From Loft Living to a 'Home Town' Home

Ben and Erin Napier help long-time friends, Dawn and Michael, transition from downtown living to a family-friendly neighborhood home with a pro-style kitchen and a great outdoor space.

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Photo By: 172173005945

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Photo By: 172173005945

Photo By: 172173005945

Photo By: 172173005945

Photo By: 172173005945

Photo By: 172173005945

Photo By: 172173005945

Photo By: 172173005945

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Photo By: 172173005945

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Suburban Dreams

Ben and Erin pose for a pic at the front entrance to the newly renovated home of their good friends Dawn and Michael Trest. The Trests had been living the downtown loft lifestyle for several years but, with two young kids, were ready to settle into a more family-friendly setting in a traditional neighborhood. As Michael said, "It's time for a house and a yard." The Trests' wish list includes a nice yard and an open combination kitchen-living area where whole the family can be together. Their all-in budget, including any renovations, is $200,000.

Before

The Stringer House, built in 1968, had belonged to a local chef and restaurateur. It has a lot of the features the Trests were looking for including a classic neighborhood setting, four bedrooms, two baths and a nice enclosed backyard. It's essentially a split-level ranch but it has a visually awkward carport and, inside, has a somewhat problematic layout. The list price: $108,000 leaving around $92,000 for renovations. 

After

Ben and Erin removed the visually obtrusive carport and replaced it with a new patio area with an arbor and seating area. Focus at the front is shifted back to the main entrance which gets a new front door and decorative column in natural wood finish. Coordinating window boxes, custom made by Ben, and a gray-green exterior and new shutters help give the house a more unified look and enhance curb appeal.

Dream Team

Erin and Ben meet with construction foreman Jonathan Walters (center) and residential designer Luke Sippel (right) before demolition begins. According to Luke, the biggest challenge in the renovation will be the removal of a wall to open the kitchen onto the living room, since the wall needing to be removed was once an exterior brick wall.

Foyer, Before

Prior to the renovation, the foyer was frighteningly small and confining — so much so that it was nearly a deal-killer when the clients first saw it.

Foyer, After

Erin's design plan called for replacing the front door and completely removing a wall so that the front entrance opened directly into the dining area.

After

The foyer now opens onto a much brighter and open multi-use space that incorporates the dining room, kitchen and breakfast nook.

Dining Room, Before

The dining room had large windows providing adequate natural light, but it was spatially closed off and included what appeared to be an oddly placed vanity.

Dining Room, After

Opening up the spaces radically transforms the character of the room, making for a welcoming and visually impressive entry to the home. With the wall removed, the hardwood flooring was meticulously patched so that the transition, where the old dividing wall had been, is imperceptible.

Dining Room, Before

Dining Room, After

The dining room is given a fresh look with pale green paint and white trim, and the doorway into the adjacent kitchen and breakfast nook is expanded. The original hardwood floors, here and in all the renovated spaces, were refinished and given a matching honey-colored stain for a unified look throughout. 

Breakfast Nook

In the newly remodeled kitchen, new built-in pantry storage is added, along with a built-in bench seat, creating a cozy breakfast nook.

Kitchen, Before

The orignal kitchen was tight and lacking in cabinet space. A pass-through window opened into the adjacent living area, but had once likely opened to the outside since this was once an exterior wall. The existing living space was actually an earlier addition to the home.

Kitchen, After

The wall is removed, opening the kitchen onto the newly remodeled living room and creating an ideal gathering space for the family. Highlights in the new kitchen include new stained wood lower cabinets, lots of storage, black stone countertops and modern stainless appliances including a pro-grade gas stove.

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

The three stairs leading down into the living area were pulled back into the breakfast-nook area to meet code requirements with respect to ceiling height at the threshold between the two rooms.

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

The rest of the house feels very comfortable and lived in. I wanted this kitchen to feel a little more professional, almost industrial kind of kitchen.
—Erin

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

Bar seating at the peninsula counter provides an ideal spot for serving informal meals and as a work space for the kids to do homework.

Living Room, Before

Prior to the renovation, the living room addition had a low ceiling with acoustic tile and a odd fireplace that was likely nonfunctional.

Living Room, After

New custom built-in bookshelves are added on either side of the fireplace, the acoustic ceiling tiles removed and low-profile decorative beams added as a design element, helping draw the eye to the new focal point in the room.

Living Room, Before

Living Room, After

The old faux fireplace was reworked with vintage brick used to build out an enclosure that now houses a functional wood-burning stove.

Living Room, Before

Living Room, After

Built-in desks and study area are integrated into the space adjacent to the stairs leading down into the living room.

Living Room, Before

Living Room, After

The old window-unit air conditioner has been eliminated and new French doors added.

Before

After

The old carport was demolished and, in its place, Erin and Ben created this patio with arbor and seating area. The new wood elements were custom created by Ben using cedar lumber that was salvaged from the old siding and interior demolition.

Behind the Scenes

Erin and Ben assemble the tabletop for the new patio table. The metal components for the table were custom created at a local foundry that's been in business since 1904.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Ben works on the metal frame for the patio table at Laurel Machine Works and Foundry.

Behind the Scenes

While at the foundry, Ben gets to try his hand at pouring molten iron — a substantial departure from his usual craft as a woodworker.

Behind the Scenes

With the renovation complete, Ben tries out some of the outdoor furniture on the Trests' new patio, making certain that it's suitable for relaxing.

Behind the Scenes

Before

After

Read more about this renovation on or blog. And if you liked this Home Town renovation, we've got a feeling you'll also like this one: "Porch Dreams for a Returning Artist."

And keep checking back here for more new galleries, exclusive video and Home Town updates.

Next Up

Meet 'Home Town': Old Home Love, Small Town Living

Coming in March, HGTV brings you a new renovation show set in a tiny town in the Deep South. Start getting ready now for Home Town.

'Home Town' Homeowner Profiles: Amanda Matthews

Home Town host Erin Napier likes to get a little background and personal history on her clients and families before renovation work begins — to help get a feel for the kind of design, features and aesthetic choices that might work best in their home. Here are a few insights provided by client Amanda Matthews, featured in the Home Town episode titled "Porch Dreams".