Home Town: Banquette Dreams and Curing the Homesick Blues

In Home Town’s Season 2 premiere, Ben and Erin help newcomers Mackenzie and Jim in their transition from Virginia to their new home in Laurel, Mississippi. The couple has moved several times, are road-weary and homesick. They're eager to put down roots and regain a sense of place and permanence in a new home and a welcoming town. 

Just Plain Good Folks

Ben and Erin help clients Mackenzie and Jim who are looking for a house with a warm vibe and vintage charm. Mackenzie longs especially for a great kitchen to serve as the heart of the home and that will evoke memories of her family and the house she grew up in.

Before

The McKibbens House, which had been the home of a local pastor and his wife for about 50 years, is a Craftsman cottage that was built in 1924. It's located on a beautiful oak-lined street in a neighborhood with a historic feel.  It has 2600 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths and listed for $105,000. The exterior is a bit run-down, with a sagging metal awning and a front porch that had been enclosed with glass door and windows.

After

Removing the aged awning and opening up the porch made all the difference in helping restore the home's traditional Craftsman appeal. "Getting rid of all that glass makes it possible to actually see and appreciate the porch this house has," said Erin. "I love these Craftsman cottages for the little details," added Ben, "the exposed rafter tails, the brackets. Other exterior enhancements included subtly offsetting the existing trim in a khaki-cream and painting the front door in blue for added punch.

Before

The enclosed porch felt cold and lackluster, a situation that was not helped by the faded blue indoor-outdoor carpeting.

After

The look of the porch is transformed with fresh white paint, khaki trim, painted concrete floors and a ceiling fan in a more classic design. But the star of the new porch is the set of twin chair swings — Ben's custom take on the traditional Southern porch swing. Each is a variation on the familiar Adirondack chair design, and they were handmade by Ben using reclaimed wood from demo of one of the home's interior walls.

Living Room, Before

In the living room, mauve wall-to-wall carpeting covered original hardwood floors, and the window treatments could definitely stand some updating. Erin also had a plan in mind for freshening up the fireplace.

Living Room, After

With the carpet removed, the newly revealed hardwood floors got refinished, and the fireplace is refaced, covering the grooved brick with a mortar smear, hand applied and brushed to give it a stucco-like texture.

Living Room, Before

Ben recommended retaining the built-in bookshelves on either side of the cased opening, but removing the scalloped crown detail which is not consistent with the Craftsman style of the home.

Living Room, After

The bookshelves get modified slightly to give them cleaner look more in the Craftsman style, and French doors with frosted glass are added between the living room and the adjacent space that could serve as either an office or spare bedroom.

Living Room, Detail

Erin and her friend Mallorie provided a special flourish for the living room shelves, backing the shelves with wallpaper in a striking blue and white print. "I'm in love with this chinoiserie wallpaper," said Erin, "because it's blue and white. It'll be crisp. It'll be pattern in an unexpected place and, once we get the books and things on the shelves, then it'll just be, like, a barely-there accent."

Living Room, Detail

Dining Room, Before

The dining room, also with mauve carpeting and faded window treatments, felt dated and closed off.

Dining Room, After

By far the most significant modification in this renovation was the opening up of two walls that had separated the dining room from an adjacent breakfast room and the kitchen. The new design made way for an enlarged kitchen, and the combined spaces now feels much more open and welcoming with an improved flow and sight-line.

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

The new kitchen is bright and airy with updated lighting, new cabinetry, subway tile backsplash and lots of natural wood. Ben fashioned a custom banquette — a special request by Mackenzie as a feature that would remind her of the home she grew up in. The banquette was constructed from reclaimed wood flooring and the seating was butcher block to tie in with the wood countertops.

Kitchen, Before

The narrow galley style kitchen, prior to the renovation, felt claustrophobic and closed-in.

Kitchen, After

The linoleum floor was removed and replaced with new hardwood flooring using stained yellow pine meticulously color-matched to approximate the tone of the original heart pine found throughout the rest of the home.

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

New stainless appliances and a classic apron front sink are among highlights in the new kitchen. The butcher block countertops were installed with a 45-degree corner joint for a seamless look.

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

Master Bath, Before

Prior to the renovation, the bathroom off the main bedroom was just a cramped half-bath with single vanity.

Master Bath, After

Taking out a wall at the rear of the bathroom, and expanding into an alcove space in an adjacent bedroom, made it possible to convert to a full bath with double vanity.

Master Bath, Before

Master Bath, After

The bathroom features a large walk-in shower and patterned concrete floor tiles in muted blue and gold.

Master Bedroom, After

The queen sized bed with classic black iron frame was selected by Erin and Mallorie to match the simplicity and period of a Craftsman home. Antique record boxes from the 1930s used to create custom shadowbox-style shelves.

Before

Imagine not what you see, but what it could be.
—Erin Napier

After

"Every decision I've made in this house is being driven by my desire to make sure that this is the remedy for homesickness," said Erin. "I want this house to be the cure for that."

Paradise Found

New homeowners Jim and Mackenzie pose for a pic on the front porch of the newly renovated Craftsman bungalow. If you liked this Home Town renovation, check out this one from Season 1: 1920s Craftsman for a Nashville Songwriter, and keep checking back here for more new galleries, exclusive video, Ben & Erin updates and more.

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