Don’t get me wrong – I love an all-white kitchen or living room as much as the next 20-something gal. But all white everything isn’t the only way to achieve a warm, pretty space, and I adore Mary-Kate and Nick for proving that for us today. In addition to being beautiful, their home just looks so interesting – I feel like I could wander it for hours and still find more things to look at and wonder over! Other highlights: the helpful touches they’ve added to make guests’ stays easier (I’m making my own wi-fi password sign tonight!) and the creative ways they’ve honored their story through carefully-chosen decor.
Big hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna K Photography for these photos. She may as well be our Southern Newlywed fairy godmother, as she sent us Mary Hester and Andrew’s home tour, too, and is in the process of photographing her own home to share! Want to participate? See below for more details on how your home or apartment could be featured here!
The couple: Mary-Kate (24) and Nick (26)
Years married: 2
Where you live: St. Augustine, Florida
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We are both originally from Georgia. We met in college at Valdosta State University. Nick is an American Sign Language interpreter and instructor at the Florida School for the Deaf & the Blind and is getting his Masters in Interpreting. Mary-Kate is a Fine Art Consultant at the Cutter & Cutter Galleries.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We were friends in college, long distance daters, and fell in love in St. Augustine…with a lot of Chick-fil-a sprinkled in there.
What is your favorite part of being married? Having a constant companion to share day to day life. I love that whenever one of us says “I have an idea…” the other one is always on board with support. I also love that we can dream together. Whether it is what we want for dinner or where we will be in 25 years, we get to do it together!
Tell us a little bit about where you live. We currently rent a beautiful little home that was built in 1910. We have the home owners’ blessing to make the space our own, so we have really enjoyed the freedom to make home-improvements that make this house feel like home. We love our location because we are both in walking distance to work. We look forward to owning a home one day, but for now we love where we are.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Nick lived in a tiny one bedroom home, so when we got married, we had the challenge of blending two lifestyles in 450 square feet! I love the philosophy, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Having less “stuff” really helped us when moving into our current home. All of the things we have in our home are a reflection of us as individuals and a couple.
What most makes your house feel like home? In the gallery where I work we have a saying, “If someone was to go into your home when you are not there, would they know you and who you are from what they would see?” For us, I hope so. We have made every decision with a lot of thought, in hopes that it reflects who we are. I hope that our home shows that it is filled and decorated with so much love and intention. I want it to feel wonderful to not just us, but to anyone who walks through the door.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Absolutely our china. I struggled with registering for china because I always grew up expecting that I would have an everyday, formal, and holiday china pattern. When it was finally my turn, I did not feel connected to the idea of having all of the extra china that would go unused throughout the year. We decided to go with a beautiful everyday china from Juliska and it has served us elegantly, whether dinner for two or hosting our friends and family.
Who cooks dinner? We are typically in the kitchen together. It was a fun learning experience figuring out how to work together when cooking. It usually involves good music, laughter, and a few “oops”!
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? That is a tough one to answer. We love our living area because it is so comfortable to us and is filled with a lot of beautiful elements that reflect our story. Nick would answer the front porch though… we can spend an entire morning out on our swing, talking to neighborhood locals and playing with our kitty, Lewis.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? We have decorated our home one piece at a time. I love the saying “buy the best, and you’ll only cry once.” We focus on buying things that are not too “trendy” in hopes that we can enjoy them for a long time. Much of our home was antiqued, thrifted or passed down from family. I like pieces with a story; sometimes that means spending and other times it is all about finding a sweet little treasure.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? Art is a big part of our life. Many special memories from our wedding day are hanging on our walls. We have photos and our invitation framed. We also commissioned some special paintings from local artists: a portrait of a favorite wedding photo, as well as a watercolor of my bouquet.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? At our reception, the song by The Lumineers, “Ho Hey” played during our cake cutting. As we looked up from cutting our cake, everyone had crowded around the table and was clapping and singing, “I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart.” That moment of being surrounded by the people who love us most, and the love that filled the room, was an unforgettable feeling for us.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? It can be tough… my gallery hours cut into the typical “date nights” and our days off are never the same. While we rarely have full days off together, we have learned to cherish the moments and when we do have the rare day or weekend where our schedules match up, we make it memorable!
How does your family handle finances? When we got married, we had a deep desire to be debt free in our marriage. We had some student loans that we were serious about paying off quickly. We set a strict budget and used a cash envelope system to stay on point. We focused one of our salaries on living and the other completely on loans and savings. We were debt free in one year! Now we are not as strict, but we do still focus on financial goals.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Living in a town like St. Augustine, we have learned that there is always something fun (and usually free) happening in the community. We love packing dinner and picnicking at outdoor bay-front movies. I suggest looking up your town’s calendar and seeing what is happening in the community… that is where we have found some of our favorite outings!
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Nick loves words of affirmation, so I am always reminded to say or write down the things I love about him, rather than keeping them to myself. Something that seems simple to me usually means so much to him. From Nick: Knowing that Mary-Kate’s love language is gifts, I do my best to surprise her with little (and sometimes big) surprises we call “S’s.” I usually try to find a clever way to reveal the gift.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? How much you learn about yourself. You see yourself through another person’s eyes and that can be exciting and also convicting. We are also constantly learning how to balance our life as a team while growing as individuals.
Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… My grandparents did tell us to follow these rules: 1.) Always put God first and one another second. 2.) Don’t have any secrets. 3.) Have fun together.
This year, our family is most excited about… upcoming family time. We have some weddings and vacations that we are really looking forward to. While we have really enjoyed moving to our own town to start our life together, we love coming together with our family, so we are counting down the days!
Big hugs to Mary-Kate and Nick for sharing their hearts and home with us!
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.” We are also really hoping to feature some apartment dwellers! If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!