When Astleigh wrote to me about sharing her home on Southern Newlywed, she mentioned that one of the things she was most looking forward to about marriage was making a home — “curating a space and filling it with love and happiness.” I really resonated with that, as I’m sure many of you do, too! What a privilege to get to set the tone for our families, and to create a place of welcome and comfort for the ones we love most.
Though Astleigh and I first chatted back in August, we agreed to wait for a Christmas tour. It’s her favorite season, and one she does up right in her Virginia home. I know you’ll enjoy her cozy style, as well as these sweet photos from Rachel Wells!
The couple: Astleigh and Pete Hill, both 26
Years married: 3 years and 2 months
Where you live: A small town in the mountains of southwest Virginia
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We are college sweethearts who settled into married life in our college town a year after our respective graduations. Both small-town raised, we love calling the mountains home. Pete is a graduate student in mechanical engineering while working full-time as a research associate. I’m a writer and designer turned stay-at-home-mama who authors a lifestyle blog and recently became a small business owner. Last December, we welcomed our daughter, Greer. Together, we love working on our new home, spending time with our people, traveling when we can, and partnering in parenthood, our greatest adventure yet.
Tell us a little bit about where you live. We bought our first home, a ranch built in 1958, at the end of August this year. The home has only had three owners (we’re the third). It has great bones and so much potential, which is what immediately drew us to it. After two years of looking for a home, this one took the cake! Owning a home has truly been a dream come true for both of us. Having rented the first several years of marriage, we knew how badly we wanted to own a home that we could make our own. As lovers of DIY projects and woodworking, we couldn’t wait to leave our mark on our new space, and from the moment we closed we’ve been hard at work transforming our ranch house! From the paint colors and refinished floors, to the newly placed and painted shiplap in the foyer, each detail we’re adding is a little bit of us.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Moving in together was really easy for us. When it came to blending our styles and decorating, Pete let me take the lead. I always try to be conscious of the fact that he’s a man living in our house, too! Even though he’s not the one doing the decorating, he still very much feels a part of it. And since it’s our home, that’s really important to me, and I know he appreciates it.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? Just how comfortable you become with your husband! I never imagined being able to let down all of my guards and bare my heart and deepest feelings with someone. Then I got married, and that all changed!
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? Decorating my home makes me incredibly happy! I try to balance the splurges with the savings, and I’ve learned from trial and error over the years. Accent pieces are items I try to save on because my style is always evolving and I’m rotating pieces in and out all the time. Home Goods, TJ Maxx, and Target are my go-to places for finding accent pieces on a budget. I’ve found that bigger design pieces like picture frames, curtains, lamps, and quality furniture are worth the splurge when you’ve saved up for it. Big pieces that are more permanent deserve a little more investment and you’ll be happier with them in the long run.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Our first dance — it was the first time we really let it settle over us that we were husband and wife. Leading up to our wedding day, we would practice dancing (more like swirling around the room for fun) to our first song, “At Last.” Finally getting to swirl around the dance floor as a married couple was really special!
What is your favorite part of being married? Coming home to my person. Marriage creates a whole new level of closeness and understanding without making you feel vulnerable. Pete gets me and knows my strengths and weaknesses, my quirks, and my favorites. There is so much comfort and joy in being able to share the ups and downs of life with my best friend.
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? The family room, because that’s where we do us. It’s the place in our home that we spend the most time together. The fireplace and built-ins give the space a cozy feel, adding to the charm of the house, and the large windows let in such beautiful, natural light.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Our Crate & Barrel dishes, glasses, and utensils are used daily. When deciding on them, we went with classic off-white pieces for the dishes, a sleek shape for the glasses, and simple silver utensils that we knew we would love for a long while and would give the versatility of mixing and matching with other more bold/patterned serving pieces.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? I would have definitely include more serving dishes (trays and platters) and accent pieces (vases, baskets, and the like) for our home. I have a passion for sharing my home and hosting, and you can never have too many serving pieces. Truly, there’s nothing quite like having your people in your home to share the cozy, the love, and some scrumptious home-cooked food!
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? One tip is to set aside a specific time in the evening for one-on-one connection (even if it’s just 20 minutes, and even on the busiest days) to make sure you’re stopping in the midst of all the things for what really matters — each other.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? We have always loved going on coffee dates with one another in the middle of the day. Before Greer arrived it was a favorite way to slip away with one another. These days, she tags along, and we make it a family date.
Who cooks dinner? It’s pretty much split right down the middle. We both love being in the kitchen together, so while one of us is working on the main part of the meal, the other is working on the sides. It gives us time to chat about our day and connect.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We try to mix up our weeknight meals, and we keep them simple. The weekend is where we really love to get creative, but Sunday might be my favorite: we try to fix a hearty crock-pot meal that can simmer throughout the day, filling the house with a great aroma, while we enjoy each other and relax before jumping back into the week.
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? One way we love each other well is by knowing each other’s love languages. For instance, Pete will occasionally surprise me with fresh flowers, a favorite treat of mine.
Tell us about your baby girl! Our sweet Greer girl joined our family almost a year ago. She has been everything and more than we ever imagined. She is an answer to prayer and a daily reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness and sovereignty. Our hope is for a big family with littles running all around, making our home all the sweeter and all the messier :)
Is there anything else about your home or family life that you think our readers would be interested in? We love celebrating the holidays, decking the halls, carrying out family traditions, and creating new ones. From the twinkle lights and scent of fresh pine to the Christmas carols and hope of fresh snow, this time of year is our absolute favorite.
Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and home with us, Astleigh and Pete!
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! I’ve had so many wonderful emails lately, so keep ’em coming! :)