by Don Kindred
Coastal Surroundings -
We ’re not just another Landscape Company” owner Jim Miller proclaims on his Coastal Surroundings.com website. When you stroll through the on-line portfolio to see the earthen creations of his 40-year career, you have to believe him.
Educated in Ornamental Horticulture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Miller has developed a niche in the local landscape market that is closely tied to the company’s name, Coastal Surroundings Landscape Company. They specialize in providing a turnkey service to homeowners who are looking for creative outdoor environments.
“There is definitely a trend,” says Jim, “Over the last 20 years we have seen a dramatic shift to more creative outdoor living spaces, be it enjoying a sunset from your patio or warming up by a fire pit on a winter’s evening. We are designing areas to accommodate more time spent out of doors. If you wanted to live indoors, you could live anywhere.”
Foreman Patrick O’Donnell, also a Southern California native, oversees the nuts and bolts of the operation, insuring that every project not only looks great, but functions well. The ability to create unique and yet practical, efficient designs have given the company quite a reputation in town. Ninety percent of their handiwork has been in San Clemente over the past two decades, and that’s exactly how Jim 7 Patrick, both avid surfers, like it.
“We’ve worked had to assemble a crew of dependable and skilled artisans who really enjoy doing the custom work” he says, “It’s more creative and fun, and a happy crew is quality crew.”
Coastal Surroundings can be reached at 492-2479.
by Don Kindred
Bellagio Bronze -
Bronze. It’s not that the product is new. The strength and beauty of molded bronze has been acclaimed the world over since it was first developed by ancient Sumerians in 3,500 BC. Then during the Renaissance, by mastering the “lost wax” casting technique, Europeans used the alloy to create wartime weapons as well as Michelangelo masterpieces.
By the end of the 20th century, the art and durability of bronze statuary was reserved for the rich and famous. That was the reality that Brian and Terry Adams discovered when they set out in 1999 to find a statue for their pool.
“Finding a pair of dolphins, with the amount of detail we wanted, at any kind of realistic price proved to be a real challenge,” says Brian.
It was a challenge Brian, a swimming pool contractor, chose to accept by opening Bellagio Bronze on El Camino Real in 2003 with the help of his devoted wife Terry and their children, who also take an occasional turn in the beautiful showroom. The hand-finished sculptures, fountains and a recently added line of weathervanes at Bellagio make for a magical stroll. Children swinging, mermaids sunning, frogs jumping, dancers dancing, birds in flight.
Like long ago, these creations were originally carved from wax, often using real models. The likenesses, especially of the children, are remarkable. The process involves making a ceramic mold from the wax, then pouring a ‘secret formula’ of 2000 degree bronze into those molds. The result is artwork from 80 inches tall to smaller pieces like turtles and frogs that are priced as low as $24. Smaller versions of the children statues can be found as low as $280 with larger more elaborate creations selling for around $15,000.
Bellagio Bronze offers many models and prices to choose from, and Brian says that 80% of the statuary in his product line can be made into fountains.
by Don Kindred
California Patio & Spa
Frank Bandera is a New Jersey native who headed west at 18. He began his career selling power tools at the local swapmeet. Today he presides casually over a five-store empire called California Patio and Spa that stretches from Encinitas to Yorba Linda, with locations in Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano and new location opening up in Palm Dessert.
“It’s kind of a funny story” he says, when I asked him how it started, “back in 1981, my girlfriend at the time bought me a beach chair so I would be comfortable while I’m at the swap meet. So I’m sittin there the next day, when a customer comes by and says, how much for the chair? I tell him I’m selling these sanders and drills and stuff and he says, yeah but how much for the chair? I say 30 bucks, so he buys the chair. So I went home and asked my girlfriend where she got it. She tells me about some new place in San Diego that nobody had ever heard of called the Price Club. So Saturday night we go down there and buy six more, I took them to the Swap meet the next day and put them in the front, they all sold. I started to think, maybe I had something here so the next week I bought a hundred and sold em all.” He then contacted a manufacturer and well, a patio business was born.”
As the stores grew so did his product line. In fact, I had dropped into the 26,000 sq ft warehouse/retail facility in San Juan on a tip about another one of his products, a Spa. California Patio and Spa also sold about 150 of those last year, all made by a company I didn’t even know was in the Spa business. Coleman. You know the lantern people.
They switched to Coleman Spas from another manufacturer five years ago. And the reason was quality.
“People are buying these for the therapy now,” says Frank, “It’s not spa parties like before, we need this for our health.
“Coleman is a 100-year-old company, everybody in America has something made from Coleman, they are trusted.”
Frank has become a firm believer in the quality of his merchandise. “When I first started I started with low-end merchandise. It would always come back. I realized I couldn’t grow a business by aggravating the customers. So it was the same with the Spas, that’s what I love about Coleman. We have two Coleman technicians on our staff to take care of problems, but there are nowhere near the problems we had before.
“This one has two 56-frame fame motors built by General Electric, it’s completely sealed so it’s the quietest on the market, and the metal frame is guaranteed for five years.”
The spas were impressive. Ten models (starting at $4,000), eight colors and an impressive list of features that included jets that even shoot down on either side of your neck, a cascading water fountain, optional built-in stereo, and more.
Sounds like there might still be some spa parties to me.
California Spas can be reached at 661-0483.
by Nick Azzollini
Ed Estrada knows something about wood. For 25 years he’s been creating functional art from fallen trees. Estrada is a San Clemenete resident and owner of San Clemente Woodworking, a local company whose primary focus is on the design, manufacture and installation of interior staircases, from traditional to contemporary, in iron and wood.
Ed started in the construction business back in 1979 as an apprentice, later joining the Carpenters Union and working his way through to Journeyman certification. He started San Clemente Woodworking in 1989 and, despite a strong emphasis on quality craftsmanship Ed keeps prices competitive with the rest of the market by doing his own milling and purchasing parts directly from the manufacturer.
With a staff of skilled craft employees who can expertly bend rails, do custom wood trim and precisely duplicate architectural designs, it’s no wonder SCWW has been featured in such prestigious publications as Architectural Digest.
San Clemente Woodworking can be reached at 498-4397.
by Anne Batty
Patio & Fireside
There’s nothing quite like reading a good book in front of a cozy fireplace on a rainy winter’s day, or enjoying pleasant conversation with friends around a patio fire pit or grill. All bring warmth to heart and home, and helping bring those simple pleasures into your home is what Firenze Patio, Fireside and Outdoor Living on Avenida Pico does best.
After spending 20 years in the Hi-Tech world, owners Sam and Karen Muscariello utilized the expertise of Sam’s mother (who had spent several years in the outdoor décor industry) and their business acumen to open an upscale patio and fireplace store in town. The name, Firenze (it has nothing to do with fire), in Italian is Florence and one discovers a decidedly Tuscan ambiance when visiting the shop.
Firenze carries the top-of-the-line in outdoor casual living wares, as well as all aspects of interior and exterior fireside products. For the indoors they provide realistic refractory ceramic gas log sets with remote controlled systems for customer convenience, along with gas and wood fireplace screens, doors, log grates, andirons, tool sets and more. For the outdoors they furnish fireplace builder sets which allow customer and contractor to select the fascia to match the home’s style, and they carry a wide range of outdoor fire pits, from extraordinary designs in granite and fiber cement bases to the basic wood burning models. Outdoor heaters and grills are also available there.
“The cornerstone of our business is one-stop shopping,” Karen revealed. “We offer personal appointments for product pre-selection and design assistance at the customer’s convenience either inhome or instore.”b
Firenze Patio & Fireside can be reached at 366-1660.