'Home Town': A Cottage Charmer for Empty-Nesters

Ben and Erin create a quaint and colorful home for a couple returning to small-town life.

Ben and Erin Napier

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Coy and Kenya are moving to town to be closer to their children and grandchildren, and looking to downsize into a comfortably manageable home that has some Southern charm. Coy is a minister and needs a home office where he can meet with parishioners. Kenya basically wants a nice kitchen and likes bright, vibrant colors. Both like a cozy, cottage vibe but want space that's adequate for entertaining family.

Ben and Erin with homeowners Coy and Kenya Rice

Ben and Erin with homeowners Coy and Kenya Rice

The search leads to two homes that might, with some modifications, fit the bill. "The Hill House" was built in 1910 and is located on an attractive street that's seen something of a rebirth in recent years. In its unadorned state, it's simple and plain, but it offers some of the inherent historic charm that the homeowners are seeking.

"The Sumrall House" is a small post-war house built in 1955, and it's even more plain and simple. But it does come with an attractively low asking price and could be just the place as either a starter home for newlyweds or for empty-nesters looking to simplify.

It's less about a house and more about a life. It's where a life will be lived.
Erin Napier

As expected in a renovation like this, the challenge is how to fashion a home that's inviting, attractive and functional in under 1500 square feet. What's less expected in this case are the 600 bats that are discovered residing in the attic after renovation is underway. (Fear not, bat-o-philes. The winged occupants — which are ecologically important as insect predators and are now protected by law — get skillfully and safely relocated by a bat specialist.)

Bats notwithstanding, in this project, a front porch gets a thorough and colorful makeover and outfitted with functioning shutters and, in proper small-town fashion, a porch swing.

A living room gets returned to its past glory, with a fireplace makeover and original hardwoods brought back to prominence. And Kenya gets her wish in a contemporary kitchen with an open feel — as well as some special customization courtesy of Mr. Napier and his woodworking skills.

Watch a video extra from this episode with Erin's tip for creating a classic chalkboard look on the back of a door using chalkboard paint.

Classic School Chalkboard 00:29

Erin paints a vintage classroom-style chalkboard on the back of a door.

The Home Town episode titled "Cottage Charm" premieres April 18 at 10p|9c. Be sure to check back here to take the complete photo tour and see more web-exclusive videos.

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