Mattie Tiegreen’s Athens, Georgia Home Tour

Mattie Tiegreen defines ambition — she has both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s, and also runs her own (very successful!) stationery and paper business, Puddleduck Paper Co. But what we love most about Mattie is that underneath all of this drive is the sweetest, most down-to-earth, humble, southern girl. A small-town Georgia native, Mattie is a self-prescribed coffee addict, wife, entrepreneur, and creator. We were happy to find out a bit more about her, her career path, and to see what makes her house a home!

After a quick stint in the suburbs, Mattie and her husband discovered they preferred more of an urban lifestyle, so it was time to trade their spacious house outside of the city for something smaller with plenty of character. Even better, the new house just so happened to be on their favorite street in Athens. A master of mixing high and low, Mattie took the time to find décor pieces she loved and that reflect her bright, happy style. We certainly agree with Mattie that “love is in the details,” evident in the details of her home!

Read on to find out about Mattie’s decision to become a small business owner, what home item she believes we should all splurge on, and what she loves most about living in Athens. We’re thrilled for you to take a peek around Mattie’s cheerful, southern home. Enjoy!

Full name:  Mattie Tiegreen
Location: Athens, Georgia
Age: 26
Current title/company: Owner, Puddleduck Paper Co.
Educational background: The University of Georgia, B.S. in Education and M.Ed. in Autism 

What was your first job out of college? 
I taught middle school students with intellectual disabilities and autism for three years after college. I always knew I would be a teacher or an artist. As a child, I was either doing arts and crafts or playing school, so my careers have been no surprise to anyone. I think I thought Puddleduck Paper Co. would always be just a hobby – I even went back to school for my master’s degree after teaching for two years. Turns out, owning my own business was in the cards for me after all! I quit my job last year to create full-time and absolutely love it.

But, I feel most confident and successful when what I do and make really looks like me.

How did you transition from working for someone else to being your own boss? 
I was running Puddleduck at night while I was teaching for about a year, so the transition was actually a relief. I had more time to plan, organize, and set deadlines for myself instead of working tirelessly into the early morning. The biggest struggle was having little to no human interaction when working from home. I’m a people person so it felt lonely to sit in my home office all day. But, that was remedied when I moved into a shared creative studio in October. Now that I “go to work” I feel less isolated and way more inspired. 

Tell us the process you went through while looking for your home. Do you rent or own? How long have you been there? How did you know it was right for you? 
My husband and I bought a big house in the suburbs just outside Athens, Ga. when we married in 2011. After just a few months in that home, we realized we missed the community in the city of Athens and went on the hunt for a smaller home in our favorite tree-lined neighborhood. In just 3 days, we found an ad on Craigslist for what looked like a run-down barn-turned-house on the outside but had a great back porch. As we were walking through the house, I remember loving all the natural light and that it was small. It was just the two of us and our dogs, after all, and we didn’t need 5 bedrooms. I heard the landlord say that REM lived in the house when they were up and coming in Athens; we were hooked. We signed the lease the next day and have lived there ever since!

Things will not turn out the way you think they will, but you will be happier than you think you will be.

In your experience, what home goods are the most important to invest in? What items do you recommend saving on?
I think investing in good bedding is smart. I used to bargain hunt for sheets and duvets and would find myself unhappy within a few months and ready to re-purchase. I probably spent dozens more on multiple sets of mediocre sheets than I did by investing in nice, soft sheets and pillowcases. I like to bargain hunt for small furniture and decor items. Our home is always evolving! We have good staple pieces and I add thrift store finds as I come across them instead of feeling like I have to completely decorate the whole house from the start.

What is your favorite budget-friendly piece in your home and why? 
I love our kitchen bar stools. They were free from my father-in-law’s workshop and he could not believe I wanted them. After a good scrub, removal of the worn brown burlap, paint, and reupholstery using a bold ikat fabric, they are beautiful, functional statement pieces.

What do you love most about living in Athens? Any favorite spots you’d like to share? 
I’m so drawn to the music and art scene here and am continually impressed by the talent in our town and how everyone supports each other’s crafts. We also think it’s the perfect balance between slow-paced and exciting, which perfectly fits our personalities. If you’re ever in town, grab brunch at The Last Resort and take a peek in Agora for some killer vintage shopping. If you stay for dinner, try The National (and call me, I’ll come meet you!) and grab cocktails at The Manhattan or The World Famous. 

What advice would you give your 23-year-old self? 
Things will not turn out the way you think they will, but you will be happier than you think you will be. 

Mattie Tiegreen is The Everygirl

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
Doing exactly what I’m doing now: making things I love, collaborating with people I believe in, and spending time with those who encourage and support me. 

Favorite way to spend a Sunday? 
Waking up slowly, brunching with good people, gardening if it’s warm enough, porch sitting and beer sipping with my husband and cooking a low-key dinner for a house full of friends. That’s perfection to me. 

Best advice you’ve ever received? 
Be yourself. It sounds so simple, but in a world where we’re inundated with what everyone else is doing, it can be difficult not to compare. I still struggle with that, especially as an artist. But, I feel most confident and successful when what I do and make really looks like me. 

Favorite band/musician or go-to chick flick? 
I’m a long-time Avett Brother’s fan. We follow them around the U.S. And, you can never go wrong with “When Harry Met Sally” especially, “Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash!”

If you could travel anywhere right this second, where would you go? 
San Francisco. I have been in love with the city since my first visit in 2003 and never want to come home. If I could just bottle that weather…