Home Town: Laurel, Mississippi by Way of LA

A Hollywood TV actor and his wife purchase a run-down Craftsman home in Laurel and lovingly restore it with help from Erin and Ben. Their objective: to rescue a deserving property while at the same time investing in a community and helping to anchor the revitalization of a neighborhood.

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

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

Branching Out

In a special new project, Ben and Erin restored this century-old Craftsman in a section of Laurel that was once home primarily to millworkers and other laborers in Laurel's timber industry. It’s a neighborhood with lots of promise but one that hasn't yet seen much renovation or renewal, and many of the old homes have fallen into disrepair. The Napier's clients Richard and Nancy have fallen in love with Laurel and want to invest in a historic property here, but also to see the kinds of improvements that Erin and Ben have been doing continue to grow and expand.

Investing in a Community

Actor Richard T. Jones and his wife Nancy are looking to buy a house in Laurel — specifically in an area that has been underappreciated and has yet to revitalized. They are looking for a historic home with good bones, and their desire is to fix it up and find a family that wants to lease to own. "What brings us to Laurel," says Nancy, "is a desire really to be part of the restoration that Ben and Erin have started here. The goal is to focus on empowering people through home ownership."

The Martin House, Before

This cottage in the Laurel neighborhood known as Ward 5 has an interesting history but. like many of the homes in the area, is in need of some TLC. The house was built around 1910 and purchased by Minnie and A.L. Martin around 1920. They later passed it on to their daughter who lived in it in recent years — so the house was owned by the same family for around a century. It has 1400 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths and was listed for only $15,000. "It's Craftsman style," said Ben, "and the brick column work, and the fact that they've never been painted, is really cool and a nice feature."

Erin's Vision

Erin's renovation plan includes new landscaping to reveal the home's profile, and removing the screens to re-create an open front porch that suits the home's Craftsman architecture. The peeling exterior paint would need to be scraped, and Erin envisions repainting in a pale yellow accented by a front door in rust-red. "I think all these colors could work together," she said, "and be really beautiful and cottagey. And this block could use some sunshine."

After

The brickwork remains intact and unpainted, but the porch is given an all-new look with wood railing in keeping with the Craftsman architecture. The overgrown shrubs have been replaced with new landscaping for much-enhanced visibility and curb appeal.

Demo Day

Exterior renovation gets underway as Erin removes the screens from the front porch.

Spa Life

Meanwhile, Ben tries out the vintage clawfoot tub that will be part of the renovated master bath. Interesting fact (or at least a good story): Legend has it that Hank Williams, Sr. may have once bathed in this very tub. (There's no proof, but legend has it.)

Ingenuity in Action

Erin gets help from her friend Mallorie as they work to fashion a shower-curtain ring for the bathroom renovation. They created the improvised shower hardware using ordinary galvanized pipe. Erin theorized that building a shower-curtain ring from scratch using pipe fittings should be "as easy as screwing in a light bulb." It wasn't.

Reliable Transportation

Ben takes a spin on a Ben-sized tricycle he discovered while on a mission to get salvage materials for the renovation.

Front Porch, Before

The front entry was plain and unspectacular with peeling paint and a dated storm door.

Front Porch, After

The porch has a whole new look with exterior siding painted in pale yellow and a newly installed front door with frosted glass panel. The door, which was original to the house, was discovered by Ben in a rear shed, refurbished at his woodshop and updated with new lock hardware.

Front Porch, Detail

The porch swing was custom built by Ben using vintage beadboard he found in the home's garage.

Front Porch, Detail

"When we have a house that has a very tight budget," said Erin, " I still like to find some way
to give that house something special that feels more architectural." In this case, that feature was the new front-porch railing in traditional Craftsman style design.

Living Room, Before

The living room's original dark-stained hardwood flooring is white oak, a rarity in Laurel. Since the local industry was the harvesting and milling of pine lumber, most older homes in the town have pinewood floors.

Living Room, After

The original wood flooring has been refinished and the room brightened up with fresh paint in bright white.

Living Room, After

The fireplace is updated, with the brick painted white and the mortar lines smoothed out for a simpler, more streamlined look.

Living Room, After

The wood floors were stripped and refinished with clear-coat, revealing the wood's natural color.

Living Room, After

The renovation included electrical upgrade, new HVAC, improved insulation and a smart thermostat to help maximize energy efficiency.

Living Room, After

Living room furnishings include a tufted leather chair and ottoman and roll-arm sofa in sand colored upholstery.

Living Room, After

Erin opted for a neutral background palette allowing colorful features like the blue patterned area rug and vibrant wall-art to create the visual highlights.

Dining Room, Before

The dining room is visually unspectacular but comes with French doors and the same white-oak flooring as in the living room. 

Dining Room, After

The former plain and drab dining room is now a bright and airy space that's ideal for entertaining.

Dining Room, Before

Dining Room, After

The walls are painted white with trim and accents painted in jadeite green, a bottle-green shade commonly seen in recycled glass.

Dining Room, After

The new floor-length window treatments feature a white background with green botanical pattern, picking up on the jadeite trim paint.

Dining Room, Detail

The dining room features an original built-in corner cupboard with glass-front doors and cabinet storage above and below.

Dining Room Detail, After

Now painted in the jadeite green, the corner built-in becomes a statement piece in the space.

Dining Room, After

Other highlights in the dining room include a new chandelier with drum shade and farmhouse style dining table.

Dining Room, After

Kitchen, Before

The kitchen, prior to the renovation, was dark and dismal, with dated wood paneling and cabinetry laminate countertops and damaged vinyl flooring.

Kitchen, After

The kitchen has been radically transformed, with the original pine-wood flooring now revealed and restored. The walls, trim and cabinetry painted in fresh white and the walls are decorated with vibrantly colored art.

Kitchen, Before

The appliances were in disrepair and the dated '60s-vintage wood paneling and cabinetry were neither appealing nor period-correct. A full kitchen makeover was a top priority for this renovation.

Kitchen, After

The old cabinetry was actually retained,but refaced to take it to ceiling height, then painted white, giving it it an entirely new look. Other kitchen highlights include new white-oak butcherblock countertops and a farmhouse sink lit by a single pendant fixture with globe shade.

Colorful Flourishes

Erin hangs botanical prints in wide mats and gold frames, further brightening up the newly refurbished kitchen.

Kitchen, After

Recessed lighting and new appliances in brushed stainless help give the kitchen a sleek and contemporary look.

Kitchen, After

The vintage-replica cabinet hardware includes pulls made from green glass, providing a period look while tying in with the jadeite trim paint. 

Kitchen, Detail

Ben's signature piece for this renovation is a custom-made kitchen island made using reclaimed wood salvaged from the house.

Master Bedroom, Before

The bedroom and bathroom, at the rear of the home, were the roughest sections of the house and most in need of repair. The master bedroom was in terrible shape, with water damage, wood rot, peeling paint and a single bare bulb for lighting.

Master Bedroom, After

The space has been completely transformed with the repair to all of the damaged wood, fresh white paint and dramatic white linen window treatments paired with retractable bamboos shades.

Master Bedroom, Before

The bedroom layout and bathroom access were awkwardly designed, with an assortment of oddly placed doors. Two of the doors would be closed off, and a new entrance to the master bath added for a more logical flow.

Master Bedroom, After

The original wood batten strips on the walls and ceiling were repaired and retained to keep an authentic and period look.

Master Bedroom, After

The wood plank flooring has been reconditioned and repainted in pattern of soft green and pale pink, but it retains its rustic texture, giving the room something of a beach-house feel.

Master Bedroom, After

A shallow closet has been repurposed as a work nook with integrated desk and shelving.

Master Bedroom, After

The bathroom door has been relocated, providing easier access to the newly remodeled master bath.

Master Bedroom, Detail

The new master bedroom creates a secluded retreat with a soothing and relaxed feel.

Master Bath, Before

The bathroom had damaged vinyl flooring and was drab, cramped and awkwardly laid out.

Master Bath, After

The remodeled bathroom features a wide vanity and vintage clawfoot tub.

Master Bath, After

The wood floors, though not original to this space, are made from reclaimed vintage hardwood flooring salvaged from another house in Laurel.

Back Porch, After

A bonus feature of the home is this enclosed back porch with outdoor utility sink and extra storage.

Back Porch, After

A variation on the front-porch swing is this back-porch chair swing, creating an ideal spot for reading and relaxing.

Before

Though visually run-down, the Martin house was generally in good structural shape and had been well maintained. Electrical, HVAC and plumbing were updated, but many of the home's original physical features could be upgraded but retained, helping make the home more affordable while maintaining it's historic character and charm.

After

With a purchase price of $15,000, and renovations totaling $60,000, the Joneses now have a beautiful showplace at the modest cost of only $75,000.

The Reveal

Richard and Nancy Jones prepare to see their completed renovation for the first time.

The Reveal

Porch Time

With the Jones project, Ben and Erin's vision for Laurel reached into new and promising areas, and they were excited to be part of the Jones' community-building initiative. "It's incredible," said Ben. "It's gonna instill a lot of pride back into these neighborhoods." 

Shop This Look