Home Town: From the Countryside to the Small City

Erin and Ben transform a 1908 Craftsman for a couple who have been living the country life but are ready for the vibrant metropolis (or maybe make that the quiet hamlet) that is Laurel, Mississippi.

Artfully Southern

Ben and Erin pose for a casual portrait on the front stairs at the newly transformed home of Emily and Billy James. The Napiers brought period charm and sparkle back to the historic home, with creative repurposing of vintage materials and some original artistic flourishes.


The Rutledge House was built in 1908 and came with some traditional Craftsman style elements like a front gable and decorative corbels. The faded yellow paint was peeling, however, and the front stairs and porch were showing signs of rot. 


The home's exterior gets a striking makeover with a return to a traditional Craftsman three-color palette. Erin went with blue-gray for the siding, a rirch cream for the trim and deep ox-blood as an accent for the doors and windows.


A portion of the original front porch had been enclosed and glassed in to create a front sunroom.


In perhaps the most transformative enhancement, the windows and walls of the front sunroom were removed, opening the porch back up to restore the home's classic look and create a dramatic facade.

Living Room, Before

The living room came with high ceilings, double French doors and beautiful hardwood floors. "The great thing about this living room is, it's really awesome the way it is," said Erin. "All I would really want to update is the light fixture and give the fireplace a little refresher."

Living Room, After

Simple sheer window treatments, pale mint-green for the walls, a classic Southern ceiling fan and a new finish for the wood floors give the room a fresh, breezy feel. "I love the way this house breathes," said Erin. "It feels like the air can move around you, and the sun can move around the rooms."


The sunroom was somewhat awkward and detracted from the natural flow of the home. 


Erin and Ben agreed with the homeowners that the home would be better served by restoring the original porch. The French doors get updated for proper function and are painted ox-blood on the exterior side to match the front door, and white on the inside in keeping with the interior trim.

Living Room, Before

Living Room, After

The built-in bookshelves, characteristic of the Craftsman style, are kept basically as-is, but the fireplace gets a facelift with Spanish tile in an ornate design.

Living Room, Detail

Living Room, Detail

An antique dresser is well suited to the home's early twentieth-century architecture.

Dining Room, Before

Like the main living room, the dining room had high ceilings and retained much of its original charm. Little in the way of actual remodeling would be required in this space. (The same could not be said of the kitchen just on the other side of this interior wall.)

Dining Room, After

The arched bookcases, cabinets and chair rail were all retained. The floors are newly refinished, the lighting and window treatments updated, and a chandelier with drum shade added. 

Dining Room, After

The impressive dining table was custom made by homeowner Billy James who, like Ben, is also a woodworker. 

Dining Room, Detail

Dining Room, Detail

The handcrafted buffet in the dining room was custom made by Ben using the reclaimed wood and actual windows salvaged from the demo of the front sunroom.

Foyer, Detail

Bathroom, Before

The bathroom had high ceilings and an antique clawfoot tub, but only a small vanity and a brick floor that was in rough shape.

Bathroom, After

The clawfoot tub gets re-porcelained and updated with new tub hardware, and the brick floors are restored and given a poly coat. The custom vanity was made using an antique dresser that Erin and Ben bought at auction.

Kitchen, Before

By far the most challenging part of the renovation was the kitchen remodel. The kitchen had low drop ceilings, badly outdated cabinets and appliances, fluorescent overhead lighting and no less than three layers of damaged and overlapping floor-coverings — all concealing the original heart pine flooring.

Kitchen, After

The ceiling was raised to its original height, and a portion of wall was removed to open kitchen onto the adjacent dining room, providing a more open and family-friendly floor plan.

Kitchen, Before

Kitchen, After

New recessed lighting, ceiling height cabinets in slate blue, white stone countertops and a new peninsula make for a kitchen that's both visually striking and ideally suited to the lifestyle of the new homeowners.

Kitchen, Detail

Artisans at Work

Erin and her friend, designer/printmaker Sean, work at Sean's studio to create a custom design for a wallpaper backsplash for the James's kitchen.

Artisans at Work

The design, based on a Spanish tile pattern, is transferred to the wallpaper medium using a wood-block printing technique.

The Finished Product

The custom backsplash, in teal-blue and white in a bold symmetric pattern, is the perfect accent in the James's new kitchen.

Meet the Homeowners

Erin and Ben pose for a pic with new homeowners and home-town neighbors, Emily and Billy James.

Another Home Town Success

If you enjoyed this Home Town transformation, be sure to check out this one: A 1920s Craftsman for a Nashville Songwriter. We'd bet you'll like it too.

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