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Rock-solid Business 

For customers who walk into Ambiance Gallery (5224 Taravella Road, Marrero, 328-2849; www.ambiancegallery.com), the world is their oyster, with hundreds of choices in tiles, flooring, cabinets, glass and other hard-surface materials. And the women who run the 5-year-old business, Jodi Lanosga and Rhonda Guthrie, will help you realize your dream whether you have a modest budget or an unlimited one.

"The hardest thing we've been trying to convey to people is that we can accommodate any budget," says Guthrie. "People think that because they don't have much of a budget that they can't get the look they've seen in the national magazines. But we can give them something beautiful and creative."

Part of the secret is having virtually limitless choices to offer in high-end and moderately priced merchandise, from pre-fabricated lines to customized pieces made from exotic materials. There also is a quarry full of choices for countertops, flooring, backsplashes and shower and tub enclosures, including stone, quartz, ceramic and porcelain tile, concrete, marble, slump glass and more. The business also offers terra cotta pottery and accent pieces, mosaic rugs and medallions, architectural moldings and trims, the Nu-Heat electric floor warming system that's installed underneath floors, and computer-designed layouts that help customers to better visualize what their room will look like when completed. Product lines include Pratt & Larson, Leedo, Yorktowne, American Olean, Summitville, Emil Ergon, Zodiaq, Corian and others.

"Our concept for Ambiance Gallery was one-stop shopping and convenience to the customer," says Lanosga. "I had always been in the tile and stone end of the industry, and I thought the cabinets would be a great compliment to that. I find that by the time people get to this end of [renovations or construction], they're pretty tired of shopping." Because there are hundreds of choices in hard-surface materials, including a rainbow of colors and finishes, hand-painted, molded, etc., Lanosga says she keeps the bulk of her samples outside the showroom until customers have narrowed down what they want in terms of color palette, texture and budget to keep them from being overwhelmed.

On the cabinet end, Guthrie says the choices also are virtually limitless because customers can get almost anything they can conceive, whether it's a reproduction of an antique vanity, a custom-built unit or a standard cabinet made more interesting through innovative countertops and back splashes. The partners also give their total focus to all jobs, whether it's a laundry room being converted to a bath or all the kitchens and baths in an apartment complex.

"No job is too big or too small," Guthrie says. "We can help the person with a minimal budget as well as the one who has $40,000 to $50,000 to spend. I think what people want is something that is theirs, that doesn't look like everybody else's."

In addition to private residences, Ambiance has worked on commercial projects including American Can Complex, Touro Internal Medicine Units, Pierre Marque Hotel lobby, a retirement complex for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Girod Street condominiums, 625 St. Charles Ave. condos, tenant spaces in the Whitney Building and many others.


It's Coming!

You've seen it on TV. You've wanted to be a part of it, and now you can. TLC's Trading Spaces, in which neighbors switch houses for two days and redo a room in each other's home, is coming to New Orleans and hopes to film three episodes in the Big Easy.

To qualify, neighbors must be within two-minute walking distance from each other, there must be two people on each team and the rooms to be redesigned must be at least 14 feet by 14 feet. Those who have tuned in to the program, which airs every day and is going into its fourth season, know that a professional interior designer will be on hand to help with the transformations, and each team has a budget of $1,000 for the project.

To apply, contact Tricia Coonrad at Banyan Productions via email at tcoonrad@banyanprod.com. Coonrad says no deadline for entries has been set, but she hopes to begin interviewing homeowners as soon as possible.


Last Chance

This is the last week New Orleanians will be able to view the special Rhode Island School of Design's RISD On the Road jewelry exhibition at Katy Beh Contemporary Jewelry (3701 Magazine St., 896-9600). The international show will be on display locally through Aug. 31, when it moves on to another spot.

RISD on the Road showcases unique jewelry designs by 25 alumni of the college, considered among the elite when it comes to the arts and design. The exhibit will include innovative jewelry creations made from a range of materials and an array of processes and techniques. It's a must-see show for collectors of contemporary jewelry.

click to enlarge Partners Rhonda Guthrie (left) and Jodi Lanosga - stand in front of a sampling of the tiles available at - Ambiance Gallery.
  • Partners Rhonda Guthrie (left) and Jodi Lanosga stand in front of a sampling of the tiles available at Ambiance Gallery.
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