A Growing Family Returns to 'Home Town' Life

Erin and Ben Napier help a returning resident and her family transition back from big-city lights to small-town living.

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"They captured everything that I could ever want in a house — the flow, the colors, the space; everything just coming together and making it feel like a home." So said Ben and Erin’s latest client, Mia Walker, once she saw the finished product in this Home Town renovation.

L to R: Ben, Erin, Taylor, Bryce, Mia

Photo by: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

L to R: Ben, Erin, Taylor, Bryce, Mia

Mia, along with daughter Taylor (who’s herself about to become a new mother) and young son Bryce, are moving back to Mississippi after having been living in Chicago. They’re moving back to the slower pace of small-town living and to be closer to family.

What Mia’s looking for in a home is a place with sufficient space for the growing family, space to entertain, a large family-oriented kitchen and a master bedroom that’s a private retreat. “Mia's style leans traditional,” says Erin “but she also likes things that are simple and streamlined.”

The house-hunt, in this case, leads to two homes with decidedly different attributes. The Hamilton House is an unspectacular '40s-era three-bedroom that does, however, offer some advantages. It's in generally good condition, sits on a large lot and has direct access to an old and beautiful city park. The Tant House sits at 2,800 square feet and was built in 1955. It has a more storied history, but in its current state is not as well maintained and generally lacks in curb appeal.

Mia’s final decision presents both Erin and Ben with a project they can sink their teeth into. In the end, the result is a house that's informal and comfortable yet visually stylized and colorful.

Todd Douglas/ Getty Images
Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

As seen on Home Town, Ben (C) and Erin Napier (L) work on the wrought iron fencing in the front of the Walker residence. They are using a sawzall to remove the center sections of the fence to give the front of the house a more open feeling. Ben and Erin Napier are renovating this house for the Walker family. (demolition)

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

As seen on Home Town, Ben and Erin Napier (C) work on removing the existing trim from the wire netting sidelites of the future master closet. Erin takes the final blows to break the wire netting away from the wall. Ben and Erin Napier are renovating this house for the Walker family. (demolition)

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Erin digs in, helping with everything from initial demo to creating a design for custom wallpaper. Ben, in addition to his usual project oversight and hands-on construction, personally crafts a narrow buffet table for the newly remodeled dining room.

Napier custom touches: Ben's handmade buffet console and custom wallpaper created using one of Erin's original floral designs.

Photo by: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

The kitchen becomes the stylistic star of the reno with its sleek, clean design, open feel and white palette offset with lower cabinets painted in a brilliant ocean blue. The updated and reconfigured kitchen features a new island, also built by Ben, using pine wood repurposed from the kitchen’s original wood paneling.

The Walker kitchen

Photo by: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Other highlights in this renovation include an oversized master closet and dressing room for Mia’s master suite and a gallery wall in the living room, featuring professionally framed original artwork by Bryce.

Walker living room, detail

Photo by: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

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Classic '50s Updated

Clean exterior lines, new cedar siding, a rich green palette and fresh landscaping helped transform a run-down, utterly forgettable house into this sleek and stylish neighborhood gem.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Be Not Afraid of Bold Color

The vivid blue used for the cabinets may seem like an audacious choice, but it integrates artfully in this streamlined white kitchen with its subway tile, gray concrete countertops, stainless appliances and a well-coordinated area runner. This particular shade, Pacific Ocean Blue, is one of Erin's go-to color picks as seen in Prefit's 'Color Vs. Color' design showcase.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Original Art With a Family Tie

"When you take a child's drawing and you put a big, wide mat around it, it becomes modern art," says Erin. "It becomes elevated."

Erin took paintings and drawings done by the homeowner's 4th grade son Bryce, framed them using quality frames and mats and worked them into this wall grouping in the new living room. The art ties in perfectly with the room's eclectic decor that blends modern and folk motifs.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

I Can See Clearly Now

The bright and colorful new dining room was made to feel even more spacious by opening up the backs of the built-in bookcases that separate the living and dining rooms, providing an expanded sight line between the two spaces.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Meet the Homeowners

Mia Walker is a nurse and, along with daughter Taylor (who’s herself about to become a new mother) and young son Bryce, are moving back to Mississippi after having been living in Chicago. They’re moving back to the slower pace of small-town living and to be closer to family. Mia’s wish list includes a place with sufficient room for the growing family, a space to entertain, a large family-oriented kitchen and a master bedroom that’s a private retreat. Her total budget, including renovations, is $125,000.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Before: Concealed Behind a Curtain Crepe Myrtle

The Tant House has three bedrooms, three baths, is 2,800 square feet and was built in 1955. The list price: $53,500. The house has an interesting history with the same owners, local business owners, having lived in it for more than 50 years. In its current state, however, it's not well maintained, is generally lacking in curb appeal and the yard is badly overgrown. Mia's initial impression of the exterior: "Too busy; too much going on."

"This is one of those houses," said Ben, "that people either have forgotten about — or they want to forget about it."

After: An Enhanced View

The overgrown vegetation and iron fence are removed, providing the newly refurbished home with a wide-open view from the street. The brick is painted in a rich green and the old vinyl siding across the front is replaced with stained cypress, helping give the exterior a warmer and more visually defined look.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Before

Ornate metal porch railings and ironwork like these were all the rage in the '50s and '60s, but there's little retro nostalgia (thus far, at least) for this exterior look that's now considered outdated.

After

The front porch is both more functional and attractive, with the ironwork removed and replaced with wooden support columns painted in coordinating darker green. The old solid wood door has been replaced with an entirely new door kit featuring a five-light design and sidelights, providing more natural light to the interior. 

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

After

Recessed outdoor lighting and contrasting white window trim highlight the new dark-stained cypress paneling.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Living Room, Before

Prior to the renovation, the living room was stark and uninviting. The ceiling was acoustic tile and the solid entry door afforded little light for the foyer. The wood flooring had been overstained in a dark finish that had become damaged and worn.

Living Room, After

The new front door with full-width glass panels brings in lots more natural light while the main living area is given a fresh look with new ceiling, white wall paint, modern styled furnishings and updated lighting.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Living Room, After

The original hardwood flooring has been restored and given a new and lighter finish that better highlights the natural grain. The floors had to be sanded three times to remove the old, dark stain, allowing the natural color and grain of the wood to show through.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Living Room, After

The framed art by Mia's fourth-grade son Bryce makes for a meaningful addition to the wall art in the new living room. "It will be special to Mia," says Erin, "because he made it at this point in his life."

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Living Room, After

The house itself, the architectural style, is really midcentury, so we have to honor that in the way we dress the house, but we also have to honor Mia and her family and the way they live.
—Erin Napier

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Living Room, After

After the redesign, the living room and adjacent dining room have a more open flow and unified look.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Before

The existing built-in living room bookshelves are one of the home's desirable features, but the living and dining rooms felt separate and remote. Erin's proposed solution was to remove the backs from the shelf units to create a visual connection between the two spaces.

After

Opening up the shelves and tying the two spaces with coordinated color palette and decor creates a unified appearance for the entire space.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

After

 

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

After

The header above the opening was replaced with a single support beam and raised, also helping to open up the two spaces and create more headroom. The latter was an especially wise choice since Mia has some extended family members who are more than seven feet tall.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Dining Room, After

The remodeled dining room, which now also opens into the adjacent kitchen, a rustic dining table, drum style chandelier and new window treatments.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Dining Room, Detail

The shallow buffet console was all handcrafted by Ben using white oak.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Dining Room, Before

 

Dining Room, After

The colorful wallpaper in the dining room was custom created from an original design by Erin Napier based on one of her paintings. o

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Before

 

After

 

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Before

 

After

 

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Kitchen, Before

The existing kitchen was large but dated, with solid wood paneling, antiquated metal cabinets, laminate countertops and the refrigerator placed awkwardly in the room.

Kitchen, After

Erin's design plan called for reconfiguring the kitchen layout, adding a refrigerator enclosure, removing the peninsula and creating a new center island, with bar seating, positioned lengthwise in the space.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Kitchen, Before

 

Kitchen, After

New lower cabinets painted in bold ocean blue stand out sharply against the white subway tile and light gray concrete countertops.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Kitchen, Before

 

Kitchen, After

The solid knotty pine lumber used in the kitchen's old paneling was repurposed by Ben, and painted in bright white, to create the base for the new kitchen island. 

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Kitchen, Before

 

Kitchen, After

The island is lit with two matching pendants with gold shades. "I like that it's mid-century," said Erin, "but it's got a classic lampshade shape that feels a little more traditional."

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Kitchen, After

"It takes a certain kind of room to pull off this deep, vibrant ocean blue," said Erin of her color choice for the new cabinets, "but it works beautifully as a cabinet color in an all-white kitchen with sleek, mid-modern brass accents."

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Kitchen, After

Ben created a simple DIY custom wine rack for the kitchen using remnants of the lumber from the old cabinet doors.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Kitchen, Detail

 

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Master Bedroom, Before

The master bedroom was spacious but plain and ordinary, save for the unusual alcove at one end with wire mesh grates on either side of the doorway.

Master Suite, After

Erin refined the look of the room with soft gray walls and white trim, a more contemporary ceiling-fan fixture, and a color palette of blues, gray and coral. For the adjacent "alcove", the metal grates were removed, the opening expanded  and the space turned into an oversized master closet/dressing room with seating area.

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Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Master Suite, After

 

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Master Closet, Before

 

Master Closet, After

 

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Master Closet, After

 

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The Reveal

New homeowner Mia Walker and family get their first look at their newly renovated home.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

The Reveal

As seen on Home Town, homeowner Mia Walker (C) and her daughter Taylor Walker (R) react to the reveal of their newly renovated living room by hosts Ben and Erin Napier (L). After the renovations, their Laurel, MS living room now features the original hardwood floor, updated furnishings and custom art designed by Mia's younger son Bryce. (After/ Reveal)

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

The Reveal

 

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

The Reveal

 

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

The Reveal

Erin and Ben pose for a pic with Mia and her daughter Taylor in the newly remodeled kitchen.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Before

 

After

They captured everything that I could ever want in a house — the flow, the colors, the space; everything just coming together and making it feel like a home.
—homeowner Mia Walker

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

Ben multitasks as a Home Town production assistant as shooting is about to begin for the removal of the old wrought-iron fence.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

Erin demonstrates that she has no fear of a reciprocating saw as she and Ben work together to remove the old iron fence that obscures the view of the home exterior.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

 

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

Mission accomplished.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

In more quiet pursuits, Erin works on a design in the workspace at her custom-stationery shop and letterpress studio, . Her original graphic design was replicated and reproduced to create the custom wallpaper used in the Walkers' new dining room.

Photo By: 172173005945

Behind the Scenes

Erin and Ben meet with contractor Jonathan Walters (left) and residential designer Luke Sippel (center) prior to the start of demolition on the old kitchen.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

Working on the room that will become the new master closet, Erin attempts to finesse removal of the odd metal mesh that had been installed in the openings on either side of the doorway.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

Maybe this is a job for two...

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

 

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Behind the Scenes

Sometimes sheer force is the only answer...

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Behind the Scenes

And when all else fails...

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Behind the Scenes

 

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Behind the Scenes

Teamwork, at last, triumphs.

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Behind the Scenes

With construction and remodeling complete, Ben and Erin add some finishing staging touches to the Walker's newly renoivated living room.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Y'all Please Come Back

If you enjoyed this Home Town renovation, we've got a feeling you'd also like this one:
Home Town: Cottage Charm for Two Empty-Nesters.
And keep checking back here for more new galleries, exclusive videos, show updates and more.

Photo By: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

As seen on Home Town, Ben and Erin Napier (C) goof around outside with the slate board before working on the next scene in the front exterior of the Walker residence. Cameraman James Duhon (R) prepares to film the scene. (behind the scenes)

Photo by: Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Todd Douglas/ Getty Images

Home Town airs Tuesday nights at 10p/9c. Be sure to check back here to see the full before-and-after gallery of this makeover, additional web-exclusive videos, series updates and more.

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