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The Great Outdoors 

Coming home to a well planned, beautiful yard is like having your own personal retreat, and veteran landscaper designer Beverly Katz says it is the most affordable way to expand the living space of your house.

"I specialize in extending the home outdoors, giving people a whole extra room," says Katz, owner of Exterior Designs Inc. (By appointment, 866-0276). "That is the trend. No matter what it costs, it's still the least expensive room. It's becoming more important; it's definitely easier to sell your house after you've completed that project."

What has made Katz so special to her customers during more than two decades in business is that she handles all aspects of a project, from planning to picking up plants to installation -- as well as coordinating any construction work involved.

"I do everything landscape" including small garden designs, she says. "But my [customers] seem to call me when they need the overall plan, someone who can follow through with the design of the courtyard, the hard surface, if they need an arbor, shade. After all, that is constructed, I follow through with landscape."

Her jobs have been as small as designing a visually pleasing area for garbage cans (which led to a job landscaping that customer's entire yard) to building patios, installing fountains and lots in between. What people find the hardest, Katz says, is finding someone who not only will select the right plants and decorations but also will deal with concrete, pavers, drainage, lighting and everything else.

Her goal in every job is to develop a space that is calming, enjoyable, tasteful and worry-free. "My front yard schemes are very low-key and fit the architecture of the house," she says, "but when you go in the back, it's magical. People use the word 'secret' to describe the spots. When you use the word secret, it feels therapeutic and calm.

"I design for emotions. People come to me with serious problems -- besides the landscaping there's drainage, things not growing -- but they want to go outside to relax. They need a therapeutic space."

Although maintaining landscapes is among the services Exterior Designs offers, Katz designs spaces that are easy for customers who want to do their own upkeep. "People want the low-maintenance landscape," she says. "[To provide that], you have to know your horticulture and your landscape materials and Š where to get good plants. Because I also have a maintenance business, I know how to choose better for people, not just for the beauty, but what it will look like in two to five years."

In addition to design, Katz also offers outdoor furniture and landscaping decor such as small fountains, pots, urns and medallions that can hang on a wall or fence.

The Buddy System

Shoppers on March 20 can purchase items at their favorite shops and support a program for people with disabilities by participating in Magazine Street Madness.

Best Buddies Louisiana is sponsoring the awareness/fundraising event by asking Magazine Street merchants to donate a portion of their sales for March 20 to support Best Buddies' mission of providing opportunities for one-on-one friendships with students from middle schools, high schools and colleges to people with intellectual disabilities.

The international nonprofit group was started by Anthony Kennedy Shriver in 1989 and now has 50,000 participants in about a dozen countries. Locally, Best Buddies has chapters at Academy of the Sacred Heart, Brother Martin High School, Grace King High School, Tulane University and Loyola University.

During Magazine Street Madness, Best Buddies partners will be positioned along the 6-mile-long shopping strip to hand out lists of participating merchants. A sign and a bouquet of balloons also will be placed in the entrances of participating stores. In addition, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience that evening will sponsor wine tastings at selected Magazine Street shops, with Best Buddies Louisiana receiving a portion of the proceeds from those ticket sales.

For more information, contact Georgine Bienert at 828-5095 or log onto www.bestbuddieslouisiana. org.

Affordable New Lines

New To You Designer Consignment (2311 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 838-0029) shop now offers a section of new clothing, shoes and accessories in addition to its offerings of well-cared-for previously worn designer consignment goods for women.

The new items come from a range of sources, including closeouts at small boutiques; owner Ann Marie Foret says these are particularly good buys because they are known brands, in season and are good deals for consumers.

"I'm really careful about brands and price points," she says. "Because I can pick up things that are the current trends it Š is a good value."

Merchandise at the store includes blouses, pants, jeans, skirts, dresses, evening wear, suits, shoes, handbags, jewelry and more.

click to enlarge Beverly Katz of Exterior Designs Inc. creates personal - oases that expand the living space of a home and - provide serenity and relaxation.
  • Beverly Katz of Exterior Designs Inc. creates personal oases that expand the living space of a home and provide serenity and relaxation.
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