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Erin And Ben Napier Share Their Dream Home In The Mississippi Countryside

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Growing up in Laurel, Mississippi, Erin Napier had driven past her dream house countless times, but she’d never actually seen it. The stately, old brick Tudor isn’t visible from the road, so Erin had never realized what was hiding behind the rolling green fields and tall pine trees on a two-lane highway outside town. When her husband, Ben, sent her the listing in the spring of 2021, she couldn’t believe she had missed it all those years. “I was in love immediately—and that scared me to death,” she says. “I thought, ‘We don’t need another house...but maybe we do.’ ”

At the time, Erin was 9 months pregnant with her second daughter (Mae, who’s now a year old). Her oldest, Helen, was 3. Their little home in downtown Laurel had started to feel small, especially when they had family and friends visiting. Ben and Erin had always talked about getting a weekend place in the country where the kids could run around, play in the dirt, plant a garden, and maybe even fish on occasion (Helen is a fan). “I grew up on a 40-acre chicken farm and would pick out a baby chick to be my pet every time a new load would come,” says Erin. “My playtime consisted of climbing a lot of trees and digging for arrowheads in the woods. That’s not something our girls can do in town. I want their bathwater to be dirty at the end of the day.”

The Napiers have led dozens of renovations for their popular HGTV shows, Home Town and Home Town Takeover, so it only made sense that this house would be a bit of a project. It needed a more functional kitchen, a new laundry room, and some work on the outdoor spaces, but the fundamentals were all there. Completed in 1930 with huge heart-pine beams, wide plank floors, tongue-and-groove paneling, and custom millwork, the home is as sturdy as it is charming. “It’s unbelievably well built,” says Ben. “Supposedly, all the wood in the whole house—the floors, the trim, the beams—was cut and milled on the property. And that’s pretty cool for me as a woodworker.”

Ben & Erin Napier outside their home

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“The house is built like a fortress,” Erin adds. “A tree fell on it during a tornado in the eighties, and it didn’t really damage anything. It just poked a hole.”

But it was the Tudor design that won Erin’s heart. “One reason we had to get this house was its very British look. It feels as though you’ve crossed the ocean and you’re not in Mississippi anymore. It’s like a vacation for us,” she says. “All the cozy rooms with dark wood make it seem as if you’re sitting beside a fire—that is the dream for me. I love this style so, so much.”

The house has an interesting history too. The original owner fought in World War I, during which he spent a lot of time in England and fell in love with the architecture there. He was a successful chicken farmer—a fact that made Erin feel an instant connection with the place—and was obsessive about each and every one of the details. He was reportedly an even more successful moonshiner, so he built secret compartments in the house to hide booze and would pull vehicles into the basement on a concrete ramp.

A special episode of Home Town Season 6 will reveal the house and the Napier's renovation process in early December. At the end, Ben and Erin showed the completed project to their mothers, who hadn’t been allowed to see anything while it was in progress. “My mom is a Realtor, and it really killed her that we wouldn’t let her come visit,” Erin recalls. “The day she came, she just cried through the whole thing.”

The Living Room

Ben & Erin Napier's Mississippi Home Living Room

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Give Meaningful Pieces a Second Act

As the first room the Napiers saw when touring the house, this one made an impression. “My mom bought a couch in 1999, and it was the world’s greatest,” Erin says about the sofa on the left. “Then she wanted something different and gave it to us. We used it for years. I got it re-covered, and Ben made new feet for it. Every time she comes over, she says, ‘I can’t believe I gave that to y’all. I want it back.’ ” The sectional on the right is by Rowe Furniture. The walls are painted Misty Air (OC-44) by Benjamin Moore.

The Dining Room

Ben & Erin Napier's Dining Room

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Develop a Sense of Character

“This space has all the gravitas. It’s very serious,” says Erin. “Our kids live in every inch of the house but don’t come in here often. It’s where we eat for special occasions and holidays.” The piano is the one she grew up with, and the painting came from a flea market. They found the large mahogany table, a French antique, on Chairish. “Erin wanted me to build her a barley-twist table, but I’ve never had the time!” says Ben. The walls are painted Rock Bottom (SW 7062) by Sherwin Williams.

The Kitchen

Erin & Ben Napier's Kitchen

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Ben and Erin Napier's Kitchen

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Weave In Warm Touches

“This is the only room we use constantly,” Erin says. “It’s our favorite place. Everything happens here.” She cooks all the time and needed a functional kitchen where the family could hang out, but it also had to look consistent with the rest of the house. “The kitchen is all new, but I wanted it to feel like it was 1930. I wanted it to be like the downstairs from Downton Abbey—a classic and casual English style that’s utilitarian but kind of elegant,” Erin explains. The biscuit painting above the door came from her grandmother Ouida’s house. “That’s the thing I love most in the kitchen,” she says. There's also a screen door that leads outside to a tiny patio, which is especially wonderful when the weather is nice. "There's a lot of sunshine, and I feel like you cook better in a sunshiny little kitchen," says Erin. The kitchen is painted Netsuke (SW 6134) by Sherwin Williams.

The Keeping Room

Erin and Ben Keeping Room

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Bring Back an Old Favorite

"Growing up, I had a friend whose mother had a little living room in the kitchen. It wasn't an open concept thing, it had this big soft armchair and some books and a breakfast table," says Erin. This warm and inviting space was historically referred to as a keeping room, a room adjacent to the kitchen where you would "keep" company while preparing the meal. This is one of Erin's favorite spots in their home where the family spends so much of the time. "There's a fireplace, big comfortable arm chairs, and a little breakfast table with a banquette – and it's right there in the kitchen. It's just the best of both worlds."

The Primary Bedroom

Ben and Erin Napier's Primary Bedroom

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Ben and Erin Napier Bedroom Desk

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Pay Attention to Details

The bedroom “feels like a hotel,” says Erin, mostly thanks to the beautiful four-poster mahogany bed by Andrew Reid, the woodworker behind Reid Classics in Dothan, Alabama. “I’m obsessed with Andrew’s work,” says Ben. “He’s my Michael Jordan.” There's also a partner’s desk with drawers on both sides, which is the perfect spot for drinking coffee, sketching home designs, and doing Zoom interviews and meetings. Ben built the English blanket chest out of birdseye maple. He first became interested in woodworking while attending the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, Mississippi, and has grown passionate about the craft. "Building furniture really changed the way that I look at the world. The more time I spent building things, the more it felt like I'd grown a new set of eyes," says Ben.

The Study

Ben and Erin Napier's Study

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Carve a Special Nook

“This is my analog room. I’ve got my typewriter, record player, transistor radio, and books,” says Ben. He also has a framed Duke University jersey (his father went there) and a vintage egg scale, a nod to the original owner. “I come here in the mornings to drink my coffee and type notes to Erin and Helen,” explains Ben. He jokes that he has terrible penmanship and finds the typewriter to be “the next best thing to a handwritten note.”

The Girls' Bedrooms

Ben and Erin Napier's Girls' Room

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Create a Whimsical Space

Erin calls the second floor “girl world,” a place where her daughters, Helen and Mae, can sleep, play, read, paint, and, someday, have sleepovers. The stained-glass window in Mae’s reading nook was made by a Moselle, Mississippi, craftsman named John Whitt. The wallpaper is by Rifle Paper Company in Winter Park, Florida.

The Hallway

Steal Decorating Tips from Mama

“When you walk in the back door of my mama’s house, it’s family history,” says Erin. Following her mother’s lead, she hung photos from her family on one side of the hallway and Ben’s family on the other wall. “I just had to do this because it’s my favorite thing about my parents’ house—and it always has been.”

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