In 1991 I was remodeling a home as the contractor and met Jose Luis Contreras. I was in a little over my head (I also had a toddler and a new born) and I knew it but I also knew I would figure it out step by step. I hired Luis to cut a few panels out of my new front door. He did a beautiful job. Then he relocated some cabinets, then enclosed a patio, tore a wall out of my kitchen (support wall).........the list went on and on. I think we worked together on the first house 6 months 6-7 days a week. Since that first job Luis and I remodeled two homes in El Paso, one home in New Orleans (and built a 1500 square foot addition to it) , and two homes in Houston Texas. Luis speaks Spanish and I only speak English (sadly) but that didn't matter we just connected and communicated beautifully. I use my hands a lot and Luis is really good at interpreting my sign language. Everything I dreamed up Luis new how to accomplish it. I learned so much about construction from him. He could build an entire home by himself if you would let him. I couldn't let him due to city codes, however he would have done a better job than most licensed plumbers and electricians.
It has been over ten years since I have remodeled a home so I have not seen Luis since 2004. He lives in El Paso. December of 2015 he started helping my sister in El Paso remodel a townhouse so Luis I were able to reconnect.
A few months later I received the beautiful 1800's dome trunk. See below.
Below are pictures of two small but unique projects Luis and I pulled off. I think of him and smile every time I look at my sink and my chandelier.
I relocated a powder room to under my stairs. I could not find a sink small enough to fit the space. I did find a small copper pot big enough to wash two hands in - barely fit two hands in. I also had 3 ball and claw feet to set it on and a scrap of marble. Luis put the whole thing together and mounted the small marble ledge. He made it look so easy.
In the early 90's I decided to make an antler chandler. I bought a newel post and already had my antlers. I knew how I wanted to build it but I did not have any skills. Luis saved the day. He drilled all the holes perfectly straight. I am still not sure how he did that.
I sent a photo of the domed trunk refinished to Luis through his daughter on Facebook. She sent me the fallowing message.
A family treasure from one of my favorite and most talented friends.
Here's to you (salute) Jose Luis Contreras.
Muchas gracias mi amigo.