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You know the feeling when you meet someone, and within five minutes of chatting with them, you feel like you’ve been friends with them forever? That’s how I felt the first time I met Shalyn in Austin a few years ago, and after reading the interview that she and her husband, Drew, filled out for today’s post, I’m sure y’all will feel that way too! This sweet couple has such an inspiring marriage–they always look like they’re having the best time together, and they are totally open about how crazy about each other they are. It is the cutest thing…followed closely by the giggle-inducing crew of Nelson pets (Need a laugh? Look up #HattietheHedgehog on Instagram!).

Thanks so much to Shalyn and Drew for sharing with us, and to Blue Ribbon Vendor Ever and Anon for capturing the Nelson home!

P.S. Shalyn is also giving away a print from her watercolor print shop to a lucky SW reader–details below!

The couple: Shalyn (29) and Drew (29)
Years married: 6 this March!
Where you live: Austin, Texas
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Hi y’all! We are Shalyn and Drew, also known as the Nelsons! Shalyn is a fine art wedding and editorial photographer, runs a personal lifestyle blog at So Shay, and owns a small watercolor print shop. Drew serves alongside Shalyn as a wedding photographer/second shooter/assistant on the weekends, but also travels a lot and works full-time during the week as a Manager of Field Operations for a land surveying company. Together, we own and run our wedding photography business, Love, The Nelsons. We are just a couple of goobers, living, loving, and dancing around Austin, Texas together, along with our two pomeranians and two hedgehogs. We love each other, we love weddings, and we LOVE the meaning of marriage.

Tell us your love story in one sentence. Girl falls for cute boy with a big smile and hot pants when he used the cheesy pick up line, “You look really familiar? Do I know you from somewhere?”, and then boy woos her by taking her to see Nacho Libre, treats her to a snow cone afterwards, and when he points and says, “What’s that?” and she looks and then turns around to ask, “What’s what?” he quickly kisses her on the lips and both boy and girl start laughing. Run-on sentence for the win! P.S. Girl and cute boy got married, haven’t stopped laughing together since that date, and the cute boy with the hot pants continues to steal kisses from her every single day.
What is your favorite part of being married? From Drew: My favorite part is that marriage feels like you’re at a permanent sleepover with your best friend, but better, because there are no curfews, you make the rules together, there’s always great conversation, good food, killer dance parties, and all the cuddles, and I never have to dread my Mom picking me up the next day. :) I also find complete joy and extreme gratitude knowing that she vowed to do this life with ME, and gave her heart to ME–out of every guy in the world. It is the greatest honor.

Who cooks dinner? Drew does the majority of the time! I call him “Chef Drew Drew Hot Pants” and he hates it. :) But I do cook the sides (veggies), while he cooks/grills the meat! I like to eat and he likes to cook. We make a great team!
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? If our schedules are busy, we keep it simple and go with taco salad or any type of pasta! If we have time, we love grilling chicken and fresh veggies. Dessert is a must in this house too–I love baking cupcakes and all those delicious things that your thighs hate, but your sweet tooth LOVES!

Tell us about the process of moving in together. When we moved in together, I had a lot of cheap furniture from college and Drew only had a Texas A&M flag, clothes, and a baseball card collection. Over the years, we haven’t quite been able to decide what our style is together. We don’t really have a certain vibe, but our home is a happy combination of our personalities. It’s random, fun, traditional, modern, and contemporary. There are some random vintage finds thrown in and a few touches of masculinity. Our style and taste may come off as a little confused, but it’s slowly maturing, growing, and evolving, just like our marriage. My biggest advice is to select your (expensive) big items in your home very carefully, especially if you’re a lot like me and your taste in décor is anything like Texas weather–it changes in the blink of an eye! It’s a lot easier (and more affordable) to change hot pink pillows on a gray couch than it is to change gray pillows on a hot pink couch. However, if you KNOW your style through and through and know it won’t change, I say do what you want and rock the mess out of it!
What most makes your house feel like home? Shalyn: Having LOTS of pillows (I love pillows!), my little family, and of course, lots of photos and personal mementos spread all around the walls and shelves of our home. They remind us daily of the memories we have shared and the life we are building together as one! Drew: My wife.

Tell us a little bit about where you live. When we first got married, we lived in a nice, updated apartment with all the bells and whistles. When the house bug bit us, we realized that we qualified for the first-time home buyer situation that was being offered at that time, but we had only a little over a month before the deadline. My brother convinced us that it would be a good investment, and since we were just married, just out of college, and still eating Top Ramen for days, we just took a deep breath, went with it, and made a very quick decision on a fixer upper home that was built in 1986. We chose to renovate room by room, little by little, as finances allowed. The process was realllllly slow in the beginning, but we had a lot of fun making mistakes, and Drew loved building his “manly tool collection,” as he calls it. Two years into renovating, we started to notice cracks in our walls and doors that wouldn’t shut, and later found out that our house had major foundation and plumbing problems. We continued to live in our home with these problems until we could save some money–until one day when we realized that you could SEE the outside from the inside under all the doors and trim. We packed up out of our home, put everything in storage, lived with my sweetheart of a brother for three months, and got our foundation and plumbing fixed. All of the renovations we had done over the past two years? Ruined. So, we started over. Drew laid every single tile, every wood plank, every trim board, every backsplash, you name it. I painted and cleaned like a champ and offered my big guns when needed. There were days we wanted to throw in the towel, but we powered through. Needless to say, we were both emotionally and physically exhausted. The photos in this post are the first photos we have taken of our house since we’ve renovated. Looking at them brought a few tears to my eyes because if you saw our house before, you just wouldn’t believe it. It has come so far!

What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Shalyn: I loved when we were saying our vows, and our pastor said to Drew, “Now repeat after me…In the name of God…” and Drew just stood there in silence, not realizing that he needed to say, “In the name of God.” He got so embarrassed and we all started laughing. It just reminded me right then and there that I was going to be laughing with him like that for the rest of my life. Drew: When my wife said “I do.” She was officially locked in and I let out a little sigh of relief ;)
How do you remember your wedding in your home? Shalyn: I think one of my favorite reminders from our day is this huge engagement photo we printed poster-sized and had our guests write around on our wedding day. It’s right by my office, so I see their sweet messages every day and it always makes me smile. Drew: This isn’t from our wedding, but one day, I came home from work and Shay had the three roses that I proposed to her with in a shadow box. She had carefully positioned them on a wall in our bedroom, so when she looks at my side of the bed, they are displayed right above my head. I get that I’m a guy and need to be cool about these things, but that was one of the sweetest things she’s done to make our house feel like a home. It meant a lot to me.

What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Our best tip is to create really healthy boundaries and to STICK to them. Our current work situation is a little different than most, and we have learned to adjust and are making it work. Now that Drew works out of town a lot during the week and we photograph/work most weekends, our time together is really, really limited. We had to sit down and figure out where and how to make time for one another, so I created business hours for myself to accommodate our work schedules. At the end of the day, life is short, and your marriage matters the MOST. We declare Friday our day off together, and on the few weekends we don’t photograph weddings, we make plans to see our families and friends! Balancing everything is never easy and we’re not perfect at it, but we do the best we can and really value the time we have with one another.

Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? We will both nod our heads here and say our down comforter, our everyday plates, and our mixer!
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Be smart with your selections, even though some items may seem boring to choose. Remember that what you currently use the most often probably won’t change much after marriage. I remember getting excited to just click the button because we were REGISTERING FOR OUR WEDDING!!! And now, we probably only use about 50 percent of what we selected. Think everyday, think useful, think practical, think smart! But that said, definitely add a few fun and fancy things, too! :)

Do you have children? We have our fur children and our spike children/babies currently, but we definitely want to start a a family with real HUMAN babies in the next few years!
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Shalyn: Drew works out of town a lot, so I always try to sneak notes into his bags or his truck so he will find them throughout the week. I just remind him how much I love him and thank him for working so hard to provide for us. I also try to have our house cleaned and dinner ready for him when he gets home from traveling. He loves this, and I admit, there’s nothing better than coming home to that! Drew: I bring her flowers all the time at random because I know how much she loves them, and I love seeing the smile on her face when I do. I also help with home projects because I know how much having a nice home means to her.

Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite date night is building a fort in our living room that has lights all around it. We rent Redbox movies and eat tons of snacks! We always see who can stay up the latest, and whoever loses has to clean up the fort the next day!
This year, our family is most excited about… taking a trip, just the two of us, to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. We haven’t been on a trip alone together (that hasn’t been work-related) since our honeymoon six years ago, so needless to say, we are PUMPED! We are also super excited for our passion project (#lovethenelsonsproject) endeavor that will be announced next week!

Thank you SO much to the Nelsons for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with their photography business, Love, the Nelsons, Shalyn’s blog, and Instagrams (@ShalynNelson and @DDHP).

Shalyn has generously offered to give away a print (of the winner’s choice!) from her watercolor print shop to a lucky SW reader! To enter, check out her shop here and leave a comment below with the print you would choose. A winner will be randomly selected and emailed on Monday!

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!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
79 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    I LOVE this! How can I choose one print? I think either the “so fresh and so clean” for a bathroom or “I love you more” for a gallery wall in our bedroom! They are so cute!

  2. avatar Kathleen reply

    What a sweet post! I’d LOVE the “And the greatest of these is love” print!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    I looooove the Donald Miller Billion Stars print!

  4. avatar Mary reply

    Shay’s instagrams are probably my favorite of all instagrams. She is hilarious (and from Texas – always a plus)!

  5. avatar Laura Barnes reply

    I really love this blog series.. always so sweet to read and fun to see a peak into beautiful homes.

    My favorite print from Shayln’s shop is the ‘I love you more’ print!

  6. avatar Madeline reply

    I would LOVE the “I love you more” print!

  7. avatar Page reply

    What a sweet post and a fun couple! I love her prints! My favorite is “the greatest of these is love”

  8. avatar Kourtney reply

    I love a few & with the reasonable pricetag I’ll definitely be purchasing all on my wishlist, but as far as a favorite goes…I’d have to go with the “so fresh and so clean clean” for the bathroom {will need one for mine & the babe’s!} Thanks to Shayln for the giveaway!!

  9. avatar Katelyn reply

    I love the “I just love everything about you” print!

  10. avatar Emily reply

    I’m trying to be AWESOME today :)

  11. avatar Loverly reply

    We fell in love reading about this amazing couple! The style of their home is so cozy and fun, and we can’t get enough of the metallic striped wall in the office space. Great post!

  12. avatar Mackenzie reply

    Love this austin home. My favorite water color is “dude let’s cuddle”

  13. avatar Sara reply

    They are all amazing!! I would absolutely love “and the greatest of these is love” It would be an amazing addition to our gallery wall!!

  14. avatar Jessica Thornton reply

    I have LOVED them for so long, thanks to FB and Insta, but I adore this feature on them. Their love for each other is so true and palpable. I LOVE THE NELSONS!

    My favorite of her prints would have to be Lets Cuddle or Spoon! It would go great in our bedroom.

  15. avatar Sabrina reply

    I love the “So fresh and so clean!” Would look great in my upstairs bathroom!!

  16. avatar Alex H. reply

    I would totally choose the watercolor print:

    “Dear Diamond,
    We all know who is really a girl’s best friend.
    Sincerely, Chocolate Cake”

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

  17. avatar Chauna Hardin reply

    I would absolutely love the robin Williams quote to hang above my bed!

  18. avatar Shannon reply

    I follow both of these two on IG and lurve their posts.

    I’d love the marriage print (but really. let’s get married….)

    Great article.

  19. avatar Cherith Autrey reply

    I love the watercolor print “I love you more” and really enjoyed this interview, it was so fun and precious!

  20. avatar Erin Wright reply

    I love the “I love you so” print.

  21. avatar Carlos reply

    Thank you for sharing your joys with us. Really a lovely couple with their love babies (pets). Adorable.

  22. avatar Dana reply

    What an adorable couple!
    I would choose the EB White quote print!

  23. avatar Tara F. reply

    But really, let’s get married or Let’s spoon…

    Actually all of them are too cute and I want them ALL! I live in Austin too and love finding new little shops like that since I’d get my package a lot sooner :)

  24. avatar Jennifer beck reply

    I would love to add the “I love you more” print to my bedroom wall gallery! I have been following shaylan for awhile and her essence is something to strive for both in life and in business!!

  25. avatar Rose reply

    Love this couple and their love for each other.
    I would choose the “So fresh and so clean” print for my bathroom.

  26. avatar Ana reply

    Just sitting here on the corner of awesome and bombdigity!! Is my fav print! :)
    The Nelsons love is truly contagious and shows through the small glimpses we get on Instagram! Thank you for being an inspiration to have super fun dance party marriage!!

  27. avatar Mackenzie Burgess reply

    I love hearing more about the Nelson’s! What an encourging story of perseverance and love. All the prints are fabulous, but I must say the “Dear diamond” print hits home. I would love that one!

    Thank you for sharing!

  28. avatar Sarah G reply

    What a sweet couple (and I’m obsessed with Hattie the hedgehog!). Love, love the Donald Miller print :)

  29. avatar Hannah Lumpkins reply

    LOVE you guys! You’re such an inspiration!
    I would love the “I love you more….” print!!

  30. avatar Emily reply

    DEFINITELY “Dude let’s cuddle”!!!!!!

  31. avatar Stacey reply

    Very awesome home! I love the “dude let’s cuddle” and “love you more” posters!

  32. avatar Allison Whitecavage reply

    I Love Shalyn and Drew. They are such an inspiration in work and in love, especially since my fiancé and I have difficult work schedules as well.
    the:
    “But really. Let’s get married and make lots of babies and grow old together. (It will be awesome!)”
    Would make an awesome wedding gift for my upcoming wedding in June! ;)

  33. avatar Rachael reply

    I love the “Maybe making out for a few minutes’ Print! I love Shay and Drew! Every time I see an article of theirs or see a FB post I think to myself, that’s how i want my relationship to be and I always make sure we laugh at least once or twice a day with each other! What a great example! :)

  34. avatar Hilary McIntosh reply

    “Wake up! Dress up! Show up! Turn up! #WERK”

  35. avatar Laura B reply

    great prints. “Love you more” is my favorite :)

  36. avatar nikki reply

    So many good ones! “just sitting here on the corner of awesome and bombdiggity”. “Good vibes only”. “dude lets cuddle” and “i like big cups and i cannot lie” are among my favorites :)

  37. avatar megan w. reply

    i love the “and the greatest of these is love” print!

  38. avatar Alissa reply

    I love Shalyn Nelson–she was my engagement photos photographer! I adore her and Drew! I would love to have her “”But really. Let’s get married and make lots of babies and grow old together. (It will be awesome!)” watercolor!

  39. avatar Michelle reply

    I absolutely love the “We tend to seek happiness when HAPPINESS is actually a choice” one! That is my motto in life

  40. avatar Michelle reply

    I absolute love the “We tend to seek happiness when HAPPINESS is actually a choice” one. That is my motto in life!

  41. avatar brooke reply

    I loved reading their interview. We a great couple! I love the so fresh and so clean print!

  42. avatar Christina reply

    Love her “so fresh & so clean, clean” print (as well as all of them, really!!!!) What a sweet couple & such a fun interview. :-)

  43. avatar Julie reply

    I love the ‘so fresh and so clean clean’ watercolor; we would love this in our bathroom! All of these are so adorable though.

  44. avatar Jessica N. reply

    Enjoyed reading about Shay and her man, thanks for sharing SW! I also would love the billion stars print in our new home!

  45. avatar Meredith Brown reply

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the “But really. Let’s get married and make lots of babies and grow old together. It will be awesome!” :)

    Loved this post as well!!!!

  46. avatar Jennifer reply

    I love the beautiful water colors! My favorite is the greatest of these is love print! So beautiful!

  47. avatar Lauren reply

    I love this! Major hedgehog envy. I’d be so thrilled to win the “i love you more” print. How sweet!

  48. avatar Michelle reply

    I adore Shay. She is a wonderful person and so talented! I love how much she and Drew love each other!

  49. avatar Sara reply

    My fav is the “good vibes only” print!

  50. avatar Teri reply

    I love reading about yalls love story! Yall are too cute and silly! Never a dull moment!
    “Wake up, dress up, show up”

  51. avatar Laura reply

    I’ve been following Shalyn for a while now and I love seeing how happy they are – they’re not afraid to be goofy! I love the “And the greatest is love” print!

  52. avatar chauna hardin reply

    I would love to have the Robin Williams quote print to hang above my bed! I love them all though and would be happy with any of them!

  53. avatar Whitney reply

    I LOVE Shalyn… I’ve been following her for YEARS!!!

    How can I just pick just one?!? I love them all!! I love the Ryan Adams quite.

  54. avatar Susan W reply

    Dude, let’s cuddle!!

  55. avatar Heather K. reply

    I love Shay’s “Dude Let’s Cuddle” print. I enjoy following her on IG and seeing all the cute pictures of their fur children!

  56. avatar Katie Mast reply

    I’m trying to be awesome today…. cause everyone should always be striving for AWESOME!! <3

  57. avatar c.h. reply

    I LOVE the quote on the “billion stars” print

  58. avatar Sam reply

    I love “So fresh & so clean”. Great work!

  59. avatar Katie reply

    I love the “Dude, Let’s Cuddle” print! I’d love to win that one :)

  60. avatar Stephanie reply

    I adore the “Southern Newlyweds” series! Every time I read them I get so excited for our wedding in June!!! I absolutely love the “But Really: Let’s Get Married” print, it sounds like something my fiance and I would say to each other!

  61. avatar Alysson reply

    Well I need one of each!! But I’d choose so fresh and so clean or dude lets cuddle…it would be a hard choice!!

  62. avatar Alysson reply

    So fresh and so clean or dude lets cuddle!

  63. avatar Madeleine B reply

    I can’t decide! I love the Let’s Cuddle or… print and the Sitting at the Corner print as well! How cute are all of them!?

  64. avatar Shauna W reply

    Such a cute article .. The nelsons are simply adorable :) I love following the blog & them on Instagram. If I am lucky enough to be the chosen winner, I would choose “And the greatest of these is love.”

  65. avatar Jenn reply

    I would pick Dear Diamond for sure! So fun and SO true!

  66. avatar Melissa Joynson reply

    I LOVE the “Dude, let’s cuddle” print. When I saw it in one of the pictures above, my immediate thought was, “That is so us (my husband and I,” followed very quickly by, “I want it! Where can I get it?” It is amazing and would be a perfect, playful addition to the more romantic prints in our bedroom, especially since marriage is all about balance. :)

  67. avatar Heather reply

    I LOVE the awesome print for my home, or the lets get married print for my office! Amazing work ladies, I love this story and their story of love and a happy marriage. There aren’t enought of those posted these days!

  68. avatar Sarah P. reply

    Dude, let’s cuddle. :-)

  69. avatar Frances reply

    I absolutely love the wake up! print, it’s so much fun!

  70. avatar Laura Fletcher reply

    I love this post, and I love them! I would love to have the “And the Greatest of These is Love” print!!

  71. avatar Jay Perez reply

    I would love the Donald Miller Billion Stars print!!!

  72. avatar Pam Fletcher reply

    I would like the And The Greatest of These is Love print!!! Gorgeous!

  73. avatar John reply

    So hard to decide! I guess I would like the And the Greatest of These is Love print.

  74. avatar Lua F. reply

    I would love the “And the Greatest of These is Love” print. But they’re all cute!

  75. avatar Angela reply

    So cute! Love the “making out” print!

  76. avatar katinka reply

    beautiful couple, beautiful house and beautiful print shop! they are all wonderful, but my favorite is dear diamond :)

  77. avatar Katie reply

    What a sweet story! I’m here from Instagram – and how can I pick just one print?? Dude, let’s cuddle. I just love everything about you. A billion stars. So good.

  78. avatar Michael and Carina reply

    This is SO sweet! Love their style!!

  79. avatar Olivia reply

    Omg, love them all, but if I had to choose I would say “and the greatest of these is love”

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Just in time for the first official day of summer, we’re so delighted to share today’s Southern Newlywed post! Few people inspire me to cook up fresh, colorful, seasonal meals quite like Jeanine from Love & Lemons, who, with the help of her husband, Jack, is truly gifted at creating (and photographing!) meals that are both beautiful and delicious. I’m already excited to see what summer dishes she comes up with that I can add to my repertoire! Jeanine is as sweet as can be, and was so kind of give us a peek into her completely amazing kitchen and share her favorite recipes with us.

By day: Jeanine blogs at Love & Lemons full time and does freelance recipe development. Jack is a video game engineer (with a side job of helping Jeanine with food photography).

How they met: While living in Chicago, I went to Austin to visit a friend. Jack happened to be a friend of that friend, and we hit it off right away. We dated long distance for a year before I moved to Austin…to be with Jack, but also to escape the cold winters (kidding! Well, sort of).

Their wedding: We walked down the aisle, and just as our officiant began with “We’re here today to celebrate Jack and Jeanine,” a car in the distance let out the loudest brake-screeching sound you’ve ever heard. (As it turns out, it was a couple of our guests who were running late–we’re grateful that no accident ever took place!) Our wedding was beautiful, but that moment really sums up what our relationship is about–beautiful, but far from perfect. We’re able to laugh when tensions rise, which I think is the key to a good marriage.

Meal planning: Technically, I do, as the food blogger, but I’m still terrible at meal “planning,” per se. I’m more of a “hey, I got this pretty vegetable at the market and I think I’ll make something with it” kind of cook.

The cooking: I cook and Jack is the taste tester–he has it good.

Favorite meal-related memory: Since I do most of the cooking, the most memorable meals are probably the ones that Jack cooks. The fire department often shows up after he’s set off all the smoke alarms.

Top ten favorite recipes:
1. Migas breakfast tacos: We both love breakfast tacos (after all, we live in Austin, home of the breakfast taco). I make this healthier version at home.
2. Quinoa, Apricot, and Arugula Salad: Chickpea salads are one of my easiest go-to meals (for lunch or dinner) because it’s easy to keep a few cans of chickpeas on hand.
3. Shiitake and Napa Cabbage Gyoza: We often make gyoza (Japanese dumplings) together. They take a little time to assemble and it goes faster with four hands.
4. Spicy Watermelon and Avocado Salad: Now that it’s summer, I can’t get stop putting watermelon in salads with feta cheese. It’s so juicy and refreshing, yet wonderfully sweet and salty.
5. Mexican Street Corn Salad: This Mexican corn salad is also perfect for summer and ridiculously easy to make.
6. Brussels Sprout and Avocado Salad: We love anything with green vegetables, avocado, lime, and sriracha, so this brussels sprout and avocado salad is a favorite.
7. Any recipe from an Ottolenghi cookbook is always a win!
8. Walnut Miso Noodles: I’ve made this Walnut Miso sauce recipe from 101 Cookbooks more times than I can count.
9. Vegan Soft Baked Pretzels: Right now Jack is obsessed with soft baked pretzels. He enjoys making this recipe for parties because it’s easy, but impressive.
10. Avocado Almondaise Tartines: And of course, avocado on toast–I can’t get enough.

Follow along with Jeanine:
Blog: Love & Lemons
Facebook: Love & Lemons
Twitter: @LoveLemonsFood
Instagram: @LoveandLemons

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    Love this, Jeannine! Saving several of these, and especially excited to try the pretzels!

  2. avatar Carlene: Healthfully Ever After reply

    I have to comment! Love and Lemons is one of the best examples of food blogs that we have today! The images are so well branded and cohesive. She pays attention to showcasing produce- As a dietitian and food blogger I just love it!!!

  3. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    The colors in the food are lovely and I am definitely going to try a few of these, yum!

  4. avatar Roshani reply

    Oh my! Hubby would love this! Pinning now! Thanks for sharing!!

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Dave and I recently started chatting about which decor pieces we’ll be bringing into our newlywed home next year, and to say that we have different ideas is a bit of understatement. It is a great comfort to hear that when Caroline and Aaron moved in together, their home was the “biggest, most ridiculous mash-up of furniture and styles you’ve ever seen,” but over time, their tastes have meshed to result in the effortlessly cool apartment they’ve shared with us today. Along with the reassurance that totally different decor preferences can come together so beautifully, I’m also so inspired by Caroline and Aaron’s unique budgeting system and their commitment to spending lots of quality time together.

P.S. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Caroline and Aaron’s adorable whippet, who makes a few cameos in their home tour! :)

Years married: 2.5
Where you live: Austin, Texas
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met in high school (he was the cool senior, I was the super nerdy sophomore, too shy to say hi), reconnected after college, fell in love on our first date, and were married eight months later. *sigh* I love our story.
What is your favorite part of being married? Every. Single. Bit of it. I love that we’re creating a life and legacy together–something that wouldn’t have existed in this world otherwise. I love that we’re better people just by being together.

Do you rent or own? We rent. We just signed another lease for a second year in our tiny 600 sq. ft. apartment and we could not be more happy, content, and excited. After living in an 1800 sq. ft. house during our first year of marriage, we wondered if there was another way, so we downsized. We’ve never looked back! This past year has totally changed our perspective on space and how much we actually need. Renting often gets a bad rap, and we definitely went through an intense phase early in our marriage when ALL we could think about was buying a house of our own. All our friends were, and we felt behind for renting. But there’s something to be said for listening to your inner compass and buying at the right time for you. Having experienced both renting and owning, I have to say, there are so many lovely things about living in an apartment that often go overlooked–the pool, the gym that’s steps out my door, the free coffee at the office when we run out at home, and the ability to pick up and move to Paris for a few months should we feel so inclined. ;)

Tell us about the process of moving in together. At first, our home was the biggest, most ridiculous mash-up of furniture and styles you’ve ever seen. My style was shabby chic meets glam and Aaron’s style was dark, heavy, and manly. Awkward mental picture, right? But over time, our tastes and styles changed and meshed together. Now we’re both into midcentury modern and California cool. Honestly, my best tip for blending styles is simply this: don’t worry if your house isn’t styled perfectly right away. Embrace the messy mash-up at first–it’s like a fun little rite of passage. We’ve all been there.
What most makes your house feel like home? Consider yourself warned because this gets cheesy, but to me, our apartment feels like a home because of my husband. It’s like that song, “Home is wherever I’m with you.” It’s true. (#aww)

Who cooks dinner? Aaron! I’m the luckiest girl ever because he’s an amazing chef. Me… not so much.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We love Mexican food and will typically throw together a taco salad when we need an easy weeknight dinner with lots of veggies. We use fresh greens, bell peppers, avocado, tomatoes, corn, jicama, onions, and chicken fajita meat.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? Our favorite cookbook is the Kinfolk Table, but we also get a lot of inspiration from restaurants in Austin.

How does your family handle finances? We absolutely live by a budget, and we manage it using a hybrid approach to Dave Ramsey’s cash system. It goes like this: all our bills, groceries, and gas are budgeted and paid by debit card, but then we each get a monthly allowance in cash. We’re each responsible for budgeting our allowances for eating out, entertainment, clothes shopping, hobbies, etc. It cuts out the, “You spent what on what?!” moments, because we give each other the freedom to spend our allowances however we like. It’s kind of a different approach, but it works for us and we love it.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? When we downsized, we discovered something cool: if you have less space, you can buy fewer, better things to fill it. So, in a way, our tiny space is how we save, because we don’t have to buy much. For what we do buy, however, we can splurge a little. I love it! For furniture, we love West Elm (especially the outlet!) and Ikea. We also like mixing in handmade pieces from Austin artists and decor from designers like Jonathan Adler.

Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Our little patio is my favorite spot. It’s the tiniest space ever, but it’s magical. We strung up big bulb lights, and in the summertime, we love to eat dinner out there.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? We try to have shared hobbies as much as possible so we can spend time together doing things that thrill us, challenge us, and help us to grow together. I’m currently working up the nerve to join Aaron in his most recent hobby–Crossfit (yikes!). We also like to invite each other along for menial tasks, like grocery shopping or running to the post office. That time adds up and it can be really sweet.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? We love doing a food truck crawl, which is when we eat appetizers at one food truck, dinner at another, and dessert at another. It’s a blast!

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? One tiny little way I love on Aaron is by hanging out with him in the kitchen while he’s making dinner, goofing off with him, cleaning up along the way, and making sure his wine glass gets a refill.
Is there anything else about your home or family life that you think our readers would be interested in? The books that have helped Aaron and I most in our marriage are Mindset by Carol Dweck (it helped us understand ourselves and how we approach hard things) and The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander (the chapter “Telling The We Story” changed everything for us).

We’re so grateful to Caroline and Aaron for sharing their hearts and home with us! If you love their style as much as we do, be sure to follow Caroline’s lovely photography here, her inspiring capsule wardrobe blog here, and her day-to-day life on Instagram.

Home photos: Caroline Joy / Family photos: Michelle Boyd

Michelle Boyd is a delightful member of the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
13 Comments
  1. avatar Leanne Caroline reply

    Oh my word, I want your home! Homely simplicity. Perfect. And I love that you love marriage. So very inspiring. Caroline, you’re a gorgeous role model.

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Y’all have come a long way from “ridiculous mash-up” – your home couldn’t look more cohesive or perfect for you two now. And I love Steve Z on your pillows :)

  3. avatar Caroline Joy reply

    Oh sweet ladies of SW, this just makes my heart so happy! Thank you so much for inviting us to be a part of Southern Newlywed. It’s such an honor! Xoxo Caroline

  4. avatar Erin reply

    My goodness, what a beautiful home and such an amazing inspiration for a lovely marriage!

  5. avatar jame reply

    lovely lovely home. :)
    caroline do you mind sharing (or remember) where your patio lights (and the ones around the mirror) came from? those look like they are better quality than the ones you can buy at christmas.

  6. avatar Katie reply

    I love this! Caroline is such an inspiration and encouragement for simple living. She truly examples a life filled with what matters most. Thanks, Caroline and I adore your home. Especially all those succulents! :)

  7. avatar Kat reply

    I love it!! I love how they have blended their styles together, and I love her advice to just “embrace the messy mash-up” because that’s what I feel like our house looks like right now!!

  8. avatar Sydni reply

    I love everything about this post!! What a beautiful home. We also love renting (going on our 3rd year) in order to save money to put 20% down on a house in PA, and having fewer things. Also, love that print in the bathroom – ha!

  9. avatar Watercolor house portraits – Em for Marvelous – reply

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  10. avatar Carri Pryor reply

    Caroline and Aaron have such a beautiful home. I was hoping to check out Caroline’s photography but clicked on the link and it is now a dead link (http://carolinejoy.com/) Just wanted to let you know!

  11. avatar How to add Color to your Apartment reply

    […] If you’re looking for a furniture piece, but don’t want to break the bank – accent chairs are the way to go. Since they’re on the smaller side of the furniture scale, it’s also easier to pick a color and it’s sure to blend well with a neutral sofa! Target, World Market, and Home Goods are great places to find an accent chair. {via Southern Weddings} […]

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    […] > House Dreaming How gorgeous are this Stockholm appartment, this pretty house and this cosy Texan home? […]

  13. avatar Sweet Tea Sundays No. 79 – Southern Weddings reply

    […] on Southern Newlywed was Caroline and Aaron–you can find their adorable Austin apartment here! Their whole interview was super inspiring, but one of my favorite parts of it was when Caroline […]

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