Archive for the ‘Tukee Talks’ Category

Here in the valley we’re always looking for ways to cut our utility bills.  I’ve often wondered how much window coverings really help to conserve energy and have to admit up front, I always doubted there was much of a tangible savings based on what you put over your windows, black out style treatments included. But this past summer I saw proof-positive that you can save greenbacks with the right window coverings.  In our home it was a progression over the past year, adding one thing at a time as the budget permitted but this summer we finally saw some tangible savings.

When we bought our home it had few window treatments and what did exist were the little metal 1″ blinds.  Nice.  I tore most of them out post-haste as I’d rather have nothing on the windows vs. those things. It was winter and the fact there were no window coverings didn’t matter much. Then came June.  Because there are so many windows the house heated up quickly as soon as the summer months were upon us.  It wasn’t in the budget to get the window treatments we wanted so we started with a film over the windows to prevent the fading of furnishings, wall hangings and the carpet.  At the same time we opted for sunscreens on the NW side of the home where it was MEGA hot (happened to be the master bedroom & bath) because it took the late afternoon/evening sun. The window film has made a huge difference in preserving the color of furnishings and wall hangings but it did little to cut the cost of the utility bills.  It was a fight to keep the utility bills under $300, resorting to tactics not fit to print. While we never topped that $300 number, we did lose water weight (literally) sweating it out.

So, I swore the next project would be to get something over the windows to help with this problem come the following summer.  But, in the back of my mind I still had little faith that alone would help and started mentally budgeting to add another full a/c unit to the house as it only has one now.

At the start of the year we finally got estimates and while I’d said all along I didn’t want shutters, I learned they were the most efficient at keeping out heat than most other options. There were other treatments I liked better but they wouldn’t have worked as well with the heat factor.  So we opted for 5″ wood shutters with hidden hinges in an alabaster for the bedrooms and a rich dark wood for the family and living rooms that are adjacent to the kitchen and have the same color cabinets. They were installed by May and ever since then the a/c has been set at a much lower setting and we’ve yet to pass a high of $270 on the electric bill.

The downside to shutters (for me) is they really can darken a room, which is why they’re effective at keeping out the light/heat. I prefer bright but with pretty much 365 sun here in the valley a reprieve in July and August is NOT a bad thing. They really do dress up a room as well and the natural wood tones are exceptionally pretty. One corner of our family room is a little darker than I like with the shutters but again, they serve an important function and they are very “handsome”.

Here are some before and after photos.  Two sources to get estimates from are Wes McLaughlin at Arizona Blinds (480-234-7209) and Larry Black with All About Blinds (480-507-3333).  I’ve used both and they’re competitive, professional and all-around good guys.

Bedroom after.

Bedroom before.

Family room after.

Family room before.

Dining room after

Dining room before.

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Fireplace Face-Lift

The surround of my fireplace is a faux pink brick that needs to go but there are lots of other projects ahead of it.  So, in the meantime, I elected to paint it.

The first go-round didn’t go so well. I tried for a natural stone look and it just washed it out. Then I went the route of painting it the same color as the walls around it and it disappeared into the wall – as one should expect.  Having little patience when it comes to painting I was about done with this ‘little’ project by now.  Then I came across some of the dark glaze left from the Rustoleum refinishing kit that was used on the dresser and armoire re-do so I applied that over the paint.

While it’s not the fireplace or the neatest project I’ve done, it makes the room more bearable till I can get to it. Who knows, once I find the right mantle it may end up looking ok just as it is.  In the meantime it’s an improvement and all it took was some extra wall paint and a glaze. Here’s before, in-between and the after shot.  It actually came out better than the after shot indicates.


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Just a few hundred bucks and these front doors took on a whole new look.

While I would have preferred to replace the doors entirely, they were decent enough to save (and new ones weren’t in the budget) but I couldn’t stand the glass inserts or the color. The glass had an arts and crafts look to them and the color of the doors was far too red. The house itself was pink so when it finally came time to paint the house the doors were ready for their facelift.

But prior to the paint I had the glass changed out to a simple textured glass that lets in plenty of light yet you can’t see through it. When the inside of the house was being remodeled I had my glass guy who was doing the showers and liquor cabinet cut a couple of pieces for the front door. That was phase 1.

A year later the doors were primed and painted a brown/black color that made a nice contrast with the lighter color of the home. I had a glaze added but it didn’t look right so had them repainted again to a simple satin finish as seen in the after photos. Between the glass, paint and labor it cost about $400,  well worth the transformation it created.

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Create a Linen Closet

So one of the things that drives many of my friends and clients nuts is the lack of storage in the majority of homes across the valley.  In Ahwatukee you need to get a tri-level to find yourself any semi-righteous storage space and even then you may find yourself challenged. I’ve seen some seriously creative use of normal dead spots, like pot shelves, open niches and, of course, under the bed and garage shelving. But if you opt for the latter, you often run into the problem that your garage is no longer big enough to pull in two cars and actually open the doors.

I recently faced this storage dilemma with the new move. Since I was ripping out so many things anyway, (including a wall) I got creative with the typical cabinets-with-counter-and-cabinets-above scenario (pictured below) we find randomly placed in hallways or upper stairway landings of many Tukee homes. To convert this to usable space I simply tore out the old cabinets (which will eventually get mounted in my garage) and created a closet using drywall, 22″ deep shelving, a light (really helps at night), some paint and a set of doors. Since the new closet abuts up to the door of my boys bedroom I didn’t want it to be a hard left turn around the closet when entering their room so we angled the one wall to give the hallway better flow.  You can see that in the photos as well.

One of our mistakes was making the very top shelf the same depth as the other shelves.  We had to cut it down to half the depth so we could actually get stuff past the top of the doorway opening and on to the shelf, otherwise there were only a couple of inches between the wall and the shelf itself.  You’ll also want to be sure to use magnetic door closures and not a full door handle that you have to actually turn the handle to open.  You want to just pull the doors open so the magnetic closure are installed at the top of each door. They sell them at any hardware store and they’re very inexpensive.

Check out the pics below to see the before and after

Before, Hall Cabinets

The one side wall is angled to create a better flow in to the adjacent bedroom.



Hall closet after, inside

Outside view of hall closet, after









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If you have a hole(s) in your fiberglass bathtub, it’s most likely in your best interest to fix it before it gets worse.  Sometimes you can get away without a permanent fix if the holes are confined to the vertical part of the tub, water doesn’t tend to affect the sides of the tub as much.  But, if the holes are on the bottom of the tub and the tub is used everyday,  any and all repairs you do will only be temporary.  So even though you might have the repair done professionally, it may still look good but ultimately it will still leak over time. and most likely before you even realize there’s a problem again.   A tub that’s used regularly is especially a danger as it will eventually develop a mold issue.  Because you cannot see under your tub, it will get bigger and bigger and spread to other locations where eventually the mold will surface.

A great place to find a replacement tub without breaking the bank is Stardust Building Supplies http://www.stardustbuilding.org/  .  This is where most of the valley goes to donate their household items when they remodel. You’ll literally find the kitchen sink here!  Last time I stopped by they had rows of bathtubs to choose from for $50-$100.  Definitely worth a look if you find yourself needing to make the full replacement.  Tubs purchased through the traditional channels can cost you upwards of $300 so Stardust is a good resource to have at your fingertips.

A tiny hole in your bathtub can cause a big problem

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Recently I’ve had a few requests to post more photos of the metallic paint so here they are. These walls were painted using the Copper Gleam and Lustrous Amber colors. I’m attracted to the earth tones so that’s pretty much what you’ll find in our home.  I have a friend who used the Pewter version and it’s beautiful!  She’s going to snap a photo and send it over so I’ll post that one when I get it.  

The two most important things to remember when using this paint are 1) be sure to place on a wall that is subject to natural light, the more light the better.  It really makes a difference is showing the depth of the color.  And 2) even application is tricky.  Be patient and know you may have to go over areas a few times to even out the lines between strokes. 

In the pictures shown here of the Lustrous Amber there was actually a color applied to the walls that was not the companion color that Valspar recommends. It was a color I’d painted a few years back and I was bored of it so decided to put the metallic over the existing paint.  It worked out fine because I selected a metallic color from the Valspar selection that best paired up with the recommended base paint.  So if you’re bored of a room and want to make a change, you may be able to just put the metallic over your existing paint if they are in the same family.  I loved the fact it cut out the step of applying the base color first!

Lustrous Amber metallic paint

Copper Gleam

Copper Gleam at Night


This is the Pewter color. It's hard to see the shimmer because this wall does not get direct sunlight.


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Hi Friends,

If you haven’t already heard, it’s official; on 11/6/09 the President signed the tax credit bill that extends the current $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit (which was set to expire Nov. 30) through April 30, 2010. The bill also includes a new, ‘move up buyers’ $6,500 tax credit for homebuyers who have previously owned a home, if that home was their primary residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight years.

Both the $8,000 credit and the $6,500 credit have expanded buyer income limits ($125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for couples), and the cost of the home being purchased is limited to $800,000.

Existing home buyers will qualify for the full credit as long as they have entered a binding contract by April 30, 2010 and they close the transaction within 60 days. The tax credit is limited to homes with a purchase price of $800,000 and below. The bill also includes anti-fraud language that gives the IRS the authority to provide greater oversight during processing of the return.

As soon as the guideline specifics are announced for the “move-up buyers” I will post that as well. Rumor has it that it doesn’t technically have to be a move-up property; a lateral move may qualify as well so maybe you want to get in to a single story and out of dealing with stairs. Not sure what “lateral” means to the government though so we’ll have to wait and find out.

Additionally, the legislation waives the recapture provision for members of the armed forces who are called on extended duty. Members of the military and uniformed services, who are out of the country for at least 90 days, will also be eligible to use the tax credit upon their return through April 30, 2011.

This is huge if you’ve been thinking about making a move up in this buyer friendly market.  Call me for a market analysis of your existing home if you want to determine if you should be taking advantage of this opportunity.  The inventory of homes for sale by ‘real sellers’ (not a short sale or bank owned property) is very low, especially in the $250-400k range, and buyers are out there looking for clean, maintained properties. Inventory is a bit more plentiful above $400k so could be this government incentive hits your personal sweet spot.  

Pass this along to friends & family who might find it useful no matter where they live as this is a national program.  We’ve heard plenty about the first time home buyers credit but the fact existing home owners are getting a break for making a move up is a new twist.

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Plastic Paint

A couple of weeks ago my neighbor was out painting her plastic lounge chairs.  Of course I buzzed over to find out exactly what she was up to; it looked far too interesting and I had to inquire further.

She has a set of lounge chairs that she’s had forever but were in perfect condition.  However, the white color was yellowed from the intense sun.  While perusing the paint selection at Home Depot (I’m sure you can get it at Lowe’s, too) she came across plastic spray paint, meant for exactly that type of purpose. She was spraying the entire chair as the piping of the chairs are also a heavy plastic (as opposed to metal).

The chairs were originally white so she stuck with the same color but the paint comes in a large variety of colors.  It was so easy, she just wiped them down thoroughly to get off the dust and spread out a big piece of cardboard, placed a chair on it and sprayed away.  It probably took her about 15-20 minutes to do each chair, making sure to get all the nooks and crannies.

They came out looking great!  I only took an after photo (she was on chair two before I got there) and it’s not the best angle but you’ll get the idea.  Once they dried she placed new lounge cushions in a deep rust color over them, but they looked great even without the cushions.  They remind me of the lounge chairs you see poolside at many of our local resorts.

This is just one idea for the use of plastic paint. I’m sure you can come up with plenty of uses around your home to brighten up some household item that’s in great condition but in need of a new finish.  Now if only our (faded red) wooden Adirondack chairs were as easy a fix.  Too bad we can’t buy sanding in a spray can.

They looked much better in person!

They looked much better in person!

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About two months ago I purchased two simple chandeliers at Lowe’s for about $60 each.  (We received 20% off that day so saved a little on each one which are regularly priced at $79 apiece).    I had a vision of hanging them in the entry to add some interest when you first enter our home but wasn’t sure how it would all come together.  After painting the wall with the metallic paint it really ended up working well and the paint glistens at night when the lights reflect off of it.

Our home is decorated simply and I was a little concerned these might be too dressy.  But the basic wrought iron look and minimal crystals ended up adding just the right flair I was hoping to achieve.  So here’s proof that even in a home that doesn’t have a lot of drama in its bone structure (like soaring ceilings or expansive rooms), you can add well-placed fixtures to give you that little decorating edge!

(Now I need to relocate the Shell lamp to a new space…..)

Simple chandeliers add interest to this entry

Simple chandeliers add interest to this entry

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The 2009 Ahwatukee Home Tour and Remodel Expo is almost here!  Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 4, 2009 9 am – 5 pm.

Nyla Simone Home, along with the Emerald Design Center, are hosting the second annual ‘Tukee Home Tour and Remodel Expo.  You can grab something to eat, participate in the 50/50 raffle and then board the trolley to visit the selected homes!

Ollie the Trolley will take attendees on a six home tour in the Ahwatukee area and return them to the Emerald Design Center parking lot which is adjacent to Ikea.

Proceeds benefit Gabriel’s Angels, http://www.gabrielsangels.org/ , an Ahwatukee based, non-profit organization dedicated to delivering healing pet therapy to abused, neglected and at-risk children.  Check out their website for amazing stories and photos of the children who are helped by this exemplary organization.

Tickets are available in the Nyla Simone showroom or through the Chamber of Commerce at http://www.ahwatukeechamber.com/

My cozy home will be on the tour featuring BC Coatings who did the stained concrete floors, Arizona Accents who were a part of last summer’s landscape remodel & Copeland Development for the master bath remodel of a couple years ago.  If you browse through my archived posts you’ll find a write up about each of these projects.  I’ll also be on-hand to talk about plenty of do-it-yourself ideas that we’ve tried around our home.  The purpose of having a smaller home like mine in the tour is to include a variety of price points and show a home that’s focused on using all your space to create a family-centric home.

We hope you’ll join us for this year’s Tukee Home Tour!  Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event.

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