On “Home Town,” Erin and Ben Napier are known for their cozy, classic home renovations in Laurel, MS. But their latest project proves they can pull off an edgy, urban style, too.
In the Season 6 episode “Architect’s Linear Loft,” Erin and Ben help a local architect, Michael, find a 1930s building in downtown Laurel for a reasonable $230,000. This 1930s building is large, with enough room for an office on the first floor and an apartment upstairs. However, Michael wants his new home to be sleek and minimalist, a far cry from the style Erin is used to designing.
So Erin and Ben use their $100,000 budget to break out of their comfort zone and create a unique, modern space.
“Michael’s apartment is unlike anything else in downtown Laurel,” Erin says when the project is done. “There is nothing like this. It feels like we’re somewhere in Manhattan.”
Read on to find out how Erin and Ben pull off a sleek, urban look—with plenty of tips for your own abode, too.
A shower can be a statement feature
Before Michael moves in, Erin and Ben know they’ll need to add a shower to the upstairs half-bathroom.
But while most homeowners see a shower as a necessity, Michael sees this as an opportunity to create a focal feature. Erin and Ben end up using glass as well as a slatted wood wall, which gives the shower a midcentury modern aesthetic.
“The slatted wall is all about negative space to me,” Erin says when the feature is done. “And the wood is the little bit of warmth and character that makes the room stop feeling cold.”
It’s a chic addition that seems like something found in a high-end, big-city loft. The unique walls transform this shower from a mundane necessity to an eye-catching upgrade.
Gray tile can look just like stone
To finish this glamorous bathroom, Erin wants to select a tile that is simple and sleek. She settles on large-scale gray tile with gray grout.
“What I really want is for it to feel like a big slab of black stone or concrete on the wall and on the floor,” Erin says.
When Michael finally sees the finished product, he loves it. The simple gray tile has the sleek look of a slab but at a much more reasonable cost.
A slat wall offers privacy but lets light through
The apartment has double doors to separate the large living space from what will become Michael’s bedroom. Still, this architect thinks there’s a better way to separate the spaces, suggesting another slat wall. Erin admits that she’s not used to doing this style of wall, but once it’s installed, she’s pleased with the results.
“The wall surprised the heck out of me,” Erin tells Michael. “The light passes through it, and the light itself becomes an element in the room.”
Michael also loves the wall and mentions that it looks great with the similar slat wall in the shower. The two walls pull the massive room together, complementing each other while still letting in lots of light. It’s a great reminder that natural light can be a big asset, especially for compact city homes.
Storage can look like wall paneling
Of course, Erin and Ben know this apartment wouldn’t be complete without storage for clothes and shoes. So they decide to go all-out with a full wall of closet doors disguised to look like wall paneling.
Erin and Ben know that the wood slat wall and the closets will never match because they’re made of different types of wood, but she hopes the dark stains can complement each other.
“We played with stains on the two different wood types together. It looks so good,” Ben says.
Cover up brick for a sleek look
Michael loves this building’s rooftop deck, so Erin and Ben are determined to fix up the finishes and turn it into a perfect party place where Michael can invite friends.
Ben and Erin notice right away that the flashing looks a little odd.
“The flashing coming down the wall, onto the roof, it looks like a patchwork quilt done by a drunk grandma,” Ben says.
Still, it seems the flashing was there for a reason, because Ben and Erin eventually uncover a roof leak. While Erin would like to keep the brick, she realizes it wouldn’t be possible.
“It actually is less expensive to smooth it out with a mortar,” Erin says of the brick wall. “So a mortar rub across the entire wall and then a moisture barrier coating.”
The mortar has an aesthetic benefit, too, in that it looks sleek and urban, which look Michael loves. While exposed brick may be gold to some people, others might prefer to cover it.