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Best Out-of-the-Ordinary Wedding Gifts
Warner's Antiques
1401 S. Broadway

Next time you've got to come up with one present to please two people, this is the place to come. Mariella Warner has a wide inventory of antique silver at Warner's Antiques (settings, cream-and-sugar sets, pitchers, you name it), along with china, clocks and one-of-a-kind furniture. She wraps nice, too.

Best Way to Hop to It at Home
Brewhoppers Homebrew Kits
P.O. Box 1057
Broomfield 80038

There are several shops out there where you can buy all the fixin's for brewing ales, stouts and porters in your own basement. But if you're shy, this Broomfield-based mail-order outfit ships kits with everything you'll need to do it at home, including a copy of The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing, all for $89.95 plus shipping. If you decide you like it and spring for a membership, you'll receive a newsletter and new kits, delivered monthly or semi-monthly, at $21 a pop. The perfect gift for hops-loving agoraphobics.

Best Plumber's Helper
Gary Winn
University Hills Ace Hardware
2500 S. Colorado Blvd.

When faced with a leak, the last thing you want to do is talk to a drip. So go see Gary Winn. He doesn't bore you with war stories of past pipe fittings, and he doesn't talk down to you even though you're ignorant about the tools of the plumbing trade. Ask him for a "thingamabob" and he'll figure out what you're really looking for. He's got all the supplies, he's friendly, knowledgeable and efficient, and he'll even loan you a wrench. One good turn deserves another.

Best Tool-Lover's Fantasy Land
Surplus Tools & Commodities Corp.
1411 W. Alameda Ave.

The dark, musty aisles at Surplus Tools might seem surprisingly daunting to suburban people used to the monstrous, well-lighted ones in Hugh M. Woods or HomeBase. But anyone with a penchant for urban junking will love the place, where helter-skelter new and used items rub shoulders on the shelves. Or wherever. If you come here looking for stuff, you're sure to find it.

Best Kitchen Design
Hardwood Originals
3870 Elm St.

When a small army of architects couldn't come up with a kitchen that worked for Eugenia Bickerstaff (Bernie's wife), she turned to Mike Thulson and his father, Ken, of Hardwood Originals. The result earned a spread in a home-decor magazine. Though the Thulsons don't guarantee glossy-paged tributes to all their projects, they've mastered the craft of building cabinetry, as well as the tricky art of helping homeowners dream up a kitchen that won't give them nightmares once the sawdust settles.

Best Floor-Tile Store
Design Materials
400 Quivas St.

One or two other stores have walk-on displays of floor tile as artful as the one at Design Materials. But none can compete with their helpful staff (Tom Menard is particularly good) and selection of quality tiles, including stone, ceramic and porcelain. Of course, there's a hitch: They're wholesale, so you can pick out a great Italian faux-marble ceramic, but you have to send a contractor, tile layer or architect to buy it.

Best Place to Buy House Paint
Belcaro Paint and Decorating Center
830 S. Colorado Blvd.

Buy the stuff the professionals use, at a place the professionals frequent, and get advice from experts who don't mind helping out an amateur. Belcaro Paint and Decorating has an abundance of paint and wallpaper samples that will satisfy even the most picky decorators. And if you're still not quite sure of a color, they'll sell you a paint "swatch"--one and a half ounces of custom-mixed paint--for $2. The swatches, which cover about two square feet, are the brainchild of store owner John Harris. This is the kind of great idea that catches on.

Best Place to Plan a Coverup
Colorel Blinds
Seven metro locations

So you just got your dream apartment, loft or house. But there's nothing on any of the windows to protect you from the damaging UV rays of the sun or the prying eyes of your nosy neighbors. Custom drapes? Got $10,000? Plantation shutters? That'll be $5,000. Plus, it'll take six weeks to get them installed. But if you order custom mini-blinds or verticals today from a Colorel showroom, you can have them by tomorrow for only a few hundred dollars. At that price, if the mood strikes, you could change them every year. To make blinds this fast, you'd have to own the factory--and that babe on the commercials does!

Best Oriental Rug Makeovers
Robert Mann Oriental Rug Restoration
2540 Walnut St.

The reputation of Bob Mann's state-of-the-art cleaning and restoration facility has other cleaners and restorers consigning their most difficult jobs to him. That's because the crew here really knows what it's doing, especially the able team of Asian-American craftswomen who tend to the delicate repair jobs. Despite the credentials of the place, prices are not only competitive but downright cheap.

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