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Happy together: Husband and wife join talents in new Geneva business

Contractor, designer team up for AJ Hughes Design & Build

GENEVA – Andrew and Ashley Hughes, who own AJ Hughes Design & Build in Geneva, share the work at their new business. Andrew Hughes is the contractor, and his wife, Ashley Hughes, is the designer.

AJ Hughes Design & Build, 27 N. Second St., Geneva, hosted a grand opening in the fall. The business does everything from new residential construction to remodeling, additions and business build-outs, Andrew Hughes said.

"She does all the design, and I do all the construction," said Andrew Hughes, 33. "I actually had my own business for nine years, Hughes Construction. My wife and I got married over the summer, and we decided to do a new business model with her being a designer. … She also does the furnishings, furniture, artwork, vendors. We handle all of it."

With them, customers have a one-stop shop, Andrew Hughes said.

"On their first consultation … we build them a 3-D model on the computer and show them how it looks on a 60-inch screen," Andrew Hughes said. "We are doing everything in-house. We want to cater to people in every way possible, so they will know we are the best in the game."

Andrew Hughes, 33, is a St. Charles native. He graduated from St. Charles High School in 2000. Ashley Hughes, 31, grew up in Yorkville.

The couple met 2 1/2 years ago when a mutual friend referred his future wife – Ashley Harris – to Hughes Construction for remodeling her former home in Geneva.

"She was very design savvy," Andrew Hughes said. "She had everything picked out and just needed a contractor. ... When we decided to do a business together, I knew we were going to get married."

Ashley Hughes also works as a full-time nurse practitioner with the practice of Dr. Philip Branshaw in Batavia.

"I do both," Ashley Hughes said. "My time as a nurse is a lot more flexible, and that allows me to do this. ... I can work weekends, afternoons and evenings."

Much of her design work in choosing colors, fabrics, cabinets and other items for the home is self-taught, Ashley Hughes said.

The couple eloped Aug. 11, 2015, getting married under a waterfall at Oneonta Gorge in Oregon, based on a photo they saw on a social media website, Andrew Hughes said.

"I didn't want to do a big wedding. She didn't want to do a big wedding," Andrew Hughes said. "We said no matter where that is, that is where we are going to get married."

They secured a wedding photographer, Jess Hunter, who specializes in elopements, as well as a videographer and a minister. A video of the wedding is on YouTube at Ashley and Andrew's Elopement.

"It's a one-hour climb that has about 100 feet in waist-deep water, and you have climb over a bunch of logs," Andrew Hughes said. "I carried her dress and my clothes."

As soon as they got back, Ashley Hughes sold her house because they found another house near Geneva's downtown to live in – and eventually to remodel.

"We could not tell anyone for a month until the video was ready," Andrew Hughes said. "We … had a fake housewarming party with her family and my family … and I said, 'The best way to tell you is everyone keep your mouth shut and see this video for five minutes.' "

No one was mad about missing the wedding, Ashley Hughes said, because the video made them feel included.

"They did not care that we eloped," Ashley Hughes said. "They knew I was not a traditional person."

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