Best of Knoxville 2014: HOME & GARDEN

Best Garden Store/Nursery

Stanley's Greenhouses and Plant Farm
It's a place to dream and scheme: the sweet-smelling, lightly-steaming greenhouse with its boundless tropical foliage; the treasure trove of hard-to-find planters and clever designer garden accents; and aisle upon aisle of blooming seedlings and hanging baskets, whatever the season. Stanley's is also the go-to resource for bedding plants—pansies to snapdragons to eggplant and cherry tomatoes—and trees and hydrangeas. And don't forget herb gardens and the coolest cacti and... the list goes on and on. But here's the important thing about that list: South Knoxville stalwarts Lisa Stanley and brother-in-law Monte Stanley carefully, even lovingly, select what they will sell with an eye towards making each garden productive and long-lasting. They comb the latest offerings—right now that'd be heirloom tomatoes grafted on to hardier hybrid stock for better yields, and pitcher plants that naturally combat mosquitoes—for nifty plants that will work hard in the garden. They host countless workshops and meet-and-greets to educate and entertain; everyone's a green thumb here. And the Stanleys, and their staff, are always willing to pause to discuss your needs for that awkward shady corner or talk about the weather, even if you're only browsing—and dreaming. (R.K.)
Runners Up: Knox Seed, Mayo Garden Center, Thress Nursery Gardens

Best Landscaping/Tree Service

Yes, when you name a place Earthadelic, you conjure a certain image, and original 1998 founder Dale Madden and partner as of 2008 Steve Polte definitely have the green angle working. (Okay, they seem like hippies, there, we said it.) They are known for their water features and environmentally-conscious landscaping, and are surely the only landscapers hereabouts who speak of their "emotional investment" in projects. But they're very, very practical, too, meeting deadlines and sketching out five-year lawn plans—and their beautiful, HGTV-quality hardscapes, custom stonework, and lawns grace some of the most majestic estates in the area. And don't forget, Polte is an avid Big Orange fan... Probably best to think of them as they think of themselves, a company with a culture "in which all stakeholders—customers, team members, suppliers, owners—and our planet—are treated with gratitude and respect." (R.K.)
Runners Up: Beaver Creek Landscape Management, Knox Urban Homesteads, Thress Nursery Gardens

Best Kitchen and Bath Design

Knox Rail Salvage
Only a locally owned independent that's been around for decades could have quirks like these: a humongous elevator to the second floor at the Jackson Street location; a bonanza of discontinued wallpaper; and a collection of mirrors and framed art that are mostly one of a kind and so heavy that an elevator is an absolute necessity for fetching them downstairs. You never know what you might find there: It is, after all, a salvage enterprise—a tiny nativity set; bargain polypropylene shirts; and stately metal birdbaths are a few items in years past inventories. But they always have wonderful brand-new products in the kitchen, bath, doors, floors, building materials, and home decor categories, most all of them deeply discounted. A bit of hunting is necessary, but these days that can be aided and abetted by the store website, which showcases its products in actual local home designs. And unlike, ahem, well, we all know who they are, this local biz offers no-loafing, no-hiding "load and go dock service," and off you go. (R.K.)
Runners Up: Dixie Kitchen, Kitchen Sales Gallery, Smoky Mountain Tops

Best General Contractor

McCamy Construction
Runners Up: Brooke-MacDonald Custom Construction, McNabb Modern Construction, Mike Stevens Homes

Best Flooring Store

Broadway Carpet
Runners Up: David's Abbey Carpets, Frazier's Carpet One Floor & Home, Knox Rail Salvage

Best Realtor

Suzy Trotta
By any measure, Suzy Trotta is a hard-working and interesting person. She speaks nearly fluent German, which is no easy feat; she's a frequent contributor to local news programs, maintains a blog about all things real estate, and still shows and sells houses, too. Her active life is part of what keeps Suzy in demand—she's well versed in the general market and immerses herself in details about specific properties. Her knowledge, excellent communication skills sunny disposition, have made Suzy a winner. (D.P.)
Runners Up: Kimberly Dixon Hamilton, Rob Howard, Chad Wiles

Best Cleaning Service

The Cleaning Authority
Runners Up: Jani-King, Merry Maids, Two Chicks and a Broom

Best Handyman Service

Smart Home Fix
Runners Up: Campbell's Painting and More, HEP, Mr. Handyman of West Knoxville