Interestingly, the first thing you might notice about Mattie and Jon Tiegreen’s home is something that’s not there: Jon himself. That’s because when these photos were taken, Jon, an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, was in the field for military training. I know Mattie would have rather had him at her side, but that’s not what ended up happening. And I think that’s something worthwhile to remember about marriage, and newlywed life: it doesn’t always look exactly as you’d like it to, but it can still be beautiful. Friends, please enjoy this lovely Columbia, SC home, and Mattie’s thoughtful interview! I particularly loved her favorite thing about being married, and I think y’all will, too.
Big hugs to the talented Kaitie Bryant for these photos!
The couple: Mattie (27) and Jon (27)
Years married: 4
Where you live: Columbus, GA (temporarily). We hail from Athens, GA and will be moving in September to North Carolina.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Jon loves college football, cajun food, bluegrass music, woodworking and war stories, and works as an Infantry Officer in the US Army. Mattie loves sushi, fresh flowers, margaritas, HGTV, and painting and works as a graphic designer at Green Tie Studio. Together they love hiking, camping, porch sitting, traveling, and The Avett Brothers.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met in college working at a bar when we were both more concerned about paying the bills than falling in love. Thankfully, we achieved both.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? That it’s never dull! Not that I expected it to become that way, but people always tell you how hard marriage is and that they’re in a “rut”, etc. This hasn’t been our experience and I’m so grateful. We make intentional time together to do exciting things outside of our everyday routine, which then makes even the mundane fun.
Tell us a little bit about where you live. We currently rent a small tudor in Columbus, GA, where we recently moved for Jon’s job. We’ll only be here for another seven months before we head to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Because we haven’t been here long, we really haven’t had time to explore Columbus together, but we love the River Walk area and are excited for warmer weather when we can take the pups for a swim!
Y’all have moved several times already. What are your best tips for getting settled in a new place, both in terms of your space and with relationships? Organization and simplicity are key for us when moving. We make an effort to pare down our belongings before we move, selling or donating anything that we don’t find truly functional and/or beautiful. This makes getting unpacked and settled in our new home so much easier. All of our belongings serve a real purpose, which is freeing. We don’t feel tied down with “stuff”.
In terms of relationships, it’s (again) about intentionality for us. We have friends scattered across the world, so specifically making time to visit and catch up makes the miles between us seem fewer. More than intentionality, though, I believe friendships take so much grace. We’re all human, after all. There will inevitably be times when I don’t call enough or can’t make the trip to visit, and I so value friendships where grace rules over expectations.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. We both had established spaces before we got married, so blending those pieces was a bit of a challenge. I’m thankful that Jon (says he) doesn’t really care how I decorate, but I really want our home to be a reflection of him and us. I’m careful to include pieces that we find together, or that have a special element that he finds interesting, like a Civil War Map or brew poster. Traveling together helps with this because we have sweet memories connected with the pieces in our home.
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? I love our joint living room/dining room area. This house has a formal dining room, but it is dedicated to my studio, so we made the far end of the living room into the dining area. We love that whether we’re eating a quick lunch or nice dinner, watching a movie, or entertaining friends, everything fits comfortably in the same large space. And, it gets tons of natural light, which is a total selling point for me.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? We splurge on larger furniture pieces like sofas, rugs and beds and save on smaller pieces like chairs, side tables and decor. I love West Elm because their furniture is so high quality and still relatively affordable. We really love items with history, though, and can often be found digging through antique shops or scouring CraigsList for the perfect china buffet or kilim pillow. My mom always said that the most fun part of decorating a home was the ‘hunt’. That really irked my impatient nature and I used to buy things just to fill a space. Now I totally agree with her and am willing to let a space sit empty for months until I find exactly what fits.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Absolutely everything! I remember who gave us every single piece from our registry, which is super special to me. Salt and Pepper Shakers? Alyssa and Colby. Nesting Bowls? Nicole and Jason. Roasting Pan? Kim and Phil. Is that weird??
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? I think it was just provision (and probably a little advice from my sister) that we registered for reasonable pieces. If I had it my way at the time, I’m sure I would have asked for 25 patterned Anthropologie dish towels. I think the trick is to think through your daily routine and ask yourself: What are your go-to pieces? Are they in good shape or could they use a replacement? What do I wish I had? What would make cooking/cleaning/entertaining easier? What will I need when we cook dinner for friends? Do I have enough wine glasses? Go for practicality, not excess.
Who cooks dinner? I typically do because of Jon’s work schedule. I work from home, so I can usually plan my day so I’m wrapping up around 5:30 and getting started on dinner by the time Jon comes home. We enjoy cooking together, though, so sometimes I’ll hold out and we’ll tackle it together. But, don’t let him tell you he doesn’t know his way around the kitchen – he’s been known to have a hankering for Cajun and whip up a pot of jambalaya while I’m at barre class. :)
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? On weeknights, we love salmon baked in a foil pouch with butter, lemon, salt and pepper. It’s so quick and easy and the foil makes clean up a breeze. Add a side of sautéed kale and voila! We eat kale with everything. As in, maybe it’s a problem. On weekends, we typically go out to eat with friends, but if we cook, I’d probably want to grill steaks. With wine.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? I’m loving The Forest Feast cookbook lately. It’s all veggies, but it’s so easy to add roasted chicken or pork chops to the recipe and it’s a perfect, delicious, well-balanced meal.
What is your favorite part of being married? I love that for forever and ever, we both have someone on our side. Always having someone “for” you is comforting and empowering.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Jon and I always say that it’s the only time we have had everyone we love in the same place at the same time. It’s so true – our family and friends are always there, but in different seasons. A wedding is the only day you’ll get to hug absolutely everyone.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? Neither Jon nor I really love photos of ourselves, so we don’t have tons of wedding pictures. There are a handful that we really love that grace the walls here and there, but we have so many treasures from that day spread around the house. My grandfather passed right before we got married and my mom and I made our ring bearer’s pillow out of his vest pocket. I see that pillow every day and smile.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? We love to cook together and then enjoy it at the table (dining table, not coffee table!) with a glass of wine and no TV. It’s amazing how time together with no distraction can renew us during a busy week.
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? We both value a clean, tidy space and hate clutter. Since I work from home, I feel like I can’t be productive if there is a pile of dishes or laundry staring at me, and I don’t want Jon coming home to that, either. I know he cares less about the decor of our home than I do, but styling is my way of creating a clean, organized space for us to enjoy our life together.
Do you have children? For now, our dogs are our babies (everyone says that, huh?), but we are thrilled to be parents someday. We believe our story is already written for us and trust that The Lord will bless us with a baby in His time.
Your husband is in the military and y’all have dealt with separation, sometimes for several weeks. What advice would you give to another couple in your situation? The separation is, no doubt, really tough. We always try to remember why we started this adventure to begin with. Focusing on the fact that Jon is living his dream job as a soldier really comforts me somehow. He has always supported my career as an artist and I want to do the same for him. This comfort fades at times, of course, because I miss him. When I’m lonely, I cling to family and friends and create a happy memory to replace what could be a sad one. My advice to other military wives would be to not be afraid to ask for support. If you’re not near your support system of family and friends, reach out and create one. Don’t try to brave a deployment with just routine or busyness – we all need people.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Be intentional. I’m a self-proclaimed workaholic – because I love my job and because it’s just me. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. More often than not, I end the day with a brain full of ideas and a not-even-near-complete to-do list. But, I think it’s all about intentionality. I constantly remind myself that I’m not defined by my job or my to-do list, but by the way I love people. It’s so much more life-giving for me to spend an hour watching House of Cards with Jon than answering unread emails. The same goes for visiting family, spending time with friends, enjoying down time, etc. You have to choose to make it a priority, even if it’s just every now and then.
This year, our family is most excited about… change. We have really learned to embrace the unknown together. People always ask if we feel unsettled or nervous about hopping around the country like we do. We really don’t. As cheesy as it sounds, the one thing we know, no matter where we are, is that we both have our person.
Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… that I would somehow love him more now than I did that day. Life together after marriage is way more beautiful than the wedding.
A little reminder: we’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – not just folks who write blogs (though we love them, too!), but also your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!