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