Home Town: A House With History

Ben and Erin Napier lovingly revitalize the charm in a classic home that has an interesting history dating to World War II.

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A Historic House and Touches of "Fancy"

Ben and Erin pose for a pic with new homeowners Will and Courtney Edwards on their newly renovated porch. Courtney and Will were looking for a house in the town's historic district, and one that was rich in character and small-town charm. Will likes vintage features like tall ceilings and beadboard, and hopes to have a masculine den he can call his own. Courtney is drawn to homes with ornamental flair and "a little bit of fancy." Their all-in budget is $200,000.


The Pickering House was built in 1910, is 3350 square feet and comes with five bedrooms and three baths. One of its unusual features is an isolated room at the back of the house with a separate second-floor entrance. During World War II, the house had served partially as a boarding house for soldiers returning home. Boarders could come and go from the separate quarters via the rear entrance. "It's so grand," said Courtney, "but it's been let go. It just looks kind of unkempt."


New porch railing, contrasting shutters and trim and a front door restored to its original wood finish help redefine the front of the home.

Living Room, Before

Though the walls had been painted an unfortunate shade of pink and the window treatments were dated, the home's entry and living room offered historic appeal with high ceilings, substantial molding, pocket doors and original hardwood floors that were in good shape.

Living Room, After

The living room takes on a more classic feel with a subtle gray wall color, fresh white trim and a new fireplace mantel.  The mantel was custom made from reclaimed cypress wood salvaged from a New Orleans home. 

Dining Room, Before

The dining room was also in relatively good shape, but was closed off from the adjacent kitchen. Though some might have found the vintage patterned wallpaper a bit much, Courtney took a liking to it as indicative of the home's period.

Dining Room, After

Erin's design plan retained the old wallpaper on the section of wall surrounding the fireplace, creating a distinctive visual focal point in the room. The existing brass chandelier was retained as well. The room opens onto the kitchen with newly added French doors, and Ben added high custom wainscoting in traditional Queen Anne style.

Kitchen, Before

The kitchen came with high cabinets and plenty of storage but offered little in the way of natural light and felt closed in.

Kitchen, After

Erin and Ben convinced the homeowners to keep the existing high cabinets, but brightened up the space with some white wall paint, white stone countertops and subway tile. The space was also reconfigured, making room for a new kitchen peninsula. 

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

The upper cabinets are painted in a rich green that ties in with the painted wainscoting and wallpaper in the adjacent dining room. New features include a new window, farmhouse sink and, for reaching the highest cabinet shelves, a library ladder custom made by Ben at his woodshop. Ben used original wood studs reclaimed from the kitchen renovation to create the ladder rails.

Den, Before

This room, with separate door to the outside, had served as quarters for returning soldiers during World War II, when the home was used in part as a boarding house. 

Den, After

With its somewhat isolated location, this room served as the ideal spot to create a private getaway for Will and to house his deep-sea fishing trophies and equipment.

Den, Before

The rear second-floor entrance had once opened onto an exterior stair. With the stairway removed, it was now essentially a "door to nowhere". Though Ben envisioned adding a fireman's pole or slide outside the doorway, Erin successfully lobbied for a Juliet balcony and new wooden stair.

Den, After

The old, worn carpeting was removed, and the room now features dark stained hardwood flooring and area rugs. The low windows get new white trim, and the bead board on the walls and ceiling are painted in a muted gray-green.

Master Suite, Before

Like many homes of this vintage, the master bedroom is situated adjacent to a sitting room or nursery. In this case, there are pocket doors between the two spaces.

Master Suite, After

The sitting room portion of the master suite takes on a whole new look with rich blue wall paint, fresh white trim, new window treatments and gallery wall.

Master Suite, Before

Master Suite, After

The master bedroom is given a fresh and classic look as well, with the old blue wall-to-wall carpet removed, revealing hardwood floors, and the room furnished with period-appropriate furniture and accessories. An existing vanity, which had been concealed behind louvered accordion doors, has been revamped and is now revealed as a key feature in the room.


Though a bit tattered and scruffy, the home's exterior and siding was in relatively good condition for its age. "By not having to paint the siding, because your siding's in great shape," said Ben, "we saved a lot of money so we could do cool things inside."


"It just had this historical elegance that I think you don't see a lot these days," Courtney said of the finished home. "It's not grandma, it's not out of style, out of touch. It's very modern but with this historical influence, so it worked together just perfectly."

Behind the Scenes

On the set of Home Town, the multitalented Erin does double duty as show host and production assistant.

Behind the Scenes

Ben and Erin discuss scene logistics with Home Town director Jim Macpherson.

Behind the Scenes

"Watch out for that first step. It's a doozy." 

Prior to the renovation, Ben takes a look out the second story exit door — here sans balcony, railing or stair.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

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