Ben and Erin Napier, the lovable hosts of HGTV’s “Home Town,” always seem up for a challenge. But when it comes to their latest project, even Erin admits, “This is real unusual for us.”
In the Season 6 episode “Sweet Tea Dreams,” the Napiers meet with two Laurel, MS, tea farmers, Thomas and Hillary. They are growing their business by turning Hillary’s six-generation family farmhouse into a commercial event space and welcome area for the tea farm just outside.
Erin and Ben know this business will need dining areas for events, a spot where merchandise can be purchased, and a commercial kitchen.
They also want to make sure, though, to keep some of this 1926 structure’s historic farmhouse feel. Here’s how they use their $100,000 budget to create a commercial space that looks anything but commercial, with plenty of take-home tips that work for any home, maybe even your own.
Paint trim dark for more contrast on an exterior
When the Napiers visit this farmhouse with Hillary and Thomas, they like what they see. The single-story home is charming, with a big front porch, pale gray-green siding, and classic ironwork. Still, Erin sees some room for improvement.
“I think there’s so much good about it,” she says. “I have really small, really small changes.”
Erin suggests painting the front door a deep green, then giving the trim a darker color as well.
“This color palette makes me think of tea leaves, and then dried tea,” Erin says, pointing to the door and the trim.
She also suggests painting the old ironwork on the porch black, giving the home some contrast. It will still give off a classic vibe, but the darker color will make it look just a little more modern.
In the end, that solution looks great, which goes to show that sometimes, even a beautiful old house can use a refresh of the exterior. Simply painting a front door or an interesting detail can make a big difference.
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Remove a drop ceiling for more height (and style)
Inside the house, Hillary would love to raise the living room ceiling. When demo starts, Erin and Ben are thrilled to find that not only is the drop ceiling easy to remove, but underneath, the home has a gorgeous beadboard ceiling.
Ben calls it the “prettiest beadboard ceiling these eyes have ever seen.”
The wood brings lots of warmth to this living room, which is lucky, considering Erin plans to turn this space into a merchandise room with a point of sale.
“We’re going to turn this into a commercial space, but we don’t want it to ever feel that way at all,” she says. “We want this to feel like this is your grandmother’s house that you’re coming home to.”
When Hillary and Thomas finally see the finished product, they’re impressed with the updated room. The space is now functional for the business, but with the old ceilings and chair rail still intact, the room looks as charming as ever.
Stone counters and tile floors create a durable kitchen
While Erin and Ben want to make over the kitchen, they know they’ll need to focus on durability over style. After all, this kitchen will be used for countless big events, not just simple family meals.
When Erin shows Hillary and Thomas the finished kitchen, she points out the stone counters and tile floors, saying, “We needed to have durable countertops, durable floors.”
She also decides to add easy-access spice racks beside the stove, perfect for a chef making lots of meals.
While Erin calls this kitchen “more of a catering kitchen,” the space still works perfectly for a residential space. After all, home chefs appreciate durable finishes and convenient storage as much as anyone.
A white subway-tile backsplash always works
Erin was inspired by the colors of tea to freshen up the exterior, so she continues the theme in the kitchen by installing dark cabinets the color of dried tea. For contrast, Erin brightens the space back up with a simple white subway-tile backsplash.
“I wanted to do something sort of minimalist for the backsplash,” she explains.
It’s a good illustration of how balancing darks and lights creates a dramatic look.
Connect various areas with similar designs
While this house undergoes a lot of changes, the Napiers still want the building to flow. So, Erin cleverly connects the entry with the new bathroom, by matching the shower tile to the old brick near the front door.
When Ben checks in with David, the tile and flooring installer, David explains the classically inspired look.
“This is the design Erin wants, it’s a brick pattern, mimicking the front porch,” he says.
It’s a subtle connection that helps tie together the inside and outside of this home, as well as the new and the old.
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