Ben Napier’s Laurel “Hometown” Erin Welcomes HGTV Fans

Ben and Erin Napier are quickly becoming popular names for DIY and design enthusiasts.

The origin of their story is like a televised fairy tale. Amateur college artist and graphic designer Erin and carpenter, craftsman and former minister Ben set up a historic home in Laurel, Mississippi, and were featured in Southern Weddings in 2014 for loving the laid-back style that was collected. She wondered, will the couple consider a new chapter on TV?

They accepted the challenge: “Hometown” debuted in January 2016, and Napier has remained loyal to the audience ever since.

“It’s quite unexpected. It wasn’t something we thought or dreamed of, ”says Ben. “It’s a happy accident of sorts,” Erin adds.

The ability to complement each other’s ideas and make themselves known while maintaining a friendly flair and small town pride is a big part of their appeal.

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After the tornado destroyed this renovated home, Erin and Ben Napier restored the home for the owners, as seen in their ‘hometown’.

The two met at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, and had a secret crush on each other. When Erin won an assignment to interview Ben for the Yearbook in 2004, he used a conversation to ask him for a date. The two have become inseparable. “On December 8, I took a picture from the phone book. On December 9th, we went on our first date and he met my mom. December 10, Christmas at Mason Park. I saw the illuminations. I decided to get married one day on December 13th. Maybe this sounds crazy to you, but it makes perfect sense to me, ”Erin said. I shared it on Instagram for the 15th anniversary of the week.

They transferred to the University of Mississippi at Oxford in third year and were married after graduating in 2008. The newlyweds moved into the historic downtown Laurel loft, where Erin grew up. “We renovated together on a small budget,” she recalls. She was looking at the $ 5,000 closet (“we couldn’t afford it”), so she took pictures from all angles and asked Ben to do it. “He made me a picture frame, so I’m sure he would make a closet for me,” she laughs.

Ben undertook the work of love and learned from the process, deepening both his love and his ability to work with wood. “There are a lot of things I can’t stand,” but Erin always declares him “handsome,” giving him the honor at the couple’s house.

Those lean years have provided valuable lessons for all of the “home” renovations they do today. “We could stay within our budget, but we were still trying to find a way to do what we could do there,” says Ben. “This is what we are doing now, just for others.”

The town of Laurel (population 18,338) itself is the main character of the “hometown” and occupies a large part of Napier’s fixation. “Everyone here knows us,” Ben says. “When we’re in places like New York, Atlanta, Nashville or (Los Angeles) and people stop us on the street…” after her thoughts, Erin said, “It’s very amazing. ”

The Turner House, labeled “Hometown”, has been completely renovated by Ben and Erin Napier.
Laura Good

Laurel, located about 90 miles southeast of Jackson, was founded in 1882 and thrived on the lumber industry (the area is known as the state’s Pine Belt). After that, factories and factories continued, bringing economic prosperity. Today, the city still has the largest collection of residential architecture in the state in the early 1900s. However, the city declined as companies relocated their businesses in search of cheaper profits. When Napiers took root in 2008, there wasn’t much to draw in visitors or locals, and vacant storefronts lined up on Brick Street. Yet, they saw this possibility and looked for ways to support it. Ben volunteered to join Laurel Main Street, an economic and conservation organization.

Now, thanks to the show’s success, “people visit Laurel every day. That’s great. It’s incredible. That’s why we agreed to do the show, ”says Ben.

Living in a small nearby community makes them pay close attention to how they approach their home remodeling. “Laurel is a very small town, so we’re 90% likely to have an ongoing relationship with everyone we build,” says Ben.

They are also known for their very personal touch due to the knowledge of the owners who live in their designs. It is not uncommon to smartly display childhood memories and heirlooms to give TV patrons a relaxed feeling. “We are surrounded by workers,” says Erin. “We want them to be happy and to feel seen and heard when we design their home.”

Design for clients of HGTV’s “Hometown”, co-sponsored by Erin Napier and her husband Ben Napier
We are surrounded by workers. We want them to be happy and to feel seen and heard when we design their home.

After observing the impact of the manufacturing migration from cities like Laurel, Ben and Erin decided to use their platform to support and amplify manufacturers and artisans not only in Mississippi but across the country. did. After signing with HGTV, they planned with two other couples in 2016 and operated Laurel Mercantile Co from 1901 to the 1930s. Took over. Now it’s a downtown attraction, reminiscent of the hugely successful HGTV powercouple. Chips and Joanna Gaines have gone from fans to buyers at the Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas.

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All Laurel Mercantiles are made in the USA. “Without American manufacturing and American industry, Laurel wouldn’t exist,” says Ben. “(Having an American product) puts our money in our mouth.”

Although we were able to source mass-produced products at low prices, domestic products were not negotiable from day one. “Speaking of the interest in revitalizing a small town, if you make all of your products overseas, you’re not very interested in the small town in America,” Erin says. Their company employs 35 people and uses more than 100 suppliers from across the country.

The couple hosted a spin-off show, “Hometown Takeover,” which inherits elements from Wetumpka, Alabama (population 8,371). They want to bring in some of the friendly star powers to revitalize the ailing city. They also launched “Hometown: Ben’s Workshop” at Discovery +. “It’s me, in my carpentry shop, who makes furniture with famous guests,” says Ben. Singer Chris Lane, astronaut Scott Kelly and tennis legend Martina Navratilova visited the show.

Fans of “Hometown” have a romantic conversation with their spouse. Erin recently shared via Instagram that Ben writes her a little love letter every morning and that she frequently talks on social media about still being in love with him. He told People magazine last year, “Erin is the girl of my dreams. Why don’t I keep it in court and win it every day?

It’s no exaggeration to say that the couple are busy with an adorable baby girl named Helen (and a new baby girl along the way), three TV shows, retail and other ongoing projects. And people with celebrity-like peaks may accept the option of moving to a larger location, closer to the bright light of Hollywood, but such a move is appealing to attractive couples. Not the target.

“This is our hometown,” says Ben.

“I am a home body. I love to travel, but I also love to get home as early as possible, ”Erin adds.


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