So far in the first season of HGTV's Home Town, hosts Erin and Ben Napier have restored ten historic houses in their beloved town of Laurel, Mississippi. As season one comes to a close (and we set our sights on season two), we're looking back at one of the Napiers' most inspiring renovations to date. Check out their makeover of a mid-century modern home that had her "really stepping outside of my comfort zone"—and tune in to watch the season finale Tuesday, May 23, at 10 p.m. EST.
When Erin and Ben first showed this house to Mia Walker in , called "Small Town Life for a Growing Family," she wasn't impressed. "Too much going on," said the nurse, who was moving back to Laurel, Mississippi with her daughter, Taylor, an expectant mother, and her young son, Bryce, from Chicago. "Too busy, too overgrown, that red door says 'Stop!'" She also had some concerns about the cramped living and dining rooms and the dark and dated kitchen inside.
But Ben and Erin had a vision for the 2,800-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom 1960s ranch, which they dubbed "The Tant House," after the Tant family, who lived there for decades. And after hearing their plans (and seeing Erin's paintings), Mia hopped on board, buying the home for $53,500 and handing over the rest of her all-in budget ($125,000) to the Napiers for their renovation plan.
"It's a really big privilege to find a house for someone who left and came back," Erin said. But with that privilege comes some pressure—especially with a property that needs this much TLC. "This is one of those houses that people have either forgotten about, or they want to forget about," said Ben.
And that's partly because of the overgrown vegetation and wrought iron fencing out front, which almost completely hid the house. So, Ben and his buddies cleared that away first—it made such a big difference that Erin joked she "saw the house for the first time today."
Now, with the overgrowth all gone, the town of Laurel has a clear view of the ranch—and it's a pretty great one at that. The Home Town team painted the brick gray, swapped in a modern glass door, and added warmth with some cypress wood siding. New landscaping added much-needed curb appeal.
With unfinished floors and a heavy solid door, the existing living room was cold and cramped. It took three tries sanding the floors to restore the stained wood to its former glory.
New ceilings, fresh paint, updated curtains and blinds, and a glass door brightened up the space, as did strategic styling. "Mia's style leans traditional," says Erin, "but she also likes things that are simple and streamlined."
The design pro was careful to combine Mia's traditional tendencies with a few mid-century touches that honored the original era of the house. And since Erin always tries to incorporate the homeowners' personal furnishings, for artwork, she asked Mia's son, Bryce, to create some custom pieces, which she matted and framed.
While the built-in bookshelf on the living room side was a nice design feature, it was a solid wall on the dining side—contributing to a claustrophobic feel.
To create a more cohesive transition between living and dining, Erin opened the wall and took the backs off the built-in bookcases, allowing more light to flow back and forth. The Napiers also added height to the walkway to accommodate Mia's very tall family members, whose specs shocked even 6-foot-6 Ben.
The bulk of the renovations happened here, in the kitchen. Though wonderfully large (a rarity for old homes), the kitchen was stuck in the '60s, with dark wood paneling and metal cabinetry.
With the heavy paneling gone (except for a small portion, which Ben repurposed into an island), the kitchen is now bright and beautiful. New hardwood floors, cabinets, subway tile backsplash, and concrete countertops capture Mia's traditional-meets-streamlined style.
Erin and Ben wanted to demolish that wall separating the kitchen from the dining room.
The new layout connects the two rooms rather than breaking them up.
Other than a family-friendly house with space for entertaining, Mia's main request was for a private oasis, where she could steal away from kids and work and relax.
Erin and Ben gave her just that in the master bedroom, by repurposing the room right off her bedroom into a relaxing dressing room.
"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," Mia said.
Wondering about the bedrooms and bathrooms that got left out of the reveal? Erin cleared up that question in a recent Instagram post. To see the rest of the house—and the design process—tune into the Home Town season finale!