Home Town: A Bright, Elegant Cottage and a Long-Awaited Homecoming

Ben and Erin Napier help a former Laurel, Mississippi resident, returning home after more than 30 years away, convert a small vintage house with a dated kitchen into an open and airy retreat that’s the perfect place to come home to.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

The Keller Project

Ben and Erin helped welcome former Laurel resident Candace Keller back to her hometown of Laurel, transforming a small and ordinary house into this eye-catching showplace with trademark Napier touches.

The Keller Project: Before

The Moon House, the former residence of Laurel native Jack Moon, was built in the 1950s. It came with three bedrooms, one small bath, 1140 square feet, a corner porch and lots of windows for plentiful natural light. Prior to the renovation, this exterior had grown worn and dreary with stained white paint, a deteriorating metal awning and overgrown landscaping. Major upgrades inside would include addition of central HVAC and a complete kitchen overhaul. Ben estimated the renovation costs at around $82,000.

The Keller Project: After

In keeping with the homeowner preferred color palette dominated by greens and neutrals, Erin's design included mint green paint and white trim to freshen up the exterior. Removal of the old awning and a more spare approach to landscaping help show off the home's newly improved profile and substantially elevate curb appeal.

Light and Breezy Spaces

Inside, a wall was removed between the dining room and kitchen, providing a open, bright and airy feel to the newly integrated spaces.

Tradition and Elegance

With its refurbished hardwood floors, and a mix of vintage and contemporary furnishings, the newly renovated living room is subdued and inviting.

Suite Retreat

The antique iron bed, in distressed white finish, is a family heirloom that Erin incorporated into the design for the new master bedroom. A neutral palette with just a few colorful flourishes, framed botanical prints and natural wood accents help create a space that feels serene and soothing.

Spacious Ensuite

A small third bedroom was converted into two spaces — a laundry room and this ensuite master bath.

Meet the Homeowner

Candace Keller (center left) was born and grew up in Laurel, Mississippi, living there until she left for college. She continued returning home during summers, working for her father who also grew up in Laurel. She loved returning for visits and always felt that Laurel was where her true roots were. Now ready to retire, she's back to find and create a new home — with the help of her long-time friend Amy and new friends Erin and Ben.

Here's Johnny!

In homage (witting or not) to that famous scene in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, Ben is far less menacing than Jack Nicholson as he sledgehammers his way through a bedroom wall during demolition that will make room for a new master bath. 

The Game Plan

Ben and Erin meet with contractor Jonathan Walters (right) and architect Luke Sippel (center) to discuss structural and support modifications that will be needed to create a wide cased opening between the kitchen and dining room.

Dining Room, Before

Prior to the renovation, the kitchen and this dining area each had a relatively small footprint, making both spaces feel close and claustrophobic.

Dining Room, After

With the wall opened up, both the dining room and kitchen offer more "room to breathe" and together create a casual, relaxed vibe.

Kitchen, Before

Prior to the renovation, the kitchen was without question the most unattractive space in the house, with outdated appliances, a closed layout and discolored green paint that made the space feel downright dreary.

Kitchen, After

Without substantively expanding the kitchen's area, opening up the wall onto the dining room creates the impression of a bigger and more open space, and a modified layout provides better kitchen flow.

Kitchen, Before

The kitchen had worn vinyl flooring, laminate countertops, dirt-stained cabinetry and tube fluorescent lighting. "It was one of the worst kitchens we'd seen," said Ben. The only thing that would be retained was the original porcelain sink with built-in drainboard.

Kitchen, After

The kitchen remodel was the most drastic transformation for this project. The vinyl flooring was removed, revealing the original hardwood. Ben and Erin opted to keep the kitchen's yellow-pine wood floor lightly stained and finished for a slightly rustic look, and to transition well with the lighter oak floor in the dining and living rooms.

Kitchen, Before

The kitchen was sorely lacking in cabinet storage and the layout was awkward.

Kitchen, After

New brushed stainless appliances were added and this wall reconfigured to provide plenty of closed storage.

Kitchen, After

The walls and all-new cabinetry are painted white, creating a contemporary space that's bright and clean. The old fluorescent overhead fixture is replaced with new recessed lighting. "I wanted a granite that felt crisp and cool," said Erin. The light shade of granite meshes well with the white vintage sink that was original to the house.

Kitchen, Detail

Removal of the wall between the kitchen and dining room made space for a sizable kitchen peninsula for added prep area as well as casual dining.

Laundry Room and Bath, Detail

For the new full bath, Ben devised a concealed laundry chute for transferring towels and laundry from the bath to the adjacent laundry room.

Laundry Room and Bath, Detail

The opening to the laundry chute is tucked away inside the bathroom's linen closet...

Laundry Room and Bath, Detail

... Dirty towels, linens and clothes dropped in the chute land in this basket, housed in a nook on the laundry-room side.

Dining Room, Before

The dining room, prior to the renovation, was small an unspectacular — but in fairly good condition with original hardwood flooring and trim.

Dining Room, After

"Erin and I are big fans of individual rooms," said Ben, "but Candace's kitchen was so small, and her dining room was so small. We didn't want it to feel cramped." Replacing the wall with a large cased opening onto the kitchen creates a radically different feel for the dining area.  

Dining Room, Before

Erin's plan for the dining room includes removing the popcorn ceiling, updating the paint color and refinishing the hardwood floors.

Dining Room, After

A cool shade of mint green is selected for the dining room walls and is offset by bright white for the trim. Counterbalanced by the warmth of the hardwood flooring and farmhouse dining table, the net effect is a tranquil and relaxed feel for both the dining room and the adjacent living room.

Dining Room, Before

Dining Room, After

A structural support beam was added to facilitate removal of the section of the wall to create the large cased opening that mimics the one between the dining and living rooms.

Dining Room, After

As seen on Home Town, Ben and Erin Napier have completely renovated the Keller Residence in Laurel, Mississippi. The wall between the dining room and kitchen has been removed to give a better flow from all the living spaces. New curtains, furniture and light fixtures help to complete the dining space. (interior)

Dining Room, After

As seen on Home Town, Ben and Erin Napier have completely renovated the Keller Residence in Laurel, Mississippi. The wall between the dining room and kitchen has been removed to give a better flow from all the living spaces. New curtains, furniture and light fixtures help to complete the dining space. (back plate)

Dining Room, After

As seen on Home Town, Ben and Erin Napier have completely renovated the Keller Residence in Laurel, Mississippi. The wall between the dining room and kitchen has been removed to give a better flow from all the living spaces. New curtains, furniture and light fixtures help to complete the dining space. (interior)

Living Room, Before

Much like the dining room, the living room was plain and drab, and could stand some freshening up, but was in good condition. The changes to this space would largely be cosmetic.

Living Room, After

The old popcorn ceiling has been replaced with new drywall, and the room is lightened up with a soft gray wall paint, newly refinished hardwood floors in lighter stain and a natural-fiber area rug.

Living Room, Before

Living Room, After

The original front door is retained, but freshened up with a new coat of white paint. A ceiling fan in classic design replaces the old overhead light fixture.

Living Room, After

The color palette is kept simple and neutral, with natural wood tones providing a warm balance to the gray walls and white trim.

Living Room, Detail

In late afternoon, with sun shining through the front entrance, the custom woodwork of the screen door casts a dramatic shadow on the hardwood floor inside.

Living Room, Detail

This antique chest was owned by Candace's father and, with its rich, dark stain, helps to add warmth and to the entry space.

Living Room, Detail

This long console table was another family heirloom piece that had been owned by Candace's father.

Living Room, After

"I know that [Candace's] favorite colors are mints and sages and blues and neutrals," said Erin. The light green shade selected for the home's exterior helped set the stage for the interior palette which utilizes green and blue accents against more neutral backgrounds.

Living Room, After

Living Room, After

Full-height linen window treatments add drama and elegance to the living space, while the woven wood blinds and area rug help ground the space with natural textures. The pull-up blinds also function to block or filter out more light when needed.

Master Bedroom, Before

Prior to the renovation, a door in the kitchen opened into the bedroom.

Master Bedroom, After

The door opening onto the kitchen was closed off to provide the master bedroom with an enhanced sense of privacy and serenity.

Master Bedroom, After

As seen on Home Town, Ben and Erin Napier have completely renovated the Keller Residence in Laurel, Mississippi. The master bedroom was refreshed with new paint and window dressings. The antique bed from Candace Keller's family was used in the space as well. (interior)

Before

A small door in the master bedroom opened onto an adjacent bedroom.

After

The spare bedroom was sacrificed to create a full ensuite bath, the adjacent laundry room as well as additional closet space for the master suite.

Before

This is the spare bedroom that would be reconfigured to create the full bath and laundry room.

Master Bath, After

The new bath features a glass-enclosed shower with tile surround, a large vanity and plenty of storage, including the linen closet with concealed laundry chute.

Master Bath, Before

Master Bath, After

To convert the spare bedroom into the master bath, a window was covered over to make room for the new walk-in shower.

Master Bath, After

The doors on the tall linen cabinet were repurposed from old doors that Ben and crew found in an outdoor shed.

Front Porch, Before

Prior to the renovation, the porch was barely visible beneath the stained awning and overgrown shrubbery.

Front Porch, After

The corner porch is now the key visual highlight of the home's exterior. Ben installed custom railings in a chippendale pattern to create a geometric focal point. "The [exterior] color is great," said Erin, "but this is giving it a personality and a direction that we didn't have before."

Front Entry, Before

Prior to the renovation, the old screen door at the entrance was worn and sagging.

Front Entry, After

Ben modified a vintage solid wood-panel door, removing the old wood panels using a router, to create a new screen-door design. The pattern in the lower panel matches the chippendale design of the railing.

The Keller Project: Before

In the Keller project, Ben and Erin found another hometown diamond-in-the-rough, drab and ordinary but waiting to be transformed into a eye-catching neighborhood gem. 

The Keller Project: After

In the striking and streamlined makeover, the vivid green selected for the exterior is given added depth by using a darker green for the window rails and stiles contrasted with bright white trim. The homeowner's preferred color palette of greens, blues and neutrals provided an underlying inspiration for this renovation's details.

An Erin'spired Design Tip: When selecting paint colors, and deciding on the exact shade you want, look at swatches in direct sun and in the shade — to make sure you love it in both.

Bright and Fresh

"This house feels fresh as a daisy," said Erin once the renovation was complete. "It's cliche and it's trite, but there's no other way to describe a house that feels like this ... Now it feels fresh, welcoming and charming." 

Lived-In Living Spaces

Erin was a bit concerned that the modern refurbishments in this renovation might potentially give the home too much of a new-construction look, so she was deliberate about incorporating vintage touches, heirloom pieces and a generally homey feel in the interior spaces. "Now it's time to step back and think about how we can bring in some 'lived in' personality," she said. "Every room has to have that."

The Reveal

With the renovation complete, returning Laurel native Candace Keller (center) and her friend Amy Kettrell (right) get ready to tour the renovated home for the first time.

The Reveal

Candace and Amy react to their first full glimpse of the newly renovated home.

The Reveal

The Reveal

Ben and Erin point out how the home's original vintage drainboard-style sink was incorporated into the new kitchen design. Because of the age and wear, the sink had to be profesionally re-porcelained before being reinstalled.

The Reveal

No Place Like Home

I've been fortunate to travel a lot of places, but there's no place quite like Laurel. It's a special place.
—homeowner Cancace Keller

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Demo day

Behind the Scenes

Demo day

Behind the Scenes

Demo day

Behind the Scenes

 Demo day

Y'all Please Come Back!

Keep visiting HGTV.com/HomeTown for more galleries and other exclusive content — including two all-new digital series that provide exclusive behind-the-scenes insights with Erin and Ben as well as additional detail on the Home Town projects and designs.

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