Erin and Ben Napier have finished some memorable renovations in Wetumpka, AL, on their new show, “Home Town Takeover,” but their latest project may be their most important.
In the episode “A Spark Can Go a Long Way,” the Napiers make over the exteriors of the shops on Company Street—a downtown block filled with empty storefronts and memories of a bustling economy. They’re hoping that with some new paint and a fresh look, this street will turn into the town’s premiere meeting place.
And, as if renovating a whole street weren’t enough, they also give the theater community a new place to hang out when they renovate the home of Shaina and Elizabeth, a couple who are active with local productions and artists.
These are big projects, so Erin and Ben get some help from Steve Ford of “Home Again With the Fords” and Tamara Day of “Bargain Mansions” to get these two renovations finished. Here’s how they work together to breathe new life into old buildings, with plenty of take-home lessons that might inspire some changes around your own abode, too.
Bright colors create curb appeal
Company Street was once a town hub filled with busy shops and lots of people. But when people started shopping in the nearby city of Montgomery, Company Street turned into a ghost town. Now, Erin and Ben want to make this street feel new again.
To start out, Erin wants to paint the buildings to help this area feel fresher.
“I tried to choose colors that wouldn’t be too saturated that would complement each other,” she says. “They’re friendly, but they’re not garish.”
Then, Day and Ford help to take down the old power lines, update awnings, and hang market lights. With these few cosmetic updates, the street is transformed. Now it feels bright and welcoming. While many of the shops still don’t have businesses, that’s bound to change soon.
Add columns to a Craftsman home
Next, Erin and Ben turn to make a residence feel more welcoming, too: Shaina and Elizabeth love being involved in the Wetumpka theater scene, and enjoy inviting their actor friends over, but their home doesn’t exactly look like a fun hangout. So Erin and Ben want to bring this old house back to its former glory.
“Let’s take this back to the Craftsman house it used to be,” Erin says. “Why don’t we give the house a fresh new coat of paint but add two more columns in the front for balance.”
Ford helps fix up the old columns and add two new ones. And sure enough, when the house is finished, Shaina and Elizabeth love the exterior.
“It’s so welcoming,” Shaina says.
While columns can seem dated, and homeowners might be tempted to take down non-load-bearing structures, sometimes it’s better to lean into a home’s natural charm.
Use a cased opening to separate spaces
Modern homeowners love the open concept because it can give a home excellent sightlines. But if a home is too open, it loses the benefits of separate spaces to entertain.
Erin and Ben want to give this old home a more open floor plan, but instead of completely tearing down the wall between the kitchen and living room, they replace it with a cased opening, which is still slightly closed off on the sides.
“There’s a little bit of separation still,” Ben says, “but it’s together.”
The end result is perfect for Elizabeth and Shaina’s house. It feels era-appropriate for this old Craftsman home, and it gives these two theater lovers a great home for hosting both a massive cast party or just an intimate dinner with friends.
An island helps create more flow in a kitchen
When Erin and Ben walk into Elizabeth and Shaina’s kitchen, they immediately understand why it’s so hard to entertain in the space.
“The problem, I think, is your kitchen is a little chopped up,” Erin points out. “It feels like that little peninsula is cutting you off from using anything over there.”
She points out that this (relatively large) living area probably feels small when they invite their theater friends over because there’s no flow into the dining room.
They decide to take out the peninsula and replace it with a big island. While the island takes up more square footage than the peninsula, it changes the room’s flow for the better. Now, instead of blocking off part of the kitchen, the island allows guests to walk from one side of the space to the other—plus it provides a good spot for guests to gather.
Furniture can double as storage
While Elizabeth and Shaina‘s house is perfect for entering, Erin and Ben also want to give their detached garage a makeover, transforming it from a storage space to a workshop for the theater crew.
In order to make the best work area possible out of this small space, Ben is sure to build smart storage solutions that will make sense in this small, converted garage.
“Organization is the key to success in any work area,” Ben says. “If you cannot find the things you need, then the efficiency of your day is shot.”
Ben creates workbenches that double as storage and a large table that slides open to reveal more spots to store tools. They’re great storage solutions that show just how easy it can be to use the right furniture to get organized, whether it be in a home office, in a kitchen, or even in a garage!
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