Next Up

Home Town: The Littlest House in Laurel

Erin and Ben remake a long-vacant and crumbling property to create a country cottage that, though small, is a welcoming abode with built-in family connections and history.

1 / 44
Photo: Laura Good

A Family Affair

Ben and Erin took on a special project for Rena, a Laurel native and small-business owner — also a cousin of Erin. Rena was looking for a small house or cottage, something easy to maintain but with charm and classic appeal. She had lived in several rental houses in Laurel but was now looking to settle down with a home of her own. Her budget was $100,000.

More photos after this Ad

2 / 44

Meet the Homeowner

Rena Register (right) and her best friend Nicki (left) discuss the possibilities for her new home with Erin and Ben.

More photos after this Ad

3 / 44


This house had belonged to Rena's great grandmother, and was available to her, but had been sitting vacant for thirty years and was clearly in rough condition — including a roof that was badly deteriorated, wood rot and aged plumbing. The property, which the family had always referred to simply as “The Little House,” is also directly next door to her mother's home. The house, built in 1948, has two bedrooms, one bath — and,at only 648 square feet, is essentially a "tiny house." Despite the challenges, since the family-owned house was available to Rena at no cost, her entire $100k budget could be spent on renovations.

More photos after this Ad

4 / 44

Erin's Vison

Rena was not only ambivalent about living right next door to her mom, she had a hard time imagining the house being made suitable for living. Erin, however had some ideas that would transform the dilapidated building into a cozy cottage with classic Americana style and timeless appeal. Her vision for the exterior included shifting the position of the front porch to one side to create a modified profile with a cottage-style façade.

More photos after this Ad