Sunday, May 1, 2011

Guide to Carpet Color Selection presentd by Oxi Fresh of Phoenix

Here is a fabulous guideline that will help you identify the shades of carpet that will work well for you!

I. Function – Mood – Tone : What’s the Room?
When you first consider redecorating a room, you first need to identify the Function of the room. Is it for casual entertainment? Formal dining? Is it a simple hallway or an important family gathering place? Identifying a room’s Function will help you discover the Mood you want the room to encourage. Take a sun room/living room for example – the room’s intended for simple get togethers, coffee, reading, etc.
Based on the room’s Function, the Mood is meant to inspire calm, to feel simple and light. The Mood of the room then informs the Tone you will aim for with color and texture choice. If the Mood you want a room to have is one of coziness and warmth, the Tone will consist of dark reds and browns, warm, rich, deep colors. That Tone will enhance the overall Mood of the room, which will in turn make the room more fit for its Function.

II. Make the Room
Before you choose carpets that will match the desired Tone, be sure the rest of the room is prepared. Choose your paint color, what furniture will go in the room, pick out wall decorations, etc. The carpet is meant to compliment these other factors and not to be the center of attention, so put the rest of the room first. Either have it ready or at least have your colors and pieces pre-selected before you move onto carpet.

III. The Carpet’s Tone
Now that you have the Tone of the room picked out, brainstorm on complimenting colors for the carpet.  Keep in mind that the goal isn’t to match colors – the walls and floor shouldn’t be the same color. Rather, the colors need to work together while still remaining in the same Tone.
Pale blue walls need a light color carpet to encourage a soothing feel. Strong blue paint in an energetic room, though, can be complimented by a bright carpet with, let’s say, contrasting green highlights. Think of colors that will blend well or of contrasts that look good. Once you have a few ideas ready, it’s time to experiment.

IV. To the Store!
Head to your local carpet retailer, or several of them, and start looking around. Have the colors you want in mind, but you should also browse, talk to their experts, and brainstorm while at the store. You’ll want to bring samples of the paint color you’re using and, if possible, samples of fabrics that will be in the room (bring in a seat cushion if necessary.) Once you’ve found the colors you want or have been suggested to you, gather up samples and variations of those samples.

V. Back Home!
Test your samples at home – place them in various positions in the room, next to furniture, next to the wall, with natural light, at night, under lamps, etc. Try out the variations you picked up and see if those colors look better under your lighting. Keep the samples for several days and see if the color wears on you over time. After all, you don’t want to install carpet and have it become obnoxious three days later. Most importantly, though, is whether or not the carpet works with the Tone, Mood, and Function of the room.

VI. Back to the Store!
Once you’ve found the right carpet or eliminated all you’re first round of samples, it’s time to head back to the store to either purchase the carpet or to get another round of samples. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to find what you wanted the first time round, just talk to the professionals there, get some suggestions and keep trying until you succeed.

Well, that about does it for this guide. Good luck and remember this when you make your choice: Function informs Mood. Mood should inform Tone. Tone should reinforce Function.

Thanks to,, and for the tips on carpet color.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Create a Container Water Garden

Written by:

Maybe you've dreamed of having your own water garden but prefer to dip your toes into this wonderful gardening hobby before diving in head first. Let these photos inspire you to create some fascinating container water gardens.

A small brass leaf drips water into this orange pot nestled in between striking coneflowers.

Old washtubs rescued from the garden shed take on new life when a little water and pretty aquatic plants are added.

Beautiful waterlilies pop out from this ceramic cobalt blue bowl.

A copper pot provides a sturdy home for dainty water lettuce, creeping jenny and waterlilies.

A large, blue urn is the perfect foil against the weathered, brick patio. Aquatic plants rise from the stately urn while annuals dance in the wind in their soil-filled terra cotta pots.

Even if you already have a large water garden in your yard, you can still enjoy the simple beauty that a container water garden provides.

A container water garden can be a small investment. This small planter sports a few water lettuce. Quaint and simple fills the bill for this cottage garden.

Stately Taro stand at attention in this concrete urn, welcoming visitors to the backyard.

A plain, terra cotta pot gets dressed up with some moss and a decorative globe. A small, underground reservoir catches the dripping water and is pumped back up through the pot to repeat its cycle.

What type of container water garden will you create?

This blog was originally from:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Master Gardeners Help with Desert Gardening

Land Lovers: Grow How

Help with your desert garden is just an email or phone call away

Staff Writer
Maricopa Monitor
TriValley Central

Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 9:20 AM MST
Meet University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners - I think it helps our business that people, falsely or truly, think we might know what we are talking about.” - Phil Bond
Adele Wolyn had lived 50 years in the San Francisco Bay area and thought people in Arizona grew nothing but cactus.

Hugh Meier had been a gardener and landscaper in New York and New Hampshire.

Phil Bond had been an agriculture teacher and FFA sponsor for 13 years in Coolidge.

Now they — and 55 others — are master gardeners with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, helping other residents with Sonoran Desert gardening and landscape problems.

“Master gardeners are absolutely critical to the long-term viability of our gardens and landscapes in Pinal County,” said County Extension Director Rick Gibson.

“The reason I say that is because since 2000 our population has doubled in the county, and I’m just one person. What I did in 1981, I simply cannot do today. I’ve got tremendous amounts of emails and phone calls and samples that come in. The only way I can even begin to stay up is because these volunteers provide the services that they do.”

Gibson said master gardeners volunteered 5,656 hours of service in 2010. He estimates the value of their assistance at more than $100,000 last year.

Anyone can call the Master Gardener Hotline at 836-5221, ext. 204, and speak to a master gardener, if one is in the office, or leave a recorded message to be answered when someone returns. There is no charge, and free printed materials are available.

Meet University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners - "When they call us master gardeners, I feel like I’m anything but. All I wanted to do was learn enough not to kill too many things.” - Adele Wolyn

Retired art teacher Meier said the extension office is a nice place to volunteer.

“The atmosphere is great,” he said. “The people are friendly and helpful.”

He started gardening when he was a child in Plainview, N.Y., on Long Island. He worked on farms and nurseries, landscaped and groomed yards, even raised Christmas trees in New Hampshire — but he had no experience with desert gardening until he moved to Casa Grande.

“I had a garden, and I loved to garden,” he said, “and well, we kind of gave that up when we hit the road.”

After retiring as an art teacher, Meier and his wife, Norma, left their home in New Hampshire to travel. That’s how they found Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort.

“And we kept coming back each winter,” he said, “and we decided, ‘Well, we like it here.’ We ... decided to get a park model, so we could have a little more elbow room.”

Meier heard about the Master Gardener program during a presentation at the Casa Grande Public Library and took the Gardening & Landscape Short Course in 2005.

Gardening in the Sonoran Desert is so different than gardening in New York or New Hampshire, he said. Even the soil is different.

Meet University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners - "I look at it as a continuing education for myself. When I’m looking for something for someone else, I’m learning.” - Hugh Meier

“In New York and New Hampshire, the soil is so rich,” he said. “In Plainview, we had a foot of black topsoil, and it was well filtered, clay and sand underneath it. It was beautiful. ... You could practically drop a seed, and it would grow — and of course, we had rain.”

Spring temperatures are more extreme in Casa Grande, too, he said.

“Sometimes it’s too cold to get seeds to grow and then of course, you are limited as to how long into the season you can grow because of the heat.”

Meier deals with the short springs by starting his tomatoes in January, surrounding them with water-filled plastic “teepees” that warm in the sunlight and release their warmth at night.

His vegetable garden is five plastic EarthBox patio container gardens, each 14 inches wide, 30 inches long and 12 inches high with 4 inches of water in the bottom. A grid keeps the soil out of the water but allows roots to grow into it.

“We’ve grown basil,” Meier said. “This year I’ve got cucumbers and zucchini, and I had peas. I’ve got radishes and beets and carrots and herbs. ... It gives me a chance to have my little garden here.”

Meier is one of the people who answer questions at the Cooperative Extension. If he doesn’t know an answer, he looks it up.

“I look at it as a continuing education for myself,” he said. “When I’m looking for something for someone else, I’m learning.”

Sometimes the questions are amusing, he added.

A man had a palm tree that provided very nice shade but was growing too tall. He asked if he could cut the top off. (No!)

A woman said all her plants were turning brown and the leaves were falling off. Meier asked how she watered them.

“Well, someone told me I don’t have to water here in the winter,” she said. (Not true!)

‘Good learning process’

Wolyn, who lives in Eloy’s Robson Ranch, took the short course in 2007.

“I happened to see the article in the newspaper, and I thought: ‘Well, I don’t know anything about desert gardening or cactus.’ So I thought it would be a good idea to take the class.’”

The course seemed expensive, she said, until she learned that it lasted for 12 weeks.

“The class is in essence free,” she said. “You are paying for the materials, and they hope that you will volunteer some time.”

When the course was over, she realized she had just scratched the surface when it came to desert gardening and landscaping.

“Now you know how much you really don’t know,” she said. “It’s an ongoing thing. When they call us master gardeners, I feel like I’m anything but. All I wanted to do was learn enough not to kill too many things.”

But the class and volunteer work have been fascinating, she said, because the growing season is so different in Pinal County. If people plant by the schedules they used in other parts of the country, “they are not going to have very good success.”

Wolyn also volunteers in the extension office in Casa Grande.

“I thought it was a good way to kind of get to know the community and get to know some of the people here rather than just sort of isolating myself out there. I really enjoy it. So I go in every Wednesday morning and help with whatever kinds of things they need.”

She works on the monthly newsletter, helps with information booths at community events and assembles information packets for newcomers and some about specific gardening and landscape topics.

“Rick Gibson runs an article every week and tells people to call if they have questions,” she said. “And they do.”

People also bring plant samples or insects to the extension office for identification.

“So it’s a real good learning process for us.”

One caller said her bougainvillea had strings hanging in it.

“So I went over there and, sure enough, she had these two gorgeous bougainvillea, and one had all these things hanging like strings in it. So I brought a piece back and learned it’s dodder [a plant parasite]. I’d never seen it before. Well, she had it, and she had to try to remove it all by hand and keep removing pieces and branches to get rid of it.”

Nursery owner, Bond, was in the first Garden & Landscape Short Course taught in Pinal County in 1982.

Today he is owner of the Avocado Nursery near Signal Peak. He started the nursery after taking the short course and is still active in the Master Gardener program. He even teaches the short course class on Sonoran Desert plants.

“The program that the University of Arizona offers is just amazing,” Bond said. “It’s serves many, many functions through the extension agency. It’s a very, very service oriented organization.”

Bond said the course covers many areas in a short time, and its guest speakers are knowledgeable in their fields.

“You might have to take 12 college classes to equal what they do with their 12 meetings, because each one is so specialized.”

Sometimes calls to the extension office are forwarded to Bond’s nursery.

A woman’s 18-foot saguaro had toppled over after a rain. He told her to replant it at the same depth and brace it with 2-by-4s. Then he recommended someone with the right equipment to lift the giant cactus into place.

“The Master Gardening program — a lot of phone calls are transferred through us,” he said, “but it’s voluntary, and I do that in exchange for the training they give me.

“Those that take the course are asked to reimburse their training by community service in some way. So in my particular way, I’m very fortunate, I get to give a lot of talks, and I do it on behalf of the Master Gardening program. When I go somewhere, it’s usually as a master gardener, not as the owner of a business.”

Bond said five of the people who work at the Avocado also are master gardeners.

“So we know how beneficial it is. Our main management team is almost all master gardeners, so they can answer these phones just as skillfully as I do. And that’s why we get sometimes 40 or 50 calls a day [master gardener questions and business calls]. I think it helps our business that people, falsely or truly, think we might know what we are talking about.”

Steven King/Dispatch, Hugh Meier had been a gardener and landscaper in New York and New Hampshire. He is shown in his garden in the Palm Creek Golf & RV Resort in Casa Grande.

Learn Gardening, Then Pass the Knowledge onto Others

Anyone can take the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension’s Garden & Landscape Short Course. The classes meet one night a week for three hours with a different topic each week for 12 weeks.

The next classes will begin after Labor Day at 9 a.m. Thursdays in Casa Grande or 6:30 p.m. Thursdays in Maricopa.

The registration fee is $90 a person, which covers the cost of materials, or $110 for two who share materials. Topics include basic botany, soils, cactuses and succulents, vegetable gardening, citrus, arboriculture (trees and shrubs), irrigation, integrated pest management, weeds, diagnosis, desert adapted plants, landscape design and applied learning experience. For more information, call the county extension office at 836-5221.

Those who want to become master gardeners must take the short course, pass a written test and volunteer 50 hours in the first 11⁄2 years.

To maintain certification, master gardeners donate 30 hours of volunteer work yearly. As long as they are certified, the university covers liability for activities conducted as a master gardener.

Fifty-eight master gardeners are currently certified in Pinal County. Members of the Superstition Mountain working group volunteer at schools, the Boys & Girls Club, Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, Meals on Wheels and Silly Mountain (a popular hiking area). They put on clinics and educational programs and teach in the short course. The SaddleBrooke working group puts on plant clinics, answers landscape questions and teaches.

Master gardeners in the Casa Grande area volunteer at the UA Cooperative Extension office, answer gardening questions, prepare free bulletins and email newsletters, schedule training activities and staff booths at community events.

Volunteers in Maricopa are revitalizing an old fruit orchard at the UA’s Maricopa Agricultural Center and creating a demonstration vegetable garden with drip irrigation, raised garden beds, straw-bale beds, square-foot gardens and gardens in the round. A volunteer in Oracle is doing research with worm composting. A volunteer in Florence, a certified arborist, teaches arboriculture in the short course.

For more info, click this link to the UofA Master Gardeners website.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Maricopa County Home Shows supports interior design!

Be inspired viewing the beautiful interior design rooms created by the most talented up and coming Student Designers in AZ at the April 29, 30 and May 1, Maricopa County Home Show at the AZ State Fairgrounds 10th Annual Student Interior Design Competition.  The Home Show sent out a call to all local design colleges to have their students send entries to compete in this once a year competition.  Seven entries were accepted based on their resume, sketch of their room, and paragraph description.  Students will have 48 hours to build and design their room according to their sketch and description.   Qualified interior design judges will rank their favorites based on design plan, sketch presentation, implementation in relation to the original sketch, functional space, use of materials, furnishing, color and the students overall creativity and originality.  All students receive price money, and the winning student receives a substantial $5,000.00. All said, the Home Show awards over $11,500.00 in prize money to help these students further their career in the design field. for more info.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

7 Things You Should Know About Stardust Building Supplies

Author:  Taz Loomans

1.  How Stardust Building Supplies got started:
The stars aligned and two guys who had the same idea at the same time came together and went for it.  The first guy, an investment banker, saw his neighbor remodeling his home.  He noticed that his neighbor was tossing perfectly good cabinets in the dumpster.  When he was driving out and about, through poorer neighborhoods, he thought, what a shame, these people could really have used those cabinets!
The second guy was demolishing his house to build a new one.  The day he and his wife were moving out, their maid came to them and said one of her relatives was in need of a refrigerator and asked if she could take theirs.  They said sure! The next day she asked for their stove.  They told her that whatever she needed, she could have.  A few days later, they came back to find lots of things gone from their house, such as doors, cabinets, and appliances.  They realized that people could really make use of these used building materials.  His wife remarked, what a service this would be!  And he, being a big money guy, said no, what a business this could be.
So the first guy vaguely knew of this second guy and he called him up to discuss his business idea.  They had lunch and sparks flew!  They both had had the same idea at the same time, in different places.  The first guy asked the second guy for $50,000 to get started.  Second guy said no.
He said, I’ll give you a credit line of $500,000 because I want this done right.  I want good stores and good service.
The rest is history!
I asked for the names of the two founders, but no luck! They’re flying under the radar, on purpose.

2.  The Stardust Building Supplies Stores:
There are 2 of them.  One is on 4240 W. Camelback Rd. and the second is on 1720 W. Broadway Rd.  What’s in these stores?  Well buidings supplies, duh!  Anything from windows to faucets.  Everything except raw building supplies such as plywood, masonry, roofing and things like that.
The stores are supplied with donated materials.  Eighty percent of the goods in the stores are used materials donated by homeowners or remodeling contractors.  The rest are things manufacturers or distributors will donate that they can’t use, such as off-size windows or window coverings, or the wrong color floor tile.

3.  Deconstruction Services:
Do you have plans to remodel your home or know of someone who is?  Did you know Stardust will come to your house for FREE and deconstruct whatever it is you want removed and haul it away?  For example, if you are redoing your kitchen, they will remove your old cabinets, your old sink, stove, oven and refrigerator, as long as they can keep them and sell them at their stores.
So forget paying your contractor for demo, just call Stardust!

4.  Pick-up Service:
Did you replace your old toilet and now you need to get rid of your old one?  Not to worry!  Just call Stardust and they will come pick it up with their truck.

5. Angels on Call:
Did you know that Stardust actually goes out and repairs homes in distress fro FREE?  They won’t do cosmetic remodeling, but they will repair homes for basic safety, security or quality of life issues.  They take referrals for homes from churches, social service agencies, civic groups or other charitable organizations.
The executive director of Stardust, Todd Stingley, tells me that they will even accept direct applications for help. So if you know if someone who is in dire need of home repair and they can’t afford to do it, they might have a chance to get free services from Stardust.

6.  Annual Extreme Makeover
Once a year, they take a home and a homeowner who live in a badly dilapidated or damaged home and can’t afford to fix it up, and they will go in and renovate it!  They are just about to start this year’s home which is located on 5836 W. Elm St. in Maryvale on Monday.  They will replace the roof, the kitchen, and the flooring among other things for the lucky homeowner, who is a single, struggling grandmother taking care of her grand kids because their mother left them.

7.  Why I love Stardust Building Supplies
The organization is both an environmental and social hero!  They save tons of usable, durable building products from the landfill and they make them available at 50-80% off the retail price, making it much easier for economically disadvantaged people to fix their homes.  Plus, it’s not a bad place for us treasure hunters.
They are self-sufficient, using the income from their stores to operate the non-profit and fund all their other charitable endeavors, such as the deconstruction and angels on call services.  Need I say more?

Photo credit: Our shed at 3 Palms shortly after we completed renovations filled with the old fans, lights, toilet, sink, stove and other goodies that we donated!


Taz Loomans

Taz Loomans - who has written 158 posts on Blooming Rock.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Protect Your Most Vulnerable Entrances! Article by First Impressions Security Doors a preferred vendor of the Maricopa County Home Shows

Article by First Impressions Security Doors a preferred vendor of the Maricopa County Home Shows
Arcadia/French Doors
IntruderDid you know that an intruder's preferred entry method is a sliding back patio door? Why not consider Arcadia/French security doors for your home to improve both security and aesthetics?

An Arcadia door is an attractive security door that will protect your home in the same way that a front security door would.  It's a double door that opens on hinges and is custom made in our factory to fit your specific door measurements.  We offer a variety of styles and pricing, along with quality that surpasses any other door manufacturer, guaranteed.

French Door 
We can build security screen doors for your patio doors that protect your home from thieves, yet still provides the light and open look and feel that sliding glass normally give the homeowner. Both Arcadia and French security doors are available in sets of two so that they are wide enough for your entryway. 

We are offering a special this month to save 20% off on select designs so take advantage now of these money saving offers by visiting our specials page

Pool Fences
Pool FenceIf the recent warmer temperatures are anything to go on, summer is on its way and it will be time to open your pool in no time!  If you have young children in your home a pool fence is a necessity and may be required by law in your town or city.

First Impression Security Doors is pleased to offer an entire collection of pool fences from traditional iron fences to glass panel designs.

And take a look at the installation process of a First Impression pool fence.  Our installers are standing by! 

Pool Fence Installation
Pool Fence Installation
Take an Inside Look at First Impression

We pride ourselves on precision engineering of our quality doors, gates, fences and window products and take pleasure in a job well done.  Here's a quick look inside our factory.
Inside Look at First Impression
Inside Look at First Impression
Look at what our customers are saying!  

"Your crew installed our new iron and glass double front doors the week of Christmas. As I sit here the sun is streaming in and lighting up the entry. It used to be a dark space - now we feel like we've actually gained another room. They have truly changed our house. The doors are gorgeous and their quality makes such an improvement to the exterior and interior look of our home.

Terry Hardin was great to work with - she was very patient and worked with us to get just what we wanted. She never rushed us, gave us good advice, and explained the whole sale to installation process to us so there were no surprises.

The installation crew did a really great job. We required hard construction for the new doors and by the time they finished up - nothing was left undone. Our new front doorway looks as though it has always been there. We thought it would be a 4 day job, but they finished on Dec. 23rd - so we had the job done in time for Christmas.

I will recommend First Impressions to our friends and neighbors and please don't hesitate to use us as references. I would be happy to discuss our experience with any prospective buyers you may have.

We wish you all at First Impressions a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Thank you for contributing beauty and quality to the Phoenix metro area." 
Kate and Mike
Scottsdale, AZ

BBB Seal 
Our Showrooms
Tucson Showroom

East Phoenix Showroom

1415 N Mondel Dr.
Gilbert, AZ 85233

West Phoenix Showroom
9299 W. Olive Ave, Building 8
Olive Business Park, Suite 801
Peoria, AZ 85345

New Tucson Showroom
6811 North Thornydale Road #101
Tucson, AZ 85741

Save 20% with
Designs of the Month 
Design of the Month Special 

Every month we will feature new designs that will be discounted 20%!  Discounts are valid for a limited time.  

Example of how much you could save;
If you were to purchase French Security Doors with the current Design of the Month, you could save hundreds of dollars! 
For example:
Regular Price:  $1000 x 2 doors = $2000
Special Price:  $ 800 x 2 doors = $1600!!
That's a savings of $400!

Design of the month  

Shop now!
Join Us At These Upcoming Events

Maricopa Home Show  
Arizona State Fairgrounds
1826 W McDowell Road
Phoenix, 85007
(19th Ave & McDowell Rd)
April 29th - May 1st 2011
Friday - Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm
Booth numbers 237, 239, 241, 336, 338, 340 in Exhibit Building   

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Keep cool this summer with a new pool from Premier Pools & Spas

phoenix pool renovation

Hot Weather is right around the corner!  We have a solution to keep you cool!  Premier Pools & Spas, Much More than a Pool Builder!



In Ground Pools & Spas     •     Above Ground Pools     •     Patio Furniture     •     Outdoor Kitchens
BBQ Grills    •     Hot Tubs     •     Landscaping     •     Putting Greens     •     Supplies     •     and much more!

The Top Brands All Under One Roof!
Premier Pools & Spas offer everything from above ground swimming pools, Artesian Spas, hot tubs, pool toys and pool supplies to barbecue islands, outdoor kitchens, outdoor fireplaces, and patio furniture.
Whether you are shopping in person or on-line, the Premier Backyard Design Center has the largest selection of swimming pool and backyard design products.
Aside from providing your family with an entertaining outdoor lifestyle, upgrading your backyard adds value to your home.
A custom swimming pool can add value and beauty to your home and provide many years of pleasure to your family.  If you are considering adding a custom swimming pool to your property, you probably have many questions. These frequently asked questions may address many of the concerns you already have.  If you have any additional questions, please contact Premier Pools (contact info at bottom of page).

How long does it take to build a swimming pool?
When is the best time to install a swimming pool?
Should I be wary about buying a swimming pool advertised at a super low price?
Most swimming pools seem the same. Why do costs vary?
If I have a small yard, can you still design a swimming pool that will fit my budget and taste?
Will my swimming pool have a warranty?
What features can I add to my swimming pool?
How much maintenance is involved with a swimming pool?
What swimming pool shapes are available?
How does the design process work?
How much does a swimming pool cost?
Can I finance my swimming pool?

Premier Pools & Spas is proud to be your Full-Service Pool Solution.  From weekly pool service and filter cleans to acid washes and tile cleaning, our Service Technicians can provide everything your swimming pool will ever need.  Let us help protect your investment and deliver the level of expertise and service you have come to expect from Premier Pools & Spas.

Available Services
Weekly Pool Service
Cartridge Filter Clean
Green Clean
Water Change
Tile Cleaning
Acid Wash
Light Replacement
Equipment Repairs & Replacement
Weekly Pool Service
Services Include:
• Test water chemistry
• Add chemicals as necessary to maintain proper water
• Brush-down waterline tile
• Brush-down interior finish
• Empty skimmer basket(s)
• Empty pump baskets(s)
• Clean cell of saltwater chlorine generator (as needed)
• Refill tablets in in-line / in-deck chlorinator
• Verify equipment is functioning properly

History of Company
 tucson pool renovation
What started as one small office serving the Sacramento area has expanded to multiple offices throughout three states with more than 400 employees… and we're still growing!
Owners, Keith and Paul, hand selected the manager of each Premier Pools and Spas office, choosing highly experienced people with extensive knowledge of their local markets and a commitment to quality. They and their staff adhere to Premier Pools' business model of building superior-quality swimming pools and exceeding customers' expectations.
Their unique building process allows the designer to remain involved from design to completion giving each customer a personal experience and added peace of mind.

When Premier Pools opened its doors in 1988, its goals were to:
  • Provide a custom swimming pool design that surpasses anyone's backyard dreams
  • Fulfill those dreams by building quality products
  • Always maintain a genuine interest in your service and satisfaction

Today, these goals continue to drive our company of more than 400 employees. More than 16,000 swimming pools later, Keith and Paul still lead the company with the same commitment and enthusiasm as when they started. This commitment to the customer has earned Premier Pools and Spas a reputation for superior quality and unparalleled customer service, as well as numerous industry awards, including National Pool Builder of the Year (Paramount Pool Products) and Builder of the Year (2006 Pool and Spa News).

Phoenix: 480-895-6000 | Tucson:  520-888-7665
Contact Us in Phoenix | Contact Us in Tucson | ROC 178157  

Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 Kitchen Trends from the NKBA

1) Shake It Up
The Shaker style began a rise in popularity in 2009 and gained momentum in 2010. By the end of the year, Shaker has supplanted Contemporary as the second most popular style used by NKBA member designers. While Traditional remains the most popular style, having been used by 76% of designers surveyed over that last three months of 2010, that’s a slight drop from the previous year. Meanwhile, the percent of respondents who designed contemporary kitchens fell to 48%, while Shaker rose to 55%. Cottage was the only other style to garner at least 20% of the market, as it registered at 21%.

2) Dark Finishes
Dark natural finishes overtook medium natural, glazed, and white painted finishes to become the most specified type of finish toward the end of 2010. While medium natural fell from being used by 53% to 48% of designers, glazed from 53% to 42%, and white painted from 49% to 47%, dark natural finishes rose from 42 to 51%. Light natural and colored painted finishes remained fairly common, as each rose slightly from the previous year: 24% to 25% for light natural and 24% to 29% for colored paints. Distressed finishes dropped significantly from a year ago, when they were used by 16% of designers, to just 5%.

3) A Place for Wine
While the incorporation of wine refrigerators seems to be on the decline (see Bonjour Réfrigérateur below), unchilled wine storage is growing in popularity. While only 39% of surveyed designers incorporated wine storage areas into their kitchens at the end of 2009, just over half—51%—did so as 2010 came to a close. While other types of cabinetry options remain more common, most are on the decline, including tall pantries (89% to 84%), lazy Susans (90% to 78%), and pull-out racks (81% to 71%). Appliance garages also seem to be falling out of favor, as their use declined from 36% at the end of 2009 to 29% a year later.

4) Bonjour Réfrigérateur
The French door refrigerator has strengthened its position as the type specified most often by NKBA member designers. While freezer-top refrigerators were only specified by 8% of designers as 2010 drew to a close—down from 10% a year earlier, freezer-bottom models fell very slightly from 60% to 59% and side-by-side units actually rose slightly from 46% to 49%. Meanwhile, French door refrigerators jumped from 67% to 78%. Among smaller units, refrigerator or freezer drawers remained flat at 31%, while undercounter wine refrigerators fell sharply from 50% to 36%, an interesting change given the increasing use of unchilled wine storage.

5) Inducting a New Cooktop
Induction cooktops haven’t overtaken gas and electric models, but they’re closing the gap. As we entered 2010, gas cooktops had been recently specified by 76% of NKBA designers, compared to 38% for electric and 26% for induction. However, while the incorporation of gas cooktops has fallen to 70%, electric cooktops has risen slightly to 41%, while induction cooktops are up to 34%. Meanwhile, single wall ovens are down from 46% to 42%, although double wall ovens are up from 68% to 74%. In addition, warming drawers are down from 49% to 42%, and ranges are down sharply from 81% to 68%.
6) LED Lighting
Incandescent lighting continues its journey to obsolescence. While 50% of NKBA member designers incorporated incandescent bulbs into their designs at the end of 2009, only 35% have done so a year later. Instead, designers are clearly opting for more energy-efficient lighting options. While the use of halogen lighting is down from 46% to 40% over the past year, LED (light-emitting diode) lighting has increased from 47% to 54%. Designers aren’t turning to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) as a solution, though, most likely due to the poor quality of light they produce; their use by designers remained flat at 35%.
7) Trashy Designs
A greater emphasis is being made to address trash considerations in the kitchen. Some 89% of kitchens designed by NKBA members in the final quarter of 2010 include a trash or recycling pull-outs. In addition, garbage disposals were incorporated by 86% of designers, up from 75% the previous year. Trash compactors have also become more common. Entering 2010, they were recently used in designs by 11% of designers, but a year later, that figure had climbed to 18%. These changes may be due to an increase in sustainability awareness, but they certainly indicate an increase in concern toward trash generated in the kitchen.

About the National Kitchen & Bath Association

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is a non-profit trade association that has educated and led the kitchen and bath industry for more than 45 years. provides consumers with an inspiration gallery of award-winning kitchen and bath designs, as well as articles, tips, and an extensive glossary of remodeling terms. At, consumers can also find certified kitchen and bath professionals in their areas, submit questions to NKBA experts, and order the free NKBA Kitchen Planner and NKBA Bath Planner. To learn more, visit the NKBA Press Room at or call 1-800-THE-NKBA (843-6522). 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Plastic Bags: What a Waste!

By Aaron Redman

March 13th, 2011

Every year over 100 billion disposable, petroleum-based, plastic bags are consumed and thrown out in the US alone.  Being nearly impossible to recycle, they needlessly consume resources; fill landfills and escape so often that studies have found that plastic bags make up over 25% of our litter. This poses serious danger to wildlife not to mention trashes up our landscapes.  Bringing your own re-usable cloth bag to the grocery store or farmer’s market is a great start, but what about all the clear plastic bags which are needed for all those wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables you bought?
With the support of an ASU Innovation Challenge grant, a group of ASU students have developed a solution for you.  FAVE Bags are an affordable, durable, and easy-to use alternative to all that wasteful plastic.  Besides making check-out a cinch with its see-through mesh, FAVE Bags will keep all your fresh produce sorted and sanitary from the market to your fridge, with no sogginess. 
While increasing personal Sustainability is very important, it is insufficient if the whole product life-cycle is not considered.  For this reason FAVE Bags are being produced with an innovative model of production to bring the benefits of international trade and export directly to the people who need it most.  In the countryside of El Salvador seven groups of women work out of their homes to produce FAVE Bags- earning money for their families without the often destructive stress of typical factory work (long hours, time-consuming transportation and low-wages).  In the words of one El Salvadoran women entrepreneur, “I love this opportunity, by being able to work at my home; I can earn the money I need so that my kids can get ahead and have the great future I wish for them.”
You can purchase a FAVE bag for yourself at the ASU Farmers Market for the special price of $3.50 each or 3 for $10 and they are available any time at the Phoenix Urban Grocery and Tempe Farmer’s Market. Consider how you might lead a more Sustainable lifestyle and contribute to a more stable and just economy abroad.

Friday, March 25, 2011

An Ace Air service contract gives you the edge on keeping your family comfortable all year around.

Ace Air

With an Ace Air Preventative Maintenance Agreement (PMA), Ace certified technicians will come to your home, once or twice a year, for up to 10 years.   This plan includes great advantages, like:
  • Free Coil Cleaning every year (Coils are like the radiator for your car -   the cleaner they are, the cooler you are).
  • No Destination Charge (you’ll save around $60 right off the bat!).
  • A Guaranteed Arrival Time within 24 hours of receiving your call, or the labor is free, no matter how busy they are.
  • 20% Off of Parts and Labor (If your system needs parts and/or repair, you’ll get them at a reduced price)
  • A Lifetime Warranty on most user-end parts for the duration of the contract. If a part is replaced and it fails, we’ll replace it for free.
  • 10% off the price of a new unit. (Most systems last anywhere from 8 to 12 years)
  • Enjoy priority status on a service technician's route as an Ace Air PMA customer.
In our area, air conditioning is a must.  That’s why an Ace Air Preventative Maintenance Agreement makes so much sense.

Which Contract Should You Get?
  • If you have a standard air conditioner with electrical heating, Ace Air recommends having your unit serviced at least once a year, usually in the spring before things start heating up. It’s smart to schedule your appointment between February and April before everybody else calls up.  
  • If you have a standard air conditioner with a gas furnace, Ace Air highly recommends twice a year.  Once in the early spring for the air conditioner, and then in the early to late fall for your heater.  It’s a good idea to have the experts at Ace Air fire up your furnace for the first time in the fall—turning on your gas, igniting ignite the pilot and checking out your system thoroughly. All of their technicians carry meters to measure carbon monoxide, ensuring that your system is venting outside.
  • If you have a heat pump, Ace Air also recommends twice a year service, just because your system is pulling double duty.  It runs in one mode to keep you cool in the summer, then switches modes to warm you up on those chilly winter nights.
  • If you have a newer, Puron System, a once a year service is usually sufficient. Puron systems are "engineered" to be energy-efficient but even a minor fluxuation in refrigerant level can cause it act up.  if you know your system is a bit temperamental, twice a year might be smarter.  
  • If you are one of our many winter-time residents, it’s recommended that you have your system checked out just before you use it, or at least as soon as convenient after you’ve arrived.  After sitting idle for several months, slow leaks are possible and everyone wants their system to be operating as safely and efficiently as possible.
  • If you have more light to moderate usage, you should consider the Bi-Annual Preventative Maintenance Agreement.  Ace Air will come out twice a year and do a  full system check for you and identify any problems you may have  before your unit goes down.  They’ll do a full inspection, take care of your air filters, clean the electrostatic or washable filters, or change your replaceable ones for you while they are there.
  • If you have a business outside of your home, with moderate to heavy usage,  you should consider the Quarterly Preventative Maintenance Agreement.  Ace Air will come out four times a year, and do a full  system check for you, and depending on your filters, clean the electrostatic or washable filters, or replace the disposal type for you.
  • If you have a business outside of your home with heavy usage, the Monthly  Preventative Maintenance Agreement could e just what you need.  Ace Air will service the Air   Conditioner Quarterly, plus will clean the electrostatic or washable filters   monthly, or replace the  throw-away type for you while they are there.
Why not have Arizona’s #1 team maintaining your air conditioning and heating systems to that you can just enjoy life, or concentrate on running your business, Ace Air can tailor a plan to fit anyone’s budget and will stand behind it.

Things to Remember
Think of your Air Conditioner like a car. You don’t repair what’s not broken and usually, people tend to drive their car until it breaks down before taking it to a repair shop.  Sure you change the oil, keep an eye on the tires, have things checked out.  That’s all standard maintenance that helps give you the most out of your investment.
The same is true for your home’s cooling and heating systems. Keep up on the maintenance and they’ll continue to operate smoothly, not break down and run as efficiently as possible.
If your home’s heater or air conditioner is 6 to 10 year old system, it may not be quite time yet to replace it, especially if you’ve got Ace Air backing you up with regular service.

Need To Finance It?
Ace Air’s professional staff can assist you in financing your Preventative Maintenance Agreement.  Remember, Ace Air is licensed, bonded, insured,  and a registered contractor with the State of Arizona.  They’re also a Better Business Bureau accredited company and a business you can count on.
Like their slogan says, “Ace Air: We’ll be there!”

Contact Ace Air

Telephone: 602-266-5223
Fax: (602) 296-3923

ROC LIC #242376
KB-01 #264403
all copy and concepts property of ACE AIR &  destination marketing—2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creative Thinking following Chiropractic Adjustment

submitted by Back Stop / Back on Track Chiropractic

The above headline came from a February 4, 2011, article on the site The article is reporting on research published in issue 40 of the Chiropractic Journal of Australia showing that a single chiropractic adjustment enhanced creative thinking.

This pilot study checked the creative responses of ten people after a single chiropractic adjustment.  In this study the participants were initially given an "alternate uses test" to have a standard to be judged against. Dr. Louise Hockley, BSc., a Wellington-based chiropractor, explained how the test works by saying,  "The procedure for the alternative uses test is to write down as many uses for an object as possible during a ten minute period." Dr. Hockley continued, "For example, naming all the different ways you could use a newspaper was one of the questions used, as was naming all the different ways you could use a chair, followed by naming all the different ways you can use a shoe."

Participants were initially tested, then each subject was assessed for subluxation. The article reports that a subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health.  Based upon the chiropractic analysis and the conclusion that a subluxation was present, participants were given a single chiropractic adjustment.

Between two and eight days after the chiropractic adjustment, each subject performed the alternate uses test again using a different version of the test. The results were then compared to their earlier test to see if there was any change in how they performed. The results showed that six of the ten subjects experienced a post-adjustment improvement in their performance on the alternate uses test. Seven of the subjects showed new directions in a real-world creative task, and six participants showed renewed energy towards a creative project already planned.

Dr. Hockley commented on the results by saying, "Taken as a whole, the results indicated improvement in real world creative tasks during the two to eight day period after the adjustment, which is very exciting."  Dr. Hockley related, "Naturally, due to the small size of the study, these conclusions must be considered preliminary, pending verification by future studies.

For more info, go to: or call:  480-963-0504

Back on Track Family Chiropractic has been serving families in the east valley for over 10 years.  It is their goal to provide quality chiropractic care in a loving and friendly atmosphere.  Their inviting and warm doctors and staff are there to guide you on your journey to health and wellness, making it the most enjoyable experience possible.  Their office not only provides chiropractic care but  incorporates physiotherapy, rehabilitation and massage to maximize their patients healing  process.  They also offer affordable spinal decompression therapy for disc injuries as an alternative to expensive and dangerous surgery.

They pride themselves on their continued commitment to enhancing the lives of their patients by updating them with the latest in wellness news and research.  Weekly free seminars are given at their office to further help those in their community to achieve better health and a better quality of life.

Back On Track Chiropractic
2051 W Warner Rd #1
Chandler, AZ 85224
480-963-2899 (fax)

Hale Security Pet Door: How do we house-break a 3-month-old Yorkie? A preferred Maricopa County Home Show Vendor

Helpful tips to provide you and your pets with happier, healthier lives...

Hale Pet Door Monthly Pet Tips

House Training Tips
How do we house-break a 3-month-old Yorkie? We keep her in a wire crate with its door opened to the Hale doggy door so she can only go outside and not come into the house as such. If we were to let her come into the house she would leave her calling cards on the puppy pads and not save up to go outside. We need to get her little mind associated with the idea of going potty outside but have no idea about how to get the great outdoors of the fenced-in dog run associated with going potty there.  Any ideas? –N.J.P., Prescott, AZ
Yorkie dogTo train your puppy to go outside when she’s not crated you must train your dog just as you would if you didn’t use the crate.
This is accomplished by taking the pup outside when she wakes up and after eating. This involves a lot of bonding time with your pup, and she will accept your leadership.
A typical training scenario goes like this:
  • Puppy wakes up, and you call her to the door and go out together. As she sniffs around, take her to the area of the yard where you want her to go. Watch her behavior as she’ll give you clues that she’s about to potty. When she starts to go, say a word that you will use as a cue to let her know what you want her to do. Remember that dogs hear only the end of words, so use a command that ends in a different sound than other commands that you’ll use. When she’s finished, praise and reward her.
  • After the puppy eats repeat the above steps.
  • Take your pup out in the evening right before bed.
  • Take your puppy out first thing in the morning.
  • Your pup will let you know when she has to go by sniffing and circling, so get her outside as soon as you see these behaviors.
Do not have puppy pads in the house. The puppy pads attract your pup to them to eliminate, so using them in the house just encourages her to urinate in the house. The pads will be more useful if you put them out in the run where you want her to relieve herself.
Most puppies usually can start to control their elimination around four months of age depending on breed. Some youngsters have a few accidents in the house, and it’s important to treat it as an accident and never punish your pup. If you catch your puppy in the act, pick her up and run her outside to the toilet area.
Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect any accident spots, so your pup doesn’t smell the urine and think it’s a good spot to go. Avoid cleaners with ammonia because these cleaners smell like urine to dogs and can encourage urinating in the house. To eliminate urine odor, you can use vanilla extract to cover the smell.
It’s necessary to keep a watchful eye on your pup at all times. If you find that your puppy is still having accidents, you can fasten a leash to your belt so your puppy is close by at all times.
If you’re consistent with your training and your pup is physically mature enough to control herself, the time you invest in training will determine how fast your puppy learns where it’s appropriate to relieve herself. Be sure to get everyone in the household involved in this first training.

When you’re looking for a pet door, be sure to check out the best pet doors made in the USA at Hale Pet Door.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kitchen Design Ideas Three leading kitchen experts offer advice on what’s hot.

  • From: BUILDER 2011
  • Posted on: January 13, 2011 2:41:00 PM

20 Kitchen Design Ideas

20 Kitchen Design Ideas
What’s on the front burner for 2011? Three leading kitchen experts offer advice on what’s hot.
    Courtesy Kliptech
    Trend #4: This EcoTop countertop by Kliptech is an FSC-certified product made from 100% post-consumer recycled fiber and rapidly renewable bamboo with a water-based seal. Looks great and contains no VOCs.
    James F. Wilson
    Trend #5: Simple planter boxes made from scrap lumber cost next to nothing but score points with buyers. These weather-resistant containers just outside of Builder’s Concept Home 2011 are made from leftover composite decking material.
    Susan Gilmore
    Trend #6: The scallop-edge vent hood capping the vintage stove in this kitchen designed by Rehkamp Larson Architects sets a whimsical tone and is anything but ordinary.
    Courtesy Sub-Zero
    Trend #7: A colorful “tall wall” loaded with built-in SubZero appliances doubles as a wall partition, blending function with flavor.
    Courtesy Diamond Spa
    Trend #10: Farmhouse style is also popular in times of simplicity. This copper trough skirted sink from Diamond Spas fits the aesthetic and offers a warm alternative to stainless steel.
    Courtesy Merillat
    Trend #11: Shaker-style Merillat Classic cabinets in maple provide a simple complement to the dramatic exposed trusses in this rustic kitchen.
    Bruce T. Martin
    Trend #14: Designed by Lilly Dadagian Architects, this small yet serene New England kitchen is as practical as it is pretty. It comfortably tucks a computer workstation with office shelving into its layout.
    Jonathan Benoit
    Trend #17: This modern bistro kitchen, designed by architect Robert J. Miller for a professional chef, has the requisite industrial-grade appliances, but also incorporates cost-saving materials such as chalkboard paint. A vegetable garden lies just outside the French doors.
Houses are shrinking in the recessionary economy, but kitchens? Not so much. As other rooms are eliminated from downsized plans, their functions are naturally migrating to the kitchen, placing more pressure than ever on this culinary zone to perform double or triple duty as the home’s primary living space. Flexibility is a must in open areas that are used not only for cooking, but also dining, entertaining, homework, family time, and even telecommuting.  Thrift is also a virtue. And there are other ingredients in the mix, too. Aging baby boomers, sustainability, health consciousness, stricter energy regulations, new technologies, and the rise of the single woman buyer are all factors shaping kitchen aesthetics and functionality today. These were just a few of the observations noted by kitchen designers Mary Jo Peterson and MaryJo Camp, and architect Doug Van Lerberghe in a January 13 session on “Reinventing the Kitchen” at the International Builder’s Show in Orlando, Fla. They offered these timely tips for creating kitchens that shine in today’s market.

1. Prepare for prep. Sinks aren’t just for doing dishes anymore. As core prep areas, they are best when accessorized with trash and composting within reach, adjacent work surfaces, and motion sensor faucets for dirty hands. When it comes to functionality, large single bowls are more versatile than double wells. And if the budget allows, provide more than one sink.  "As we go up in size, the first thing we want two of in the kitchen is sinks," Peterson said. "That allows two cooks to work simultaneously in the space."

2. Design for all. Baby boomers may not like being reminded of their age and may bristle at the term "accessible design," but they will love you for creating a kitchen that simply feels better and works better. Consider making universal design features such as right-height appliances, ergonomic hardware, user-friendly task lighting, and reachable storage part of your standard practice.  At the end of the day, universal design is simply a synonymn for good, smart design that benefits every user. And when it’s done well, it’s transparent.

3. Work with what you've got. Don't fall for the "gotta have it" mentality and feel obligated to cram certain features into a kitchen space that can't accommodate them. Be mindful of the room dimensions. If the kitchen is a skinny one, a peninsula may work better than a puny island, and a thoughtfully appointed pantry with French doors will feel less cramped than a walk-in. Maximize all available cavities with pull-out shelves, racks, and drawers that are easy to access—preferably at the point of use when possible.

4. Get some green. Even if you don’t have the budget for full-on solar or a geothermal loop system, small choices in the kitchen can make a difference—particularly when there’s a payback for the homeowner in the way of energy savings or health.  Look into WaterSense plumbing fixtures, Energy Star-rated appliances, and recycled or rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo, cork, or quartz composite.

5. Enter growth mode.  The local food movement is gaining traction—and there’s nothing more local than a window box herb garden or a tomato grown in a planter just outside a homeowner's kitchen door. If you have an opportunity to provide built-in garden space, do so. It’s not expensive, and green-thumbed buyers will appreciate the gesture.

6. Speak with an accent. It goes without saying that memorable spaces have personality. Does your kitchen design go beyond plain vanilla? If not, identify a focal point such as an island, vent hood, or picture window and emphasize it with a unique color, special lighting, or a change in finish.  That kind of attention to detail will make the space more unique and memorable.

7. Try new hues. “Color alleviates monotony and is a wonderful, inexpensive way to make a statement,” said Peterson. To spice things up, try a little variable color blocking in your cabinets and/or island. Mix natural woods with paints or stains in muted colors such as violet, navy, yellow, or beige. For accents, try a dash of turquoise, orange, raspberry, tomato red, or grass green.

8. Go for contrast.  Not into color? You can also create sophisticated spaces with strong juxtapositions of light/dark, matte/shine, and smooth/texture in your cabinetry, flooring, countertops, and backsplashes. “Multiple, compatible, smooth countertop surfaces are best coupled with textured backsplashes,” Camp advises. Black and white is an ever-classic combo, but you can also achieve a similar affect with cream and chocolate brown. “Today we are seeing texture and depth replacing layered glazes,” Peterson said. Visual brushstrokes and surfaces with an aged, distressed look are popular.

9. Make short and long-term decisions. Being trendy is okay, but be strategic about it. Take risks with finishes and materials that can be easily and economically swapped out at a later date, such as paint colors, furniture, upholstery, or cabinet hardware. Keep the permanent stuff more neutral. A purple appliance is a 10- to 20-year investment, but a purple wall doesn’t have to be.

10. Warm it up.  Homeowners are entertaining more at home these days and they want spaces that feel welcoming, not sterile. So it's no surprise that Craftsman style is a current favorite, given its emphasis on craftsmanship and natural materials. Sinks and faucets finished in matte and warmer artisan finishes such as bronze, copper, and brass are making a comeback, too.

11. Exercise restraint. If your kitchen is graced with a dramatic feature such as exposed ceiling structure, a veiny countertop stone, or wood cabinetry with a pronounced grain, keep everything else simple and give that element space to breathe. “If your reclaimed wood floors are full of character, don’t make them compete for attention,” Camp said.

12. Simplify it. Traditional looks never quite go out of style, but their nuances do ebb and flow with economic tides. Today's idea of "traditional" is all about cleaner lines with minimal ornamentation and lots of white. “People are looking at heritage in a new way,” Camp observed.  Old World features such as heavy corbels and raised island bars are being traded for simpler elements such as crisp painted bead board, picture rail, and single height islands.

13. Put function first. People naturally congregate in the kitchen, and this tendency has only increased now that kitchens are intended as entertainment hubs. Be generous with clearances, allowing a minimum of 42 inches for work galleys (preferably 48 inches) and 36 inches for passage. And be sure to think about gathering space.  If your house has no formal dining room, consider a built-in banquette or bar seating in the kitchen.  Just avoid the “crows in a line” mistake of putting all of the seats in a row facing the same direction, Van Lerberghe advised.

14. Think portable. For maximum flexibility in a small kitchen, make this movable.  Put dining tables (or even the island) on casters that can be rolled and repositioned during parties. Or eliminate one small section of base cabinets so that a chair on casters can be pushed under the countertop to create a laptop station. Build as many multiple uses into the space as possible.

15. Multitask your appliances. If space is limited, consider appliances that perform more than one function, such as the oven that is both microwave and convection, or the fridge with flexible drawers that can be separately programmed for refrigeration, freezer, or storage space, depending on user needs.

16. Accentuate the positive.  If your budget is meager, the worst thing you can do is to skimp on everything unilaterally. Create a design hierarchy and spend accordingly.  Identify one or two pulse points in the space and put higher priced finishes there.  For example, go for the expensive tile in the backsplash, but then complement it with a less expensive field tile elsewhere. 

17. Look for savings. There are ways to achieve the look of high design without the high price tag. A counter-depth free-standing refrigerator, for example, will cost thousands of dollars less than a built-in fridge but offer a similar visual effect. Plastic laminates made with photos of natural stone look like granite at a fraction of the cost. Smart lighting choices can also be cost savers. “An Energy Star CFL bulb will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months,” Camp pointed out.  “It uses 75% less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.”

18. Lighten Up. For maximum ambiance and functionality, be sure to layer ambient, task, and accent lighting. Install the antique chandelier or cascading blown glass fixture for style, but then augment in spots that are closer to the action with undermount cabinet and task lighting. And have some fun. “Small LEDs installed in the toe-kick area are fun and can also be used as a night light,” Camp said. Just be sure to pay attention to the temperature of the light. “The color rendering index (CRI), which operates on a scale of 1 to 100, indicates how well lighting renders eight standard colors,” she explained. “A lamp with a CRI of 80 is better than one with a CRI of 50.” Check the CRI before you buy.

19. Embrace nature. If your kitchen and great room open onto a patio or other outdoor living space, create harmony by using some of the same materials both inside and out—such as continuous surface floor tiles, brick, or even concrete block.  To create visual connections, you can also specify natural colors and materials in the kitchen that evoke the colors and textures of the landscape outside, such as natural wood and stone.

20. Go ahead, splurge. A small thing of beauty or a tiny indulgence can have an amazing psychological impact in a time of recession. It isn't wise for homeowners to spend beyond their means, but if you can value engineer or trim costs and put a little more toward one precious item that resonates, do it.  Perhaps it's a small wine fridge, vintage drawer pulls, or a reclaimed wide plank wood floor.  The kitchen with a little dash of character is more likely to sell than the one with the plain jane scheme that takes no risks at all.

Jenny Sullivan is a senior editor covering architecture and design for BUILDER.