Granite Transformations for Kitchens & Baths

Everything Knoxville is excited to share our recent interview featuring husband and wife team and local area entrepreneurs, Buddy and Patti Baker. Since first launching Granite Transformations 13 years ago, Buddy and Patti have truly exemplified the principles of success, even in a challenging economic environment, having been recognized as one of the top performing Granite Transformations franchises in the world. Their commitment to success continues to serve as an inspiration to many other area small business owners.

From their very first sales center, to their new Design and Discovery Center and state-of-the-art fabrication facility in West Knoxville, Granite Transformations continues to earn a reputation for outstanding quality, craftsmanship, and integrity.

EK: First of all, congratulations on achieving your 13-year milestone in business. What do you feel has been the single most important factor in your success?

Buddy: Well, it’s hard to pinpoint just one factor. I believe we owe our success to our unique products and proprietary processes and our unwavering commitment to excellence.

EK: Buddy, you spent years in the retail buying industry. What inspired you and Patti to venture out on your own into the world of self-employment?

Buddy: When Belk acquired Proffitts, where I was employed, we considered other opportunities, but we decided to pursue our very own American dream. Owning our own business provided us with the opportunity to take the skills we had learned in corporate America and to combine them with our own unique talents to create a business model that exceeded our customers’ expectations and that we could personally be proud of.

EK: While you have meticulously implemented a well-thought out marketing strategy, share with our readers just how important the quality of Granite Transformations’ engineered granite product is when compared to conventional slab granite.

Buddy: Before launching Granite Transformations, we were committed to identifying a product that was far superior to anything our competition might offer. Simply put, conventional granite can’t match the superior performance characteristics of our proprietary engineered granite surfaces. In fact, we are the only granite surface that can be used in commercial kitchens, where food safety is paramount.

EK: Tell us what other ways your granite products can be used in our homes.

Patti: Our products are designed to be used on just about any flat surface. Its strong physical characteristics allow us to install our granite products just about anywhere, from floor to ceiling, despite its thinner profile. Conventional granite, on the other hand, requires a thicker profile to compensate for its inherent weakness.

EK: What other products and services does Granite Transformations offer homeowners?

Patti: We also offer homeowners premium grade cabinet refacing. We can transform your home’s cabinets in just a matter of days, providing a completely new look to your kitchen or bath. Our process eliminates both the demolition and cost associated with replacing existing cabinets with new cabinets.  Certified by the Green Builders Council, Granite Transformations is committed to eco-friendly building practices through reducing or eliminating unnecessary demolition.

EK: Two major advantages you offer that many homeowners may not be aware of are your quick turnarounds and significant reduction in costly demolition. How does the Granite Transformations experience make that possible?

Buddy: Because we install our proprietary granite surfaces on top of your home’s existing countertops, most countertops can be installed in a single day with no demolition required. We like to say “Done in a Day, Beautiful for Life.” We even provide our customers a limited lifetime warranty on our countertops.

EK: Cabinet refacing continues to become a growing business within Granite Transformations. Explain.

Buddy: It just makes sense. Cabinet refacing in just one day is not only smart, but it’s very smart. Weeks without your kitchen while installing new cabinets is a major disruption in your family’s life. With our resurfacing system, you can get your new kitchen in just a few days.

EK: In addition to your Design and Discovery Center, you also have design consultants that offer homeowners free, in-home consultations. How do your in-home consultations benefit your customers?

Buddy: This is just a common sense strategy we embrace at Granite Transformations that better serves you, our customer. Many of our competitors will quote your project based on the information you provide while never visiting your home unless you buy. To assist you in making this important buying decision, we believe that it is critical for you to view our products in your own home, in your lighting, next to your cabinets and flooring, before you make this very important decision. Granite Transformations will bring a mini design center right into your home. This process offers greater peace of mind to our customers.

EK: How can our readers learn more about Granite Transformations?

Patti: We invite you to visit our Design Center at 10539 Lexington Drive in West Knoxville or visit us online at

EK: Any last thoughts you would like to share with our readers?

Patti: We would both like to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to the thousands of Granite Transformations customers who have contributed to our success. We look forward to the next 13 years of making your dream for a showcase kitchen and bath come true.

What Our Customers Are Saying:

“Your sales representatives answered all my questions and promptly returned all my calls.  Your installers did an incredible job.  My kitchen looks gorgeous!” – Daniela S. (4/18/2017)

“Your salesperson was professional, courteous, and helpful.  We also appreciate your installers calling ahead, being on time, and leaving our home neat and clean.  We love the color of our granite.” – Wayne & Josephine B. (12/20/2017)

“All your installers worked straight through, keeping us up-to-date on their progress.  I appreciate them using protective floor coverings and their attention to the care of our home.  Beautiful!  Fabulous!” – Doug & Cathryne H. (12/14/2017)

“We are very pleased and appreciate all that Granite Transformations has done.  You’ve been great!” – Judy H. (10/16/2017)

“From our first contract with your business about a year ago, everyone we have dealt with was very helpful, knowledgeable, efficient, and professional.” – Marilyn G. (4/24/2017)

“Your sales rep was great – very courteous and helpful.  Installers were professional, courteous, and clean.  Great job.  We are very pleased.  Love it!” – Mary N. (3/16/2017)

Granite Transformations

10539 Lexington Drive
Knoxville, TN 37932

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Amish Excellence

Discover Our Softer Side

I think one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had since launching Amish Excellence in 2016 is the opportunity to see the expressions on the faces of our first-time visitors to our Farragut showroom.  I have come to understand that many new customers rely on a 1960s or 1970s perception of Amish furniture.  They expect to find high-quality Shaker or craftsman-style furniture hand-crafted from durable oak.  Instead, they discover a large selection of chairs, rockers, ottomans, and sofas beautifully upholstered in a variety of fine fabrics, leather, faux leather, and suede.  What hasn’t changed is the superb quality that is built into every piece of our all hand-crafted Amish furniture, made one piece at a time to your exact specifications.  While oak continues to be a popular choice, our selection of solid American hardwoods includes hickory, cherry, curly maple, elm, reclaimed barn wood, and quarter-sawn white oak.

Another experience I enjoy is the smile on our customers’ faces when they discover that their custom crafted furniture from Amish Excellence is reasonably priced and is of superior quality as compared to mass produced or imported furniture sold elsewhere.  Even though we are approaching our second anniversary in business, we meet new customers daily who are amazed at the limitless options available to them.  We especially enjoy having our regular customers stop in to discover what’s new, as our showroom inventory changes frequently.

Amish Excellence designs have continued to evolve to appeal to a wide variety of styles, design preferences, and the most sophisticated tastes.  Our rich leather upholstery and latest geometric design fabrics allow even the most discerning homeowner the opportunity to combine today’s current trends with the quality of Amish old-world craftsmanship that you might have thought no longer existed. Additionally, we are introducing a line of lighting, home décor, and artwork to complement the beautifully made furniture.  Come visit the showroom to see what new items we have to complement your home.

Amish Excellence

613 N. Campbell Station Road
Knoxville, TN 37934

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New Tax Law Strategies

By Yvonne Marsh, CFP®, CPA

Updating financial and tax strategies are always important, but with the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2018, it is essential. The biggest change for all taxpayers is the increased standard deduction to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for joint filers. The additional $1,250 for ages over 65 remained.

Consider grouping your itemizable expenses into one year so that every other year there are enough expenses to itemize.  For example:

Medical Expenses Itemization

If possible, have medical procedures concentrated into one tax year.  For 2017 and 2018, the threshold for itemizing medical expenses was reduced to 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income.  In 2019, it returns to 10% of AGI.

Property Taxes

Pay two years of assessed property taxes in one calendar year.  The deduction for all taxes paid – state and local property and income taxes – is now limited to $10,000.

Charitable Giving

» Concentrate your charitable giving into alternating years.

» Establish a donor-advised fund. It is an easy process to set up your own charitable fund with as little as $5,000. Donate to it every other year to group your itemized deduction and have the fund disburse its charitable gifts evenly every year. You can make gifts of as little as $250.

» Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) become imperative for those over 70½ taking Required Distributions (RMDs).  Direct your IRA custodian to disburse some portion of your RMD directly to your charity/church to exclude that amount as taxable income.

The new law also changed the “kiddie tax” rates so that investment income earned by minors will be taxed at Trust tax rates – a whopping 37% tax once investment income reaches $12,500.  You may think this doesn’t matter to you, but think again. I often see IRA beneficiary forms set up incorrectly so that a minor could ultimately inherit an IRA.  And, you guessed it – it’s considered investment income that is subject to these new rates.  Now is the time to review all of your pre-tax account beneficiary forms.

If your current advisor isn’t talking with you about these important changes, talk with us instead.  Call, email, or visit our website to schedule a complimentary meeting today.

Marsh Wealth Management, LLC 

1341 Branton Blvd, Suite 105
Knoxville, TN 37922

Financial Planning & Investment Advisory Services are offered through Marsh Wealth Management, LLC (“MWM”), an independent investment advisor registered with the state of Tennessee.  Yvonne Marsh is an Investment Advisor Representative of MWM in the state of Tennessee.  Marsh Professional Group, LLC is a TN registered public accounting firm and a separate legal entity from MWM. For a detailed discussion of MWM and their investment advisory fees, see the firm’s Form ADV on file with the SEC at

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Top Closet Trends in 2018

Just like clothes and home décor go through style changes, so do walk-in master closets.   Homeowners not only want to be organized, but they want this very personal space to reflect their individual taste.  As homeowners renovate or build new houses with larger closets, there are current key features and style trends being incorporated that balance style with functionality.

Make Sure the Shoe Fits

Gone are the days when dusty shoes are piled on the floor and you were constantly bending over to get them.  Today’s closets have dedicated shoe shelving – even shoe walls – designed to maximize specific shoe needs.  Not only are the shoes easy to see, but the shelving can be adjustable for various heel heights and boots.  Shoe shelving is literally a time and energy saving feature.  Because each pair of shoes has a space, it also helps extend the lifespan of many shoes.

It’s About Drawers

Homeowners are minimizing the amount of furniture in the master bedroom, so drawers have become a must in closets to provide more out-of-sight storage.  To hold up to daily use, quality drawers are very important.  A drawer box with dovetail corner joints, high-quality chrome slides, and full-extension are a must.  Flat drawer fronts are the least expensive style and can be dressed up with handles.  Think of it as jewelry for a drawer!

Mix It Up

Mixed media finishes are popular in the closet, as well as the rest of the house.  People are mixing textures, hardware finishes, and colors.  For example, a closet using a matte gray finish will incorporate high-gloss gray drawer fronts to give the space a more contemporary, clean feel.

Keep It Bright

From the kitchen to the closet, white is in.  From a traditional matte white finish to white wood grain, these colors also help a closet look and feel larger.  Additionally, chandeliers continue to be popular in closets.  Chandeliers not only provide much-needed lighting, but they set the tone for the space.  Even in smaller closets homeowners are investing in good LED lighting.  Admit it, we’ve all put on one navy blue shoe and one black shoe because of a dimly lit closet!

No matter what style you want in your master closet, a custom design should always be extremely functional and maximize storage as it is beautiful!

Tailored Living of Knoxville provides whole-home organization with complimentary on-site consultations and 3D designs.  Most of all, from the owners to the employees, Tailored Living maintains a sharp focus on providing excelling customer service and quality products.

Tailored Living featuring PremierGarage


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The Cleanest Carpets and Rugs Possible! Period!

By Kerry McDuffie, Owner of Superior Carpet & Rug Cleaning

While no one can deliver perfection, at Superior Carpet & Rug Cleaning, we deliver the next best thing – excellence. That’s been our company’s motto for 33 years. We’ve invested in the training, education, and state-of-the-art technology and equipment, including many proprietary systems that we ourselves developed, to deliver a level of excellence that you might have thought no longer existed, whether we are cleaning your home’s carpeting or your valuable Oriental rugs.

So how is it that we can make this statement? That’s because of my personal commitment to either perform or supervise 100% of all work performed by Superior Carpet & Rug Cleaning. It’s also our unparalleled attention to every detail involved in cleaning your home’s rugs and carpeting.

For example, did you know that Superior Carpet & Rug Cleaning only uses purified water when cleaning your rugs and carpeting? Why is this important you might ask? Untreated tap water contains impurities, including trace chemicals, minerals, and chlorine, that can reduce the effectiveness of cleaning agents and remain behind as residue in your carpeting. This accumulation of impurities in your home’s rugs and carpeting prevent them from being as clean as they can be, which can result in a dull appearance on your carpeting and can actually shorten the life expectancy of rugs and carpets.

At Superior Carpet & Rug Cleaning, all of our vehicles are equipped with water purification systems, and our proprietary Oriental and area rug washing boutique utilizes a state-of-the-art reverse osmosis system that delivers the purest water possible. After all, clean rugs and carpeting begin with clean water.

To experience the difference yourself, we are offering a special Valentine’s discount of 15% off as an added incentive to help you discover what thousands of other satisfied East Tennessee homeowners and business owners already know – Superior Carpet & Rug Cleaning delivers excellence. The discount is available through February 28th, and certain restrictions apply. To learn more, call 865-691-5686 or visit

Superior Carpet & Rug Cleaning


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The Best Improvement We’ve Made to Our Kitchen

Having trouble comfortably reaching your under cabinet items?

Wishing you had under cabinet lighting to aid in kitchen tasks?

Hoping there’s a way to utilize that wasted corner cabinet space?

We can help!  At Shelf Help, we design and install custom roll-out shelving and organizers into your home’s existing kitchen and bath cabinets or pantries, which allows you easy access and maximum use of your available storage space – all at a 50% savings from national brands! As experienced Knoxville-area kitchen and bath remodeling consultants, Shelf Help has the understanding and know-how to evaluate, design, measure, and install solutions tailored to your needs.

Now imagine how installation of under cabinet lighting would transform your kitchen workspace! Whether it’s a soft ambience you’re looking for or illumination of specific task areas, Shelf Help offers installed LED lighting systems that add radiance to your home.   

Our clients are so pleased with the results that they say, “Why didn’t we do this years ago?”

“Best improvement we’ve made to our home – hands down.” – Judy F. of Tellico Village

“Great product – well designed, smooth installation, and a far more efficient kitchen.” – Mark & Susan D. of Knoxville

Call today to request your free, no-obligation, in-home consultation. Also, don’t forget to ask about our under cabinet lighting systems! Locally owned and operated, let Shelf Help make the most of your home’s kitchen, bath, or pantry.

Shelf Help


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Love Your Hardwood Floors All Over Again

Do you remember the very first time you saw your home’s hardwood flooring?  Rich and luxurious, your hardwood floors created a rich ambiance that highlighted your furnishings and décor throughout your home. And who wouldn’t revel in the compliments from friends and family who routinely commented on just how beautiful your home was?

But that was then!  After a number of years of usage, your hardwood floors no longer create that “wow” factor they once did.  Scratches, dents, fading, UV damage, and wear have all taken their toll on your once beautiful floors.

But this is now!  Fortunately, you can fully restore your home’s hardwood flooring to their showcase, “like-new” condition.

But what about all the mess?  While many hardwood flooring refinishers continue to use outdated refinishing practices, today’s newest refinishing technology totally eliminates the dust so common with the technologies from the past.  Thanks to Bona, the undisputed leader in hardwood flooring finishing and refinishing worldwide, you can restore your home’s hardwood flooring without the dust or odor.  You can even shift stain colors to create an entirely new look.

European Fine Hardwood Floors, located right here in Knoxville, is Bona certified.  This much coveted certification is your assurance that your home’s hardwood flooring will be returned to its original condition without the mess and odor that you’re likely to experience with other refinishing contractors.  European Fine Hardwood Floors can also install new hardwood floors in virtually any room in your new or existing home using Bona certified best practices and old-world craftsmanship learned in Europe by Valera Tomescu, European Fine Hardwood Floors’ owner.

During this Valentine’s month of February, why not fall in love with your home’s hardwood floors all over again?

European Fine Hardwood Floors


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The Lily Pad Featuring Brighton

By Brenda Bryan

Partnering with a company such as Brighton is no accident… months and sometimes even years of preparation and dedication go into the decision. Each store representing this amazing company is selected based on strict criteria and guidelines, and once this selection has been made, the relationship between the company, the store, and the customer begins!

The symbol for Brighton is a heart, symbolizing the fact that each piece has been lovingly created by a team of artisans who put their hearts into every accessory they create… each one beginning with a hand sketch inspired by travel, art, architecture, and the world around us. For more than 40 years, the family-owned company has been building a heritage of creating beautiful accessories.

During February, please come in and try on any piece of Brighton jewelry and register for a 3-piece heart jewelry collection ($120 value) to be given away February 28th.

Brighton and The Lily Pad both do business with a lot of heart, and we are here to ensure that the products you purchase from us are THE BEST!

The Lily Pad Boutique

209 N. Main Street
Sweetwater, TN 37874

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Discover Upstairs at The Mansion

Since it first debuted one year ago, the all-new Upstairs at The Mansion restaurant, located within Sweetwater Flower Shop, has succeeded in delighting a great many restaurant goers who have enjoyed dining at the shop’s popular eating destination.  Located on the shop’s second level, Upstairs at The Mansion features an upscale antebellum décor complete with raised ceilings, crystal chandelier lighting, rich, decorative wood molding, and exquisite table linens and place settings. The perfect oasis from shopping, Upstairs at The Mansion offers busy shoppers to Sweetwater’s iconic historic downtown retail district the perfect venue to pause with friends and family.

Upstairs at The Mansion, under executive chef Josh Russell from North Carolina, offers patrons extended hours of operation.

“Our extended hours are from 11 am to 4 pm Tuesday through Saturday,” said Josh.  “We will consider additional adjustments to our schedule in response to customer demand.”

As always, Upstairs at The Mansion will be available for special events, including corporate, small weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and more.

“While you no doubt have noticed a number of menu changes during the last year, we have continued to offer our traditional selection of popular sandwiches, soups, and salads,” said Josh. “Because we are here to serve you, we encourage your suggestions and comments on future menu additions as well. We are confident that you have been pleased with both the selection and quality of our menu items and our attentive wait staff.”

While you’re visiting, take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy two floors of pure shopping delight at Sweetwater Flower Shop, which features a large selection of fresh flowers, florals, gift and home décor items, ladies’ apparel and accessories, designer-inspired jewelry, art, and more.

Why not plan a Valentine’s Day outing with your sweetheart to historic downtown Sweetwater and double your fun with a visit to Sweetwater Flower Shop and Upstairs at The Mansion restaurant? Join us for our Valentine’s dinner on Saturday, February 10, at 6:30 pm at Upstairs at The Mansion. The cost is $59.99 per couple and includes complimentary champagne.  Reservations can be made now with a credit card to hold your place.

Upstairs at The Mansion

118 W. North Street
Sweetwater, TN 37874

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Missed Opportunities

By Tom Irmen

In the fall of 1930, during the Great Depression, which started in mid 1929, the first bank panics occurred, starting first in Nashville and then spreading throughout the Southeast. Referred to as a “bank run,” hundreds and sometimes thousands of depositors who lost confidence in the security of their financial institutions would converge of their local bank, withdrawing all of their hard earned money. As a consequence, more than 1,300 banks failed in 1930, and it continued on through 1931 and 1932.

As a child born in 1950, I often recall the conversations of adults reliving their experiences of both the Great Depression and that period of bank failures that followed, which saw American depositors lose an estimated $140 billion in deposits. Because these bank failures occurred prior to the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which today insures your deposits held in participating banks, this money was lost for good. It was no wonder that many Americans continued to mistrust financial institutions for decades after, electing to keep their money elsewhere, just not in a bank despite the protection offered by the FDIC. People often referred to their mattress as their bank.

The experiences of the Great Depression, while far more dire than our most recent Great Recession, have nonetheless upended the economic confidence many of us hold for the future. And while our lack of optimism may be driving our desire to keep our heads down and our powder dry, the renewed confidence in our economy experienced during the last year is undeniable. So just what should you do?

Our history is filled with multiple examples of both economic hardship and periods of economic boom. I encourage you to closely examine today’s economic indicators, including the small business confidence index, which is at a new all-time high. Be careful not to allow previous economic challenges to limit your future for economic growth. Don’t throw caution to the wind, but don’t put yourself in a position where you will have missed what might become one of the biggest economic opportunities in recent times. The best place for your money may not be the mattress.

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