What is “Home Town”?
Starring the husband-and-wife team of Ben and Erin Napier, “Home Town” is a home-restoration program filmed in Laurel, Mississippi. Having premiered on HGTV on 24th January 2016, the show’s sixth season aired in late December 2021.
Despite the plethora of home programs available out there, viewers are particularly charmed by Ben and Erin, thanks to their affable and unassuming personalities as evidenced by “Home Town” spawniong two spin-off shows: “Home Town: Ben’s Workshop”, which premiered on Discovery+ on 4th January 2021, and “Home Town: Takeover”, which first aired on 2nd May 2021.
HGTV contacted the couple after seeing Ben and Erin’s work featured in Southern Weddings magazine, and on social media. The show’s first three seasons were hugely popular, with the latest two being moderately successful as well.
In season one, Ben and Erin undertook the ambitious mission of restoring their sleepy and weathered town, starting off with Laurel’s most historic properties. They worked on ten projects in the season, with the most challenging being the Holloway home, a dilapidated house which was built in 1900, and had next to no conveniences.
Most of the episodes featured couples or young families in need of help, although Ben and Erin have also worked with country singers, artists, and high-flying business people. The team of two always stay mindful of their clients’ wishes ,and adhere to them as much as possible, while also ensuring that the homes don’t lose any of their original charm.
In season two, Ben and Erin felt emboldened enough to try out some new styles. They created an eclectic home for the James family, gave a country house a much-needed makeover, and transformed a quirky crafts shop into a more sophisticated place.
In the next season, they incorporated elements of other cultures in one home, gave another a “millennial makeover”, and worked miracles even with the smallest of budgets.
As is the case with many shows, filming for season five was complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Ben, Erin and the production team from making people’s dreams come true, and the duo are currently in the process of wrapping up season six. To name a few, since December 2021 the couple have worked with a youth minister, an older couple looking for a vacation home, and a city inspector with two young children.
Ben and Erin do a great deal of the work, but get additional help from Lake and Land Studio who provide architectural design services, Norman Construction, and the Shotgun Design Group, which provides additional interior design services.
Mississippi Reality Shows
The reality TV pickings in Mississippi are virtually non-existent right now, with “Home Town” being the only one as of early 2022.
In March 2014, Lifetime premiered the unscripted dance show “Bring It!”. The show’s premise saw Coach Dianna Williams and her team, Miss D’s Dancing Dolls, show off their moves in hip-hop majorette competitions in hopes of winning the big prize. Rival dance teams that were featured on the program include the Divas of Olive Branch, the Purple Diamonds, the Prancing Tigerettes, and the Golden Prancerettes.
“Bring It!” was often compared to “Dance Moms”, it’s more popular predecessor, as the mothers of several dancers were featured and could even been seeing arguing with Dianna from time to time. However, a dramatic slump in rating caused the show to be pulled in 2019 – each episode of season one averaged over a million viewers, while the fifth and last season was barely seen by half a million despite having 23 episodes.
As Mississippi is better-known for its historical dramas – see “The Astronaut Wives Club” and “Women of the Movement” – it perhaps comes as little surprise that Ben and Erin’s show is the only reality program available right now.
Ben and Erin
Fans of the couple are always hunting for new information on Ben and Erin, and thankfully the down-to-earth individuals don’t shy away from speaking about their private life if need be. In fact, they announced that their second child was on the way in season five of the show, with viewers were the first ones to find out.
Ben Napier was born on 24th September 1983 in Collins, Mississippi. The co-host of “Home Town” studied at Jones County Junior College, and would meet his future wife while furthering his education at the University of Mississippi. With Ben being known as the “popular guy” and Erin studying at the university’s art school, it took a while for their paths to cross, and when they finally met in December 2004, Ben told Erin straight off the bat: “I want to tell you something. I think I’ve fallen in love with you”.
In a blog post, Erin detailed exactly how Ben popped the big question in September 2007. Apparently, it was his birthday weekend, and Ben asked Erin to accompany him to Square Books. Erin’s roommates, who were all in on the big surprise, tagged along, and while Ben “looked for his book”, Erin and the rest waited downstairs.
Then, one of Erin’s roommates handed her a handmade leather-bound book and asked her to read it. Erin was astonished to discover it was the story of a couple who met in college and fell in love in no time; at first, she had no idea that the book was about her relationship. “I was shaking all over, anticipating what was going to happen. The last page said. ‘Come upstairs for the rest of the story’”, Erin wrote.
Having read the last page, Erin walked up to the balcony where Ben was waiting for her. Both of them began to cry, and Ben finally said: “In the words of James Rasberry, ‘I’ve got something for you’.”
That’s when Ben went down on one knee – of course, Erin said yes, and has described the occasion as the “most shocking and beautiful” moment of her life.
From then on they never looked back, and graduated in 2007 before marrying in November 2008. The couple celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary on 22nd November 2019, and made sure to commemorate the special occasion with sweet Instagram posts. They’ve been blessed with two children – Helena and Mae, but whom the parents haven’t shared many photos of just yet.
As for Erin, she was born on 30th August 1985 in Laurel. Her love for interior decoration traces back to her early childhood, when her mother let her repaint the family home. A studious individual, Erin originally wanted to study at Florida’s Flagler College, but was wait-listed despite an impressive 4.0 GPA – luckily, this led to her meeting Ben.
Having graduated with a graphic design degree, Erin found work in the industry, and did interior design on the side as a weekend hobby. When the couple’s home was featured in “Southern Weddings”, Erin’s social media profiles received an influx of new followers, although the co-host already had a following thanks to her #ILiveInLaurel photo collection. One of the new followers was Lindsey Weidhorn, an executive at HGTV, who encouraged Ben and Erin to turn their passion into a TV show.
Since the early 2000s, the couple have been inseparable, and have even worked on their autobiography together. “Make Something Good Today: A Memoir” is a heartwarming and inspirational story which tells readers to celebrate the beauty of friends and family and excel in their communities, although the dynamic duo also recounted hardships they’d suffered in earlier years.
Although the memoir contains pretty much everything fans would like to know about the TV stars, they’ve also given interviews in the past, revealing more tidbits of information. For example, many casual viewers don’t know that Ben and Erin almost didn’t return to their hometown after graduation – Memphis, New York City, and even Nashville were some of the other options. “As we were getting closer to graduation, and we knew we were getting married, it just felt right [to stay],” Ben told People magazine.
Aware of the stigma around returning home after graduation, Erin said: “The more rebellious thing is going home. Everywhere has problems. You can either complain about them and leave, or stay and do something about it”. That’s why the couple made the brave decision to stick around and make their hometown a better place for themselves and future generations, especially for their children. “We want our kids to grow up in a place that feels magical,” Ben added.
Erin has also explained why she wanted to give her daughter a sibling, citing the bond between her father and uncle as the main reason. “I watched my daddy and his brother standing at my grandmother’s graveside. Siblings do that, they know and remember and keep the stories of a family alive… And we wanted that for Helen”.
It took Ben and Erin a while to adjust to the new arrival; in May 2021, Erin uploaded a photo of the first dinner she’d made her husband since giving birth to Mae, adding that it had taken them seven weeks to get back into the swing of things, and adapt their schedules around the newborn. “I’m impressed and amazed by the wherewithal of moms with more than two kids,” captions the snap.
With that said, Ben is clearly a supportive father, as Erin is always singing his praises. While she recovered from surgery, he took charge around the house and showed out for his family, and even before Mae was born, he loved to go the extra mile for his other half.
In 2021, he planned an elaborate surprise for Valentine’s Day by inviting a top chef to the house to cook their dinner. He also prepared a table for two with roses, candles, wine, and luscious desserts, and put up a New York City background in the living room.
Instead of getting caught up in the celebrity lifestyle, Ben and Erin treat their TV show as a job. “It doesn’t feel like a big thing. We get up, we work with our co-workers, and we go home,” Ben explained. When filming, the couple are out of the house at 8 a.m. and return at 5 p.m., then between seasons they juggle their other professional ventures and prepare the next season along with the production team.
Before their reality TV journey commenced, Ben and Erin were the owners of a small business that sold stationery. When Lindsey got in touch with them after seeing Erin’s posts, they assumed she wanted to purchase some of their wares – and received the shock of their lives upon discovering that the executive wanted to put them on TV.
Despite Erin’s initial pessimism, the show’s ratings speak for themselves, and the couple has no intention of looking back.
Other professional ventures of the couple include Laurel Mercantile and Scotsman Co.; the first company sells apparel, home décor and jewelry and boasts hundreds of products, while the second is a trendy line of menswear and accessories. The couple also designed a furniture line with Vaughan-Bassett, and are the definition of “booked and busy” – but on their very rare days off, they like to sleep in and have a relaxed breakfast with their daughters.
Ben and Erin are believed to be worth a healthy $4 million thanks to their professional ventures. From books to apparel to TV shows, the sky’s the limit for this couple, but who have yet to announce if “Home Town” will be renewed for a seventh season.