Feature Friday with Andrew Kutz & Tyler Coldwell

Happy Friday y'all! How has your week been? Doesn't it seem like they're flying by? We can't believe it's already June. Any plans for the weekend? We have a very fun (and last minute) trip planned that we can't wait to tell you about!! 

This week's FF is so cute and relatable for a number of reasons. They argue over what they want to eat (#same), they are big on family (#same) and one of them came out around the age of 20 (also, #same). Wait until you read how they each knew each other were "the one", it's one of those perfect moments you only see in the movies. We're excited to share Andrew & Tyler's story with y'all today. Take a look...

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Where are you from? Andrew: born outside Seattle and raised in Newville Pennsylvania Tyler: born and raised north central Ohio

Where do you live? Currently we just moved back to the West Coast to Downtown Los Angeles.

 What’s your Instagram handle? Joint: AKTC0702 Andrew: ABKUTZ Tyler: TJCOLDWELL

Age: Andrew=29 (till July, holding on to my twenties) Tyler= 30 (we don’t discuss it)

Relationship status: Engaged

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What is your favorite place you have travelled to and why? Paris, it’s where we got engaged.  Andrew flew into Paris to surprise me and propose outside Sacré-Cœur Basilica (sacred-heart basilica) for 24 hrs before flying back. 

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How did you guys meet? Who asked out who? Tyler had decided last minute to go to Vegas for his best friends 30th birthday. Tyler and his friend, Vanessa were leaving a local bar to go to another place to continue the celebration. As Tyler was backing his car out of a spot so Vanessa could get in, she spotted Andrew walking towards her and asked him for a favor, she said her best friend was trying to leave her and he should call him a D-bag. To which Andrew obliged and yelled “hey Tyler, your a deuce.” Tyler being very puzzled looked like who is this guy. Vanessa laughed the whole way to the car and they left. About an hour later they came back and saw Andrew going between groups of friends at the bar. Tylers’  friend spotted me (Andrew) and said hey that’s the guy.  At that point I thought I should actually introduce myself and said “Hi I’m Andrew”.  After some time talking Tyler and his friend decided they were heading home while I was going to join other friends at a club near.  Upon leaving we exchanged numbers and I said I would call him or message him from a hour after I get in.  Well that hour came and when I was walking out to head home I walked to my car which was towed.  Upon letting Tyler who was still up came back with “I can come get you,” I was surprised at how nice and genuine he was and accepted. I put him through the ringer that next 24 hours when I not only introduced him to my parents who were in town for the holiday but also had him join us all for the car at the impound but also tell him that my mom said she wouldn’t mind Tyler calling her mom.  This one night lead to several other crazy events the next few days but have been together ever since. 

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How did you know each other were “the one”? Andrew: there were two moments for me that I knew Tyler was the one, the first one that night we met and he offered to pick me up but also that night after meeting his three dogs we also cuddled that night and it’s the first night that I fell asleep on his shoulder in his arms and woke up in that same spot the next moment.  The second is right after we moved from Vegas to DC and were out with friends after getting back from his best friends wedding in the Dominican that I had decided to get the ring from Tiffany’s and when I found the perfect one the look I had on my face and the realization that I was more than happy to say he is going to be my fiancé.  

Tyler: the moment I knew Andrew was the one was when I had to leave on Monday (the weekend we met). I extended my trip and left Monday instead of Sunday. When I got in the car and said goodbye to Andrew and started driving I felt this awful feeling of pain. The further I drove the more it hurt and I wanted nothing more than to turn around and go back to him. I realized then in that moment that I never wanted to live another day without him. Even though I knew I would see him in a few days it was too long. He was the one for me and I was excited to see what our next adventures would be together. 

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Any big plans for the future? Where do you see yourselves in 10 years? First we see ourselves married, we are big on family and are looking to foster/adopt.  We are also looking to continue to grow Tyler’s real estate/ development firm here on the west coast while having opening Andrews Coffee/ wine bar.  Ideally we are looking to settle down in Seattle with our own house big enough for the kids but also my larger family to visit and spend more time with us. 

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How would you describe your home decor style? Well Andrew’s idea of furniture when we met was two bar stools and a couch and bed ( both of which were inflatable). Meanwhile I came with a fully stocked household with accents like my home was staged for sale. While admittedly almost all of the style is mine (Tyler’s) it’s because I do it for a living. Our perfect home style is a nice transitional farmhouse style as it is our roots but also keeps us in the trendy LA and developer community. We always want the house to be warm and inviting for guests while comfortable for us. 

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What is the last show you binged watched? We regularly watch the real housewives of anywhere, but binge watch would be Grace and Frankie. ANDREW would choose Unearthed but I’d rather do my taxes. Lol

How do you guys handle arguments? AND what’s the silliest thing you’ve ever fought over? Typically over dinner and a bottle of wine.....sometimes it takes a few bottles but then we get to a resolution. The silliest argument we ever had was picking out what to eat after a night out. I wanted tacos and Andrew hates Mexican food. Lol

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How old were you when you came out and what was your experience like? Tyler- I came out when I was 20 years old. I had met a guy who I found myself attracted too. I had eased into everything first telling my best friend I was bisexual and later my mom suspected and ask me. I told her she was right and all she said is “ now don’t you feel better that is out, I already knew and nothing is going to change as long as your happy.” My Dad on the other hand (divorced parents) threatened to hit me and said I was lucky I caught him in a bad mood. We don’t really have a relationship as see each other every few years. 

Andrew-I didn’t officially tell my family till the February before Tyler and I met in 2016.   For me it was waiting for that moment to feel safe and that it was the right time.  I wasn’t completely out as I had also dated Women prior and for me it was who I felt comfortable with and it didn’t matter if it was a male or female, It’s the personal connection that makes a relationship not the label. 

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Have you faced any backlash as a couple since coming out? If so, how do you deal with that? Andrew- Yes- not from our friends and family though but from other guys in the community. Mainly the story of how is this guy the one when I wasn’t and how are you really going to make that work when you can’t make it work with me or even make time for me. 

Tyler- We tune it out. It’s not worth our time and energy as we both have very rewarding lives already and we know what we mean to each other. All of the rest is white noise. 

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What is your favorite thing about one another? Tyler- my favorite thing about Andrew is how he is always so supportive and would move heaven and earth to make me happy (including Moving across the country and away from his family for my career). He is my strength when I am weak and my hope when I am beaten. I think the phrase I like best is that he is “the butter to my bread and the breath to my lungs”

Andrew- My favorite thing about Tyler would have to be the amount  of compassion he has and even though he’s the sensitive one he never loses the drive for the things or ones he loves.  He is always there for a family member or friend and regardless of obstacles makes sure that he is there for them or will find a way to be. He compassion is what many see right away and what makes him a true friend and soon to be husband

 

Feature Friday with Nate Smith

Hey y'all!! Happy Friday!! How has your week been? We've been at the beach the past two days celebrating PJ's birthday as our boy turned 32 yesterday. We're down in Aly's Beach with our friend Shaun Smith who was kind enough to let us stay with him. We're having a blast and can't wait to tell y'all about it!

This week's FF is a bit different than what we normally post, but has such a great story to tell. His bravery and courage (in more ways than one) is inspiring and we think you'll enjoy learning a little more about his story. Take a look below to see what we mean...

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Where are you from? The U.K.

Where do you live? Georgia

What's your Instagram handle? nate_smithws

Age: 16

Relationship Status: Single

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What is your favorite place you have ever travelled to and why? My favorite place that I have ever gone to is the United Kingdom because that is where I was born and I always like going back and getting to see all of my family.

Who is your favorite artist at the moment? Favorite song? My favorite song at the moment is No Roots by Alice Merton, although my favorite artist at the moment is Old Dominion.

What is your proudest accomplishment? My proudest accomplishment so far in life would have to be when I got accepted for a full ride scholarship to Emory University as a freshman in high school.

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Describe your home decor style: My home is still what my parents want it to be since I am in still in high school and live with them. I live in a 4 story house in the city, with a very modern design and almost all glass exterior. The inside decor consists of mainly crisp and rectangular shaped furniture, with some round objects placed throughout the house.

What is something you wish you would've known when you were younger? I wish that when I was younger that it was ok and should not be frowned upon to be gay, I grew up believing that it was a sin and that I must pray to become a child of god, as time went on I realized that I was who I was and wanted to remain who I was. Basically I just wish I had known there is nothing wrong with being gay and that it is ok to reach out for help when you are in a dark place.

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How old were you when you came out? What was your experience like? So I actually just came out this about a month ago this year, and I had of course told a couple of my closest friends before this and was pretty sure that my parents knew, but it wasn’t until I started following PJ and Thomas and saw how happy they were, that I decided to come out to everyone. I of course had immediate acceptance from my closest friends and best friend actually cried because she was so happy for me. They were also of course some people who weren’t so accepting and I lost about 25 followers which does not seem like a lot but it really showed me how there are people in this world who may I may not be able to be friends with but it doesn’t mean that I can’t still be nice to them because everyone has a right to their own opinion. My family is a different story though, my sister thinks it is amazing, my mom has accepted it but doesn’t like it, and sad to say my dad does not really talk to me since he found out, although the benefits outweigh the downsides by a long shot. For the first time in my life I truly feel like I can be ME and not worry about what everyone else will think about me and I have never been happier.

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You came out while in the military. What was that like? So many people get confused or don’t believe me when I tell them I am currently serving in the US Army National Guard as a Private First Class (PFC). As it is well known when living in the states you must be 18 to serve in the military although an exception was made for me so that I could serve due to my abilities. I was born with an eidetic memory meaning that I only have to see or read something once and remember it forever, this also allowed me to learn 4 languages and excel in much of what I do. About a month ago I decided to go ahead and come out which meant that my Platoon and Company would be soon to find out, which was always a big discourager, but I knew that I couldn’t wait forever. Most of the soldiers were accepting and said that they would see me as no different, just as much of a soldier, and were not going to stop trusting me with their life over who I am attracted to. Some were less accepting and no longer wanted to have me within their company but my company commander simply removed them instead. They weren’t real happy about that. Have to admit that even the accepting were a little uncomfortable showering together with me after that bc we all shower in a group shower together when in the army, but they quickly learned that I was not going to just sit there and stare at them shower, just as I hadn’t before.

What did you learn about yourself in the coming out process? I honestly learned a LOT throughout the coming out process. I learned that I could actually be a very outgoing person when I didn’t think that I could ever be a truly outgoing person. I learned that I didn’t need to be shameful of my body and that if I simply embraced it that life was so much better. Most of all I learned that I was fine the way I am and that if I just allowed people to talk to me that maybe I can find someone to love someday, which I wasn't sure was gonna happen. 

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Who is your biggest inspiration and why? So I kinda answered this above and I know that it may not seem like something so simple or someone like Thomas and PJ who I don’t even know could make such an influence, but they really can. I started following PJ and Thomas about a month before I came out and the fact that I could see that they were so happy and that while not everyone was accepting of them that they still lived an amazing life with many friends, and were happy doing what they were doing, really just made me smile. As time went by I started considering the fact that this may be true for me too, and so I started talking to my best friend about the idea of coming out and she jumped at the opportunity to convince me. I spent like an hour with Rita (my best friend) looking at PJ and Thomas’s page and seeing how happy they were, and eventually decided that if there were people who were unwilling to accept me than that was there problem, that they simply weren’t my true friends, and that I should not revolve my life around what everyone else thinks. 

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Feature Friday with Matthew Olshefski & Paul Castle

Happy Friday! What do you have planned this weekend? After a wet and dreary week, we're finally going to have some sunny, warm weather the next couple of days and we can't wait! We're going to a crawfish boil tomorrow; have you ever been to one? Tons of food, people, and games. Should be fun!

This week's FF is a very, very special one. Matthew and Paul are such an inspirational couple and their story is so beutiful. Paul is an amazing painter and he makes the most gorgeous art. The only thing is that he is almost completely blind, with his central vision being just about "the size of a keyhole." He has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a progressive disease, that will eventually cause him to lose all sight. According to his Instagram, all of his art sales contribute to finding a cure for RP. You can check out his art on his Etsy shop here. Matthew is a violinist who plays the most BEAUTIFUL music you've ever heard. Seriously, check out his rendition of Never Enough from The Greatest Showman. Speechless!

Take a look below to learn a little more about them...

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Where are you from? Matthew was born in Sante Fe, New Mexico and Paul is from Vancouver, Canada.

Where do you live? We live in Seattle, Washington. Matthew moved to the Pacific Northwest 10 years ago, but Paul has always called the PNW his home. We get a lot of rain. but they don’t call it the Evergreen State for nothing!

What’s your Instagram handle? Matthew is @ShirtlessViolinist and Paul is @PaulCastleStudio

Age: Matthew is 34 and Paul is 27

Relationship status: We’ve been practically inseparable for 2 years. 

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What is your favorite place you have travelled to and why? We recently visited Hawaii for the very first time, and we absolutely fell in love with the Big Island. I’ll never forget the moment we both dipped into the warm ocean waters off Mauna Kea. We looked at each other with the biggest smiles on our faces… it was the first time we had ever set our feet on tropical sand, and we were in heaven. It’s a bit of a cliche, but the sunsets really ARE better there!!

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How did you guys meet? Who asked out who? I found Paul’s IG page and was immediately attracted to him. Not just because he’s cute (he is!) but because of the stuff he was doing. Paul is a legally blind visual artist, he runs marathons, and he loves eating healthy and staying active. I struck up a conversation with him and it took me a couple months to arrange our first IRL date - and he was worth the wait. We had the best first date I’ve ever had. We stayed up talking until 5 am! 

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How did you know each other were “the one”? We both knew pretty quickly. Paul later confessed to me that he wrote about our date in his journal the next day… he wrote: “I think I just met the one.” And I have to admit, I felt the same way. I was a little scared because I wasn’t prepared to have those feelings so quickly. But when you find it, you can’t run or hide. You’ve got to embrace it and enjoy every “first” together. That’s what we did.

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Any big plans for the future? Where do you see yourselves in 10 years? Paul and I started a business together shortly after meeting. We are both creative people and we produce music videos as a team. I’m a classically trained violinist, and Paul is a talented filmmaker and editor - so we invented the YouTube channel “Shirtless Violinist” and we’ve been having the time of our lives making videos, music, and other digital content. I honestly don’t know if I’ll still be playing half-naked music in 10 years, but we’ll definitely be doing something creative with our lives. Paul is my best friend, my partner, and my creative collaborator and we both feel extremely lucky.

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How would you describe your home decor style? Because Paul is losing his vision, it’s important that our living space is bright, open, and decorated with a lot of white. But we both love a pop of color, so you’ll find items in bright red and caribbean blue scattered throughout our home. Live plants are a must in every room! Paul is a painter, so his art is all over our walls. Very colorful, surreal and whimsical imagery describes his style. Lastly, we both have a sense of humor and we love incorporating that in our home decor. As an example, we have a bright orange unicorn head mounted over our fireplace!

What is the last show you binged watched? We recently blazed through all 6 seasons of Downton Abbey and we cried when it was over. It’s just THAT good. The costumes, set design, and music are outstanding, and the characters stay with you for a long time. We also loved the new Queer Eye!

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How do you guys handle arguments? As I said before, we not only live together but work together, too! So, yes, arguing is a healthy part of our relationship. It’s not about whether you argue, but HOW you argue. We listen to each other, let each other speak, and (as hard as it may be in the midst of a heated debate) show empathy and understanding. Our number one rule is “never ignore or shut down” and our second rule is “never go to bed angry.” We have stayed up until 2 am on more than one occasion to make this happen, but we stick to our rules.
 

How old were you when you came out and what was your experience like? I came out in my early twenties and it was a difficult experience. Growing up in a very conservative and religious environment meant that not everyone was able to accept it. As challenging as it was, making that decision was one of the most important turning points of my life - and I am so grateful to be where I am today. Paul came out after high school. He bought a ticket to San Francisco and moved down there, came out, and marched in his first Pride parade all in the same week.

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Have you faced any backlash as a couple since coming out? If so, how do you deal with that? As part of our YouTube channel, Paul and I recreate Disney Fairytales with a gay spin. We’ve done Beauty and the Beast, The Littler Mermaid, and more. Thankfully there has been a lot of love and support for what we do, but it’s not hard to imagine that we get negative comments as well. We have to censor the occasional homophobic remark because we want our channel to be a safe space for people to enjoy - but it’s a reminder that there are still many people in the world who do not accept homosexuality.

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What is your favorite thing about one another? We both share a lot of respect and admiration for each other’s art. Paul is my biggest fan when I’m playing the violin, and I adore Paul’s paintings. His creative mind is such a turn-on. We spend a couple hours every day working on our “art” in the same room. I practice my violin while Paul paints just a few feet away from me. We love this time together. 

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Feature Friday with Anthony Valdez & Austin Stapp

TGIF friends! Doesn't it seem like these weeks are flying by? How is it already almost the end of April? Our friend Ashley from South Carolina is coming to stay with us this weekend for her birthday, which happens to be today! Happy birthday, Ash!!!! We also have something fun planned on Saturday that has to do with old homes in the downtown area that we will talk about next week. What are you up to this weekend?

We are so obsessed with this week's FF's story, y'all. For some reason, it feels familiar to us and really reminds us of our own story. Isn't that weird how that happens sometimes? Of course, it's unique and special because it's their own; with their "love at first bite", little parties they throw, and love of Mofongo (YES), we found it to be such a fun read. We think you will, too. Take a look below...

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Where are you from? We were both born and raised in opposite sides of Texas. Both from rural towns, Anthony is from Linn in south Texas, and Austin is from Eldorado in west Texas.

Where do you live? We both live in Austin, Texas now.

What’s your Instagram handle? @ajvaldez and @austinryanstapp

Age: Anthony is 24 and Austin is 23

Relationship status: Dating, coming up on 4 years. 

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What is your favorite place you have traveled to and why? In August Anthony surprised Austin for his college graduation with a trip to Puerto Rico. This trip was significant for us in many ways including celebrating our third anniversary together and it was also the first time that we traveled together without friends or family. We instantly fell in love with the culture surrounding the island, everyone on the island embraces differences and celebrates life in such a unique way...not to mention the delicious food (Mofongo – if you don’t know what this is, look it up! You won’t be disappointed). This will forever be a very memorable vacation for us not only for the beautiful destination, but also because of the important milestones in our lives together.

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How did you guys meet? Who asked out who? We met at Texas A&M University. Our first date was on August 23, 2014 at Sonic Drive-In. Anthony had a strawberry limeade and Austin had an ocean water. We sat in Austin’s car for a couple of hours and talked all night. After Austin ordered the second round of tater tots, I knew it was love at first bite. We actually consider this day our anniversary since we have been dating ever since and no one officially asked the other. We’ve had many more tots since then.

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How did you know each other were “the one”? We have always heard, “when you know, you just know.” And this is definitely true for the two of us. After a few days of knowing each other, (4 to be exact), Anthony had a drink or two and let the words “I love you,” slip out. Of course, these words can either really freak you out, or let you know that you feel the exact same way. Being that drinks were involved, we decided to wait and see if the feelings were still there in the morning.

They were.

Knowing that you have found “the one” is such an incredible feeling, and it comes with loving and growing together through the pains of life. Our lives have had plenty of pains, but we are lucky enough to have be each other’s “ones” to get through it all.

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Any big plans for the future? Where do you see yourselves in 10 years? We both love living in Austin, Texas but wouldn’t be opposed to trying out a different state or even country together. We’re both fairly new to the “adult” world and are still figuring it all out. In 10 years, buying a home, marriage and starting a family are all in the plan. But for now adopting a golden retriever may be the best place to start.

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How would you describe your home decor style? Mid-Century modern with classic and artisanal touches. We both love design and décor and take pride in our home being a reflection of who we are creatively. Our goal is to always make sure our guests feel at home and comfortable. While we don’t always initially agree on the same style choices, we somehow manage to come to an agreement that we are both pleased with.

What is the last show you binged watched? Schitt’s Creek. If you haven’t seen it, then please change that.

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How do you guys handle arguments? We hash it out for a few minutes and both get a little sarcastic THEN we realize how unreasonable the argument may be, and take a moment to breathe and talk it through. We usually sit down and talk about why one of us became upset in the first place and why the other may have made the situation worse. After that, we try to establish things we will both work on in the future to avoid a similar situation. A kiss usually seals the deal.

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How old were you when you came out and what was your experience like? Anthony – I was 20 when I came out to most of my friends in college and was 22 when I came out to my parents. I grew up knowing love and support and that hasn’t changed.

Austin – I came out to the majority of my friends and family when I was 19. Both my friends and family have met me with love, understanding, and acceptance. I have been very fortunate.

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Have you faced any backlash as a couple since coming out? If so, how do you deal with that? We have both been lucky enough to have a strong support system that loves and accepts us. Though every coming out experience has its trials, in the end we have realized that those who love us are happy to see us be ourselves. In the difficult moments, we remember that we cannot be the best version of ourselves unless we can forgive others, accept ourselves, and work towards acceptance for all. We truly believe that love conquers all.

What is your favorite thing about one another? Anthony – My favorite thing about Austin is his willingness to always make someone smile. He will go out of his way to make sure those around him are happy and have a reason to laugh. I guess you can say he has a pretty contagious smile. When there’s a special occasion or even when I am having a bad day, he’ll do this thing where he’ll throw me a “party” and cooks or bakes, decorate the entire apartment in balloons and streamers and sometimes even a banner and makes everything about me. It’s definitely very silly but it never ceases to make me smile.

Austin – My favorite thing about Anthony (oh goodness how will I ever decide!)…My favorite thing is his compassion for others. He is always willing to go without, give his, or check on someone when he knows they need it most. He is a loyal and fiercely faithful friend, has an electric presence, and a giving heart. He meets strangers and friends with that beautiful smile, lights up the room, and makes everyone feel important. I am very blessed to know and experience him in this regard and so many others.

 

 

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.