Home Town: A Southern Dream in Shades of Blue

In a project of ambitious scale, Ben and Erin Napier help a couple re-imagine a family home they won't soon outgrow -- creating bright and upbeat interiors and a stellar kitchen in a palette of vivid blues.

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Cassidy Garcia

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Deep Greens & Blues Are the Colors I Choose

The clients for this renovation wanted bright and beautiful interiors with an emphasis on an eye-pleasing palette. They got their wish as Erin and Ben incorporated vibrant blues and other fun color-play across a newly transformed den, dining room and kitchen.

Before

The Brooks House. Margaret and Michael Brooks purchased this house in 1995 and lived here for 24 years. Michael Brooks was a prominent physician in Laurel, and the house is expansive and stately — albeit just a bit dated in appearance. Built in 1982, it''s 5900 square feet and comes with six bedrooms, 4 baths, an impressive front door and front courtyard. It listed for $345,000.

After

Erin and Ben's redesign made relatively moderate alterations to the home's exterior profile, with the main modification being replacement of the metal roof above the front door with a new front balcony, accessible via the upstairs master bedroom. The general vibe of the exterior is brightened up with a few details like new gas lanterns flanking the front door, and pale blue paint for the existing shutters — offering a visual preview the newly refreshed spaces to be revealed inside.

Meet the Homeowners

Tiffany and Jonathan Keith moved to Laurel, MS with their two-year-old daughter after having lived for a time in Pennsylvania. Originally returning to to care for Tiffany's mother when she became ill, the couple has decided to stay and make Laurel their home. "We just fell in love with the community in Laurel." says Tiffany.

Erin's Vision

Erin shows Jonathan and Tiffany the house portrait depicting her potential design plan for the Brooks House.

Room to Grow

When Tiffany's mother passed away, she left her home in Laurel to Tiffany. Though they originally considered renovating the house and living there, Tiffany and Jonathan ultimately felt they needed something a bit larger. The Brooks House offers more than ample space for a growing family. "We really have always wanted a front porch," said Tiffany, "and at least four bedrooms."

Portrait of a Future Home

"They really want a traditional Southern-style home," said Ben. Erin's recommendations for the exterior included the new front balcony with upper railing and larger columns, a new striped awning for the courtyard and gas lanterns for the front entrance.

Imagine, If You Will

"I know that it might seem a little dated, but I think it could be perfect for y'all," Erin said of the Brooks House. "We would make it feel more like you; more youthful."

Foyer, Before

The home came with an open foyer and impressive staircase but the faded pink wallpaper made it appear somewhat dated.

Foyer, After

Gone is the pink wallpaper, and the foyer gets transformed into a bright and inviting space with pastel blue walls and bright white trim waincot panels. An antique console, decorative table lamp and colorful wall art all help to complete the refined look.

All About Blue

The tasteful blue shade is a touchstone that helps define the character of the renovation throughout. Erin describes the chosen shade as “traditional, but also fresh and youthful.” A patterned blue-and-white area rug helps visually tie together the entry.

Foyer, Before

A view of the foyer, prior to renovation, showing the entryance into the adjacent dining room

Foyer, After

The newly dressed-up entryway creates a visual transition into the dining room, carefully coordinated so that the spaces complement one another in both palette and decor.

Dining Room, Before

Though a bit dark and somber, the dining room was in good shape, with well-preserved oak flooring in dark stain and reasonably good condition. "This house was really well built for a house builtin the '80s," said Ben. "The craftsmanship is what you'd see in a house that's a hundred years old. Really incredible. Wainscoting [and] just the attention to detail."

Dining Room, After

Erin's makeover of the dining room retained the traditional wainscoting but added bold new patterned wallpaper with floral design in pale blues and yellow complemented by framed botanical prints.

Dining Room, After

Furnishing highlights include a statement chandelier in white and dining room chairs with off-white linen slipcovers. Erin added handmade pillar candles made using rosemary from Tiffany and Jonathan's garden.

Dining Room, Detail

Ben and Erin opened up a wall to incorporate a closet space off the adjacent den, creating a recessed a nook for storing and displaying china and serving pieces. The china hutch is highlighted from above with a brass sconce. “We stole the closet from the den," said Ben, "to give you a hutch [in the dining room]."

Den, Before

Prior to the renovation, the den was open and spacious, and came with a large fireplace with brick surround, but the white tile floor and the configuration of the built-in shelving gave the room a dated '70s/80s look.

Den, After

The den undergoes a dramatic transformation with the white tile floor replaced with new hardwood. The built-ins get updated and painted in pastel blue, creating a backdrop that forms a visual connection with the distinctive blues used throughout the reno.

Den, Before

At the opposite end of the room, a portion of the wall seen here will be removed to create more open flow between the den and kitchen spaces.

Den, After

The new cased opening centered on the wall provides freer access to the breakfast room and kitchen, and contributes to the den's brighter, fresher vibe.

Den, After

The expansive coffee table with hand-turned columns was custom made by Ben at his woodshop, Scotsman Co., using butcherblock that salvaged from the old kitchen and repurposed to create the tabletop.

Den, After

The feature bookshelves are attractively lit with new recessed lighting, contributing to its role as a visual highlight in the space.

Den, After

Other highlights in the den include twin ceiling fans in a more classic style, a decorative console and distinctive, carefully coordinated wall art.

Den, After

"Before, it felt like a commercial space because of that tile," said Erin. "Now it feels so much softer, much more relaxed — and so much more comfortable.

Den, After

Furnishings include coordinated off-white sofa and slipcovered chairs that integrate well with the dining room furnishings.

Kitchen, Before

Outdated and darker than expected, the kitchen has dated tile flooring and is awkwardly laid out. The size and odd placement of the island not only impedes effective flow and foot traffic, it also blocks the refrigerator door from fully opening.

Kitchen, After

With new ceiling-height custom cabinetry painted in the project's signature powder-blue, and a sharply patterned tile backsplash, the kitchen, in all-new palette, has gone from dark and gloomy to bright and energizing. As in the den, the tile floor has been replaced by new wood flooring.

Kitchen, Before

The existing kitchen does have a Chicago-brick enclosure for the range hood that gives the kitchen an Italian feel, but the dark cabinets and mismatched tile and countertops create a visual hodge-podge that detracts from the overall effect. Tiffany prefers interiors with a brighter and more colorful vibe.

Kitchen, After

Erin opts to keep the brick as-is, but the new blue theme combined with white quartz countertops and farmhouse sink visually redefines the space.

Kitchen, Before

The dark upper cabinetry in particular adds to the room’s heavy and oppressive feel.

Kitchen, After

Erin's re-design called for removing the cabinetry altogether from the end-wall with the kitchen window, replacing the cabinetry with the bright patterned-tile backsplash in shades of white and blue. The new island is narrower and oriented lengthwise in the space, enhancing the kitchen’s function and flow.

Kitchen, After

In an added design detail, Erin used tile grout in a terra cotta shade to tie in visually with the kitchen's brick features.

Kitchen, Detail

Kitchen, After

The new island, with longer and narrower profile, provides plenty of drawer storage, and the space just off the kitchen is now a dedicated breakfast room.

Kitchen, After

In close proximity to French doors opening to the outside, the breakfast room has plenty of natural light. The space is, as Erin described it, "fresh and bright and breakfast-y.'

The Reveal

With all of the renovations complete, Tiffany and Jonathan get their first look at their newly remodeled home.

The Reveal

The Reveal

Before

The Brooks House had the traditional style that appealed to Tiffany and Jonathan, but lacked defining exterior features and had some dated interiors.

After

Ben and Erin's renovation boosted the home's elegance quotient considerably with the addition of a classic front portico and balcony accessed from the second-floor master bedroom.

Exterior Detail

Other enhancements to the exterior include shutters painted in pale blue and traditional gas lanterns at the front entry.

Exterior Detail

The housings for the twin gas lanterns were made using metal salvaged from the old porch roof.

The Reveal: Exploring the Interiors

The Reveal

The Reveal

You really hit everything on the mark. I can't imagine having a better home. It feels just like us. I love all the colors, and it just feel like home.
—homeowner Tiffany Keith

The Reveal

Behind the Scenes

Ben and Erin pose for quick portrait in the Keiths' colorful and dramatically transformed kitchen — the stylistic touchstone of this particular renovation. "Giving the living spaces a cozy yet bright and inviting vibe was priority," Erin said in her blog, "but also creating an atmosphere in the kitchen that would be comfortable and easily accommodate all of their family and friends, that will often visit, became a must."

Behind the Scenes

Ben makes some tweaks to the window trim and screens as part of the exterior upgrades.

Behind the Scenes

When all's said and done, there's little that does more to make a Southern kitchen feel inviting than a fresh-baked pie.

Rhapsody In Blue

"Tiffany loves any shade of blue," said Erin in her online journal. "As you'll see, this was a huge pattern throughout the space that was recreated."

Y'all Please Come Back

Keep checking back at Home Town Central for more new photo galleries, Home Town news and exclusive video including the special digital companion series, Erin'spired.

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