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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.

Y’all know that last line resonated with us! :) We’re so grateful to Mattie and Jon for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with Mattie on her blog and on instagram.

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!

emily Written with love by Emily
7 Comments
  1. avatar Mary reply

    oh I loved this one! My husband used to be in the military and I resonated so much with a lot of what Mattie said about her wedding (all our favorite people in one place!) and about the times apart. Plus, girlfriend’s got great style!

  2. avatar Bethany Barrow reply

    Such a unique space! I love that it’s not too fancy. It’s like home, where you relax and put up your feet. There are some really fantastic pieces of art that are all different in medium but they all work. Thanks for sharing!

  3. avatar Mattie Tiegreen reply

    Thank you, Mary and Bethany, for such kind words! XO

  4. avatar Living Room Inspiration – Boulevard House reply

    […] images: one, two, three, four, five […]

  5. avatar Erika reply

    Such a beautiful home! I’d love to know where that shower curtain is from !?!

  6. avatar BON WEEKEND! | Wild & Pine reply

    […] + I fell down the Southern Weddings rabbit hole this week, and fell in love with this home tour. […]

  7. avatar Living Room Inspiration | Wild & Pine reply

    […] images: one, two, three, four, five […]

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I think the best homes tell us something about the people who live there. At a glance, you know something about the residents even before you meet them – what they love, what they value, what makes them feel safe and comfortable. For Natalie (a Blue Ribbon Vendor!) and Huey, who met while rowing in high school and have always lived near the ocean, a navy and white home dotted with nautical touches is just perfect. I know y’all will enjoy the wisdom of this sweet young couple, so let’s dive on in!

The couple: Natalie, 24, and Hugh, 25
Years married: 1.5
Where they live: A few minutes outside of Annapolis, Maryland
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Natalie is a wedding photographer and Hugh works in IT Sales just outside of Baltimore. We have two dogs that we spoil rotten: Sophie the miniature Australian shepherd and Hunter the rescue pup! We met during our sophomore year of high school on the crew team and fell in love rowing together on the Severn River. We started dating that spring and attended college near one another in Philadelphia. During my senior year at Penn, Huey proposed and we married the following summer at his parents’ property.

Do you rent or own? We own our little townhouse and absolutely love it! From the moment we moved in a year ago, we’ve been slowly renovating each room and making it our own. We both grew up in this area, and after attending school in Philadelphia, we knew we wanted to live near the Chesapeake Bay. We truly couldn’t imagine spending our lives anywhere else.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. We are both so young that when we moved in together, we didn’t own a darn thing (not even a bed frame!), so rather than blending styles, we truly had to begin from scratch! We’ve been lucky to have so many pieces handed down that we’ve painted and modernized to fit our contemporary coastal style!
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? I think our favorite room in the house is our dining room! There is something truly special about sharing a meal with the one you love. This room has sentimental value to us because our table once belonged to Hugh’s grandparents in the early 1960’s. So many amazing dinners and vibrant conversations have been shared over this table, and it makes me even more excited to see how our family grows and changes in the years to come.

What is your favorite part of being married? My favorite part of being married is spending Sunday mornings cuddled up together with our two dogs running circles around our feet. We cherish the quiet moments. The day to day. Those little things that truly are the big things.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? I’ve been surprised by just how much we’ve grown together since our wedding day. I never realized that I would fall in love with my husband over and over again, or that the love we shared the day we got married was merely a fraction of the love we have today. I truly thought that I knew what it meant to love Huey… and after all that we’ve been through in the past eight a half years, I’m constantly amazed by how our love continues to grow.
What most makes your house feel like home? Our house feels like a home because of the people (and pups!) that are constantly a part of this space.

What is your favorite memory from your wedding? We can’t agree on a single memory that we both love the most… the overall experience of getting married in the backyard surrounded by our friends and family was truly more than we could have ever asked for. It was perfect.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have wedding pictures printed everywhere and a wedding album on the way! We also keep our dated cake forks in the kitchen, and we bring them out on our six-month and one-year anniversaries to share a piece of caramel cake.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Get outside and explore your own backyard. We live by the water, so many of our dates involve sitting out by the Bay and having dinner, holding hands along the dock, or enjoying dessert in downtown Annapolis. It’s amazing how much we’ve discovered right in our quiet little town just by walking around together.

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? We save on furniture and most of the pieces we own are either family heirlooms (the dining room table, our bed), or antique store finds that we’ve painted or modernized to fit our home. I’m also a little obsessed with HomeGoods. Oh, HomeGoods. I could shop that store for hours at a time.
How does your family handle finances? We have shared accounts and Huey handles all of our personal finances, since I’m generally busy crunching numbers for my business!
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Stay committed to putting one another first. I run my own business and it can be so easy to let our date night evenings slide because I am falling behind on editing or another album needs to be designed. We’ve worked to set boundaries on other things (work, activities, extended family gatherings) so that we can always make time for one another.

Who cooks dinner? We tend to alternate. Huey is in charge of the grill; I handle the stove. He is awesome at seasonings. I can bake up a storm.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We keep weeknight meals pretty simple with salads and yummy grilled sandwiches. On the weekends (when I’m not shooting a wedding), we absolutely love to have steamed crabs or grill up some barbecue chicken on our back deck.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? I have the Epicurious app and I love it. So easy to use and it keeps me inspired. I also love my grandmother’s recipes, many of which she wrote out by hand for me on a little notebook that I keep in my kitchen.

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Natalie: Huey really (REALLY!) dislikes doing the dishes and always has–we often joke that we bought this house because it was our first place together that had a dishwasher! So even though our rule is “I cook, you clean,” I will sometimes do the dishes to surprise him when he’s watching a game or relaxing after a home-cooked meal. Hugh: I get up almost every morning to take care of our dogs so that Natalie can sleep in for an extra thirty minutes. During wedding season, she is often working late, so this is my way of giving her extra time to rest.

Do you have children? We are excited to fill our home with babies one day. I would love three or four; Huey has always wanted two. We’d feel blessed with any number at all. Currently, we are absolutely in love with being puppy parents and having the freedom to travel together. We can see our family expanding in the future and are excited for that day to come!

Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… that we would never stop learning about each other. After dating for seven years, I truly thought I knew everything there was to know about my best friend, but what amazes me is how much I continue to learn (and continue to love) with every passing month.
This year, our family is most excited about… this year, we are most excited about traveling together to Europe for the first time and exploring the Amalfi Coast side by side! We have never been to Europe as a couple and it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime!

We’re so grateful to Natalie and Huey for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with them:
Natalie Franke Photography
Natalie’s blog
Natalie’s Facebook
Natalie’s Twitter
Natalie’s Instagram

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
9 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I have always admired Natalie and it’s so fun to read about their newlywed home! Love that they’ve incorporated heirloom pieces so seamlessly into their style.

  2. avatar katelyn james reply

    Awww I love it!!!! I didn’t want it to end!!!!!!!!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Oh how I wish that bed weren’t a family heirloom!! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for – so pretty!

  4. avatar Karen reply

    Beautiful home!

  5. avatar Julie Armstrong reply

    Fun and enjoyable

  6. avatar Fotograf Warszawa reply

    Beautiful house. The colors of the flowers, decor and paintings, delight.

  7. avatar Rebekah reply

    A couple whose relationship is just as beautiful as they (and their home!) are :)

  8. avatar Kate Robinson reply

    So gorgeous! Such a cute couple :)

  9. avatar November Inspirations – Something Pretty reply

    […] Decorate: We featured Natalie Franke’s adorable Annapolis home on Southern Weddings last week and her front door stopped me in my tracks. It has me dreaming up other perfect combinations of nautical and autumnal, from wedding receptions to place settings. (Photo by Natalie Franke via Southern Weddings) […]

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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