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"How hard could it be?"

I started out in this industry by default. My mother Ruby has been a kitchen & bath designer since long before I was born, with her late father having been involved in the industry as well. For me, though, being a born horse girl and riding/working in stables for years, the kitchen & bath world held no interest. I have always seen myself as an equestrian more than anything. That was always my identity. But at some point the long, hard hours at barely-minimum-wage weren’t cutting it; I wanted to move out, get a car with less than 200,000 miles on the odometer, and do other “adult things”. Sadly enough, the working-student barn jobs eventually had to end in order for these things to happen.

What was the easiest option? Go work with my mom, of course! Instant job! Sitting at a desk all day in a heated/air conditioned building sounds like a piece of cake compared to sweating in 90 degrees (or freezing in 0 degrees) all day and smelling like the manure pile. How hard could it be?

So I was thrown head first into cabinet/countertop land; plywood v.s. particle board construction? Dovetail drawers? Full overlay, partial overlay, or inset doors? What is veneer? Hundreds of door styles, quartz v.s. granite, dimensions of appliances, minimum clearances, crown molding, soft-close hinges… what the hell is a toekick?? And people pay HOW much for a kitchen???

Just a small handful of the things an 18-year-old horse girl is clueless about. 🤣 Overwhelming is an understatement; I never knew that any of these things existed.

After just a few months of gaining (LOTS OF ) product knowledge, learning how to create 3D renderings on the computer, operating online quoting systems, and adjusting to being in a customer service position instead of interacting with more horses than people in any given day (and as it turns out, you can’t keep eating 5,000 calories a day while sitting behind a desk- dieting was probably the biggest disappointment of the adjustment!), I began to catch myself noticing things everywhere I went. The cheap quartz in McDonald’s, the granite in that hotel lobby, the beautiful black walnut bar in that restaurant…

It’s safe to say that after 4 years, it has become a large part of my identity- and now when someone asks what I do, I’m proud to say, “I’m a kitchen & bath designer.”

-Juliana Hupkes

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