Yep, Bess and Ben’s home is beeee-autiful. (But then again, I would expect nothing less from the director of a curated online shop!) At work, Bess’ mantra is to “live with things you love;” at home, it’s clear the number one priority is “live with whom you love.” These two love each other a lot and have plenty of wisdom to share from their 1.5 years of married life. Friends, please enjoy this peek inside Bess and Ben’s Charleston home!
Big hugs to Olivia Rae James for these photos!
The couple: Bess (31) and Ben (30)
Years married: 1.5
Where they live: Charleston, SC
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We met 5 years ago in London, England, while Bess was researching her master’s thesis at Sotheby’s and Ben was living and working. We were married 1.5 years ago in Nantucket, MA, and recently moved to Charleston where we’re loving settling into life in the low country.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. It was a typical rainy summer night in London where only a local pub would suffice; the vacant seat within lead to a remarkable journey to Charleston, the other side of the world (or as we now call it, home).
What is your favorite part of being married? Living with your best friend.
Do you rent or own? We recently completed a five month renovation of our first home. We love living in an older house which has been updated to our specifications. We purchased our home because we adore the area and think that it has potential for us to grow into it. The schools are wonderful and we love our neighbors and the historic community here.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Ben: Without a doubt Bess’ career experience with renovation and interior design guided most of our decisions for the house. Luckily, we both like to mix styles. It’s fun to throw her a curve ball that breaks convention and see how she fits it all in!
What most makes your house feel like home? Having items which have been passed down to us from both sides of the family. We’re big antique people and love living with a mix of old and new pieces together.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? Bess has been collecting furniture and design pieces throughout her career. We splurge in our kitchen and master bedroom, but save on items found at estate sales or at one of our favorite home stores, Ikea…
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Try to give each other what you need. Most weekdays we reconnect by taking our dog, George, for a walk in the evening and discussing our day together. We both need time to unwind and we make sure to try and spend as much time by the water as possible. It’s a great stress reliever.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Date night for us is different every time and we find the most memorable ones tend to reflect the time preceding it. If we’ve been traveling for work, then nothing can beat an intimate dinner at home with a simple meal and the dog at our feet. A picnic at the beach around sunset is pretty idyllic, too… Simple evenings are best and we try to avoid routine and crowds.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you know now? We would have focused more on what we use for entertaining friends. We love having friends over for cocktails and food and I wish there were more registries focused on these types of items. Our great friends recently opened a wedding registry site focused on fabulous items for entertaining. I wish they had been around when we were registering!
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Our kitchen – it’s where we spend most of our time – we both love to cook and entertain.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Our kitchen items are what we use most often – a beautiful cutting board, everyday cutlery, and cocktail glasses.
Who cooks dinner? Mostly Bess, however we shop together and enjoy joining forces when we host. We tend to throw ourselves into the deep end in the kitchen and like to experiment. This usually allows for Ben’s scientific approach to clash with Bess’ creative flair!
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Weeknights are quick and easy. We like our local Trader Joe’s or the fish market for fresh meat/veggies and seafood. On the weekends we splurge by grilling out with friends or trying a new restaurant downtown.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? We love traditional cookbooks – old classics like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and new icons like Gwenyth’s It’s All Good. I also love great food blogs like Food 52 and Feed Me Phoebe.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? There are so many wonderful memories, but recapping the night when it was just the two of us after the reception was so special. We stayed up late drinking champagne and laughing, never wanting it to end!
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We treasure our wedding photos which are framed throughout our home. We also love watching our wedding video on special occasions!
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Ben: I wash her car for her on the weekends – the pollen during spring in Charleston is brutal, and I know she loves a clean car. Bess: I keep his favorite breakfast and dessert foods on hand at all times, and I make sure he always has clean socks.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? How fast time flies. I feel like I’ve known Ben my whole life, yet our wedding day still feels like yesterday!
Please finish the sentence: Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… Ben: …how exciting being married would be. Routine and process was an urban myth. Never have I been busier and achieved so much.
This year, our family is most excited about… planting roots in our new home and discovering new things about our (fairly) new city and community.
We’re so grateful to Bess and Ben for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to check out Bess’ beautiful online shop, Lola & Bess.
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!