Boy howdy, do I have a treat for y’all today. Not only did our friend and newlywed Hope Houser send over photos of the beautiful home she shares with her husband, Michael, but we have the “before” photos to share, too! The home these two have created is cozy, inviting, cohesive, and filled with sentimental pieces, from the painting of their first look to the cactus art in honor of Michael’s home state. Add in an enviable man cave, a facade-flip worthy of Joanna Gaines, and an interview filled with sweet wisdom, and my (and probably your) Friday is complete! Please enjoy, friends!
Thanks to Sophie Brendle for the beautiful after photos of Hope and Michael’s home!
P.S. You may recognize Hope as Lysa TerKeurst’s daughter. Read more of her mama’s advice for mothers-of-the-bride here!
The couple: Hope (22) and Michael (21) Houser
Years married: 8 months
Where you live: Charlotte, NC
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Michael: I grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Although I miss the dry heat at times, Charlotte has become my home. I have an older brother and sister as well as four younger siblings. I loved growing up in a big family and I hope to start my own with Hope in the next few years! Until then I am pursing a double major in business as well as working towards my career goal to become a Chick-fil-a operator/owner. Hope: My parents have lived in the same house my entire life in Charlotte, North Carolina. My dad has owned his Chick-fil-A for 25 years. My mom is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She has written 19 books and speaks all over the world! I have two older brothers and two younger sisters.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. 20 questions while driving up a mountain top was the best way for us to get to know each other – I love to ask questions, and hearing Michael’s answers made me fall in love.
What is your favorite part of being married? Hope: Watching Michael cook the yummiest dinner, jazz music playing in the background, favorite candle lit, and not having to say goodnight after :) Michael: My favorite part of being married is being able to start my day and end my day with my best friend. I can’t put into words how awesome it is to be in love with your best friend.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? Michael: The most surprising thing about marriage is that I never stop learning more about my wife. Marriage is a constant work in progress, and I mean that in a good way.
Tell us a little bit about where you live. We recently bought a little starter home. We would love to be here for the next five-ish years, and then move into our forever home. We are open to either building or buying a fixer-upper and gutting it! (Hope wants the fixer-upper :))
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Michael has given me such freedom to bring all my crazy ideas to life with our home. Some have totally failed, but it’s nothing a little patch-up work or paint won’t fix! The best advice we have would be to give yourself the freedom to experiment. Either you learn a lesson of what not to do next time, or it turns out great! It’s a win/win.
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Hope: Our living room — we love hosting our friends and family there! Michael: My man cave. It’s the best napping or movie room!
What most makes your house feel like home? Our wedding presents. Some of our favorite things weren’t on our registry, but they all have such sentimental meaning! Those are what we find ourselves talking about most in our home. (Examples: the painting of us during our first look, the cacti art in our kitchen representing where Michael grew up, our kitchen table that Hope grew up sitting at, etc.)
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? I like to have at least one statement piece in every room, and those are normally the splurge items: our chairs in our living room, our cowhide rugs, the House Of Belonging sign above our bed.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Hope: Our band was seriously amazing. We danced under lights in this huge glass ceiling atrium. It truly was the most magical winter wedding. Michael: My favorite memory was watching Hope walk down the aisle. I know it’s, cliche but it truly is a breathtaking moment. Along with that, I love that I’ll always be able to reminisce about the best day of my life with friends and family who were there.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have lots of wedding pictures all throughout the house, the Bible we had our guests sign is on our coffee table in the living room, our wedding painting is hanging in the living room, and we have an album of guest photos from our photo booth!
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? Wait a few weeks until you start spending the gift cards from either presents or reimbursements. We could have used them for so many practical items that we didn’t realize we needed until a few weeks living together in our home.
Who cooks dinner? Michael. Always. (Ha!)
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Crockpot salsa chicken, sweet potato fries, spinach salad, and avocados. I can’t even count the number of times we’ve had this meal. And then of course Chick-fil-A is a weekly/daily thing ;)
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? I watched the movie “Chef” a few weeks back and ever since I’ve been on a food truck kick. I’ll look for food truck recipes online and work them into our menu for the upcoming week. Try homemaderecipes.com!
How does your family handle finances? We both love growing our savings and giving. Don’t get me wrong, spending is fun, but we want to establish good patterns early on. We’ve had to just decide what things are necessary, and what we can wait on. I would recommend using a budget sheet – once you use it for a few weeks consistently, it will become a really wonderful habit!
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Saying no to some things has been so beneficial for us. We’d recommend allowing yourself to sometimes turn down stuff so that you can use your newlywed time to grow closer together. We’re all about that “quality time” love language! This has been an area where lots of communication is needed and we sometimes fail, but we love to learn!
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite night would be cooking dinner at home, eating at our farm table, then venturing upstairs with a glass of wine to watch whatever show we;re hooked on at the moment. Currently, it’s “Parenthood.” So good.
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Hope: I LOVE walking into a clean house. I travel a lot with my job, so Michael is always serving me by cleaning the house before I get home from a trip. Michael: I love when Hope sends me encouraging messages, phone calls, or notes throughout my week about stuff I forgot I told her about, like a big exam coming up, a presentation for work, or a new workout routine. It could be anything, but her intentionality always makes for a better day.
Do you have children? Both of us grew up with big families, so we would love to have a big family, too! We want to wait 3-5 years to have kids. Adoption is something we both have had our hearts set on for a while!
Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… My mom always tell us this: “When you wish for someone else’s good, you have to be able to handle the not-so-good that comes with it. It always comes as a package deal.” We knew this before we were married, but it’s something we are constantly reminding ourselves of. Comparison is so dangerous in a marriage!
This year, our family is most excited about… going to Israel together in a few months. I have been, but Michael hasn’t, and we are SO excited to experience it together as newlyweds.
Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and home with us, Hope and Michael!
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!