Feature Friday with Ryan Wengel

Happy Friday! How was your week? We were supposed to go to South Georgia to see Thomas' sister and her family but the plans fell through at the last minute. Womp womp. So now we're going to take it easy this weekend and get some stuff done around the house. #WeekendWarriors.

We took a break from FF last week to celebrate Thomas' birthday but we are back with a brand new one that we think you're going to love. Ryan gets real about the insecurities that adolescence can bring and the subtle, surprising way he came out to his mother. Take a look below to read his touching responses and to see pictures of his gorgeous kitchen!

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Where are you from?  Wisconsin born and raised!

Where do you live?  About 4 years ago, my partner John and I moved to the CUTEST small town about 20 minutes outside of Madison, WI.  We were introduced to the neighborhood by our best friends and fell in love hard!  Nestled on a perfect little lake, we do our part to enjoy everything it has to offer -- boating in the summer, ice fishing in the winter (ok, that's a stretch), and cozying up with friends by a fire year round!  You can count on Happy Hour at 5pm every Friday -- rain or shine.

What’s your Instagram handle? @mrryananthony

Age: 33

Relationship Status: Partnered up.  John and I met over 10 years ago while I was completing my degree and the rest is history!  As it goes with any relationship, there are ups and downs, but we're really lucky to have each other.

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What is your favorite place you have ever travelled to and why?  I have a total soft spot in my heart for the beach.  Being from Wisconsin, we have short summers and brutal winters, so I cherish anywhere 75+ and sunny!  Plant me on the gulf coast of Florida ... Clearwater, Fort Myers Beach and everywhere in between.  It may not be the most most exciting destination, but offers an opportunity to slow down and reset.  We also travel to Mexico (Cancun) once, sometimes twice, a year with friends and always look forward to that getaway!

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Who is your favorite artist at the moment? Favorite song? Should I be embarrassed that Shawn Mendes' - "Lost in Japan" has been on repeat since Monday?  He is such a sweet kid and his new music is my jam!  One thing is certain, Beyonce is QUEEN!   

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What is your proudest accomplishment?  Tough question!  I've never really reflected on this.  I would say that my proudest accomplishment has been all the DIY work we've tackled during home renovations.  We take so much pride and passion in turning unloved houses into really special homes. (Thanks PJ and Thomas for the kitchen island inspiration!!)

How would you describe your home décor style?  My style is totally transitional, but I love keeping it eclectic.  I'm the type of person who will go into a house and paint all the walls white, upgrade the finishes and accent with a great rug.  I tell everyone that paint on a wall is much more of a commitment than a throw pillow or artwork!  Keep it neutral and accessorize with great pieces that you LOVE.  I am good mix of Christina Moussa (gold on gold fabulousness) and Joanna Gaines (all things shiplap). 

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What is something you wish you would’ve known when you were younger?  I wish I would have known to have confidence in myself sooner.  I truly regret my adolescent insecurity and at times feel like it has built an "inadequate foundation" that I am now racing to repair and strengthen.  Most recently I am learning that you are not your day job... you are so much more than what you went to school for... and that you can do anything you want with enough ambition.  Quit doing work that you're not passionate about, leave unfulfilling relationships, and be unapologetically happy.  Life is too short to do anything otherwise.

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What is one thing still left on your bucket list?  I have a lot of places to still see.  I've never been to either coast, so NYE and California are both ranked on the list!  John and I go back and forth on getting a camper or RV and taking more road trips... what do you think??

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How old were you when you came out and what was your experience like?  Because of my insecurity growing up, coming out was more about changing my perception than it was about changing others.  It has been a progression, but most of the "sit down conversations" happened just as I was graduating college.  I took the pivotal change as an opportunity to free myself of the secret I had held onto for 22 years and allow for my life to really begin.  My best friends were first and that was no sweat.  They already knew John and were excited learn his true place in my life.  Shortly after, I told my mom in a Mother's Day card.  I asked she read it after I leave and share it with my dad when ready. Maybe cowardly, but I couldn't find the courage to have the conversation face-to-face.  Not even 2 miles down the road, my mom was calling in tears.  We continued to cry happy tears together as I drove by to the apartment that John and I were then sharing.  Everyone else found out somewhat organically because we weren't "hiding" anymore.

What did you learn about yourself in the coming out process?  I learned that it was me who had the issue (insecurity) with it and not others.  If there is a recurring theme here, it is to find your confidence and voice early on.

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Have you faced any backlash or criticism since coming out?  Looking back, I can honestly say that I've only gained from it.  I am fortunate to say that neither of us have experienced negativity because of it.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?  If you can't answer this question with "my mom," I am truly sorry.  She worked incredibly hard to give us a good life -- something I didn't always appreciate while growing up.  Things have finally come full circle and now I get to see her enjoy more of life, collect experiences and invest in good relationships.