Home Town: A Craftsman Cottage for Canadian Expats

Peggy and Patrick are interested in relocating from the Great White North to the deep South — and searching for a vacation home where they can eventually retire. Ben and Erin help them update a neglected vintage home while resurrecting its Arts and Crafts roots.

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

Craftsman Revival

This charmer of a cottage, inspired by traditional Arts and Crafts style, was once neglected and severely run-down — and barely visible behind overgrown weeds and shrubs. Ben and Erin Napier undertook its transformation, renovating the home inside and out while reviving its classic architectural features.

Craftsman Revivalists

Hometown heroes Erin and Ben are dedicated to fine craftsmanship and to preserving and celebrating the traditional Southern style in their little town of Laurel, Mississippi. It's a dedication that extends to individual homes and neighborhoods as well as the community overall and the town's history and antiquated charm. Here they take justifiable pride in the newly restored porch of their latest home renovation.

Nature and Nurture

A gallery wall of botanical prints forms a grounding focal point in the newly remodeled living room. With its refinished original hardwood floors, soft textures, natural fibers and a soothing, neutral palette, the room exudes warmth and a natural serenity.

Contrast and Dimension

A once-tiny kitchen has been opened up by removing a wall that separated the dining area, radically transforming the sense of space and depth in both rooms. A palette of high contrast with white and pale grays offset with dark charcoal cabinets and stained wood floors gives these spaces a fresh and refined look.

More Tranquil Touches

The walls in the master bedroom are painted a muted blue and are offset by white trim, a well coordinated area rug and handmade bedframe in light maple — the latter courtesy of woodsmith extraordinaire, Ben Napier.

Meet the Homeowners

Patrick and Peggy Guay (left) are Canadian natives but, once Patrick spent some time in the Laurel area for work, he fell in love with the place. So did Peggy. So the couple decided to take the plunge and move south – way south.  “We love the fact that everyone [in Laurel] is just friendly,” said Patrick. "They have big, huge hearts.” The couple was looking to buy a vacation home, but one that they could one day retire to as a forever home. They were in search of a one or two-bedroom house and hoped to find something with elements of traditional, classic style. Their all-in budget, including any renovation costs, was $140,000.

Before

The Key House is one that Ben and Erin had shown two other clients a year or so earlier. (It was featured in an episode of Home Town's second season.) Since then the house had remained vacant and was now even more run-down and the yard more overgrown than before. Built in the 1940s, the house came with a large lot, three bedrooms, one bath and 1300 square feet. The asking price had recently dropped from $65,000 to $51,000. Behind the overgrown vegetation, the house did have some traditional craftsman-style detail which Erin and Ben hoped to revitalize.

Erin's Vision

Erin's house portrait depicting how the Key House could  look post-renovation shows a reworking of the front porch, columns, exterior color scheme and landscaping — all helping give the home a more defined and traditional appearance.

After

The overgrown holly bush has been removed and the landscaping streamlined. The exterior is freshened up with light sage trim, darker sage shutters and a newly repaired and remodeled front porch.

Before

The wraparound front porch was spacious but had dated metal-pole columns and — with no railing —  was not entirely safe.

After

The porch has been completely reworked with square columns replacing the old metal ones and a new decorative railing, designed to mimic authentic Craftsman style, added all around.

Living Room, Before

Prior to the renovation, the living room walls were painted in a rather garish pinkish-red and the space had a low, textured ceiling. The room did, however, have some appealing attributes including hardwood floors that were in relatively good condition.

Living Room, After

The textured drywall ceiling has been removed, allowing for a reconfiguration of the space with a new vaulted ceiling that follows the roofline. That structural modification paved the way for a transformed space with a much more dramatic feel.  Recessed lighting and high window treatments help amplify the look. Erin's design for the room added a fireplace, new mantel and integrated bookshelves on either side, in keeping with traditional Craftsman-home interiors.

Living Room, Before

Erin's design called for retaining the French doors leading into the dining area as well as the hardwood flooring.

Living Room, After

Gone are the bright red walls and low ceiling. The living room is now painted in a soft, pastel gray with white trim.

Living Room, After

The old in-wall space heater has been replaced by a modern electric fireplace with a traditional white mantel with twin sconces mounted above.

Living Room, After

The vaulting of this space added more than three feet of ceiling height at the peak. It also permitted reworking of the ceiling joists for better structural support and stability.

Living Room, After

Living Room, After

Living Room, After

The original French doors leading into the dining room were retained and given a fresh coat of paint. Along with the gallery wall of botanical prints, they help create a visual high point in the room's decor.

Dining Room, Before

Modifications to the dining room could be relatively modest but would definitely include refinishing the wood floors, a new paint color and replacing the dated light fixture.

Dining Room, After

The look of the dining room is transformed with a portion of wall removed and the addition of a large cased opening leading into the kitchen.

Dining Room, Before

Prior to the renovation the dining room, with its dark walls, felt tight and enclosed.

Dining Room, After

With its large windows — now newly adorned with full-length linen window treatments as well as natural blinds — and its light gray walls and open sight line into the remodeled kitchen, the dining room has a brightened appearance and a dramatically different feel.

Dining Room, After

The existing French doors, now combined with the new cased opening to the kitchen, help make for a more open and functional floor plan that extends through the home's central spaces.

Dining Room, After

A new chandelier along with lighter wall paint and white trim help brighten up the space and create a breezy and inviting area for dining and entertaining.

Dining Room, After

Kitchen, Before

The home's kitchen was small and dingy, with dated cabinetry and countertops, old appliances and less-than-adequate storage. Transformation of this space would ultimately require a complete gut.

Kitchen, After

Fresh white paint for the walls and upper cabinets, contrasted with lower cabinets in dark charcoal and maple butcher-block countertops make for a visually arresting new kitchen.

Kitchen, Before

The wall separating the kitchen from the adjacent dining room made the space feel even more small and cramped.

Kitchen, After

The new cased opening onto the dining room, along with newly added peninsula, create an open and versatile space that bears little resemblance to the original kitchen.

Kitchen, Before

The door on the left leading into a hallway will be closed off to provide more wall space for the addition of more cabinets and storage.

Kitchen, After

New floor-to-ceiling cabinets, painted in dark charcoal to match the lower counter cabinets, provide an abundance of added storage, essentially doubling the amount of kitchen storage. The black/white contrasting theme is continued here with the dark cabinet enclosure surrounding a white retro-design refrigerator-freezer — made to look like ones manufactured in the 1940s.

Kitchen, After

With the kitchen's old linoleum floor covering removed, the vintage tongue-and-groove hardwood flooring is now exposed and refinished in medium-dark stain. The original hardwood now extends throughout the kitchen and dining room. 

Kitchen, After

The maple butcher-block countertops, in natural finish, were custom made and installed by Ben and his brother Jesse.

Rustic Nouveau

Other visual highlights in the kitchen include a farmhouse sink, rustic sconce, wood cabinet pulls in natural finish and coordinating window treatments. Erin's inspiration drew on a warm color palette with contrasting elements combined with vintage-style fixtures for a feel that's contemporary yet suggestive of an old-fashioned Southern cottage.

Chef-Worthy Amenities

The new peninsula incorporates a modern gas oven and cooktop and, with the wide butcher-block countertop, provides additional prep, serving and dining space.

Pancakes, Anyone?

With bench seating, the peninsula provides a space for casual breakfast-bar dining. "The [black cabinets] are the dramatic element of the whole house," says Erin, "but the maple countertops are what soften it ... It's like a 'pancake kitchen' ... a very breakfast-y, cozy, cottage-y, warm kitchen."

Bedroom, Before

The master bedroom had an odd open-closet installation which was intrusive on the space and not necessary since the room had an ample closet on the opposite wall.

Bedroom, After

The space changes substantially with the removal of the old storage structure, providing ample room for a king sized bed and lots of new enhancements. Newly refinished original wood floors, a Persian area rug in muted tones and an empire style dresser all contribute to the visual transformation.

Bedroom, Before

Bedroom, After

The master gets an all new look with walls painted in cool blue-gray and white ceiling and trim. Rustic touches, including the handmade headboard and bedside tables help reinforce the traditional cottage feel that runs throughout the renovation.

Bedroom, After

The bed frame and side tables, made from solid maple, were custom crafted by Ben and Jesse in Ben's wood shop at Scotsman Co. — including hand-turning of the spindle legs and finials. They were actually made from the same maple stock as the kitchen countertops.

Bedroom, After

Bedroom, After

Bedroom, Detail

The country look of the furniture is complemented by a lantern-style bedside pendant light in vintage design. The fixture is actually the house's front porch lamp, repurposed here by Erin for interior use and a unique historic touch.

Bathroom, Before

The bathroom was small and dated, with yellowed tile, pink accents, linoleum flooring and an exposed water heater. The renovation would require replacement of a portion of the subflooring and floor joists due to previous water leakage.

Bathroom, After

A doorway and section of wall was sacrificed to allow the expansion of the bathroom's footprint. The old tile, linoleum and fixtures wre all removed, making room for a 1920s-vintage clawfoot tub with shower-hoop, new fixtures and custom open shelving.

Bathroom, Before

Bathroom, After

The old linoleum floor is replaced with hex-penny mosaic tile in creamy white, with black grout, for a more graphic and period-authentic look. It's in keeping with the overall color palette in classic black-and-white, with a cream-white backdrop augmented by black and gray accents. "Classic black and white" says Erin, "just feels like an old house ... A classic little bathroom."

Bathroom, Before

Bathroom, After

The old, basic single vanity is replaced with a wall-mount sink with dual fixtures for a more vintage look.

Bathroom, After

Bathroom, After

The bathroom's vintage door, open shelving and simple, basic towel racks all contribute to the home's casual, country vibe.

Before

"A lot of green" is how Peggy charitably described the neglected exterior of the Key House prior to the renovation. There were code and structural issues and a good portion of the budget for this reno was for necessary non-cosmetic upgrades including new electrical wiring, upgraded plumbing and addition of central heat and air. Nevertheless, a porch remodel and new landscaping would go a long way toward transforming the home's overall profile. 

After

In terms of sheer curb appeal, the Key House cottage remodel showcases one of the more visually dramatic transformations Ben and Erin have undertaken. "Craftsman architecture is my favorite," said Ben. "And the thing that's so cool about it is all the little details...So we tried to give [this house] that Craftsman identity."

Before

Prior to the renovation, the porch had dated metal-pipe columns and lacked a railing — which was both a problem in terms of safety as well as aesthetics.

After

New square columns are more appropriate to the home's cratsman influenced architecture, and the new railing helps redefine the space visually while enhancing the home's overall curb appeal. Other enhancements include upgraded porch floooring, new porch paint, a natural fiber area rug, decorative accessories and a decidedly nap-friendly hammock.

Bienvenu à la Maison Guay

Peggy and Patrick Guay — new transplants to Laurel, Mississippi from Quebec, Canada — get their first look at their newly renovated home.

The Reveal

The Reveal

The Reveal

A Portrait of Home

Ben and Erin present the Guays with a framed print of Erin's watercolor painting that provided the guiding vision for the home's transformation.

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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