Tag Archives: remodeling

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

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

 

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