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Kitchen and Bath Design Trends for 2023 with Nancy Hugo

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About this Episode

In this episode of The Remodeler Success Podcast we interview Nancy Hugo, the owner of Nancyhugo.com. We talked about the kitchen and bath design trends for 2023, as well as what she sees being big this upcoming year! Tune in to hear about the industry insights.


Dennis Oz: Welcome to Remodeler Success podcast. I’m your host Dennis Oz. It’s been an amazing journey so far. I just wanna say thank you for all your support. We are getting some different comments from even the outside of United States, from Canada, from even Germany and England. I cannot thank you enough because I really appreciate the comments that you are sending us and also the extra information right after every podcast we are getting your comments and extra ideas. We are just creating a great story over here, guys, just with your support and just wanna say thank you. We have different speakers here. We have different audience here. I know that you’re trying to improve your business. Some of our listeners are here, they already have tens of designers and they are running big remodeling companies or you are maybe manufacturing countertops or you’re renovating homes, building full houses from scratch, or you’re just flipping, the best part here is we are bringing you the industry pioneers and today’s one of the days that I’m really excited about because today I have this amazing speaker that she is, I don’t know. I don’t wanna steal her storm, but she has years of experience in the industry. She has another podcast and helping homeowners and also industry people just like us. I have Nancy Hugo here. Nancy, welcome to the show.

Nancy Hugo: Oh, Dennis, thank you so much for inviting me.

Dennis Oz: Yeah, I’m so excited. Thanks so much. Could you please introduce yourself?

Nancy Hugo: Sure. My name is Nancy Hugo. I’m a certified kitchen designer. I started many years ago learning how to draft with an architect, and from there I started selling cabinetry. And from there, oh God, the sky is the limit. I am a remodeler for the end user, the homeowner of kitchens and baths and whole house. And I also have an online magazine that’s called DesignerCircleHQ.com, and that’s a networking, online magazine for the design community in Arizona. I also have a podcast called, Home Design Chat with Nancy, which is on 28 platforms. I do what I can in the 24 hours God gave me.

Dennis Oz: Wow. Thank you so much for all these things that you’re giving to the industry. I was looking at your blogs and I’m gonna ask you some questions about Designer Circle HQ today, and looking at your blogs and all the contents that you put out there that’s really interesting. How did you get into that idea of starting Designer Circle HQ in the first hand?

Nancy Hugo: Honestly, I started it 15 years ago because nobody was networking around here. Nobody knew how to network and I had a couple of friends who were out of work and they said, ”Well, where are their get togethers now?” Scottsdale has a lot of showrooms, but I was invited to all the kitchen showrooms being a kitchen designer, and I said, ”Okay, I’ll send them to you.” 15 years ago, there was blogster whatever it was called, where you would just post a lot of events and then you’d have to go in manually. Anyway, that was really not working so well. So I decided, I’ll just start a list of where all these events were for people who want to network. And I got my first showroom, said to me, ”Well, we’ll do a happy hour.” And I said, ”No.” They said, ”We’ll advertise on your Designer Circle.” Which blew me away. So I said, ”Okay, as a thank you, I will hold a happy hour here now.” Over the years, I’ve had a lot of advertisers and I’ve had for 15 years of happy hours every single month. And I, my claim to fame is a Christmas party a couple of years ago where I had 575 people.

Dennis Oz: Wow.

Nancy Hugo: Because of Covid, I don’t do the happy hours anymore, but Designer Circle is more or less a carrier for information to people.

Dennis Oz: That’s great. We are in the same boat here and we always need quality content. Nancy here, she’s just sharing her knowledge over there. I’m really impressed with the quality and also the, also the quantity, It’s a lot of things right there, Nancy. It’s quality and quantity, it’s all together and, just wanna say thank you. Nancy, you’re a kitchen designer for many, many years. This is a big question for designers who are just tuning in today and just trying to understand the next trends about the next year and also the year after. Let me ask you then, what do you think about 2023, what should be expecting?

Nancy Hugo: I still think that the contemporary look is going to continue. I think the simplistic look where people don’t need a lot of tchotchkes are a lot of heavy furniture is going to be popular. I think everybody likes the clean look. I also think that even though some people say the great room is out, everybody likes those little compartments where people can have their own little space that separates the family. So I think the great room is still going to be important to a family gathering, to entertaining, to bring the family together. Whether it’s the kids doing homework while the parents are cooking or just having the big dinner. I think there isn’t enough family time. And so by designing great rooms that would help the family unity.

Dennis Oz: Right. At the end of the day, kitchen is the heart of our homes. Right.

Nancy Hugo: As always,

Dennis Oz: Yes. Yeah, exactly. I ask you this question but I would like to focus a little more on kitchen cabinets and countertops. I saw a lot of two tones kitchens in the past. People were asking me, Can we do white cabinet with the brown island in the middle. They’re trying to create some two tones. But a lot of things changed when covid hits and all the supply chain issues that we had in the past. But still there are big trends in the market, especially when you look at the kitchen cabinets and countertops. What do you think about the upcoming year?

Nancy Hugo: I’m not really a proponent of multicolor cabinets in a kitchen, although I just did one with gray perimeter and then there was a dark blue island I kind of gave in because the homeowner liked that, and I got to say it came out very nice. But I try to stay away from fads. And when I do my podcasts, I tell people; ”Don’t fall into the fad hole.” Because in a couple of years you’re not going to like it. You know, sometimes I get a lot of emails with pictures of different kitchens and from publications and some of that stuff I would not have in my house. I wouldn’t put in anybody’s house. It’s kind of a whimsical. But how long does whimsical last? It gets boring. So I think the timeless look will go on forever. And I always recommend to my clients and on the podcast, get something that you’re not going to be tired of. That’s timeless that you enjoy looking at. So when you get up in the morning, you don’t want to go in the kitchen and go, ”Why did I ever pick this $10,000 orange range?” Because it will get old. So if you like orange, go with the accessories in orange. Maybe a flower pot, a candy jar, your KitchenAid mixer. But try to stay away from the fads. You can do unique to a certain point, but then you get ugly and different. I hate to say that, and you asked me about countertops and so we all know that engineered stone or quartz, whatever you want to call it, is becoming more and more popular. I still use granite because some of my clients really do like the natural stone. They like the look of it, but and I think it’s a little more popular, but course is moving up the line so the both of them have its place.

Dennis Oz: Why do you think Quartz is getting that popular? When you look at the price points, right? When you compare them, and let’s say everyone has a budget, let’s put it in this way. Why do you think Quartz is making on its way, gaining more market share in our country? What do you think?.

Nancy Hugo: I think part of it has to do with the maintenance because you don’t have to seal it. And probably if you need another slab, 9 out of 10 times, it’s going be easier to match. I know there’s, and you know this too, there’s a lot of granites from years ago that if people still like the JU ons, they’re not available anymore. Whereas your engineered stone, they just mix it up like cookie dough. Well you have it . So that’s, I think that’s part of it too, as far as price. People go, ”Well, you know, I’ll just not go with granite. I’ll go with engineered stone. Depending on the pattern or the company, it’s going to be just as expensive.” We know that granite is actually based on the price, is based on where it comes from. So if it comes from your backyard, it’s much cheaper than if it comes from Italy. You can’t say; ”Well, I’ll go with granite for the price.” It’s really the look.

Dennis Oz: Right. Exactly. But not a lot of people can afford some of the quartz pieces that I see on the market because when you look at high end, I believe that we can create high end with quartz and also natural stone. Is that right?

Nancy Hugo: You know, the same thing with appliances. You have good, better, best, and so you have good, better, best in cabinets, countertops, tile, stone. Everything.

Dennis Oz: These trends are just changing over the time. I mean it’s quite normal. And I was looking at your blogs and I see one of the really interesting posts over there about tiny houses. Just wanted to include that in our podcast today. Is that a new trend? How do you comment on that?

Nancy Hugo: Personally, I think it’s fad. There’s a lot of pros and cons to it. And of course when something pops up on the market and it’s different, everybody gravitates towards it and says, ”Oh, that would be so cute.” If you are one person and you’re minimalist, I say; go for it. Because really, who are you going to yell at if it doesn’t work out yourself? If you have another, a significant other, a roommate and two labs, you’re going to have a hard time moving around. The tiny house should be eight, eight and a half feet wide. So if you mark that off in your house and decide this is the space I’m going to live in, it’s usually 400 square feet or smaller, no bigger. Then you really have to get rid of a lot of stuff you have and you have to learn to live with two coffee cups, one for you, one for your guest. Two pots, two forks, two spoons. I’ve read a lot about it and people are not happy with the loft living. So when you put your mattress on the loft, it’s really difficult to change the sheets and fix the bed. Also, you have to climb a ladder or stairs, tiny stairs to get up there. And so if you are not agile or you’re not used to climbing things, if you fell, get ready to break a hip, depending on the side, you know your age, but it’s, I think it’s not as easy as it looks. I did get an email from a company who sent, I can’t remember if it was the apartment therapy or whatever. They sent five pictures of tiny homes. If you really didn’t know the pros and cons, you’d go; ”Wow, I’m doing it.” Because they were gorgeous. But that was the whole house, you know, just this one picture. If you like to empty the can or whatever it is for the toilet, which I’m not a person to do that then it’s okay for you, just like RV living. You have to take all those things into consideration. Pros; Cute. It’s cute. It’s new. It’s different and it’s cheaper. So if you are a single person, you just graduated college, you can’t afford an apartment, of course these things are not cheap. So if you can get a loan from your parents or the bank or whatever and start out that way, I’m not going to say the resale value is great because we don’t know right now what it is. But really check into tiny houses before you jump into one.

Dennis Oz: It’s always better to check before you move in, right? We need to have a look at what’s going on.

Nancy Hugo: It’d be, if it’s possible to rent one and see if you can live. It’s like living in a closet, I couldn’t do it, but a lot of people can.

Dennis Oz: Let’s say supply create its own demand. I also see some other companies that are building backyard offices, because Covid just started that we are started working from home and, not all these homes have their own office, I’m just not talking about the big room, talking about the 10 by 10 small area that you can put maybe an office chair, and a computer right there to do your thing during the day. Not a lot of homes have those kind of convenience, I see some companies they were, putting out backyard office spaces. You could be a newly graduate student with tons of student debt. You could be a business owner who are just trying to create more comfortable office environment. When I see the tiny houses I said it can create another market, affordable office places could be another market for these tiny houses. That’s what I thought. We need bigger places in our houses in order to make ourselves comfortable But what do you think about this? Do you think that can be also used as office in the backyards?

Nancy Hugo: Let’s go back to the She Shed. Everybody wanted one of those because the guy had the man cave and the she shed cute. And the separate building for a small office is a good idea. I often thought maybe a kid’s playhouse would be good. I live in Arizona, so if you don’t have electricity, you’re going to melt in your office or your she shed. So you’ve got to have electricity, and then if you want water, you’ve got to bring water in. You also have to check on the zoning because a lot of the municipalities don’t allow for something like that without a permit. I mean, other than all those things, all those challenges and, that you have to overcome, it’s a cute idea. I mean, every woman would like to just go into her little space away from the kids, close the door and do what she wants to do.

Dennis Oz: We are talking about affordable housing. Trends will be created by some people pioneering that trend, that price increase plays an important role to even slow down the trend or also maybe to support the trend.. Just wanna ask you this: new home designs and, price increases, how do they work together? Do you think that they have any kind of interaction? Do you think price increases are affecting new home designs? What do you think about that?

Nancy Hugo: They have to because the price of lumber has gone up about 30 to 40%. And everything going into your home, including the appliances, the cabinetry, everything. I don’t know anything that has gone down. I’m upset because my eggs have gone up 40%. Building a house, well, case in point, and I’ll give you an example. I was designing a remodel for somebody. We started two years ago and they were ready to, they were going to push out the walls, do the whole kitchen over the master, the outside kitchen. It was gonna be gorgeous. They started to frame and the whole house caught on fire and totally got wiped out. Now they have a slab, so they’re starting all over again, and they’re finding that the prices of everything has gone up. Now we’re going to use the same cabinet company, but he would love to keep his price the same, but wood has gone up so much. As an example, I think people are going to have to start looking at smaller homes, smaller remodels, smaller, just spending a lot less, unless of course you fell into some wealth somewhere. And then of course there are people, again, I live in Arizona. There are pockets of money here. Scottsdale is one of those pockets where I don’t see people saying, but I have a budget. Although I should say, no matter how big the project is, they all have budgets, so the prices are affecting everybody.

Dennis Oz: Up and down, we cannot expect zero inflation, of course. Even if you are talking about the same cabinet company, they’re offering you the solution right now, probably their cost has just arrived that point, and they also need the profit on top of that. it’s really hard to predict. I was hosting Eric Finnigan of John Burns. In the previous episode, and he was pretty optimistic about the upcoming year and they work with data, here we are talking about more like design and trends, but Eric put a lot of insights and the expectations, and they’re also making surveys with the other industry people like remodelers and design and build companies. I feel really optimistic if we have like high inflation, this is, this is United States. The economy cannot be better anywhere else if you don’t have a good economy here, we are gonna get over that one. We are gonna bring the numbers back to the place where it should be. That’s what I think, but I’m pretty optimistic about that. What do you think?

Nancy Hugo: I do a lot of reading on that and there are people who say it’s going to take about 10 years for us to get back to where we were. A lot of people are hoping that it won’t take that long, so there’s just so much you can do. Let’s talk about the supply chain. I just had an interview with a manufacturer rep and he said the supply chain is getting better. You can get some of the appliances that he reps a little quicker than what it used to be. There are still some that you have to wait a year for, and so supply and demand. There are people who say; ”Well, I’m not going to wait for that. I’m going to go get XYZ brand.” Nine outta 10 times, they’re not going to be happy with that quick brand that they said, ”Oh, we can’t wait for this one that we really want. We’ll wait for that one cuz we can get it quicker.” And so what are you going to end up doing; buying it twice. So I think people have to be patient. I think that’s probably one of the keys getting through this.

Dennis Oz: I’m sure that you have some tips for the newby designers here because let’s say we have new people that are trying to learn kitchen design, they’re dreaming about their own business, of course. They maybe already built their own brand, but they still need to learn a lot of things, and I’m sure they have some things to learn from you. Just like starting with some sort of expert advice. What do you say to these new people if they really want to learn more in kitchen design?

Nancy Hugo: First of all, I’ve been in the business a long time. And I learn something new every day. So if you admit it and you keep your mind open, you will just learn from everybody. If you meet somebody that you think is good in the business, has good business sense, listen to what they say. I made a list of what I would tell people. Every job that they do, every project is a challenge. Try to complete it on a timely manner. And if you can’t, the biggest thing you can have with your client is honesty. I think you should be upfront and tell them why. Don’t tell them what they want to hear, tell them the truth. I think that’s really important. So you build up the integrity. Being honest, having patience with your clients, they’re not in the same business. This is a one time, most of the time, a one time project for them. So a lot of times you have to explain why this is happening, why this costs this much, and the questions that they ask might be easy for you to understand. But don’t forget, it’s like talking to a heart surgen. He explained something, I’m like, deer in the headlights. I have no idea what you’re talking about. So meet patient. Listen to your clients. Don’t do something that they keep saying they don’t want, but you want it and you insist because you’re not going to get any referrals. You’re gonna actually get somebody, one of your clients, husband and wife or whatever, they’re goint to badmouth you and you don’t need it. So try to keep your reputation pristine. And that’s probably, Oh yeah, one more thing. Don’t forget people, It’s not your house, it’s your client’s house. And that’s important. I have clients that they like things that I don’t particularly care for. I wouldn’t have it in my house, but it’s their house. So I do the best I can. I give them what they want. Bottom line, work real hard. Develop a rapport with your clients.

Dennis Oz: Wow, I would say it’s a million dollar advice, group of advices, let’s say . So, uh, thanks so much for that. I’m sure that Nancy, there are a lot of things that we can learn from you, especially the people, there could be a new designer or it could be anyone in the industry. The content you put out there, the details that you talk about and it’s really informative. If you really wanna learn, I believe Nancy is going to be one of the go to industrial pioneers that you can see the quality information and you just can understand, what to expect and how to learn more things and what they expect in the next step. Nancy, that’s why I wanna ask you if they wanna learn more if they don’t wanna reach out, how do they do this? And if they want request more information, if they will want to join you and become a subscriber to your podcast, what’s the best way to reach out to you?

Nancy Hugo: First of all the podcast is Home Design Chat with Nancy, and I’m on 28 platforms including iHeartRadio, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. But it’s a pure education. When I do these podcasts, I’m reaching out to explain to people, and when I have a guest and he says, or she says, something that I don’t think is clear, I will interrupt and say; Now let’s explain, or let’s do this, or let me show you. Whether it’s the height of the cabinets ware, what a crown mold is, or whatever. Now if they want to reach me, they can just email me real simply, nancy@nancyhugo.com. I have a website, nancyhugo.com. Very simple because if I made it any more intricate, I would forget what the name was. So I stuck with my own name. I got to tell you, I am the first person to have a website of her own in Arizona as a designer. It’s 2001 I got this. And so people kept saying; ”Yeah, but I like brochures.” And I said; ”Don’t you understand the internet?”

yeah, I know, I know. But, and I have pictures on there and all sorts of things. Just Google my name and I’m all over the place.

Dennis Oz: There we go. There we go. And, I’d just like to say thank you for joining us today, Nancy, for all the things that you have shared. Again, everyone, thanks for joining us and tuning us for today. Nancy, thanks so much for coming out today.

Nancy Hugo: Oh, Dennis, thank you so much. This was so much fun.

Dennis Oz: See you next time. Goodbye.