At the same time as I emailed Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh to ask if she’d take the photos for my Southern Newlywed home tour, I asked if she’d be willing to be featured in our series, too! I had never stepped foot in her home or even seen photos, but I just knew it would be colorful and interesting, and I was correct. I found myself nodding along with so many things in her interview, too. Can’t wait for you to read this one, friends – enjoy!
The couple: Anna (30) and Amir (30)
Years married: 4
Where you live: Chapel Hill, NC
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Anna is a wedding and portrait photographer based in Chapel Hill, but available worldwide! Amir is a Family Medicine Physician at UNC Hospitals. We’re both Southerners (Anna grew up in North Carolina, and Amir in Texas) and Tar Heels (go Heels!). We have a dog named June who is our daily obsession. We may love her too much!
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met in college at UNC and instantly knew we needed to be together.
Tell us a little bit about where you live. We own our house in downtown Chapel Hill, very near UNC’s campus. Amir works at the hospital and keeps odd hours as a physician, so we felt proximity to the hospital was key. Lucky for us, close to the hospital means close to the university, which makes our home a very good investment. We live near a lot of students, which can be interesting at times (but is mostly just fun!), and we are hoping that our home will be a long-term investment. Eventually, we’ll add children to our family and will need a bigger space, but for now, we love our little 1920’s home and hope we will be able to enjoy it for years to come.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Amir and I did things a little differently. After college, we moved to Texas, where Amir was going to be spending many years earning his medical degree. We moved in together almost immediately after college so that we could really be there for each other as we were both going through so many life changes–moving across the country, starting medical school, entering the work force, etc. It was a big change! It worked for us, but I certainly think it’s not for everyone. We learned a lot about each other–daily habits, funny quirks, and mostly, how the other functions and the things that we both needed in order to be successful partners. Regarding the merging of the things and styles… I will say it took us a long time to really figure out what our style was. I think it’s an ever-evolving process, too. We filled our home with lots of hand-me-downs at first and have slowly been replacing them with our own pieces over the years. There were some items that I was much happier to see go than Amir was! We just try to make decisions together about what goes in the home, and I’ve learned that compromise is definitely important when it comes to your shared spaces.
What is your favorite part of being married? Doing everything together–especially the mundane stuff. Merging your lives and just existing together is a really beautiful thing. One of our favorite things to do is run errands together–so silly, right? We save items that need to be done so we can run around town doing them together and crossing things off our list.
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Anna: The dining room, hands down. It never gets dirty because we rarely use it, so it’s always clean, which I love! Amir: The living room–it’s where we relax and unwind.
What most makes your house feel like home? We love to collect items from our travels or from our families and life experiences. I can look around our house and see several things that carry wonderful memories, and that’s a very special thing!
Who cooks dinner? Anna: Amir! He’s a wonderful chef, and it’s something he really loves to do. Amir: It’s a relaxing pastime for me, and Anna doesn’t mind at all sitting back and reaping the benefits of that! She likes to bake, so it’s a bit of a trade-off.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We subscribe to a weekly meal delivery service, Blue Apron. We get ingredients dropped off for three meals a week, so we generally cook those and then enjoy the leftovers throughout the week. It’s super convenient for us, as Amir’s hours are crazy, and I’ve found myself busier and busier during the week these days. The ingredients come ready to be chopped and prepared. The recipes are generally quite quick, and we love it because we find we have less waste from unused ingredients. On the weekends, we love to get out around town and enjoy the amazing restaurants that are just a few blocks from us in downtown Chapel Hill (another plus to the location of our home!). On Sundays, we eat Asian food… always. We found ourselves always craving it at the end of a long weekend, so we’ve made it a regular thing!
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? Before we subscribed to Blue Apron, we cooked from the cookbook Pretty Delicious almost exclusively. Candace Kumai’s recipes are DELICIOUS, and healthy… what?! Crazy! She even has a recipe for healthy chicken and waffles and mac and cheese. It’s bananas! Additionally, we love Persian food, and we miss Amir’s mom’s cooking sorely, so we try to make some of our favorite Persian dishes from time to time.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? Anna: I am a big bargain hunter. My happy place is spending hours in an antique mall, searching for that one amazing find. I’m all about finding things that you love and making them your own, whether that’s with a coat of paint, new hardware, etc. Having said that, I think some things that are worth splurging on are bedding, textiles and rugs, and solid wood furniture. We’re slowly adding special pieces to our home, but it’s still a work in progress! The next thing I’d love to invest in is custom drapes. One day! One of my favorite spots to shop is Furbish Studio (online and at their flagship store in Raleigh). They always have a unique collection of home decor–custom pieces, original art, and fun items to fill your spaces with. It’s my favorite!
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Dancing! Amir and I love to dance. Our wedding was on a HOT day in June on the coast, and we were drenched with sweat by the end of the reception from all the dancing, but we didn’t care!
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have several framed photos from our wedding in our home. Additionally, as the collector and scavenger, I salvaged a few items from our wedding that we still have in the house–they’re a beautiful daily reminder of that day!
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Our bedding! Again, this is something I felt the need to splurge on, so we were lucky to receive our beautiful linen bedding from Restoration Hardware as a gift. I could never sleep in anything else now!
How does your family handle finances? Picking a financial system that works best for us is something we’re constantly playing around with. Instead of a set budget, one major thing we do is ALWAYS discuss big purchases together before we make them–anything from a new pair of shoes to bigger things, like items for our home. It’s good to have an open line of communication regarding finances. We also had to learn the things that were important to each other in regards to how we spend our money. We both enjoy different things and had to understand why those things were important for the other to spend money on!
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? We have made it a point to spend a lot of time together doing things we love–for us, that’s running errands, eating out, traveling, etc. Our schedules are both busy and difficult to manage at times, so when we’re home, we really make a point to be 100% at home and devoted to spending time together. Amir will stay at work an extra thirty minutes to finish his notes on patients if that means he doesn’t have to bring it home with him and finish it here. Additionally, eating time is important for us, so we always step away from what we’re doing to sit together and eat. As someone who works from home, it’s often hard for me to step away from work when I feel like it’s always there and nagging me. Meal times are our time together, so no matter what, we do that with no distractions. I think finding the things you love and really taking the time to do that together is so important. This could be as simple as walking to get ice cream once a week–if that’s what matters to you, then do it!
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Anna: Amir hates to drive. I don’t know why, but he hates it. So, I always drive, no matter where we’re going, no questions asked! Amir: Anna is not a morning person, so I will always be the one up letting the dog out or anything else that needs to happen in the early hours. It’s better for all of us when she gets her beauty sleep!