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Raise your hand if you’re addicted to HGTV’s Fixer Upper…hands all raised? Us too! One of the most fun things about sweet Joanna and Chip’s show is that I think it has made us all a little braver about the possibility of taking on a fixer upper of our own. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what Jessica and Mark did–she bought their Montgomery house as a “renovation side project” before they got engaged, and as the house began to turn into a home, they knew it would be just right for their newlywed nest. Jessica and Mark are expecting their first little one this year, and I can only imagine how special it will be to bring their new baby home to a place they poured so much love into!

Check out the “before” pictures of Jessica and Mark’s house below (and more here, if you’re interested!), and then keep scrolling to see the finished space captured by Holland Williams Photography!

The couple: Mark (30) and Jessica (28) Spurlin
Years married: Five months
Children’s names and ages (if applicable): One on the way!
Where they live: We live in Montgomery, Alabama, in the Cloverdale Historic District.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We share a love of architecture and old houses! Mark studied landscape architecture in college and just finished his Masters in building science. He is an assistant project engineer for a commercial construction company and is loving it! I am an interior designer and have a background in art history. We were married on July 25 and just found out that we are expecting!! We are in for a fun ride!

Tell us your love story in one sentence. Some mutual friends thought we were a perfect match…they were right!
What is your favorite part of being married? Being on a date that doesn’t end is pretty cool! We have so enjoyed spending time with each other doing the little things, like dishes and yard work. You get to know each other in a different way than you can before marriage.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? The pet peeves!! We laugh nearly every day about doing things that drives the other crazy! Mark constantly forgets to close his closet door and I don’t do anything in the kitchen without making a commotion!

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Our kitchen is absolutely our favorite space in our home! When we first bought the house, the kitchen wasn’t fit to cook as much as a hot pocket. It had a stove that looked like it came off of the Little House on the Prairie set, a microwave, and a washer and dryer. I redesigned the kitchen and added custom cabinetry so that it’s functional…and so that no one actually knows we are hiding a washer and dryer in there!

Who cooks dinner? I do, usually! Since finding out we’re pregnant, we have definitely cooked less frequently, but we have loved experimenting with new recipes and foods, and trying not to burn the house down in the process.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Our go-to weeknight meal is usually soup. We have experimented with some different recipes, but our favorite is a peanut butter and vegetable soup–sounds scary, but is divine! We live around the corner from a really yummy pizza spot, Tomatinos, which is our go-to weekend meal. It’s super convenient and the food can’t be beat!
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? In the world of Pinterest fails, I’ve learned to actually follow food bloggers and ask friends for tried and true recipes. My latest addiction is–I love pictures and reviews, and this website makes it super easy to find great dishes.

Do you rent or own? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? Tell us a little bit about where you live. Mark introduced me to his favorite realtor, and I bought the house before we got engaged as a little renovation project! After endless months of demo, work, and renovation, we knew this house would be the perfect newlywed nest. As our family continues to grow, we will definitely need more space, so we hope to do more renovation in the future. You learn a lot about each other through dealing with an old house–it’s the ultimate premarital counseling!
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Do you have any tips for blending your two styles? I am an interior designer, so combining multiple styles is in my blood! I locked Mark out of the house for two weeks leading up to the wedding and moved ALL of our things in. We added some new pieces to some that we had prior to this house, which helped our older things feel new. My best advice when combining two styles: making sure that your spouse feels at home and comfortable is key. If you can’t picture them living there, then you’ve missed the mark!

What most makes your house feel like home? When designing our house, we wanted it to feel comfortable and welcoming above all else. We chose washable slipcovers and young, fresh colors, and ended up with a casual and fun space that we can relax in. Low maintenance is difficult to find in an old house, and somehow, we got lucky and made it happen!
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? What are some of your favorite sources for home things? We wanted to make sure that our splurge items were good investments we would have for a long time, while items we could save on could be a bit more temporary. We splurged on a new sofa with fabulous Lulu DK pillows (that we’re completely obsessed with!), but saved on a rug by going with an inexpensive seagrass. We also used IKEA light fixtures in our kitchen–we could never agree on what to put in there and needed a fixture to pass inspections. Luckily, we loved them the second they went up! We found most of our accessories at PARISH (the sister store to the design firm that I work for) but have also found many pieces at antique stores, flea markets, and our parents’ attics.

What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Our favorite memory from our wedding day was our first look (which just so happened to be as I was walking down the aisle!). Our ceremony was outside overlooking a beautiful valley, and Mark’s brothers opened two antique doors that led to the aisle. Perfect moment!
How do you remember your wedding in your home? (Pictures, mementos, etc.) Over the past few years, we have both done quite a bit of traveling abroad, so rather than a guest book, our guests signed vintage postcards from some of our favorite places! We have a basket in our living room with all of the postcards in it, and we have had SO much fun reliving our day through those sweet notes.

What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? More towels! Holy moly, you can never have too many towels!

Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite date nights are usually the ones where we can hang on the sofa and watch a movie we’ve seen a thousand times. We can talk and laugh and really just be mindless. Those are the best nights!
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities (work, personal time, extended family, etc.)? We are definitely figuring this out along the way! We have been very intentional about our commitments to other people or organizations so that we still have time for each other and our families. After reading “The Best Yes,” I realized that even good things that you want to say yes to can often take you away from something (like being with your husband) that is a “best” yes. Read it–you will be obsessed!

Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and home with us, Jessica and Mark!

P.S. Just as a reminder: we’d love to hear from you, too! If you’re interested, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Lauren Carnes reply

    Wow, this is so, so beautiful!!!

  2. avatar Rhiannon reply

    This home is incredible! What an amazing and special transformation.

  3. avatar Jordan reply

    Beautiful, airy, fresh, bright and cozy! Oh wow – what an inspiration! They did a fabulous job transforming their new home. Love!

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To me, my sweet friend Mattye embodies so much of who I think the true Southern woman is: gracious, gentle, kind, tenaciously committed to her family, and always, always going above and beyond in loving and serving others. She and her husband Woody live in a downtown Birmingham loft apartment that’s the perfect combination of their two styles, offering lots of inspiration for those of y’all trying to balance masculine and feminine design (in a small space!). Please enjoy her very thoughtful words on marriage and doing life together, just a few months shy of her two-year anniversary!

Big hugs to photographers Rachel Coffey and Jacob Blount for the lovely photos!

The Southern Newlyweds: Mattye and Woody Woodcock
Years married: 1 year and 9 months!
Where you live: Downtown Birmingham, Alabama
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met through the fraternity/sorority professional community, and after Woody lost my number when his phone fell into a glass of sweet tea, we reconnected six months later through two amazing phone calls that quickly led to love, Woody moving from North Carolina to Alabama, a romantic beach proposal, and the coastal Georgia wedding of our dreams.

Do you rent or own? We rent. Woody moved into our current loft when he moved to Birmingham in 2011, and we decided to keep renting and make it our first place together when we got married. It has taken some transitioning and patience, but we’ve truly made it into a home we both love. We are excited about buying a house in the future, and spend many weekends walking through neighborhoods dreaming about where we will land. For now though, we love where we live and enjoy the urban lifestyle of downtown Birmingham. Renting has given us flexibility and allows us to prepare ourselves and our finances for home ownership.

Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? The very first wedding gift we received was a gorgeous Martha Stewart cake stand, and it has become a staple in our home. I love baked goods, so our cake stand can regularly be found full of cookies, cupcakes or brownies. I’ve even been known to fill it with one of Woody’s favorite treats–Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies! Also, our gorgeous bedding and towels from Restoration Hardware are some of our favorites, and we feel like a king and queen when we use them daily.

Tell us about the process of moving in together. This has been a work in progress! Since Woody lived by himself in our loft before we got married, let’s just say it was in need of some feminine love! Fortunately, Woody was very gracious to let me make changes, even when it meant some of his items going into storage or being donated. We learned in premarital counseling that the home is the extension of the woman, and Woody still repeats this to me, expressing his understanding that the presentation of our home means something different to me than it does to him. That being said, I fully understand that it is our home and I want to build it together and make sure he always feels comfortable with design decisions I make. It has been a process, but over time, I have earned his trust in this area, and he says I have truly made our house a home.

My best tip when blending your things and your styles is that you shouldn’t expect it to look just like you or just like him. Building a home together means creating a new thing. You may want to have everything done at once, but if you take the time to consider both your styles and find common ground, you will be able to fill your home with things that truly express who you are as a couple, not just individuals.

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Living in a loft, we have a lot of open space, so the whole place is my favorite! I love the openness because it allows us to spend a lot of time together and be near each other. If Woody is at his desk and I’m on the couch, it still feels like we’re in the same room. While this setup might not work forever, I love how it has taught us to live together and share space.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? We splurge on key pieces of furniture that we hope to keep for a long time and pieces of art. We save on trendy pieces that add to our style right now, but that we may grow out of after a few years. For example, we splurged on our dining room table from West Elm, but then we got clear acrylic dining room chairs inexpensively from Ikea, which are perfect for our current loft space because they take up little to no visual space. Woody and I find that our different styles come together best at West Elm and Restoration Hardware. We have several things in our home from these stores, or things that are inspired by them. Target has nice options for affordable and practical style, and I also love the unexpected great buys tucked away at Home Goods. I am constantly inspired by the colorful and fun pieces at Anthropologie. Finally, we love art, so local art shows and festivals are some of our favorite places to invest in unique pieces that will build the style of our home for years to come.

What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? We are so thankful for every gift we received, but if I could make a few different decisions on my end, I would’ve focused less on things I thought I should register for and more on things that really fit our lives. Neither of us are big cooks, but for some reason, I thought stocking our kitchen with every possible culinary tool (even ones I don’t know how to use) was what we were supposed to do with our wedding registry!
Who cooks dinner? I cook dinner and Woody cleans. I am a cook-in-training, but thankfully, my sweet husband thinks everything I make is delicious. He has been known to call my dishes “restaurant quality,” and even told me once that I made him the best bowl of cereal he has ever had! I claim it’s just because God must have created his taste buds specifically to like what I make, and I am totally okay with that. Woody is not only complimentary, but also complementary to me in the kitchen (see what I did there?). He faithfully does an amazing job with cleaning duty, and I love the adorable way he wears the drying towel over one shoulder as he washes dishes. It’s so cute!
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We both love my mom’s taco soup recipe– it can feed us several meals in one week and we never get tired of it! On the weekends, we eat out for brunch a lot, but when at home, we love scrambled eggs, cinnamon toast, and orange slices for breakfast, and homemade pizza with lots of veggies for dinner.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? My favorite cookbook was created for me by my bridesmaids. It’s full of sweet personal photos and favorite recipes from my bridesmaids, mom, mother-in-law, and even my beloved wedding planner! I love it because I figure if people I know can make the dishes, then surely I can too! I also love my “Seasoned to Taste” cookbook by the Junior League of Chattanooga from my dear friend and bridesmaid, Christy.

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? When Woody travels for work, one of the best ways I love and serve him is by being at the airport on time, ready to welcome him home. For a girl who sometimes runs behind, this intentional extra effort lets him know how important he is to me.
Do you have children? We don’t have children yet, but we are very excited for when that day comes! We often talk about baby names and discuss what kind of parents we think we’ll be. In the meantime, we feel like we are in the right place as we continue to love and invest in each other to build a strong foundation in our marriage before we embark on parenthood!
What about your home or family life might readers find surprising? Woody and I don’t have a TV in our home! Woody got rid of cable when he was in a busy travel season, and found he liked being free of TV. When he suggested we continue this pattern into our marriage, I, a self-proclaimed TV lover, was not too sure, but decided to give it a try. Turns out, it has been amazing for us and for our marriage. We don’t have the option to slip into just watching what is on or falling asleep in front of the television. TV is not our default recreation anymore, so instead, we read, take walks, talk, write, and find time for so many other things that are important in our lives. We still make sure we catch Alabama or Georgia Southern football in the fall and enjoy renting movies on iTunes or watching a show here and there on Hulu, but without the option to get distracted by TV shows for hours, we have found there is a lot of other good stuff in life to enjoy!

How does your family handle finances? We decided we wanted to create healthy financial practices early in our marriage, so we set a fairly aggressive savings goal for our first year, and then got down to the dirty work of giving every dollar a name every month to determine how to achieve that goal. I attended a financial conference one weekend that promoted the Dave Ramsey cash envelope system. The idea is to create a budget, pull out cash, and separate your cash into envelopes based on multiple budget areas. This helps keep track of what you’re spending, and when the cash is out, it’s out–no card swiping to save the day. The speaker at the conference suggested that if cash for everything was too much, just try it in the areas you struggled. We used this system for awhile and loved it so much, we soon went to cash for everything, except gas and standing bills like rent and power. Our budget and cash system has united us and freed us to live our lives without the guilt or uncertainty that handling money can often bring. We aim to have a monthly budget meeting to wrap up each month, get on the same page, and prepare for the next month. The numbers do the talking and we are both very committed to our savings plan and big goals (house, vacation, etc.). Also, by consistently budgeting, we saved above and beyond our one-year savings goal!

What is your favorite memory from your wedding? I have two! First, our vows. We chose to say both traditional and personal vows, the latter being my favorite. It was so sweet to hear Woody’s promises he wrote specifically for me and to get to share my heart with him in return. We still reference things we said in these personal vows because they were so specific to our relationship and how we love and serve each other. Second, I loved our first dance! It was the perfect balance of romantic and fun. After all the months of planning and the busy activities of the wedding day, this was the moment we got to be loose and free and literally dance for joy as brand new husband and wife!
How do you remember your wedding in your home? I have a portion of Woody’s personal vows to me stamped out and framed above my desk. These serve as a great visual reminder of the promises we both made to each other. Wedding gifts are one of my favorite ways to remember our wedding. As we use them throughout everyday life, we get to think about our wedding and all the people who loved us so generously during that time. Also, we love collecting and displaying items with the number “3” on them to represent our wedding date, November 3rd. It’s like our personal little reminder that no one else even realizes symbolizes our wedding. Finally, Woody’s stepfather, Jim, makes gorgeous crosses out of old bottles. The night of our rehearsal dinner, he had one made especially for us sitting at our table with our wedding invitation rolled up inside the bottle and clam shells, symbolizing St. Simon’s Island, to make the cross. It is one of our most treasured keepsakes in our home.

What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? This has been a challenging area for me. As many women do, I sometimes try to do so much that I end up not doing anything well. What I’ve learned is to let my values and life goals determine my priorities and then let my priorities drive how I spend my time. Just like money, time has to be budgeted. For example, if I say my marriage is a top priority, then I simply am not going to say “yes” to girls’ night multiple times a week. Once I know my priorities, I communicate them to my husband, family, and coworkers so they know what to expect from me. With the start of the Lovingkind this year, I have had a hard time balancing that with my full-time job and my marriage. Both are important to me, but I’ve had to talk it out with Woody to make sure I’m giving both areas what they need to thrive and be successful. Lara Casey’s PowerSheets have been an incredible tool for me to settle what is most important to me, and then set goals that direct my decisions and help me live life in a way that is full, effective, and true to God’s purpose for me on this earth.

Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? My best date night idea is to turn off your cell phones! This has been the best thing we have done for our date-night life. Usually, when we go out, we will take only one phone just in case, but we keep it turned off and in the car if possible. One of the most romantic things Woody says to me before we leave the house is, “I’m leaving my phone here.” Removing distractions and purposefully focusing on each other makes date night extra special and strengthens our marriage.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? The most surprising thing about marriage has been that it’s so different from what I expected, but it’s so much better. Somewhere inside, I think I always expected that marriage would be full of fanciful, fairy tale, butterflies-in-your-tummy moments, but it’s not. However, it is full of real moments that are so much better than any fairy tale. I find I love Friday nights at home more than fancy dates, and I still remember the way I felt in our first months of marriage realizing I got to go to the grocery store with this man for the rest of my life! It’s the true grit of day-in, day-out love that has exceeded any surface level expectation I ever had.

What is your favorite part of being married? I have often said that being married is like the slumber party that never ends. Remember when you were a kid, and the day after your friend had spent the night, you bravely asked your mom if she could “pleeeease” stay for another night? Then, on occasion, through some cosmic alignment of the stars, your mom would actually say yes? That, to me, is the best part of marriage. Day after day, night after night, I get to spend my life with my best friend. Even when I’ve had really exciting things happen personally or professionally, nothing compares to the goodness of getting to come home every night and lay my head down next to my best friend, life partner, and favorite person in all the world.

We’re so grateful to Mattye and Woody for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with Mattye at @the.lovingkind and the Lovingkind.

P.S. We’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – 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!

emily Written with love by Emily

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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