#2,206 HGTV Home Town.

Well, dear reader. I can tell you the really big news we’ve been keeping close all these months, finally. This doesn’t seem real or possible, but that project we were working on all summer? Well…

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 4.52.23 PMWe’ve been keeping it secret for so long, that it sometimes felt like an elaborate lie we’ve been living all these months. When people around Laurel started finding out they would just stare blankly, not sure what questions to even ask, then eventually, “Are Chip and Jo coming?”

(While they have been amazingly gracious mentors helping us navigate the crazy world of TV, they definitely aren’t coming here. You just get me and Ben. Sorry about that!)

Jim said it’s like trying to drink water from a fire hose, and that’s exactly right. It’s hard to wrap our minds around it, still, and we’ve had over a year to digest it. The small town rumor mill has been hysterical:

“I heard Chad and Joanne from Fixer Upper are moving from Waco and redoing a house on Mason Park!”

“I heard the Property Brothers are doing a show about renovating bathrooms in Laurel, and Erin and Ben brought them here.”

“I heard Erin is pregnant and the Property Brothers are coming here to do a show about designing a nursery for Erin and Ben’s house because they asked them to.”

“I heard Erin and Ben are contestants on a house flipping show about Laurel.”

But here’s the truth:

Ben and I are the hosts of an hour-long HGTV original pilot called Home Town that will be premiering on Sunday, January 24 at 12pm est/11am cst! It’s a show about how we’re helping a new family find an old house in our historic little town, bringing them into the fold of our quirky, lovable neighborhood, and bringing together a team of local architects, builders and craftsmen to use our design and vision to restore the old house. That new family happens to be Ross and Laura, a couple who moved to Laurel recently and have been living on the far north side of town for a little while, but fell in love with the historic district in recent months and decided to make the move closer to the heart of the city. Ben and I aren’t home flippers, we’re just a woodworker and an artist who love our town and want to see it brought back to life the way it was in Laurel’s hey-day, and with the help of our friends, we’ll do just that. If people like our pilot episode, then we just might get picked up for a series!

It’s crazy. I know.

Maybe you remember the first part of this story. Last June, Lindsey started following me after Southern Weddings posted images of our house on instagram. Unbeknownst to me, she was an executive at HGTV and I certainly didn’t know she would be someone very special to us someday. Late at night on July 27, 2014, Lindsey emailed us and said, “Have you ever thought about doing anything on TV? Would you be interested in that?” to which we responded, we’ve absolutely never thought of that, but we are interested if you are interested. I mean, hello!

Lindsey is an executive in charge of original programming at HGTV in NYC and is the boss lady of some of America’s favorite shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers. Since then, after daily texts and trips together in NYC, Waco and Laurel, she’s become a very dear friend.

When she found my instagram photos she felt like Laurel was special. Something about our little town gave her a gut feeling that she needed to reach out, that something was here for her, and something about our small town life could make people all across the country nostalgic for a place they’ve never even been. She’s been a cheerleader for us and our city in immeasurable ways because she saw what we see, and has the ability to share that with the world in ways we could only dream of. Isn’t that kind of a miracle? It’s like mama was trying to figure recently—what are the odds of Laurel being chosen for a television show, and furthermore, what are the odds of one of the hosts being her daughter? The odds are infinitely small. They’re odds only God could have created.

And so Lindsey set us up with our amazing production company, RTR Media from Canada, we did the sizzle in November 2014, and on December 17, 2014, on our way home from meeting her in New York with Jim and Mallorie, we got the phone call that the network loved our sizzle… They were ordering a pilot to begin filming in the spring! And we were stunned…We had fallen in the pudding and had no idea how it happened.

In January, per Lindsey’s urging, we threw a hail Mary in hopes of convincing the incredibly talented producers of Fixer Upper seasons 1 and 2 to come on board for our pilot even though they were planning to take a long break after the shoot schedule they’d been on for the last 2 years. Thanks to this amazing video and the heartfelt care package full of letters and gifts from everyone in Laurel we could think of, they said “Yes!” and put Laurel on their calendar for filming. We were over the moon.

At this point, our production company began months of casting all the way from Canada. It was a slow process of them interviewing candidates via Skype who met all the criteria of the perfect Home Town folks with a certain kind of budget, home and renovation in mind. The couple who met all that criteria were Ross and Laura:

Let’s get the soundtrack right before you read on… You need to know that Zac Brown Band’s Jekyll and Hyde (Homegrown in particular) is literally the only album we listened to day in and day out of this crazy amazing summer.

“I’ve got some good friends that live down the street
Got a good looking woman with her arms ‘round me
Here in a small town where it feels like home
I’ve  got everything I need and nothing that I don’t
Homegrown” 

That was our anthem.

Click here, hit play, then keep reading.

The first week of May, the producers from NYC, Texas and Canada and the camera crew started rolling into town for their 2-month stay. May 14 was the first full shoot day with Lindsey, 2 cameramen (Tim and Freddy), 1 sound man (Brian), 1 camera assistant (Mik), 1 creative head/executive producer (Jenna), 1 line producer (Michael), 2 executive producer/directors (Stephen and Lauren), 1 director (Angie) and 1 production coordinator (Miranda) and 1 production assistant (our little brother Jesse). Did you wonder why he was here all summer? We had craft services for lunch each day and our favorite snacks (trail mix and Coke Zero) were never far away during the long hours thanks to Miranda, who made sure to always have a portable grocery store on set and a dry paper towel handy for Ben’s soaking wet brow:

Jim, Mallorie, Josh and Emily were so important to the show, helping us with projects and making Ross and Laura feel like part of the family. You know we can’t do much without our framily.

Here’s my photo journal from our great summer adventure. It makes my heart feel happy, remembering that strange and magical season of our life that feels so long ago and like it just happened, and maybe like it never happened at all, too.

We scouted some houses for Ross and Laura to consider:

 

Lindsey only came for the first week of filming. She’s a true New Yawker who isn’t used to the extreme mosquito situation we’ve got in Mississippi:

Y’all. Real estate day is the HARDEST DAY. Remember that, next time you watch a home renovation show. When they’re looking at houses to choose from, they are EXHAUSTED PEOPLE. Just ask Laura:

On May 12, I did watercolor paintings of my ideas for the homes the Tews were considering:

They couldn’t call Laurel their home town without attending the first movie night of the summer! Cameras were rolling all over downtown, and we truly couldn’t have orchestrated something more perfect. The crowds were huge and as expected, Laurelites rolled out the red carpet for the crew everywhere they went:

Notices were posted all over downtown about filming:

Did you know you’re not allowed to wear white on TV? The microphones they adhere to your body can show through a white shirt and it also makes you look washed out, so Ben will look like a stranger without his white t-shirt uniform on film. There is, however, plenty of Scotsman Co. love since those are the only approved t-shirts he had!
We learned the importance of ‘on the fly’ interviews, or as they call it, OTFs. I always was standing on a half-apple (a crate) so our heights weren’t so different and we fit in the frame together.

 

We found the perfect house and then knocked down some walls.
Lisa sent me this hammer a few weeks before filming with this note of encouragement: “Every woman should have her very own hammer. A tool that tears down and builds back up in equal measure.” I toted that thing to set every single day, and felt my friend was right there with me with every wall torn down on demo day and every painting hung the night before the reveal.

The guys took an architectural salvage mission to find the very thing Ben needed for a project:

While Mallorie and I hit all of our favorite antique shops to find things to fluff up the Tews’ interior:

 

And later, Emily helped Ben do a little research on the house at the city courthouse:

For 8 weeks, Ben was busy building 3 custom pieces of furniture for the house from reclaimed wood that had very sentimental meaning to Ross, while I was getting inspired by Ross and Laura’s personal history and family story and designing a home that felt like their past and their future with plenty of Laurel history stirred into the mix.

We had a porch hang, but you longtime readers know all about those:

We did a little fun design work for Laurel Main Street:

Our incredibly talented architect friends, Bill and Luke from Lake and Land, showed us how they had created the perfect layout for the Tews’ new old house:

 

We did more OTFs. Like, a whole lot of OTFs.

There were fun parties (like this, this and this) with mountains of good Mississippi cooking for the cast and crew (that’s one of our directors, Angie, on the left, and our line producer, Michael, on the right, and a photobomb by Luke):

A couple days before the reveal, we had dinner with some of our incredible boss ladies from RTR Media:

The night before reveal day, Ben snapped this photo when we brought our tools home for the last time. They had finished their job.

And then finally, it was reveal day! We showed the Tews their new house after 8 weeks of them not even so much as driving past. They were 100% clueless about what we had been up to!

I couldn’t have gotten that house fully decorated without Mallorie. We aren’t sisters, but we should’ve been.

Me and little brother, who worked SO HARD this summer, y’all. I’m crazy proud of him.

Ross and Laura were very very very very happy to finally see their new house. Many tears were shed.

And now we’re excited to tell you that soon you can tune into HGTV on January 24 and see what house they chose and how we turned it into their forever home and a love letter to Laurel, and we hope you’ll tell your friends and their friends and share it all over the place, because honestly… Finding the common thread of a family’s history and how to make that art is what I’ve been doing all along with invitations at Lucky Luxe, and it sure is fun to do that for a home. Especially when that home is in Laurel. I really think I would enjoy doing it for the long haul.

You know me. I think home is the best place on earth.

Keep up with Home Town happenings over on the official facebook page.
Read more about
Home Town at Laurel Main Street.
 

Erin

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Daily Journal

108 thoughts on “#2,206 HGTV Home Town.

  1. I am so proud of you guys!!! I couldn’t be happier!! I’m just sitting here reading all about your project and just thankful that “Mama” has been my long-time friend…what a jewel she is! I know her cup runneth over with all this exciting news!!! I’ll be watching!!:)

    • You know mama is a big part of why I’m creative. And she’s just over the moon about all this! Thank you “aunt” Lyn! 😉

    • You know mama is a big part of why I’m creative. She’s over the moon about all this! Thank you so much “aunt” Lyn! 😉

  2. Really excited to see the show. Just want people to know that the house was in great shape when the Tews bought the house.

  3. I am so excited for you. What a wonderful thing for Laurel and a great way to feature our great state!

  4. YAY! I am tickled pink! So excited for you guys and for Laurel. There truly is no place as special. Having grown up there, it makes my heart soar knowing of the possibilities with this amazing opportunity.

    Congratulations and best wishes!

  5. Oh, my goodness, this is so exciting for Laurel and everyone who loves small town America! I am so proud of you all! You’ll add a star into the crown of a royal little town I called home for close to forty years. Thanks for sharing your great news!

  6. Y’all have made me even more proud to be from Laurel. So happy for you two and your family and for me that I’ll have a grand new show to watch!

  7. I am so happy that Laurel is getting recognized for how special we are! I was born and raised here and live here today! I love this place is a great place to raise your kids and just enjoy life! Congratulations on the show! I will definitely be watching! ! ♡

  8. So happy you have had all these great people to get a little slice of Heaven going for Laurel. My husband and I both grew up in Laurel and raised our two daughters in Laurel. Our parents were from Laurel. My husbands Grandfather, Preston Reddoch, was the Sheriff for Laurel in the late 40’s. I could go on and on. Just so HAPPY for you and your families and especially for LAUREL. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • Thank you so much! Our friends from Canada and NYC can’t wait to get back down South. I hope they have reason to eventually!

  9. I’m so in love with every second of this! I don’t even know you in real life and our conversations have been few and far between, but I do feel like it’s easy to see your heart and it’s big. Yours and Ben’s. I will be watching and I will tell every single person I know! your biggest fan! Lucy

    • Lucy! #HGTVfriends forever! Thank you again for my beautiful necklace. Such a special part of our anniversary!

  10. Erin, my grandparents built your house and my mother grew up there. I use to love visiting my grandmother in Laurel. I cannot wait to see the series on the house! My good friend Margaret Brooks called and told us about it. I have an old picture of the house when it was first built and I would love for you to have it! I think it deserves to go home! I will be coming to Laurel to visit soon and I will bring it. I would love to share some stories of what I remember as a child. Pam Lowery 1-662-231-3024

    • Oh my goodness, wow! Yes, please! Can you send us a message here on the contact form so we can email you a reply? I would so love to see that. Thank you so much!

  11. Congratulations!! So happy for you! Really couldn’t have happened to a better couple! Will be spreading the news! ??

  12. I’m so excited for y’all! This makes me miss y’all and Laurel all the more! We spent 13 grand years in Jones County. Taylor was born there. Many, many happy memories.

  13. So excited. Will this be an on going thing

    ? If so what will be the criteria for qualifying for a project to be done

    • We sure hope it gets picked up for series. For that to happen, the pilot episode will have to have really good ratings and viewership that grows through the hour. We’ve got our fingers and toes crossed!

  14. Wow, fantastic! I was kind of wondering, but to see it written out is just great. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple 🙂
    Good job both of you (and the framily and support crew)! Any chance I can view this from Belgium?

  15. Aaaaaahhh!!!! Yesterday I had a feeling I needed to read the blog. I even went to pull it up on my phone and got distracted. When I got home last night Joey said, “did you see the announcement? It’s all over social media!” I’m SO excited. This is going to be AMAZING! I will spread the word to everyone I know to tune in on the 24th at noon. Congratulations!!!!!
    AND someone wants to give you a picture of your house right after it was built?! THAT is awesome and so sweet!!

    • Haaaa, I know I know—I was so discreet, right?! I hope you’ll be showing off your hometown to your friends up there. Thanks, Jake!

  16. Oh, Erin and Ben! This is the most exciting thing ever! I have so many feelings – excitement, happiness, amazement, etc…I am absolutely over the moon for the two of you! It truly couldn’t have happened to a better or more loving and faithful couple. I will continue to be cheering (and praying) for you from Ohio. Congratulations, Friend! (would it be condescending to say how proud I am of the two of you. I hope you don’t find that insulting as it is meant sincerely and fondly!)
    ps: I got a little weepy reading this post! I am so thrilled for you two!

    • Oh, Talia. We’ve been friends here for such a long time. I’m so glad you’re here to see where it’s wound up. Thank you for your love and support and encouragement through the years! HUGS!

    • Thank you so much, Julie! We just feel lucky to have the opportunity, regardless of what happens next. It’s been a crazy year!

  17. Erin and Ben,
    Oh my goodness! I am so happy for y’all and the city of Laurel. I have been reading your blog since I saw your invitations in a write-up for Martha Stewart. This is such an opportunity! I love that you write a daily blog so you have this amazing diary of your life and can reminisce for years to come. Can’t wait to see what happens next for the Napiers!

    • Maybe nothing much will happen after this, but no matter what, I’m gonna keep counting those blessings. Thank you for being here and sticking with us, friend!

  18. Finally! I knew it!

    Marked on my calendar! I cannot wait to see the show! I’m sure the house is absolutely beautiful and that the show will be a huge success. I hadn’t realized how long I had been following this blog until you started throwing dates out there. We’ve been waiting so long for this moment! Congratulations to the both of you! <3

    P.S.
    I hope Chevy & Baker got a spot on the show too. Hehe

  19. CONGRATULATIONS! Kent and I have the date on the calendar and can’t wait to watch the pilot. I just know it’s going to be a big hit.

  20. All I can say is OMG! Wow-how cool is this! You know I will be tuning in. I am so excited for you and Ben. Congrats!

  21. So very excited for y’all…CONGRATS!!! Looking forward to watching the show on the 24th. Looks like y’all had a blast filming it and I sure hope HGTV picks it up.

    Blessings,
    Linda

  22. What wonderful Ambassadors for Laurel!!! I’ve been waiting patiently for your show to air. I’m so glad you have highlighted what a GREAT PLACE Laurel is—lovely and gracious, warm and welcoming—my adopted hometown. I miss living on 6th Avenue and I will forever cherish meeting my husband in Laurel and raising my son in Laurel. I’m excited to have HGTV viewers see what we have known–Laurel is a great place to call HOME.

  23. Congratulations, Napiers! On the one hand, like your mama said, what are the odds? On the other, I’m not in the least surprised that you and Ben could pull something like this off. So excited for you both! I hope it leads to nothing but good things — for you, for Laurel, and for all of us who get to follow along (vicariously, virtually) on your adventures.

    • It’s too impossible to figure. I can’t wrap my brain around it, still. Thank you so much for your love and support, friend!

  24. I’m SO excited for you guys. I’ve been reading your blog for so long and fell in love with Laurel. I can’t wait for everyone else to fall in love with Laurel, too.

  25. I was born in Laurel but my family moved away when I was 6 months old. But, I spent many wonderful times visiting my grandmother at 130 14th Avenue and having family reunions with all my aunts, uncles and cousins – some of whom still live in Laurel. This should be a great thing for the town. Congratulations to you. Will be watching.

  26. Wonderful news Ben & Erin! Definitely saw this coming, I’m just so happy it’s official. Do you know if it will be airing on HGTV Canada? Much of the programming airing in the US comes from here but we can be delayed in getting American content. Fixer Upper airs two days after the US (Tuesdays for you, Thursdays for us)….I will be gutted if I can’t watch the pilot 🙁

    • Eep! I’m not sure when (or if) it will air in Canada, but I bet our production folks will know. I’ll try to find out! And I’m so glad you’re here. I always count you among my Canuck friends!

  27. So excited for you both! Can’t wait to see Laurel and all your friends on TV. Keep up the good work; you make all of us small town people proud.

    • Thank you, Lora! I really hope it can be a love letter to everyone who lives in and loves their small town. Thank you for being a friend all these years!

  28. So happy for y’all! I read along every day and this makes me want to leave New York City and move to Mississippi…maybe one day! Stay tuned…

  29. This is so wonderful and inspiring! Imagine if you had not dared to dream of owning your own shop or believing in yourself and your art! I have followed you for many years and I am just so happy for you and Ben. As someone who is in love with my own little town, I understand how deeply important it is to leave your mark and breathe life back into it! Congrats and best wishes from Assumption, IL!

    • Gosh, what an inspiring post, Courtney! The WHAT IFs can be so scary, and they definitely were to me, but when I got my own heart to quiet down, I could feel God’s tugging me in the direction He wanted for me even though I was scared. Thank goodness for that tug! Thank you so much for your support!

  30. So thrilled for you and Ben and the whole community of Laurel! Was hoping this was the big secret project you’ve been talking about the past year! The focus on a wonderful town such as Laurel and the genuine people who live there will be such a boost for our entire state of Mississippi!! I am very proud of you both and look forward to the Pilot, as well as the announcement of it becoming a regular series!

  31. I enjoyed reading through today’s blog and filling in the pieces from past days of what you have been up to. Congratulations! I will be tuned in to watch your show.

    • Haha! Yes, this answered a whole lot questions and filled a whole lot of gaps, didn’t it! Thank you so much, Amber!

  32. ofcourseeee. The one day I forget to check the blog on my morning commute, this news is finally revealed!

    I’ll be your publicist for NY and CT. Going to plaster your shareables everywhere I can think of!! I really hope your show gets picked up for the series – there are many beautiful stories in these pages that will do a lot of people a world of good to hear 🙂 Also, I think if it does get picked up, just a small unsolicited tip, inclusion of some people of color and their lives will make your town very relateable with even more people. I think that’s a big part of the image issue about the southern small towns you work so hard to improve 🙂 hugs from NY

    • Shruti! Friend! Thank you so so much. I just had a vision of people in Stars Hollow, CT watching our little town on TV and got excited even though Stars Hollow isn’t real. Ha! I like your idea for series. We definitely need more exotic friends to make us look cooler! 😉 Big hugs to you!

  33. I’ve been waiting for the news of when it would be aired, so excited for you guys, as well as Ross and Laura, couldn’t happen to two nicer couples. Can’t wait to see it. Good luck, thank you for doing something in our hometown, if you get the urge to do a beach house in Biloxi, give me a hoot. I am addicted to HGTV, and dream every day how I can redo mine. So proud of you, and love Chip and Joanna from Waco. I so hope they come, I will be there.

  34. I’m so happy to see Laurel being featured in this! I grew up in Laurel, and even though I moved to Waynesboro once I got married, I travel to Downtown Laurel every day for work. I’m so glad to know that people who tune in Sunday will get to see a little bit of our home town, and how wonderful it truly is! Can’t wait to watch!!! ♥♥♥♥♥

    • Isn’t it crazy to think about all of American can take a peek at little ole Laurel? It doesn’t seem real!

  35. SO SO excited for ya all, Erin and Ben! When I found you guys on IG, I had no idea you had a tv show in the works. You just had the most adorable blog that was real and both of your talents were obvious. Not to mention style that I just love! I am so excited to see your new show and I’ll be working hard to help get the word out here in California! 🙂

  36. I’m so excited for you all and if you ever decide to venture out n look for a place to show your creativity and your awesome designs! I am located in Shubuta, MS, 26 miles from Laurel! Shubuta is famous for the artisan well located in the middle of town!

  37. I saw all the posts and can’t wait to see the show!! I’m looking for a small town place to relocate from New York, Laurel is now one of the places on my list. Good luck with your show. I’ll be tuned in.

  38. Saw the show today. It was great! I wanted to see more of the house and pottery studio. Hope the show makes it. I don’t know much about Laurel, but Mississippi is a great place to live. Maybe you could come to Starkville. I have just the house in mind! Good luck.

  39. I stumbled onto your info and announcement via The Lettered Cottage (love her!) and was excited to see what you two put together (watched and dvr’d). Congratulations on a beautiful job done on the Tews’ home, but even more so on how well you and Ben shared your hearts, your love of Laurel and of building up genuine community. There is such a longing for that across this country and I think you’ve struck a chord much like Chip and Joanne have in Waco. People are looking for authentic. You and your team delivered heart felt, real and beautiful work in your pilot. My background is design (you’ve got a great eye Erin!) and I graduated high school in the South (so I’ve got a sweet spot for the south still, and sweet tea and Diet Coke ?) All that to say I’m so pulling for you to be picked up as a full series. Congrats again!!! Now I’m off to check out the rest of your blog and shop!

  40. I loved your pilot and can’t wait for the season to start! Of course, I’m rather ‘biased’ to another Southerner… lol.

    Best of luck to you both and I hope I get a chance to come out to Mississippi and see you locally! (I”m from Texas & Mississippi – Spanish Redneck). 🙂

    Another FAN!

  41. Watching your show right now. Y’all are so cute and I hope there are more episodes to come. I have to ask about the gorgeous red Doberman the couple own. Can you find out from them who they got him from and/or his registered name?

  42. I am watching your show right now on HGTV and I absolutely love it..
    I do hope HGTV picks you up and makes you a regular…If they don’t, they are missing out on a great show, with good people and a grand town.. I am from NC and love the good you are doing to keep a small American town alive..
    Betsey from Raleigh, NC

  43. Just saw your new show on my cable network. Enjoyed it very much. I was particularly interested in the segment where you searched for old brick. In that pile I noticed some brick with the name SCHNEIDER on them. This is my mothers maiden name who were pioneers in my home town in Minnesota. Would it be possible to find several of these and send them to me. I am more than willing to pay for them and shipping cost. Hope to hear from you soon.

  44. Both of my grandparents lived in Laurel. My grandmother Molly Ethel Bilbo Jones lived on old Amy road in Laurel Mississippi. I loved visiting my grandparents when I was a little girl. After my grandmother died Her home was sold. It would make me so happy to see her house renovated. My dad’s father Elfie Maddox worked at the masonite plant. It would be wonderful if you could contact me and talk to me about my grandmothers house.

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