Home Town: Saving Jena's Childhood Home

Erin and Ben face one of their bigger challenges, resurrecting a young student's family home located in a Laurel neighborhood that was ravaged by hurricane Katrina. The result is a creatively reimagined cottage retreat with an artistic vibe and Scandinavian inspired touches -- but one that retains distinctive ties to the home's history.

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,,Laura Good,,Laura Good,

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,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,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good

Photo By: Laura Good,Laura Good,Laura Good

There's No Place Like Home

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coast in 2005, the impact was felt in Laurel, Mississippi as well in coastal communities. This house, seen here after Ben and Erin's renovation was completed, was in one of the Laurel neighborhoods that was hit hardest. Many of the homes were destroyed, and many simply abandoned because of extensive damage. Here's the special story of one that was lovingly brought back from the brink.

The Yeager House, Before

This house had belonged to the father of Ben and Erin's client, Jena Yeager. Jena's father had been in the process of restoring the home when he passed away. Subsequently, the house — like many of the ones in the neighborhood suffered damage during Hurricane Katrina. Following the hurricane, the roof has been replaced to help protect the structure, but the home has been unoccupied for years and is badly deteriorated with extensive water damage, wood rot and other issues. The Home Town episode featuring this home is appropriately titled "Can This House Be Saved?"

The Yeager House, After

Among the massive changes that Erin and Ben implemented to transform the home's exterior, the original front porch — which had evidently been enclosed by prior owners — gets opened up to reveal the original classic profile. A back porch, which had been closed off as well, gets a similar facelift. With Erin and Ben's expertise and inspiration, the home gets an entirely new look, but one that's contextual and in keeping with its history.

Meet Jena and Hugh

Jena Yeager and her boyfriend Hugh are both students at Southern University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi — about a 30-minute drive from Laurel. The home being restored is the house where Jena grew up and which was left to her by her father. Jena has strong and cherished memories from her childhood spent there and has dreams of seeing it restored. 

Hometown Dreams

Jena is fond of older, historic homes and vintage architecture. She's also partial to the town where she grew up. "I'm originally from Laurel, and I've been trying to move back," she says. "This is very much my hometown so I'm excited to get back to that." Her budget is $120,000. The decision to renovate her existing family home, rather than purchasing a new fixer-upper, means that she can put the entire budget toward restoration and upgrades.

Dreamers and Doers

Erin and Ben work out some of the plans for the Yeager house renovation. "It's really encouraging to us to see more and more young people who want to live in a small town like ours," says Erin. "The future of our city depends on it, truly. I love that [Jena and Hugh] are interested in a house with some history."

A Front Porch (of sorts) — Before

Prior to the renovation, the front porch had been enclosed to create an additional room at the front of the house. The original exterior window is still present on what had once been the front-exterior wall, and it still retains its ornate muntin rails on the top panel. The floor and ceiling in this space, however, both exhibited extensive damage from water leaks and wood rot. 

Front Porch, After

Walls are removed on the right side of the front exterior, giving the home it's original porch back. The original window is retained, as well as the beadboard ceiling. The original door is upgraded with new hardware and painted a rich green, and new stairs and porch railing added.

Back Porch, After

At the rear of the house, a previously enclosed back porch is opened up as well, making for an ideal spot for enjoying the backyard.

Living Room, Before

The Yeager house was built in 1905 and came with 1500 square feet, three bedrooms and one bath. Compared to the enclosed porch front-room, this original living room was in good condition with well-preserved wood floors, fireplace and French doors.

Living Room, After

The living room is updated with new paint, new lighting, refinished floors and a restored fireplace. The fireplace gets a cosmetic facelift with new white-marble surround.

Living Room, After

The original hardwood flooring was stripped and refinished, retaining the wood's pure, unstained appearance — a light wood tone in keeping with the Scandinavian style that Jena admires.

Living Room, After

"So when I was digging into understanding your style," Erin told Jena, "I really wanted to lean into that minimalist, Scandinavian style ... white and wood, and then the huge doorways, the millwork, the transoms —those things give it the historic value."

Living Room, After

The living room opens onto the home's other newly upgraded spaces including the master bedroom and a new art studio.

Extended Living Space

This room adjacent to the living room — most likely the formal dining room in the home's original floorplan now provides additional casual living space.

Before

Jena envisioned turning the former dining room into an entertainment space — a "record room" with space for audio equipment, record collection and comfortable, informal furnishings.

After: The Record Room

Ben custom built the low-profile bench style console with caned front that serves as a speaker enclosure. Ben used reclaimed mahogany lumber from the house to build the console as well as all-mounted shelf unit for LP record storage.

The Record Room, Before

Prior to the renovation, the "blue room", as Jena called it, was in need of some freshening up. But it did come with some appealing original features such like coffered ceilings and wood flooring in good condition.

The Record Room, After

The Record Room, Before

The Record Room, After

The home's original front door is painted in dark green, a shade derived from the living room's French doors, seen her at left. That particular shade is now carried throughout as a highlight in the fresh white-and-green color palette and provides a visual tie to the home as Jena remembers it.

The Record Room, After

The existing built-in shelving was expanded and visually upgraded with a new face frame. "All of my books as a little girl were on these shelves," said Jena, "and seeing them refinished and actually looking good reminds me of my dad pulling books off the shelf to read to me every night before bed."

Before

This portion of the front porch will remain enclosed as a front sunroom, which Jena envisions as a bright and open space that would be ideal as an art studio. 

After: The Art Studio

This section of the porch is now converted into this bright studio space with enlarged and updated windows, lots of natural light and fresh white paint.

Art Studio, After

Erin staged the studio with a work desk, easel and some of Jena's original paintings.

Art Studio, After

Along with the enlarged trio of windows, an additional large window was added (at left) to bring even more natural light into the studio space.

Art Studio, Detail

Kitchen, Before

The kitchen, at the rear of the house, was rough and unfinished and had no windows or other sources of natural light.

Kitchen, After

The rear of the space gets opened up with new windows and back door, providing lots of natural light, and the space gets enlarged and completely reconfigured.

Kitchen, After

The new kitchen also features all new appliances, light-stained butcher block countertops, a new tile backsplash in charcoal gray, and a kitchen island with bar seating and large enough to serve as an informal dinner table.

As seen on Home Town, Ben and Erin Napier install new kitchen countertops during renovations to the Yeager house in Laure, Mississippi.

Master Bedroom, Before

The master bedroom has potential as a grand space with high ceilings, picture-rail trim and hardwood floors.

Master Bedroom, After

The master sute is visually transformed with refinished hardwood floors, white walls and a new master bath. The armoire is one that belonged to Jena's father, now painted in the shade of green that matches the French doors and front entry.

Master Bedroom, Before

Master Bedroom, After

Other enhancements in the master bedroom include an upgrade to the fireplace that retains the original tile surround, and new window treatments featuring retractable shades and floor-length sheers.

Master Bedroom, After

The visually striking mahogany French doors between the living room and master suite were custom built using the reclaimed solid mahogany salvaged from the old front room. Ben fashioned the paneled doors using the solid wood paneling and brass hardware.

Master Bedroom, After

Master Bedroom, After

Before

The tiny bathroom and adjacent hallway are opened up and combined to create a new and enlarged master bath.

Master Bath, After

The newly expanded bathroom is highlighted by new hex floor tile in dark gray and a new double vanity.

Master Bath, After

Master Bath, Before

Master Bath, After

A statement piece in the new master bath is the massive standalone tub.

Master Bath, Before

Master Bath, After

In addition to the large tub, the new bath features a large, stylized walk-in shower with modern, clean lines.

Master Bath, Detail

Master Bath, Detail

The new vanity is Scandinavian style with clean lines, twin top-mount sinks, white countertop and wood cabinet in natural, light finish.

Master Bath, Detail

Finishing Touches

Erin does some final staging in Jena's new art studio, just off the main living area.

Finishing Touches

The Reveal

Hugh and Jena see the fully renovated exterior of Jena's childhood home for the first time.

The Reveal

The Reveal

The Reveal

Jena and Hugh get their first look at the new and fully upgraded kitchen.

Before

"The Yeager House was a huge transformation," said Ben. "Maybe one of the biggest we've done."

After

Jena's newly renovated has an entirely new look, with the original porch once again revealed on the left side, and a sunroom/art-studio on the right. The exterior has been completely transformed with updated windows and front door, a colorful two-tone palette and all-new landscaping.

After

The front exterior retains the original front door, now painted in contrasting green, and the original 1905 window, cleaned up and freshly painted.

Back Porch, After

The restored back porch gets new decking as well as new white columns and railing.

Back Porch, After

"The two-tone color palette is, I think, what makes this house feel so unique compared to other historic houses," said Erin.

Before

After

"It's wonderful," says Jena of her now fully restored family home. "This is everything my dad would have dreamed of — and more when he was fixing it up."

Behind the Scenes

Erin and Ben work out some of the details before getting town to work.

Behind the Scenes

Demo day gets underway in the space that will become the "record room."

Behind the Scenes

Erin and Ben work on removal of the original mahogany paneling in the front room.

Behind the Scenes

The old kitchen gets completely gutted in preparation for the complete kitchen rebuild.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Erin and Ben work together on opening up the front room to re-create the original front porch. The original outer columns, still intact, are retained as part of the home's new front profile.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

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.

Shop This Look