Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Have Wet Saw, Will Travel

My brother owns his own company. If you asked him what he does, he’d probably say “I’m a tile guy.”

He’s more than a “tile guy”. He’s a tile genius. A master. An arteeest.

He’s been in business for over twenty years (a span in which I’ve probably had about twenty jobs), one that he built from nothing, scratch. He works by referral only and has never in twenty years had the need to advertise. Getting an appointment for him to do your home is like requesting an audience with the Pope; except you have to pay him and you don't get the papal blessing. Come to think of it, getting in to see the Pope might be easier.

My brother's work has been published in several coffee table books and several magazines. His typical client is the multi-million dollar custom homeowner. It's not uncommon for people to have upwards of $60,000 in tile alone for a job, and that's just for materials. Surprisingly, none of this has gone to his head. He's still down to earth, funny and normal.

With the exception of a company whose showroom he tiled out in California, he rarely travels for a job. He has enough work close to home and doesn't like to leave his family.

In order to get him to travel, you have to pay him. Handsomely. Well, unless you’re family. And he likes you.

Just before Christmas, my brother spent ten days in upstate New York tiling the new home of my cousin and his wife. The home is in the process of being built and is both huge and gorgeous. It's not quite finished yet, but with my brother’s tile installation, they'll be as close to these multi-million dollar homes as they can get, without forking over a small fortune for the "tile guy". Sometimes it pays to have family connections; and I mean that in the so not mafia kind of way.

Braving the cold and intermittent snow, my brother showed up for work ready to get down to business; he had an ad hoc crew just waiting to be told what to do. The benefit of being part of an Italian family are the great meals waiting for you at the end of a hard work day and the ocassional eggplant parmigiana sandwich being brought to the job site by your doting aunt. Who cares about the cold when homemade food is being delivered?? The job went off without a hitch and my brother made it back home in time to play Santa for my three nephews. One would never know he was such a jet-setting contractor.

These photos are not from my cousin's home, but from another house my brother and his crew worked on. It's a 7,000 square foot house located in Oro Valley, Arizona, complete with a view of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Any surface where you see tile or stone, be it floors, walls, countertops, shower stalls, etc., my brother did.

In addition, my brother's best friend of over twenty years will often work with him, as he did on this house. He’s a metal specialist and in this home you can see his work in the kitchen (the first photo, where he did the ten foot long double arch light fixture over the island and the nine foot tall iron hood above the stove), the powder room (the second photo, where he did all the iron work over the windows and the sconces on the mirrors and the fourth photo, where he built the vanity and the wall sconces that hang above it) and at the front entry (where he built the iron and glass front door that stands over twelve feet high!).

This home has so many unique elements to it, sitting atop a three acre lot overlooking the mountains. Although it's a tremendous space, with everything in it feeling oversized (the master bathroom alone is 450 square feet. That's bigger than some NYC apartments!) it feels cozy and warm.

You can click on the photos to enlarge them and if you reaalllly like what you see, I might be able to find a way to get "the tile guy" to your place.

I've got connections.


Gil said...

The work is indeed that of artists! The place is beautiful. It looks like it should be a resort rather than a person's house. Houses like this are nothing that I would ever want to live in. I don't know why they spent all of that money on such a beautiful house and didn't buy a decent piece of land. That place should sit on at least 100 acres so you could do some hunting, dirt biking, etc.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

wow, it is great to have connections! too bad you can't tile the inside of the truck - now THAT would look cool!

Anonymous said...

Wow your brother and friend do some seriously kick-ass work. I just love looking at something that is so well-crafted it's a piece of art in itself. Judging from the photos, if your brother did our trailer I'd just sit around admiring it for hours.

Unknown said...

Oh my gosh Salena..Michaels work is amazing! Where did he learn this craft? Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Holy shit, that's some b-e-a-utiful work! What a master craftsman! Damn! When I hit the lotto, I'm totally paying him to tile me a new house. lol! seriously!)

Now, I was just in your flicker photos, you've got some REALLY frickin awesome shots in there! Love the gorge one (or was it the canyon?), the barios, the self portrait (shit, you have excellent SKIN girl! I would NEVER put my skin on there like that. I'm two yrs older than you, and I'll tell you, that pic makes me look 15 yrs older than you ! LOL)

Awesome pics, if no one has checked them out lately you all should! The one from the truck at Donnors Pass? Damn, are you kidding me? Nice SHOT!!!!!!

Dreamybee said...

OMG, these are gorgeous! It's so nice to see work done by people who still take pride in their workmanship.

dlg said...

wow...I wish we had asked him to do our house. We used a local tiler;
it is not a good job. I have told myself more than once, that if we win the Powerball (ha) I want to have this all removed and redone by someone who really cares about the outcome!