Home Town: History in the Making

Erin and Ben Napier have their work cut out for them renovating a classic but dilapidated home built in 1900 for an architectural designer and his soon-to-be wife moving back to Mississippi from New York City.

Discerning Clients

After having pursued an architectural career in New York City, Bill Holloway is ready to settle down with his fiancé Jody in the small town that he's loved since childhood. But aesthetically, Jody and Bill’s preferences aren’t always an exact match. Both love vintage homes but, while Bill focuses on authentic vintage detail and leans toward dark interiors and stained wood, Jody prefers bright, open and airy spaces. Erin and Ben were able to find common ground for both in the renovation of this historic home.

Before

The Beard House. This historic home was built in 1900 and was the residence of Luther Beard and his wife Hester. Mr. Beard was proprietor of a downtown department store in the early 1900s. The house comes with four bedrooms, two baths and is 1700 square feet. The property had been vacant for some time and was badly overgrown and in need of serious repairs, but the asking price was $68,000. 

"This is one of those [houses] that, in our neighborhood, people have wanted to see saved for years," says Ben.  "If we have the opportunity to save this house," Erin adds, "it has to happen."

After

The Beard House is now the Holloway House. The house came with some distinctive architectural features that appealed to the clients — like a covered front balcony, decorative brackets beneath the eaves, porch columns and shake shingles. The exterior renovation included a new roof, fresh cedar shakes, new porch railing and stone walkway.

 

Foyer, Before

The foyer had dated, peeling wallpaper and could use some sprucing up but, in a rare find, still its original stained woodwork and trim that had never been painted over. "This woodwork, you can't re-create this," said Ben.I can't believe it's not been painted. "Once you [paint over it] it's gone. And so the fact that this is intact amazing."

Foyer, After

The original hardwood floors are sanded and re-stained, and the space is given an classic with soft gray-green wall paint and traditional furnishings.

Foyer, Before

Foyer, After

The old piano and damaged has been removed and, in its place are a pair of upholstered chairs and accent table creating a cozy seating area. 

Living Room, Before

Carpeting covers the original hardwood floors and the textured ceiling is not original, but the spacious living room has potential for a grand entertaining space.

Living Room, After

The wood beams are left intact but the textured ceiling has been removed to reveal the original tongue-and-groove wood ceiling. The original hardwood floors have been restored, and new sconces, a classic model ceiling fan, vintage area rug  and comfortable furnishings help create a warm and welcoming living space.

Dining Room, Before

Star of the house, according to Erin, is the dining room, though that might be hard to discern seeing it in this raw state. The room came with a prized feature — original plate rail moulding, a historic touch that's seldom seen today. The dated floral wallpaper, however, would need to go, as would the vines growing through and inside the dining room window.

Dining Room, After

The window at the far end of the dining room, which at one time had been an exterior window, is replaced by a new set of French doors opening onto the new home studio and office space.

Dining Room, Before

Dining Room, After

Ben was meticulous in matching the stain for the new French doors with that of the existing woodwork in the dining room and throughout the house. "We wanted them to look like they've always been here," Ben said. It's just one deliberate touch that helps retain the home's warm and vintage feel. 

Home Office, Before

Home Office, After

The old window treatments and wallpaper are removed, and trim painted in fresh white, lightening up the space and highlighting the large windows. Ben fashioned a unique drafting table for Bill, repurposing the body of the old piano that had been in the foyer.

Kitchen, Before

The old kitchen, as in many homes of this era, was tiny, uncomfortable and, by today's standards, barely functional.

Kitchen, After

The kitchen was essentially gutted and created anew, with a special nod to Jody who prefers bright and open spaces. A larger window lets in more natural light, and the space is transformed with white ceiling-height cabinets, white subway tile and light stone countertops.

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

A wall was removed, expanding and opening up the kitchen onto the adjacent breakfast room, changing the feel of both spaces and making room for a sizable kitchen peninsula and modern appliances.

Breakfast Room, Before

Breakfast Room, After

Before

"I really don't want a cookie-cutter home," said Bill. "I want a house that has a lot of charm, a lot of character." Initially, however, this project, with the amount of work required, was a bit intimidating even for an architectural designer.

After

The newly renovated home ultimately met all the criteria of homeowners Bill and Jody, including a wonderful and welcoming front porch that's large enough to accommodate a dining table and swinging porch bed. Ben fashioned the porch bed using wood reclaimed from inside the house.

Before

After

The covered balcony, now fully restored, is one of the home's more distinctive features, and one found on none of the other homes in the area.

Welcome Neighbors

Bill and Jody try out the custom-made porch swing on their newly renovated historic home, which now is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Local Honey. One of the more surprising discoveries in this renovation was a hive of honey bees that had taken up residence inside the kitchen walls while the house was otherwise vacant. The hive was expertly removed and relocated by a local beekeeper, the honey was harvested, and Ben and Erin were able to present the new homeowners with jars of honey actually made within the walls of their own home.

Y'all Come Back

If you enjoyed this Home Town renovation, find out more about Ben and Erin in this gallery from the project featured in the pilot episode: "Thoughtful Renovations in a Small Southern City". And be sure to check back at Home Town central for more new galleries, exclusive video, updates and more. 

Next Up

Bringing 'Home Town' Elegance to a House With History

Erin and Ben Napier revitalize the classic charm in a historic home in need of some TLC.

A 'Home Town' Homecoming

Ben and Erin Napier renovate a vintage downtown Craftsman for a couple returning home to Mississippi.

'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".