A Growing Family Returns to 'Home Town' Life
Erin and Ben Napier help a returning resident and her family transition back from big-city lights to small-town living.
"They captured everything that I could ever want in a house — the flow, the colors, the space; everything just coming together and making it feel like a home." So said Ben and Erin’s latest client, Mia Walker, once she saw the finished product in this Home Town renovation.
Mia, along with daughter Taylor (who’s herself about to become a new mother) and young son Bryce, are moving back to Mississippi after having been living in Chicago. They’re moving back to the slower pace of small-town living and to be closer to family.
What Mia’s looking for in a home is a place with sufficient space for the growing family, space to entertain, a large family-oriented kitchen and a master bedroom that’s a private retreat. “Mia's style leans traditional,” says Erin “but she also likes things that are simple and streamlined.”
The house-hunt, in this case, leads to two homes with decidedly different attributes. The Hamilton House is an unspectacular '40s-era three-bedroom that does, however, offer some advantages. It's in generally good condition, sits on a large lot and has direct access to an old and beautiful city park. The Tant House sits at 2,800 square feet and was built in 1955. It has a more storied history, but in its current state is not as well maintained and generally lacks in curb appeal.
Mia’s final decision presents both Erin and Ben with a project they can sink their teeth into. In the end, the result is a house that's informal and comfortable yet visually stylized and colorful.
As seen on Home Town, Ben (C) and Erin Napier (L) work on the wrought iron fencing in the front of the Walker residence. They are using a sawzall to remove the center sections of the fence to give the front of the house a more open feeling. Ben and Erin Napier are renovating this house for the Walker family. (demolition)
Erin digs in, helping with everything from initial demo to creating a design for custom wallpaper. Ben, in addition to his usual project oversight and hands-on construction, personally crafts a narrow buffet table for the newly remodeled dining room.
The kitchen becomes the stylistic star of the reno with its sleek, clean design, open feel and white palette offset with lower cabinets painted in a brilliant ocean blue. The updated and reconfigured kitchen features a new island, also built by Ben, using pine wood repurposed from the kitchen’s original wood paneling.
Other highlights in this renovation include an oversized master closet and dressing room for Mia’s master suite and a gallery wall in the living room, featuring professionally framed original artwork by Bryce.
Classic '50s Updated
Clean exterior lines, new cedar siding, a rich green palette and fresh landscaping helped transform a run-down, utterly forgettable house into this sleek and stylish neighborhood gem.
Be Not Afraid of Bold Color
The vivid blue used for the cabinets may seem like an audacious choice, but it integrates artfully in this streamlined white kitchen with its subway tile, gray concrete countertops, stainless appliances and a well-coordinated area runner. This particular shade, Pacific Ocean Blue, is one of Erin's go-to color picks as seen in HGTV's 'Color Vs. Color' design showcase.
Original Art With a Family Tie
"When you take a child's drawing and you put a big, wide mat around it, it becomes modern art," says Erin. "It becomes elevated."
Erin took paintings and drawings done by the homeowner's 4th grade son Bryce, framed them using quality frames and mats and worked them into this wall grouping in the new living room. The art ties in perfectly with the room's eclectic decor that blends modern and folk motifs.
I Can See Clearly Now
The bright and colorful new dining room was made to feel even more spacious by opening up the backs of the built-in bookcases that separate the living and dining rooms, providing an expanded sight line between the two spaces.
Meet the Homeowners
Mia Walker is a nurse and, along with daughter Taylor (who’s herself about to become a new mother) and young son Bryce, are moving back to Mississippi after having been living in Chicago. They’re moving back to the slower pace of small-town living and to be closer to family. Mia’s wish list includes a place with sufficient room for the growing family, a space to entertain, a large family-oriented kitchen and a master bedroom that’s a private retreat. Her total budget, including renovations, is $125,000.
Before: Concealed Behind a Curtain Crepe Myrtle
The Tant House has three bedrooms, three baths, is 2,800 square feet and was built in 1955. The list price: $53,500. The house has an interesting history with the same owners, local business owners, having lived in it for more than 50 years. In its current state, however, it's not well maintained, is generally lacking in curb appeal and the yard is badly overgrown. Mia's initial impression of the exterior: "Too busy; too much going on."
"This is one of those houses," said Ben, "that people either have forgotten about — or they want to forget about it."
After: An Enhanced View
The overgrown vegetation and iron fence are removed, providing the newly refurbished home with a wide-open view from the street. The brick is painted in a rich green and the old vinyl siding across the front is replaced with stained cypress, helping give the exterior a warmer and more visually defined look.
The front porch is both more functional and attractive, with the ironwork removed and replaced with wooden support columns painted in coordinating darker green. The old solid wood door has been replaced with an entirely new door kit featuring a five-light design and sidelights, providing more natural light to the interior.
Living Room, After
The original hardwood flooring has been restored and given a new and lighter finish that better highlights the natural grain. The floors had to be sanded three times to remove the old, dark stain, allowing the natural color and grain of the wood to show through.
Living Room, After
The house itself, the architectural style, is really midcentury, so we have to honor that in the way we dress the house, but we also have to honor Mia and her family and the way they live.
Living Room, After
The header above the opening was replaced with a single support beam and raised, also helping to open up the two spaces and create more headroom. The latter was an especially wise choice since Mia has some extended family members who are more than seven feet tall.
Dining Room, After
The remodeled dining room, which now also opens into the adjacent kitchen, a rustic dining table, drum style chandelier and new window treatments.
Dining Room, After
The colorful wallpaper in the dining room was custom created from an original design by Erin Napier based on one of her paintings. o
Erin's design plan called for reconfiguring the kitchen layout, adding a refrigerator enclosure, removing the peninsula and creating a new center island, with bar seating, positioned lengthwise in the space.
New lower cabinets painted in bold ocean blue stand out sharply against the white subway tile and light gray concrete countertops.
The solid knotty pine lumber used in the kitchen's old paneling was repurposed by Ben, and painted in bright white, to create the base for the new kitchen island.
Master Suite, After
Erin refined the look of the room with soft gray walls and white trim, a more contemporary ceiling-fan fixture, and a color palette of blues, gray and coral. For the adjacent "alcove", the metal grates were removed, the opening expanded and the space turned into an oversized master closet/dressing room with seating area.
As seen on Home Town, homeowner Mia Walker (C) and her daughter Taylor Walker (R) react to the reveal of their newly renovated living room by hosts Ben and Erin Napier (L). After the renovations, their Laurel, MS living room now features the original hardwood floor, updated furnishings and custom art designed by Mia's younger son Bryce. (After/ Reveal)
Behind the Scenes
In more quiet pursuits, Erin works on a design in the workspace at her custom-stationery shop and letterpress studio, Lucky Luxe. Her original graphic design was replicated and reproduced to create the custom wallpaper used in the Walkers' new dining room.