charles, where free dance lessons are held on the third Thursday of each month at the CFMA headquarters on East Prien Lake Road. Practice your steps at Boutin’s restaurant in Baton Rouge, where there is a live band every night of the week. Once you’ve got the hang of it, go to Acadiana for the litmus test. In Lafayette, the two most popular dance spots are Randol’s Restaurant and Prejean’s Restaurant, both famous eateries and lively dancehalls.

If you’re in north Louisiana, the new craze is belly dancing. The Port Belly Project is the dance company responsible for Shreveport and Bossier City’s blossoming belly dance scene. This beautiful form of dance is slowly starting to change from something unapproachable and risque to a fun way for women to exercise and learn graceful dance sequences. The Port Belly Project’s dance troupe performs regularly and offers a variety of dance classes out of their home base, the Lotus Studio. For a wider array of more traditional styles in Shreveport, Sandy’s Dance Studio offers private and group lessons in Ballroom, Swing, Country Western, Line Dance, Tango, and Salsa.

To keep up with the latest music events, I start by browsing the web. In New Orleans, the best music calendar is the WWOZ Livewire, which you can view online at wwoz.com or listen to, along with a fantastic array of Louisiana music, at the top of each odd hour on 90.7 FM. Clarence’s List of Cajun and Zydeco music is a great resource not only for music but also for Cajun French lessons and dance lessons in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Houma, New Orleans, and surrounding areas. You can find this at cajunradio.org. In north Louisiana, go to shreveportbossierfunguide.com to find out about dance, music, and cultural events. Though this is only a small part of what Louisiana has to offer, it should get you jitterbugging in no time.

Particular About Pianos: Tips on buying the best

Written by: Simonette Berry

The first time I sat at a piano at age nine, I didn’t know a note of music. After six years of ballet lessons and seemingly glorious recitals, my parents forced me to change course and study music, to my utter horror. Didn’t they get it? I was destined to be a famous prima ballerina like Anna Pavlova! I wanted to live forever in a tutu and leap across stages.

Very reluctantly, I began taking piano lessons from a serious, no-nonsense teacher who would crack a pencil across my hands when I missed a single note. Despite this, I eventually grew to relish the daily discipline of practicing scales.

Five years later, at age 14, I was performing piano for Broadway musicals at school with the ULL orchestra, competing statewide, and taking pipe organ lessons at the college with a very demanding, phenomenal university professor. Despite his steadfast goal of sending me to Juilliard for the organ, I jumped ship. The piano was my true love. Besides, it made me popular at parties. I became grateful for that harsh (and wise) parental intervention, as my tutu gathered dust in the closet.

After graduating from high school, I moved to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, armed with dreams and a scholarship to Loyola’s College of Music. I would spend four to six hours a night practicing on the funky old upright pianos on campus. It was during those four years while performing recitals on concert grand pianos that I fell head over heels for Steinways.

Having played every kind of piano imaginable over the past few decades, I still feel there is nothing comparable to a Steinway and Sons piano. In north Louisiana, the best place to find a great Steinway is at Pendley Piano Gallery (5803 Youree Drive; 318-219-1900); in south Louisiana, it is Hall Piano (901 David Drive in Metairie; 
504-733-8863).

When those who play piano professionally are asked which piano is the best one in the world today, the answer is inevitably a Steinway. According to Grammy award-winning Emanuel Ax, one of the best known concert pianists of the 21st century, “When one plays a Steinway, there is a warmth and nobility in the sound that is unequalled by any other instrument.”

Buying a piano is a major investment, much like buying a car. You may want to consider purchasing one that will increase in value rather than devaluate. Steinway pianos, which are made by hand by master craftsmen in limited numbers, are great investments. I have been told that my own, beloved Steinway has tripled in value since it was purchased over 30 years ago.

“They only make around 7,000 Steinways worldwide each year,” says James Pendley, manager of Pendley Piano Gallery. “Each one is made by hand over a period of one year, so none of the pianos are the same. From an investment standpoint, the value of your Steinway will go up.”

There are many things to consider when purchasing a piano, from the space you have in your home to the interest and level of the person who will be playing it. Pendley continues, “For children who are beginning to study piano, most parents purchase a vertical piano for a child who may or may not continue to play, because they are less expensive.” Pendley Piano Gallery offers Steinway verticals (uprights), baby grands, and various styles of grand pianos, from new to used, and they also offer rent-to-own Steinways. Whoever purchases a piano there gets free delivery (which can be costly) and free tuning upon delivery.

A console is the most popular of the vertical pianos. Many piano teachers recommend that young beginners should learn on an acoustic vertical piano, and most will advise strongly against a digital piano. My grandmother, a pianist, treated me to a new console piano for my bedroom when I first started taking lessons, even though we had a baby grand in our home. It proved to be a wise move.

There are four types of vertical pianos, based on height: console, spinet, studio, and upright. I advise against a spinet because of the indirect “drop action” design. Try at least for a console, 42 inches or higher. Of course, the tonal quality of a Steinway grand piano cannot be matched. Larger soundboards and longer strings produce greater volume and resonance of tone.

If you have to move your piano at some point, go with only the best movers, because disasters can happen; I learned that lesson the hard way. I recommend using Kid Gloves Inc. (601 S. Galvez Street in New Orleans, 504-309-6894), which is the largest specialty moving company in this region of the country, with a great reputation. The 23-year-old company runs trucks nationwide. They are piano moving experts, and can also move antiques, fine art, chandeliers, and accessories. You can rest assured that your piano will be moved exactly right, which is a great comfort if you love your piano as much I love mine. Owning a piano and learning to play is a joy that can last a lifetime.

Stairway to Success: The Stairway Shop

Written by: Simonette Berry

Has your house every felt like a scene from The Money Pit? In this movie about a home renovation gone hilariously wrong, a young couple buys a house only to find that what they thought were minor repairs turn into months of renovations. In one iconic scene, the main stairway collapses and Walter and Anna are forced to move things from floor to floor by ladder and pulley. After Katrina, scenes of this nature occurred in thousands of flood-ravaged homes, yet there was no place for New Orleans residents to buy custom stairway products. Everything had to be ordered off the Internet, and if something went wrong, clients had nowhere to turn. Phil Cerminaro of Industrial Products, an industrial supply company, saw the need for a shop that offered a comprehensive service for clients in the market for stairways, complete with a showroom and full-service design and installation. Cerminaro worked fast to open by the end of 2005, meeting the demand of post-Katrina rebuilders. It was a godsend to many New Orleans residents in need of a local service they could trust.

Six years after the storm, the city has rebuilt and the local market revolves around renovation rather than building or rebuilding. Cerminaro’s business has grown with the city’s residents, now offering a turnkey solution for a variety of stairway and railing products. They offer everything from prefab DIY spiral staircase kits to custom stairway design and installation geared toward home and business renovations. The Stairway Shop’s 1000-square-foot showroom allows customers to browse through a wealth of traditional stairways, spiral stairs, attic stairs, library ladders, and a host of railing systems. The Stairway Shop renovates existing staircases to update the look and bring them into code compliance. It’s also common for clients to come to them in need of a fix when a carpenter or contractor has installed a stairway incorrectly. A full-time custom stair builder and installation team are on staff, and customers can buy standard stair parts or have a stairway designed and built to spec. Custom stairs require careful design and planning to adhere to building codes.

The Stairway Shop provides each customer with a unique style to fit their space, while keeping the cost in line with the project budget. “We can either create or have fabricated any type of stairway product for any residence or facility. Our network of craftsmen, stair builders, and factories across the country can supply anything we don’t make in-house. Recently, a family from Ville Platte was building a new home, and they wanted a custom, curved, freestanding wooden staircase. We created it with a combination of oak and iron balusters and had it made by some Amish craftsmen in Ohio. They drove it down here and we installed it,” Cerminaro says.

His team works through each phase of the design, construction, and installation process to ensure a positive result for their clients, which has led to overwhelming positive response and a business that finds success wherever it chooses to go. In addition to using the typical industrial materials, Cerminaro began using reclaimed wood to meet his clients’ needs. “A lot of clients had antique heart pine floors, and they wanted their stairs to match. We use reclaimed wood from local renovation projects. We got our first load of reclaimed heart pine when a space on Canal Street was being gutted and renovated post-Katrina,” he says. “My brother-in-law is a builder, and he had to tear out the walls during the renovation of an old house uptown. They found this beautiful 100-year-old cypress bargeboard beneath the sheetrock, and we got a hold of that and started offering it to our clients.” Eco-friendly and timeless, the reclaimed wood has been a hit with Cerminaro’s clients. Cerminaro recently started a new venture: building furniture out of the re-claimed heart pine and cypress bargeboard. To maximize the skills of his gifted in-shop artisans, Cerminaro asked them to play around with making coffee and dining room tables from the reclaimed wood during their down time. This classic furniture has become another offshoot of Cerminaro’s creative business model.”Now, we’re making dining room tables from 100-year-old cypress,” he says. “We can create anything we put our minds to.”

The Stairway Shop
A Division of Industrial Products
5632 Salmen Street
Harahan, LA 70123
888-243-3339 | 504-734-1315

Building Better: MLM Incorporated

Written by: Simonette Berry

For environmentally friendly kitchen and bathroom design, remodeling, and renovation in Boulder, Co., click here!

If you’re like most New Orleans residents, you or someone you know has a home renovation horror story. From Chinese drywall to carpetbaggers that take off with the cash, this city has seen it all since Katrina. It still seems like a gamble when you’re looking to hire someone to do renovations: will they give you a fair price, get the job done on time, and do it right? At MLM Incorporated, the superb work ethic, superior customer service, competitive rates, quick turnover time, and impressive workmanship will make renovation a surprisingly pleasant experience.

Making changes to your house is a big decision, and MLM Inc. is there for you every step of the way, from picking out the look to putting on that final touch. Is your kitchen in need of an update? Is your flooring tattered and begging for a fresh shine or a new look altogether? Do you want to make that dream of a luxurious shower in your master bath come true? How about that outdoor kitchen or deck you’ve been dreaming of? Owner Machi Medrzycki is emphatic that it’s possible to get the look of your dreams while still staying in your budget. Medrzycki offers competitive pricing with low hourly rates and never an overcharge in sight. No job is too small or big for Medrzycki, who jumps on each task with a positive, friendly attitude.

“I really enjoy what I do,” says Medrzycki. “There is nothing better then a huge smile on my client’s face after performing our service and a simple ‘thank you, great job!’ I enjoy designing and coming up with bold ideas. I treat it more like a hobby rather than a job, so essentially I never work.”

Before he came to New Orleans, Medrzycki worked for a company in Florida for many years doing high-end construction in the Daytona Beach/Orlando area. “I’ve done everything from custom renovations of luxury condos to single family homes. In 2005, I established my own company and have been growing ever since.” Medrzycki, along with COO Nick Udych, built the company from the ground up. “Nick has been with us from the beginning and has played a big role in building this company,” Medrzycki says.

The devastation left by Hurricane Katrina gave MLM Inc. their first boost in business and sped up the growing process. “MLM Inc. contributed to rebuilding of the city, which in its turn helped us to establish roots in the New Orleans area. Our excellent work ethic and outstanding customer service helped us acquire great commercial and residential accounts, such as Red Wing Shoe Stores, Stirling Properties, and Register Real Estate. Bathroom and kitchen design and remodeling became the core of our operation in the last 24 months,” he says.

“The hottest items with clients right now are bathrooms and kitchens. The spaces we design are one of a kind, very unique. We also work with interior designers, but our spaces are one of a kind!” says Medrzycki.

MLM Inc. currently offers a large spectrum of services: residential and commercial maintenance services (Register Real Estate, Keller Williams, Century 21), residential and commercial multifamily renovations (Esplanade at City Park; Diamond Lakes, Castlebrook, Palm Isle, and Audubon Pointe apartments), REO preservation services, and the newest venture that was added in 2011, real estate investments and development, which grew more than 50 percent in the first year.

“I want clients to experience that great design ideas can be performed without breaking the bank. I have personally been doing custom design bathrooms and kitchens for about ten years now. The key to our success is in creating spaces that look high-end and stay on the budget at the same time,” says Medrzycki.

Medrzycki doesn’t endorse any specific products, but he enjoys using natural stone and glass combinations in bathrooms, large mirrors, open space, and simple, elegant designs. He can design in any style and accommodate any request a client might have.

“We are trying to develop our bathroom and kitchen design and remodeling division even more in 2012,” Medrzycki reveals. “We have a huge amount of quote requests via our website. My goal this year is to perform six to eight projects per month so we can lower the price even more for our clients based on company work volume. As of right now, we have a competitive price structure, but everyone loves to have even more savings.” ✦

MLM Inc.
3500 N. Causeway Blvd., Ste. 160
985-788-1541
Metairie, LA
mlm-inc.com

 

A Decade of Design: Stafford Tile

Written by: Simonette Berry

“You remember your struggles, the things you work the hardest for in life,” says Peggy Stafford, owner and founder of Stafford Tile. A fearless entrepreneur, she dared to dream big and got something even bigger in return. Her mission was to bring a world-class selection of tile and stone products to Louisiana; what she received was a host of meaningful relationships with staff members and clients and a chance to reestablish her roots. What started as a tiny shop on Oak Street in New Orleans is now a Louisiana icon, exclusively distributing several nationally recognized product lines and offering a dizzying selection of tile, stone, glass, and ceramic products. Architects, designers, homeowners, contractors, and developers fill the gleaming showrooms of Stafford’s two locations, one a bustling Magazine Street staple, and the other, the newest hot spot in Baton Rouge’s Southdowns Village.

A Louisiana native and graduate of Newcomb College at Tulane, Stafford moved to Boulder, Colorado, after college and got her start working in a small tile shop. By the 1990s, she had a successful interior design business that specialized in “finish” work for high-end residences. “At that time, contractors and homeowners would send me to San Francisco to find tile and stone for their projects. Even Denver did not have the selection of tile products that I was looking for in my designs. The higher-end tile and stone showrooms of San Francisco were my stomping grounds,” she says.

Though Stafford was happy and successful in Boulder, she realized how much she missed the vibrancy and cultural variety of New Orleans when she traveled to Mexico to build a house. The lively Latinos reminded her of the southern and Caribbean roots of her early years. She was deeply inspired, and soon all the signs started pointing to a new business venture in the South. “I decided to leave my comfortable, well-established business in Boulder and return home to start a new endeavor. I drove a U-Haul truck, the trailer packed with samples, by myself from Boulder to New Orleans. When I passed through Houston, I finalized my contract with Walker Zanger to distribute their products along with my own.” Once home, Stafford secured a location on the residential end of Oak Street, “the side you need a road map to get to,” she laughs. The first incarnation of Stafford Tile and Stone was barely 700 square feet and opened in the rough days following 9-11. “It was crowded if we had more than one customer. When I finally got two other employees, we really had to squeeze together. If someone made a phone call, they had to talk in the corner of the building so as not to disturb the rest of us.”

Two years after setting up shop, Stafford Tile had fast outgrown its tiny abode. Stafford was driving in a downpour one day when she saw a “For Rent” sign in the window of a corner shop on Magazine Street, a prime location. She saw the space that day and felt like she had hit the jackpot. From there, the business flourished as Stafford gathered an expert staff, an ever-growing client base, and an impressive portfolio. “After Katrina, we went through a lot with our clients. Helping someone rebuild their kitchen or their bathroom is a very personal thing. Home is where the heart is,” she says. After rebounding from the storm, a Baton Rouge location was the next step in 2008. By 2010, that store outgrew its small confines and was moved to a larger location in Southdowns Village, where sales promptly doubled.

“I call the staff my little rock stars,” she giggles. “They are what make me prevail. All of the salespeople have design degrees. Heather Trahan and Meredith Grover in New Orleans have been working with me for over seven years, and Kimberly Guillot and Daniel Baer in Baton Rouge are a fantastic addition to the team. We have so much collective experience that there’s nothing we can’t do. We could handle twice the workload of what we have now, easily. We can take a pattern from a dress, piece of stationery, a rug pattern, anything, and turn it into a mosaic. We look to all sorts of sources for inspiration, and we have fun working with products from all around the world.” “Our specialty has become creating the most fantastic spaces that our budget will permit. We love to work with custom mosaics and designs, but those are not our everyday work. We do lots of commercial projects as well,” she says. Stafford most recently completed the pool for the Monteleone Hotel and has also done hotels in Curacao and Aruba.

“Our numbers have grown in leaps and bounds, and I cannot thank the Louisiana community enough for the support we have received over the last 10 years. As I have been reviewing my client list, I am amazed at how many people we have touched with our products over the years. It is a real treat to think that these customers have such beautiful things in their houses, gardens, and pools, and I know how much enjoyment they get from our designs,” she says. To show their appreciation for Louisiana’s loyal support and service, Stafford Tile is throwing a small cocktail party at Preservation Hall to thank their vendors, followed by a larger customer appreciation party the following night, where Treme brass band will perform. “I’m just so happy to be a part of this city again,” she says. “When I was on my way back to New Orleans from Boulder, interviewing with Walter Zanger with my U-Haul truck in the parking lot, they asked me why they should sign on with me. I told them, ‘Because I can spell and pronounce Tchoupitoulas correctly, and I know what it means.’ They didn’t understand, but I did.” Stafford knows what it means to miss New Orleans.

Stafford Tile
5234 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
504-895-5000

Southdowns Village
4269 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
225-925-1233
staffordtile.com

The Corbel: Something old, Something new

Written by: Simonette Berry

“We were doing green before green was cool,” says Don Charlet, co-owner of the Corbel. “We do it because old things have this character, beauty, and depth that new products don’t. It’s about an appreciation for the originality and history that come with old things, but it also happens to go hand in hand with being eco-conscious.” Don and his wife Susan focus intently on what their customers need in the home building and renovation process. The Corbel employs builders, designers, and artisans who exist in symbiosis, creating custom furniture, lighting, ceiling beam, and wood design for homes. They make architectural salvage and home renovation into an exciting creative process, continuously discovering new niches in the market and uses for their timeless products.

Since the Corbel’s inception in 2004, the business has grown into an 11,000-square-foot store offering a dizzying array of interior accents, flooring, and architectural features. The Corbel is best known for its heart pine flooring, bead board, refurbished furniture, salvaged doors, and great holiday gift items. Don also continues to run his construction company, Charlet Brothers Southern Design and Construction. Perhaps because the nature of their business is finding new purpose for old things, the Charlets’ business model is able to flourish in constant creative flux. With each new project, new energy and life floods into that area of the store.

“Our big new item is imported antique doors. We noticed over the last several years that, whether clients are renovating or building a new home, architects tend to specify 8-foot-tall doors in their plans. In the salvage business, it’s rare to find an 8-foot domestic door, so most people in the area either have to get new doors made or can only find a few odd old doors to fit their home. It’s even harder to find a matching set in that size, because doors in Louisiana weren’t built that way 100 years ago. They were 6 or 7 feet, but rarely 8.”

A solution to this conundrum is news in south Louisiana. The nearest spot that was a sure bet for 8-foot salvaged doors was Dallas, TX, but now the Charlets have brought a new resource to our back door. “We found the answer in France and Belgium,” explains Don. “Most of the salvaged doors there are 7 ½-8 ½ feet in height. Now I’m receiving half a container of 100 to 200-year-old European doors every two months. The character of these doors lends itself to the architecture here. We’re the only place in Louisiana that gets these, and we have craftsmen that can patch and square the doors as well as create custom door frames to match them.”

“I only have so much room here—enough for about 750 doors. When two or three people come and buy 20 or 30 doors each, it makes a big dent. Most people want doors that all match, and it’s hard to do, but we do receive a few collections of matching doors within each shipment. We’ve been asking people to follow us on Facebook to see when the next shipment is, so that they can come and have first pick. This change is a real jewel, and people know it.”

On a local and national basis, the Corbel is still reclaiming old stores and homes. The Corbel is famous for their selection of antique beams and flooring from around the country, but they’re also making a name for themselves in refurbished antique furniture. The quality of their unusual finds draws customers with each new shipment.

“We have pickers that go around the United States. In addition to old homes, they often find things in old warehouses; industrial iron tool bases and old pieces of antique tools. We refurbish them and build pieces of furniture around them,” he says. For example, a custom island the Corbel built for a client’s kitchen includes a large iron tool base salvaged from a manufacturing center. An antique cypress board now sits on the tool base, creating a charming kitchen workspace.

“Whenever we let people know we’ve received a shipment of these antique tools, they come over. They say, ‘Make me an 8-foot dining room table out of that piece.’ What they get is a real piece of history put together in a new way with several one-of-a-kind elements. No one else will ever have a piece like that. Also, when you look at the cost of tables at other places, it’s the same or sometimes less, since often we get these bases for a low cost that we can pass on to the customers. We also custom design everything in-house; everything from islands to coffee tables.”

“All these things marry into one another,” says Don. “It’s all part of the symbiotic nature of what’s going on here. We focus on the real needs of people during the home building and renovation process, because we know how it is to build a home. If someone comes to the Corbel looking for antique heart pine beams, they just came to someone who not only has the material, but the knowledge and capability to do the work and design the space.” You can find the Charlet Brothers Southern Design and Construction office in the Corbel store, ready to provide you with an experienced, professional construction team as well as an architect, should you need one. “We understand the aesthetics of old buildings. We know the historically accurate way to add and change things in these homes. The men I have working for me are true craftsmen.”

Don’s childhood primed him in an unusual way, not only for appreciating the beauty of old things, but also for dealing with people under stress. “I grew up in a funeral home. My grandfather and his brother started Charlet Funeral Home in 1947, and the family lived in a complex in the back of the home. It was a big mansion with incredible old wood, shutters, and old glass. It needed a lot of repair, which I learned how to do alongside my dad.” Don grew up to become a licensed funeral director, where he quickly learned how to navigate the troubled waters of emotionally-charged customer relations. “A funeral is a time when people feel both emotionally and financially vulnerable. They’re sensitive, and they don’t always think logically. They tend to get mad, but most of the time they’re not really mad at you. You’ve got to have thick skin. A similar phenomenon happens in construction. When someone is renovating their home, they’re spending more money than they’ve ever spent in their lives, doing something they don’t know how to do, and they’re scared, though they don’t want to admit it. Short of a funeral, I’ve never experienced more volatile interpersonal reactions, but it’s really just human nature.”

As clients quickly discover, no home renovation project is ever perfect. When this happens, it helps to keep a cool head, something Don learned to do long ago. Don’s clients have told him that even when they were mad about things that went wrong, they appreciated his willingness to listen and calmly solve the problem at hand. “Though some people think it’s odd to have grown up this way, it’s where a lot of my gifts came from: my appreciation for architecture and my knack for knowing how to give people what they need. There’s always a purpose. God had me there for a reason, and he’s kept me here for a reason.”

The Corbel
911 Highway 61
Jackson, LA 70748
225-654-0130
thecorbel.com

Making Space: Ruffino Custom Closets

Written by: Simonette Berry
What are you always trying to find? Hint: There’s never enough of it. “Time” is probably your first answer, followed by another biggie, “space.” If only we had the time and energy to make the spaces around us exactly how we want them to be””beautiful, unique, and useful. Thankfully, Ruffino Custom Closets offers a rare custom option in a world of prefab space-makers. Partners Christian Russell and Matt Ruffino have opened the door to a myriad of creative options that just aren’t possible with factory made products. “We help people organize their lives,” says Russell. “We know how to maximize any space so you can get the most out of it.” “We’re a local company that manufactures our product from beginning to end,” says Russell. “This is not a closet in a box. Each one is custom tailored to fit the client’s needs and desires. We want to make the things they do every day easier and make a place for everything in their lives, so they can spend more time doing what they like to do. We want to facilitate new growth as well, so whenever they get new things, they have a spot for them.”

Russell and Ruffino joined forces to create Ruffino Custom Closets not long after Hurricane Katrina. “After Katrina, things exploded in our business, especially in the wire shelving department. People were buying a lot of wire shelving at first as they were renovating, just so they would have a place to put things as they got them back.” After the first year of post-K rebuilding, Russell saw the market trending slowly away from strictly utilitarian shelving and towards higher-end custom jobs.

“I thought we could make the product better in house than any manufacturer could, and pass the savings along to our customers, too. I convinced Matt that we needed to change with the market and should get the equipment to do so. Four years ago, we made the jump,” he says. “The workmanship, the functionality, and the design quality have improved tenfold since then. We are the only company in this region that does truly custom closets with fully customizable, in-house work.”

“When we bought the equipment, there was a learning curve for a month or so. Neither my partner nor I had experience with these machines. We were so lucky to have a mentor, Wilson McGuire, who took pity on us neophytes. He took us under his wing and taught us a tremendous amount. He has been in the cabinetmaking business for 35 years, so he knew the process in and out.”

“Now, three and one-half years later, we’re doing extraordinary jobs we’d never have dreamed of doing if we couldn’t create them ourselves. Nothing can really catch Matt and me off guard, because now we’re able to be involved every step of the way.”

Being thrown into the world of custom-made closets has allowed Russell and Ruffino to attract a whole new category of clientele. “We handle everything from the smallest, most meager jobs to the huge $35,000 luxury walk-ins. Clients usually have a wish list. We’re lucky enough to draw from a wide variety of specialized vendors. We’re able to do so much with accessories that we can make any dream a reality. We’re unique in that aspect. We can get specialty doors, custom dovetailed drawers, hardware, baskets, rods, and any type of organizational accessory. We do as much as we can locally. We feel really strongly about that. Why send business out of state when we can help our local economy?”

“A lot of people these days are trying to make their bedrooms larger by eliminating furniture like armoires and chests of drawers. Ideally, they should be able to go into their closet, get dressed, and then have more space in the bedroom to do what they want and go about their day,” he says. Russell and Ruffino also work with many customers building or renovating their master suites. “We meet with them on a preliminary basis and do a consultation to figure out how much room they need to accomplish what they envision. Then, they go back to their contractor and work up the blueprints, and when it’s time, we’ll come back and create the closet. A lot of clients now want functional islands in their closets, for example, and you need a certain amount of space in order to have one.”

“These days, I see a lot of people wanting to put shelves and drawers in their closets. Women especially love shoe shelves. Depending on the height of the ceiling, we can also add a third tier of hanging space up high. We offer an automatic wardrobe lift that people just love; you pull it down and it lifts back up by itself when you want it to.”

“Most of the closets we do are straightforward, but sometimes we get wild ones. One, we called the ‘crazy shoe closet’. A woman on the Northshore had a beautiful collection of about 400 pairs of shoes. We made a smaller closet within her large walk-in with shoes that went three rows back. It looked great and it was convenient; she loved it.” Another fun one was a man who had a nice condo downtown; he wanted glass on all his drawer fronts so he could see what was inside of them. We really enjoy designing and creating out-of-the-box ideas.”

“We stand on our integrity and gain the customers trust by making them happy with our work; we stand by what we do. We’re not going to promise you the world, but we deliver what we know we can do very well. We have the loyalty of our clientele because of that.”

Ruffino Custom Closets
110 Campbell Blvd # 1B
Mandeville, LA
(985) 809-7623
ruffinocustomclosets.com

A Personal Touch: Inessa Stewart’s Antiques and Interiors

Written by: Simonette Berry
Inessa Stewart is a rare gem in the antique world. It’s unusual to find a business owner who personally selects each piece of merchandise, especially for an antique store. It’s common practice in the antique world to send out “buyers” to do the legwork or to buy online, but Inessa insists on keeping a personal touch. After 20 years of experience and refinement, that personal touch has made her business wildly successful. She and her husband and business partner John Stewart still personally select each piece that fills their 55,000 square feet of showrooms over three locations across Louisiana and Texas. They are now one of the largest importers of European antiques in the country.

“I handpick each piece as if I were buying it for my own home,” says Inessa. “Our whole house is done with nothing but antiques, and I always consider if what I’m buying would be something I’d want to live with and display in my own space.” Inessa travels to Europe every few months to bring home a variety of fine French, French Country, and Italian antiques. She also carries Contintental antiques and specializes in classic décor, offering antique and reproduction home furniture, accessories, art, mirrors, lighting, culinary antiques, and architectural elements. The large showrooms in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Dallas and Plano, Texas, bustle with activity; inventory moves fast and new containers come to each store two or three times a month. Customers often spend years slowly building their collections through Inessa’s inspiring cache. “I think it’s wonderful to integrate antiques into today’s interiors. You can mix and match with modern décor, or fill your house with special pieces as you find them. We are always excited when we reach a client before they’ve begun a home renovation or new construction plan. I grew up in Europe, and we didn’t throw things away. We used our furniture for generations, and my mother taught me to love old pieces. My mother and I antiqued in the 70s, before it was in vogue here. It was just something we did on the weekends, but for me it became a lifelong passion,” she says.

Though she sells the beauty of the old world, Inessa has modified her business to complement modern tastes. What started as a mom and pop antique store 20 years ago has blossomed into a booming business with a busy website and an international client base. “Anyone who owns a business knows you’re either growing or you’re dying. Our business model is adaptive, constantly changing and expanding to reflect the market trends. We keep our ears to the ground,” she explains.

“Adapting antiques to a modern lifestyle is our trademark,” Inessa says. “People often want tables to be bigger, beds to be king sized, buffets and armoires turned into entertainment centers.” A score of expert craftsmen trained in the old and new world techniques are on hand to transform any antique into a modern luxury. “It’s attracted a lot of the younger generation. One thing we do that’s become popular these days is modernizing pieces with media. For example, we can adapt a buffet so that, at the push of a button, a plasma screen television quietly rises up from the top. It’s great because you can enjoy having something modern inside while the outside shell is a beautiful antique.”

“People are often surprised at how reasonable our prices are. They think that we’ll charge more because we’re a big company, but I can never stress enough how that’s not true. We ship at such a volume that we can pass the savings on to our customers,” she says. “We even have a part of the business that is devoted to bargains””on the website it’s called Antique Website Sale; in the showrooms we call it the Designer Outlet. A lot of pieces get reduced because we like to move them quickly to make room for incoming containers, so there’s always a sale going on.”

One of the Stewarts’ most successful tools is their website, a unique blend of personal service, accessibility, history, and real-time sales. It features a comprehensive catalog of antiques and home décor, educational information about antique genres and fodder for the history buffs, the latest scoop on market trends, updates about what’s going on at each location, and two blogs that Inessa and John update weekly. “We were one of the first antique stores to have a website, and it’s become an enormously useful tool. We’ve built a large client base on our web presence alone. The site is updated every day, several times a day, by our website team. It’s not something we outsource; I feel it’s important to do this in-house. If people can’t come to the store, they still get personal service and can access us 24/7.”

A few years ago, Inessa and John added the two blogs (“Antique Living” and “Mirroring History”) to interact with customers and keep them updated on the latest trends, shipments, and events. They even feature an “Antique of the Week,” usually a piece they find intriguing, unusual, or special in some way. Inessa explains, “Through the blogs, we’re able to share new ideas and interact with the customers. It’s a great way to connect.”

“Owning a business is like owning a living, breathing thing,” Inessa says. “We’ve been having fun with it, embracing the technology and growing with it. The members of our teams in the States and in Europe are a daily inspiration. But most of all, our clients inspire us. We enjoy creating beauty and bringing excitement to people’s homes. It’s a wonderful thing to do.”

Inessa Stewart’s Antiques and Interiors
225-368-8600· 5330 Bluebonnet Rd, Baton Rouge, LA
972-378-5100· 5800 Legacy, Ste C-4, Plano, TX
214-742-5800· 1643 Dragon at Oak Lawn, Dallas, TX

The Hidden Treasure of Old Metairie: Sister’s Antiques

Written by: Simonette Berry

At first glance, Sister’s Antiques looks like just another tiny shop tucked away in the heart of Old Metairie. The diminutive exterior of Kathy Collins’ quaint double shotgun storefront is deceiving; once over the threshold, customers discover 12 large rooms filled with antiques and interior décor accessories. After a few hours of getting lost in the artful maze of vignettes, set up naturally as if in a home environment, customers discover what a treasure the Sister’s Antiques collection is. “The outside is deceiving. Once I get customers through the door, they’re surprised by how big the store is and the quality and variety of the pieces I carry. After they’ve come once, they come back again and again,” says Collins.

Collins remembers when her neighbor introduced her to the joys of antiquing when she was a tot. “I loved the hunt! Estate sales, auctions, little places you find by the side of the road; it’s still so exciting to me. You never know what you’re going to come across, and more often than not, there’s a good story to go along with it,” she says. Collins grew up to become a nurse and only antiqued on the weekends, until 17 years ago, when she and her sister Kim decided to open Sister’s Antiques. Collins kept her nursing job and Kim had another job as well, so they managed the store in shifts. After three years, Kim went on to pursue another venture, but Collins felt she had found her calling at last. She left the nursing profession to manage Sister’s Antiques full time, and she hasn’t looked back since.

“Most of my things are from Louisiana. I specialize in furniture from the 1930s. I think it’s popular not only because it’s beautifully made, but because a lot of people like to have pieces that they remember their parents or grandparents having. It reminds them of their childhood. This furniture has an elegance to it. Old armoires done in rich mahogany, marble-top buffets, sideboards, dressers, chests, classic old Louisiana furniture. I also get a lot of Duncan Phyfe and Eastlake furniture, pieces from the early 1900s,” Collins says. Sister’s Antiques is also known for their interior décor accent items, glassware, and vintage jewelry collection.

“I have a real variety in my inventory here,” she says. “There’s always something new and different.” The 12 showrooms of Sister’s Antiques are filled to the brim with vintage treasures. Whether you’re looking for French Country, English, Primitive, or Fine American Made Furniture, Sister’s has the right thing for that space you’ve been longing to fill. Sister’s Antiques also carries a selection of vintage outdoor garden elements and patio items.

“I get pieces from all over. I have several people who are always on the road, scouting for me. One of my best sources is a retired couple from Morgan City who go all over the state to these little auctions. I also go to a lot of estate sales and auctions myself,” she says. Collins enjoys the hunt, but she also appreciates the variety that comes with a staff of experienced buyers. Her scouts traverse the highways and winding back roads to find special items with enough character to make the cut for the Sister’s Antiques collection. Shipments come in every two to three weeks, and merchandise turns over quickly. Collins especially enjoys coming across items from long-forgotten local furniture makers. “There were some great cabinetmakers in Louisiana that made beautiful quality furniture. It’s a treat to find remnants of the trade still in circulation.”

The holiday season brings a festive atmosphere to Sister’s Antiques. “My customers tell me it feels homey in here during the holidays. We do an open house the first week of December, with prizes and promotional sales. It’s a great place to come for gifts,” she says. “You never know what you might find that will be perfect for someone on your list.”

The holiday season is a time for storytelling and reflection, and there’s no better place to come for stories than Sister’s Antiques. “The stories are my favorite part,” says Collins. “When people come in, I get to hear how they grew up, or what a certain piece reminds them of. I, in turn, have a story to share with them. I try to find out the history behind each piece””that’s what makes antiquing exciting. Each piece is your own little piece of history.”

Sister’s Antiques
504-828-6701
114 Codifer Blvd, Metairie, LA
sistersantiques.biz

Inside the Interiors of Ty Larkins

Written by: Simonette Berry

Award-winning interior designer Ty Larkins is a rising star in the Louisiana interior design community. Looking at his portfolio, you’d never guess he was arguing cases in the courtroom instead of drafting designs in the studio just a few short years ago. The jump from attorney to interior designer is quite a long way, but for someone who sees each project as a test of his ingenuity, it came naturally.

For as long as Larkins can remember, he’s been told he has “good taste.” His first home, a small 1,600-square-foot cottage, got rave reviews from visitors, and soon friends were bringing their friends over to get inspiration. This home was later featured in the 2002 issue of City Social magazine, which to Larkins was a huge validation for his budding design sensibilities. “My first projects involved decorating for friends and associates. My advice was sought out, though I had never advertised myself as an interior decorator,” he says.

“Although almost everyone realized I was an attorney, it got to the point where I was being sought out for design advice as much as I was for legal consultation! I also learned a lot when I got into real estate investing. I bought fixer uppers that required extensive renovation along with the myriad of design decisions required to be made with these types of endeavors. Over the years, I slowly gained confidence and knowledge about architecture, construction, reading blueprints, and contracting. I read everything I could get my hands on related to interior design, space planning, and drafting. Eventually, this led to designing spec houses from the ground up.” Larkins “coming out moment,” as he jokingly calls it, occurred as a result of a project he had been hired to work on for some clients living in Chicago. They had been selected by the HGTV network to participate in a reality show called Dream House, which chronicled the interior design and building of their dream home. “As their interior designer, I made numerous appearances on this show. The show aired for 13 weeks. I guess this was the first time I officially considered myself something other than an attorney,” he laughs. Since his appearance on HGTV, Larkins’ work has been in demand and in the spotlight, garnering national attention.

Larkins made his official debut by starting his own design business in 2006. In 2009, he opened a retail showroom and design studio; and he had another huge break when House Beautiful magazine published a spread on his current home in their December 2009 issue. “My primary reason for opening up the design showroom was to illustrate my design aesthetic and preferences to a larger audience who may not have been familiar with my approach. It was also to establish a place where people could shop for quality, carefully selected furniture, art, and accessories,” he explains.

Larkins doesn’t advocate any particular style, though he does enjoy working with traditional architecture decorated in a modern 21st-century kind of way. “I try never to make it about me and my personal preferences. I believe that an individual’s “tastes”—which can loosely be defined as what one responds to subjectively, primarily derived from experiential and visual associations, both positive and negative—should ultimately inform the design of the environment they are going to feel happy living in.” In spaces where one spends the majority of their time, like bedrooms, family rooms, and kitchens, Larkins advocates a more neutral, restrained environment that doesn’t involve a lot of strong color. “Neutral spaces are simply more restful over long periods of time. You don’t tire of them as quickly. On the other hand, in spaces only used occasionally, like dining rooms and powder rooms or pass-through zones like foyers, I often do designs that are bold, memorable, and daring.”

Larkins’ design process with new clients involves learning as much as he can about what they respond to, both negatively and positively. He uses this information to create a design plan which reflects those preferences, but only up to a point. “I would suggest that although one’s personal tastes should be reflected in their own homes, it should not be applied without barriers or a disregard for what is appropriate. After all, in the same way one might have their own unique fashion style in their dress, it would be inappropriate to wear your pajamas to a job interview. The same can be said regarding the appropriateness of applying certain design styles to certain types of conditions. For instance, most will agree that the design style appropriate for an urban loft is quite different from the style befitting a cottage at the beach. Ultimately, my job as a design consultant is to use sound judgment, my sense of scale, color, and light to successfully bring together all the client’s preferences into a seamless cohesive whole.”

“Ever since childhood, I have been a creative person. That creativity eventually brought me to the field of interior design, but it didn’t happen overnight. Although I was not unhappy as an attorney, it was not my life’s passion. I believe we all have a gift or the ability to be extraordinary at something. It was time to see where my aptitude for creativity would lead me,” Larkins says. “Looking back on it, I have always had the ability to bring out the hidden beauty in something that had underlying potential.” Larkins has realized the potential creativity in both his life and art and is now happily at work with his design team on major home projects in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Fort Worth, Texas.

1948 Government Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
225-372-2821
tylarkins.com

The Road Less Traveled: Designer’s Showroom

Written by: Simonette Berry

While most European antique buyers are shopping in the high-traffic Parisian markets, Randy Williamson and Richard Clements of Designer’s Showroom are leaving dust trails in early morning light down the winding roads of the French and Belgian countryside. During a typical buying trip, they wake before dawn and work 12- to 16-hour days. They find their best pieces in small towns among the dusty bric-a-brac of shops, street fairs, personal storehouses, and farmhouses, pieces that have been tucked away sometimes for centuries. The trick, they say, is traveling by box truck; this way, they don’t have to pay exorbitant shipping costs to transport their treasures.

“We do more than most buyers ever will. We get our hands dirty, we get lost down dirt roads in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes we have to literally step over cow pies and go into barns at midnight with flashlights, but it’s worth every second of it,” says Randy. “We’re dealing in three different languages, so it’s always an adventure. We have a guide that serves as an interpreter at times, but we can communicate well enough. We know enough to know when they’re talking about us,” he chuckles.

Randy learned the ropes from his parents, who started the tradition of these off-road adventures. When they retired, they passed the legacy on to Randy, his brother Guy Williamson, and sister Sherri Pascal. The Williamsons’ 13,000-square-foot showroom in Shreveport houses designer furniture, fabric, and interior accents, but their niche is French antiques and antique lighting fixtures.

Designer’s Showroom is an interior design firm as well, with five certified interior designers on staff. Richard Clements, a buyer and Randy’s partner in crime on trips, is one of these designers. “We do design work all over the world,” he says. “We just finished projects in Tuscany, Dubai, and on the upper East Coast. We also do a lot of work in the Midwest, in Aspen and Vail, and a lot of luxury second homes in Florida.”

“We have all the major manufacturers in stock and we have the ability to do anything custom. We do design work, high-end fabrics, and a lot of custom furniture, but there are a lot of firms out there that do that, too. We have fabrics from all over the world, and access to the line that does fabric for today’s royal families and the papal line. The antique lighting and French and Belgian antiques are kind of our niche, though,” Richard says.

Designer’s Showroom has evolved year after year to reflect the latest trends, and over the past 55 years they’ve been in business, some trends have come full circle. “Tastes change, colors and finishes change, the scale of furniture changes, but we have evolved with the market. Things that were popular 30 years ago are back today. The mutation of color that was used in the 60s and 70s is popular again, too. Houses are larger than ever before now, and the formality has left. People want things that are more functional, livable.”

Designer’s Showroom specializes in 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th-century lighting elements in iron, bronze, brass, and crystal, but on buying trips, they look for any items that will generate interest. “Recently I found a pair of six-foot-tall linen panels hand-painted with the Stations of the Cross, dated 1825. They were hanging in a barn. We bought them, had them stretched on canvas and framed, and we sold them both within the first week. One of the buyers cried when she first saw the piece, it was so powerful for her.”

Randy and Richard focus on French pieces, but they find many Italian and English items along the way. They buy regularly from the hunting chateaus in northern France, and often stumble upon priceless architectural pieces from the remainders of 15th- and 16th-century churches that were destroyed in WWI. The highest point of a battlefield was normally the church steeple, so soldiers used them as lookout points. Many of the churches were destroyed. Soldiers and townspeople salvaged what they could from the ruins. “We’ve gotten a lot of Gothic bronze light fixtures from Catholic orphanages, convents, churches, and monasteries. At any given time, we stock 100, sometimes 130 antique fixtures. Some were made to hold candles, and others are gas or early electrical fixtures. Each one is unique. We’ve placed these all over the world.” “Sometimes it goes like this: we have an appointment at five pm with a guy in southern Belgium. That guy calls his friend who has a consignment storage two miles down the road, and he tips off his friend five miles down the road, and on it goes; so they’re literally lining up when we get there. We go from place to place to place until three in the morning sometimes, following a trail. We travel 75 miles down a dead-end road sometimes, but it just takes one piece to make the trip special.”

“Normally this is hard to do because you can’t take it with you, but we can. Shipping costs are so much lower this way, and we can then pass these low costs on to our customers. Logistically, the cost of picking up that one piece from a little village, and getting it to Paris would be extravagant. The pieces we bring back are one of a kind. Our clients and their lifestyles are not cookie-cutter either, and that’s why they gravitate towards these pieces. Sometimes we do as many as five or six fixtures in a given home because they just fall in love with them. You can’t just walk into a new lighting store and see what we have here. There are so many wonderful stories behind these things; it makes them almost like part of the family after they’re installed.”

“It’s a fun job. It’s fun to sell-it’s probably more fun to buy. Again, we’re really not selling, we’re placing. We do a tremendous amount of central and south Louisiana business because we can pass these prices on, and we’re known for our value and unique inventory,” Richard says. “I often tell my clients that we have an ulterior motive; the quicker we sell, the quicker we get to go back!”

A Magazine Street Marvel: Floor and Decor Design Center

Written by: Simonette Berry

Floor and Decor has taken the home improvement market by storm, creating a whole new way to shop and design for customers, designers, and contractors. By cutting out the middleman, Floor and Decor is able to offer unheard of prices and unmatched selection. Since the first outlet opened in Atlanta in 2001, they have grown to more than 28 retail locations across the nation and changed the way customers shop for flooring and cabinetry. The newest location, which has recently opened on Magazine Street in the heart of the Uptown New Orleans shopping district, has caused quite a sensation.

Patrick Levy, the general manager of the new Floor and Decor Design Center on Magazine Street, explains. “Floor and Decor has revolutionized the way customers buy hard flooring products for the home. We have more choices than the big-box stores, and we offer them for less than what you would find at a designer showroom. We also have unrivaled customer service. It’s the best of both worlds.”

“We opened our big retail store in Gretna next to Academy Sports last year and business really took off. People love our concept, our prices, and our customer-oriented shopping experience. So we decided to open a design center on the Eastbank to make the process even easier for customers and designers. Our Magazine Street showroom offers the same low prices and product selection as our large Gretna Outlet Store but offers more ideas and inspiration like a traditional designer showroom. You can’t go wrong at either of our stores.”

“We designed this location with the Magazine Street experience in mind. The customers in this area are used to businesses going the extra mile. A lot of shops in this area are unique, hands-on, and customer service oriented, so we knew we would fit right into the neighborhood. We found a location at 2801 Magazine Street on the corner of Washington, across from Sake Cafe and next to Starbucks.”

The Magazine Street Designer Outlet is an inviting storefront with large windows and an open floor plan, where thousands of colorful samples are easy to flip through. The store was structured to complement the architectural themes from which many of the historic homes in the Garden District were originally designed, and there are several full bathroom and kitchen displays demonstrating how popular flooring and backsplash combinations might work together. At various spots around the store, design stations are set up for customers, designers, and contractors who need a place to work. Coffee and Wifi are free. In one corner, a couple pours over some blueprints on their laptop with an interior designer; they are surrounded by tile samples, paint swatches, and sketches. At another workstation, a woman creates a lovely sunburst mosaic design in small, diamond-shaped gold and red tiles, making notes as she completes each section.

“I encourage people to come in and take advantage of our free in-house design services; we have three designers on staff that do consultations and go out to our customers’ homes. Customers can also bring their own designers,” Levy says. “We know how stressful the process is. We just want to make it an easier, more enjoyable experience. If you need a designer, we can help you. If you need a place to work, spread out here. If you need to take something home, we have samples available for you to take home. What we offer is a huge selection that will take care of all of your flooring and cabinet needs. Best of all, everything is in stock.”

Have you ever bought something for your home, only to take it home and realize it isn’t quite right? Floor and Decor has built their business around concerns such as these, excelling in customer service where other companies fall short. “In most flooring stores you go in and pick out a piece of flooring; then they have to order it. If it’s not what you like, then you are either stuck with it or have to pay a hefty restocking fee to return it. Not us,” says Levy. All items on display are in stock and ready to go, so you won’t have to wait weeks for them to be shipped to the store. You can also exchange them for no extra cost—no restocking fees, no waiting weeks for another package from the supplier.

“Floor and Decor carries slate, travertine, marble, onyx, wood, laminate, glass tiles, ceramic, porcelain, and cabinets. We have green items like bamboo, cork, and reclaimed antique heart pine. We have one of the largest in-stock selections of stone mosaics and decoratives I’ve ever seen. The Carrara White line alone is impressive, with over 40 different shapes and sizes of Carrara Marble,” he says.

“It’s a more convenient shopping experience, a more inspiring shopping experience, and a more rewarding shopping experience. That’s the goal of each of our locations, and it will be the goal of our future locations as well,” Levy says. Come by a Floor and Decor location today and experience the difference for yourself.

Floor and Decor Designer’s Outlet
2801 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA
504.891.3005

Floor and Decor
Westside Shopping Center
Gretna, LA
504.361.0501