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Home Town: The Sky's the Limit

In a stretch from their usual frugal approach to renovation, Ben and Erin are thrilled — and a bit anxious when a Laurel newcomer enlists their help to create his ideal home with a budget that's essentially ... unlimited. The end result is a grand residence that blends Spanish Colonial influences with a few modern industrial surprises — and one mega-luxurious shower.

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Photo: Laura Good

Your Budget Is What?!

In a big departure for Erin and Ben, the client for this project turns them loose to renovate with abandon and spend essentially as much as they need in order to create his ideal home. Despite what seems like a dream scenario, the abrupt change in approach has its own set of challenges. After all, sometimes being essentially handed a blank check can be a bit intimidating. Undaunted, our renovation heroes persevere — and help their client spend lots of money — at least by Laurel, MS standards.

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The Walters House had belonged to Laurel residents Kay and Lavelle Walters. The couple moved there in the late 1970s and lived there for more than 30 years. Built in the 1950s, the house comes with 3000 square feet, three bedrooms, three baths, a private backyard and a pool. It was listed at $199,000.

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Photo: Laura Good


For the redesign, Erin suggested freshening up but retaining the white exterior — a look she considers classic for a house of this period and architecture. Beyond that, the front exterior gets updated with new double front-doors in natural wood finish along with black shutters and window trim for a sharp, contrasting palette. The overall look of the remodel, both inside and out, draws on Spanish Colonial style.

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Meet the Homeowner

John Combe, a Laurel newcomer, has travelled extensively and lived all over the world —most recently having spent the last 10 years in Belize. But the idea of small-town life appeals to him. "I'm tired of big, big cities," he says. "I fell in love with this town of Laurel. It's just a place where I can come and relax and just enjoy life." He was looking for a home with 3000 square feet or more and, as an avid cook, he'd like a really nice kitchen. Aesthetically he leans toward contemporary design — even modern or industrial but he's open to suggestions. In terms of budget, he says simply: "Money's no object. The sky's the limit."

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