By Jillian Pretzel | Mar 1, 2021
On “Home Town,” Erin and Ben Napier have renovated homes in a variety of styles, but probably the most popular of them lately is midcentury modern. And in the latest episode, they take on what Erin calls “the most midcentury house we’ve ever worked on.”
In “Clean Lines, Open Spaces,” Erin and Ben help their client Jeff Moffett buy a home in Laurel, MS, for $110,000. Built in 1960, the house already has a midcentury feel, but it’s up to the Napiers to enhance these features without making the home feel dated—all with a renovation budget of $90,000.
Here’s how Ben and Erin pull it off, which might inspire some similar upgrades around your own home, too.
Paint a house black for major midcentury vibes
When Moffett first sees this house, he’s not impressed. And unfortunately, he’s not initially wowed by Erin’s plans for this house, either. She wants to paint the siding black, giving the exterior a midcentury modern look, but Moffett is unsure about the dark color, so she needs to convince him it’s the right idea.
“It won’t be a scary color,” Erin says. “It’ll be a happy black.”
In the end, Moffett agrees to Erin’s plan and he’s glad that he did. The darker siding adds contrast to the brick, and it gives the whole house a clean, midcentury look, which Moffett loves. While dark colors may seem risky, this updated exterior proves it’s a gamble that can pay off.
Make your island the best part of your kitchen
Next up: Build an island with a cool midcentury look.
“This island is really our baby. This is our favorite thing in the kitchen,” Erin says. “We put this wood veneer on the back and then the terrazzo quartz on top. Both are a nod to the ’60s.”
The black walnut veneer is reminiscent of the wood paneling that was popular decades ago, while the terrazzo (which is white, rather than the traditional multicolored terrazzo) provides a clean, retro look.
When the house is finished, this island looks great. It’s got a lot of midcentury charm while still making the space feel brand-new.
“Basically the 2020 version of 1960,” Ben says, standing in the kitchen.
Small space? Choose a bold backsplash
When Erin and Ben first show Moffett around this house, they admit that there’s a lot to be desired. So it’s no surprise when they find a backsplash tile decorated with painted fruits and vegetables.
“It’s not my style,” Moffett says politely.
Luckily, Erin and Ben get to start fresh with the kitchen design, and while Moffett says he likes using light colors, Erin and Ben decide to take a risk when it comes to the backsplash tile.
“We wanted to keep the kitchen bright with countertops and everything else,” Erin says, “but there’s not a ton of tile going in on the backsplash so I think we can afford for it to be dark.”
Erin chooses a dark blue tile because she knows that with only a small amount of space allotted for the backsplash, this bold color won’t overwhelm the kitchen. Instead, this dark blue tile will bring some dimension to the space. Plus, the dark blue adds a bit of a masculine feel, which works great for Moffett.
Repurpose vintage materials in a modern way
Ben finds a bunch of old cedar lining the inside of the master closet, and instead of throwing it away, he decides to repurpose the wood to make a cool wall feature in the den.
“To the right of the fireplace,” Ben says, “I am wanting to do, like, a solid cedar plank wall, like a really midmod look, and then come over that with shelves for his books. It’ll be a cool look.”
Ben creates the shelves in his wood shop, and when the pieces are put together, the wall looks amazing. Not only do these shelves provide extra storage, but they’re also a cool feature that’s extra special because it’s made with authentic midcentury materials.
Get a midcentury fireplace that doesn’t feel dated
Meanwhile, the den’s fireplace seems to be original to the ’60s build, and while it technically has midcentury style, Erin and Ben know that the white brick looks dated.
“The textured brick and the deep mortar lines was a look that was really big in the ’60s and ’70s,” Erin explains, “and now I think the focus is more on the shape.”
So Erin has the fireplace brick covered so that the surface is smooth and she can have it painted gray.
“I want it to look almost like graphite, and I want it to be flat, flat, flat,” Erin says.
When it’s finished, this new, darker fireplace goes with both the gray exterior and the dark kitchen backsplash.
Frame a home’s blueprints as art
During the build, Ben comes across some blueprints for this house drawn up by Moffett’s grandfather. It turns out he was a well-known builder in the area, so it seems that he had built this very house!
The Napiers want to make the most of this special coincidence, so they decide to frame these blueprints so Moffett has a nice memento of his grandfather’s work that doubles as eye-catching wall art.