We’re finishing out our year of Southern Newlywed home tours with one of our most colorful couples yet! Lilly aficionados will find much to love in Erin and Ryan’s sweet home, but I love that Erin purposefully countered the pink and pattern with more neutral (and even downright manly) spaces. They also have a lot to teach us about cultivating the feeling of home wherever you are — can you believe they’ve only been in this space for a few months? Friends, please welcome these two (and the rest of their adorable family!) to the blog!
Big hugs to Liz Fogarty for these wonderful photos!
The family: Erin and Ryan Phillips, both 27; daughter Sullivan, 7 months; and golden retriever mixes Cotton and Mallie
Years married: 4.5
Where they live: Arlington, Virginia
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We’re Ryan and Erin Phillips, a fun-loving couple who recently welcomed our first little one, Sullivan Louise Phillips, to our family in April. We’re originally from South Carolina, but moved to Virginia in 2013!
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met on a rainy day at the Carolina Cup, got engaged less than a year later on the Clemson football field, married the year after in Greenville, SC, and now have discovered an even deeper definition of love in our daughter, who was born in Richmond right before our four year anniversary.
What is your favorite part of being married? Feeling complete. We truly are each other’s better halves.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? We got engaged while still in college, which a lot of our friends found “so lame.” Ha! The most surprising thing to them and us is that, in fact, you actually get so much cooler after marriage. There’s a sense of comfort, confidence, and deep rooted love that comes along with marriage that is just like none other!
Tell us a little bit about where you live. We’ve owned homes in the prior two places we called home (Greenville, SC and Richmond, VA). We’ve found that a good recipe is to rent for a year while you scout out where you want to plant your roots. We just moved here this summer, so right now we’re renting a single-family home in a little neighborhood in Arlington, VA. We were so excited to find a home with space, a backyard, great parks and restaurants within walking distance, and less than ten minutes to DC!
Tell us about the process of moving in together. We had just graduated college and gotten married when we moved in together, so we really were starting from scratch. One thing we realized pretty quickly was that I should be in charge of interiors, and Ryan, exteriors. I do not have a green thumb and Ryan doesn’t understand why you would ever hang anything besides an American flag on the wall.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? Our white slipcovered couches were a splurge from Pottery Barn. I only own white slipcovered couches with dogs and kids because you can just grab the covers right off and bleach the heck out of them — even red wine has come out! While I believe in quality furniture pieces, I also think it’s important to have balance so you don’t go broke! :) For example, in the same room as our couches, there’s a $9 lighting fixture that I found at a secondhand store and restored. As far as sources, if you have a Home Emporium/Southeastern Salvage (called different things in different states) near you, this is your place! They have things like $89 cowhides, $250 wine cask chandeliers, and all the little knick knacks you need to spruce up a home. Craigslist is also my favorite. (The gold bamboo chairs in my living room were free off Craigslist, they just needed a little TLC!) I also love Furbish Studios, The Land of Nod, Etsy, Joss & Main, World Market, Home Goods, and, of course, Target.
What most makes your house feel like home? Cliche, I know, but our house feels most like a home when the ones I love are inside. Curtains, cozy blankets spread around, and lamp lighting helps, too!
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Walking down the aisle! There was so much emotion and love at that moment, and not just from me. Our siblings were bawling as well as my maid of honor. Even Ryan had tears he had to wipe away.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Our everyday place settings from Pottery Barn and our Le Creuset French oven!
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? I would have added fewer “fun” options to ensure that we got the necessary items. We moved in together and had no silverware!
Who cooks dinner? Ryan is the chef in our house, but I’m the baker. This makes for some pretty epic meals!
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We’re actually testing out Blue Apron right now, so this accounts for most of our weeknight meals. As for the weekend, we love to spend time making our own South Carolina shrimp ‘n grits recipe.
How does your family handle finances? We sit down a few times throughout the year to check in and make sure we’re on track with our savings, especially when Christmas is coming up and there are lots of gifts and travel to buy. Ryan works in finance, so he handles most of the accounts for our family.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? This is so hard! Just acknowledging that it’s hard, first and foremost, has helped us a lot. We schedule date nights in advance to ensure we’re making time for each other and we try to keep the TV off most week nights, which we find opens the door for a lot more communication.
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? We’re a big fan of surcees, or little surprise gifts. We do this by buying a favorite treat from the grocery store when we go, or if something little was left in the Amazon cart, we’ll purchase it as a surprise.
Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… that the wedding is just the beginning, not the whole story.
Is there anything else about your home or family life that you think our readers would be interested in? The move from Richmond to Northern Virginia was a hard one for us. We found out we had to move when I was about eight months pregnant and then made the actual move with a two month old. Our home and “family” in Richmond was so special to us and made it hard to leave. You never know how strong your marriage is until it’s put to the test, but man have we come out stronger! The biggest comfort we have found thus far is in making our little rental house feel like a home. Ryan and I often say to each other that, “home is wherever I am with you.”
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!