Erin and BenNapierthe hosts of “Home Town,” have noticed one big problem with home renovations today: They often strip an old home of its character.
In the Season 7 episode “A Drop of Sunshine,” the Napiers help a California couple Tony and Jennifer create their dream home in Laurel, MS. The couple have fallen in love with a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home listed for $140,000. But they can tell, immediately, that this 1955 house has recently flipped since it has very little of the structure’s original charm.
“When a house gets flipped, it’s like they go out of their way to disguise any tiny variation that would make it have a character of any kind,” Erin laments.
Armed with a budget of $100,000, the Napiers worked hard to add charming touches back to the architecture and fill the space with finishes that seem like they could be original to the home. Read on to learn how to spot a cheap flip—and fix it up.
Don’t play it too safe with color
When Erin and Ben first show Tony and Jennifer their future house, the exterior color is gray. While gray has been a popular paint color in recent years—especially with flips—because it’s considered “safe,” the Napiers suspect that this couple would prefer a more interesting and charming color scheme.
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The team ends up giving the exterior wood paneling a light yellow upgrade while changing the brick to a dark gold hue. They finish the look with a blue front door. Erin proudly says that this color combination “reads as pure sunshine.”
When the house is finished, Erin is proud of the transformation. While the HGTV star says the house was “boring in every possible way” before renovations, she points out that “now, it feels like it has some personality.”
Use old materials to add characters
Inside the house, Jennifer and Tony are disappointed to find that the living room looks very plain. While there is a nice fireplace, there’s no storage or personality in this room.
Of course, Ben agrees that the house is “kind of lacking in the historic architectural charm,” so when the team vaults the ceiling, he uses old ceiling joists to create a mantle and bookshelves.
“These are a game changer for this project,” said Ben of the old wood.
When the project is done, Tony and Jennifer have gained a good amount of functional storage, a beautifully crafted mantle, plus a whole lot of character.
This project is proof that it pays to reuse materials from an old house. While the team didn’t need this wood in the ceiling, it made for a great living room feature just a few feet below.
Expose original paneling
Erin originally plans to use plasterboard on the dining room ceiling, but when the team finds tongue and groove pine above the existing ceiling, Erin decides to leave the old paneling exposed.
“We uncovered the ceilings, and we thought it was a nice, cottagey textured moment to leave,” she explains.
While Erin later decides to paint the new-old ceiling white, the effect of the tongue and groove is still intact.
When the project is finished, Erin is happy to show off another piece of the home’s history. Sometimes removing, rather than adding, home features is the best way to add character. Looking under the carpet or behind the plywood could uncover a valuable piece of historic charm.
Even new materials can add characters
Along with the rest of the house, the kitchen was recently renovated, with new cabinets and countertops. While these features look contemporary, they also seem a bit dull. Of course, it’s too late for Erin and Ben to save the 1950s kitchen materials, but they are able to add some age back to the space with a unique floor tile.
“The tile I’ve chosen looks like a painted brick because it’s very weathered,” Erin says.
It’s a unique choice that adds a lot of character to this kitchen.
Let your personal style inspire your home design
While Erin and Ben worked hard to bring back this home’s original character, they also wanted a place to feel unique and special to Tony and Jennifer. So they try to infuse some of the couple’s personality into the design.
Erin notices that Tony always wears a sea glass necklace, which his daughter gave him, and uses this as inspiration for the couple’s main bathroom.
“Honestly, the way people dress tells us a little about what their house should look like,” Erin explains.
She uses green zellige tile in the shower, creating an earthy yet vibrant look.
“They’re square, they’re imperfect, they have almost a rippled surface,” Erin says of the tile. “So it’s all green, but it’s a world of green.”
It’s a unique upgrade that feels new but still fits in with the rest of the home’s classically inspired design.