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In the News
The Crowning Touch

By Annette Jaworski
Special Writer
Article originally appeared in the Press & Argus

Paying attention to details can turn an ordinary home into a truly extraordinary one. Those details, such as the trim and finished carpentry work, are the icing on the cake to a home. That's where Lynn Balok of Heritage Mantels and Quality Carpentry and Millwork comes in. For those who want more than just the run of the mill, the Howell craftsman can build most anything their hearts desire.

"It definitely upgrades the quality of the home," said Balok.

The finish carpenter's work ranges from subtle accents to stunning focal point pieces. Instead of an ordinary trim, why not use a custom piece that will stand out.

"It brings the eyeballs to the floor, (baseboards) or with crown moulding it takes it up there, people notice it," he said.

Always a hands-on type person, Balok's interest in carpentry began while helping his father remodel their basement. After being involved in various parts of the building industry, Balok eventually found his niche and began his own finish carpentry and mantel business about twelve years ago.

"I manufacture everything from a raw piece of lumber to the finished product," he said.

Over twelve years of experience as a finish carpenter gave him the vision to help determine what the finished product should look like.

"In most cases, when I go to someone's house, I can see what people could use in their homes. I merely make it as a suggestion, they can use it or not," he said.

In one home, Balok suggested that they continue the dentil trim moulding from the custom made entertainment center and use it throughout the ceiling. In his own home, he added oak raised panels to add detail and warmth to a bath area. For another customer, he created a bench seat where there was wasted space during the remodeling of a kitchen. It not only added a place to sit, but extra storage area for cookbooks as well.

"Now she can sit there in the sun and thumb through her cookbooks," he remarked.

The biggest mistake he sees in today's homes is that because finish carpentry is one of the last steps, often it's a place where people try to save some money. Unfortunately, after a while people tire of it and they end up paying to replace it with what they really wanted in the first place.

"My experience has been you go to some house and when the people get to the trim stage, they buy a basic package. Usually they want it replaced or take one room at a time and really deck it out."

And decking it out is one of his specialties; with wooden accents that add convenience and beauty. A project may include built in cherry bookcases in a den, or wine cellars in the kitchen or wet bars, coffered ceilings, Triple Crown moulding or interior or exterior doors. A good example of his patience is a carved tray ceiling with 147 corbels in one of his customer's foyer.

One of Balok's favorite creations includes elaborate handcrafted mantels. As the focal point of the room, each custom made piece makes a powerful impact. Each mantel is made to exacting specifications of the customer.

"I can modify any design, custom fit or create a design of their choice," he said.

The mantels include hand carved solid woods; such as oak, maple, cherry or mahogany, some accented with marble and granite.

The wood trim and accents not only complement a traditional, Victorian or Country French decor, Balok notes they work well in many contemporary homes for work areas, cupboards and bookshelves.

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Howell, MI
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