Raise your hand if you’re addicted to HGTV’s Fixer Upper…hands all raised? Us too! One of the most fun things about sweet Joanna and Chip’s show is that I think it has made us all a little braver about the possibility of taking on a fixer upper of our own. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what Jessica and Mark did–she bought their Montgomery house as a “renovation side project” before they got engaged, and as the house began to turn into a home, they knew it would be just right for their newlywed nest. Jessica and Mark are expecting their first little one this year, and I can only imagine how special it will be to bring their new baby home to a place they poured so much love into!
The couple: Mark (30) and Jessica (28) Spurlin
Years married: Five months
Children’s names and ages (if applicable): One on the way!
Where they live: We live in Montgomery, Alabama, in the Cloverdale Historic District.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We share a love of architecture and old houses! Mark studied landscape architecture in college and just finished his Masters in building science. He is an assistant project engineer for a commercial construction company and is loving it! I am an interior designer and have a background in art history. We were married on July 25 and just found out that we are expecting!! We are in for a fun ride!
Tell us your love story in one sentence. Some mutual friends thought we were a perfect match…they were right!
What is your favorite part of being married? Being on a date that doesn’t end is pretty cool! We have so enjoyed spending time with each other doing the little things, like dishes and yard work. You get to know each other in a different way than you can before marriage.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? The pet peeves!! We laugh nearly every day about doing things that drives the other crazy! Mark constantly forgets to close his closet door and I don’t do anything in the kitchen without making a commotion!
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Our kitchen is absolutely our favorite space in our home! When we first bought the house, the kitchen wasn’t fit to cook as much as a hot pocket. It had a stove that looked like it came off of the Little House on the Prairie set, a microwave, and a washer and dryer. I redesigned the kitchen and added custom cabinetry so that it’s functional…and so that no one actually knows we are hiding a washer and dryer in there!
Who cooks dinner? I do, usually! Since finding out we’re pregnant, we have definitely cooked less frequently, but we have loved experimenting with new recipes and foods, and trying not to burn the house down in the process.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Our go-to weeknight meal is usually soup. We have experimented with some different recipes, but our favorite is a peanut butter and vegetable soup–sounds scary, but is divine! We live around the corner from a really yummy pizza spot, Tomatinos, which is our go-to weekend meal. It’s super convenient and the food can’t be beat!
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? In the world of Pinterest fails, I’ve learned to actually follow food bloggers and ask friends for tried and true recipes. My latest addiction is allrecipes.com–I love pictures and reviews, and this website makes it super easy to find great dishes.
Do you rent or own? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? Tell us a little bit about where you live. Mark introduced me to his favorite realtor, and I bought the house before we got engaged as a little renovation project! After endless months of demo, work, and renovation, we knew this house would be the perfect newlywed nest. As our family continues to grow, we will definitely need more space, so we hope to do more renovation in the future. You learn a lot about each other through dealing with an old house–it’s the ultimate premarital counseling!
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Do you have any tips for blending your two styles? I am an interior designer, so combining multiple styles is in my blood! I locked Mark out of the house for two weeks leading up to the wedding and moved ALL of our things in. We added some new pieces to some that we had prior to this house, which helped our older things feel new. My best advice when combining two styles: making sure that your spouse feels at home and comfortable is key. If you can’t picture them living there, then you’ve missed the mark!
What most makes your house feel like home? When designing our house, we wanted it to feel comfortable and welcoming above all else. We chose washable slipcovers and young, fresh colors, and ended up with a casual and fun space that we can relax in. Low maintenance is difficult to find in an old house, and somehow, we got lucky and made it happen!
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? What are some of your favorite sources for home things? We wanted to make sure that our splurge items were good investments we would have for a long time, while items we could save on could be a bit more temporary. We splurged on a new sofa with fabulous Lulu DK pillows (that we’re completely obsessed with!), but saved on a rug by going with an inexpensive seagrass. We also used IKEA light fixtures in our kitchen–we could never agree on what to put in there and needed a fixture to pass inspections. Luckily, we loved them the second they went up! We found most of our accessories at PARISH (the sister store to the design firm that I work for) but have also found many pieces at antique stores, flea markets, and our parents’ attics.
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Our favorite memory from our wedding day was our first look (which just so happened to be as I was walking down the aisle!). Our ceremony was outside overlooking a beautiful valley, and Mark’s brothers opened two antique doors that led to the aisle. Perfect moment!
How do you remember your wedding in your home? (Pictures, mementos, etc.) Over the past few years, we have both done quite a bit of traveling abroad, so rather than a guest book, our guests signed vintage postcards from some of our favorite places! We have a basket in our living room with all of the postcards in it, and we have had SO much fun reliving our day through those sweet notes.
What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? More towels! Holy moly, you can never have too many towels!
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite date nights are usually the ones where we can hang on the sofa and watch a movie we’ve seen a thousand times. We can talk and laugh and really just be mindless. Those are the best nights!
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities (work, personal time, extended family, etc.)? We are definitely figuring this out along the way! We have been very intentional about our commitments to other people or organizations so that we still have time for each other and our families. After reading “The Best Yes,” I realized that even good things that you want to say yes to can often take you away from something (like being with your husband) that is a “best” yes. Read it–you will be obsessed!
Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and home with us, Jessica and Mark!
P.S. Just as a reminder: we’d love to hear from you, too! If you’re interested, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!