Erin Napier's easy-to-copy paint trick can make plain rooms look architecturally 'unforgettable', she says

The Home Town designer reminds us that, with the right tones, traditional homes are anything but boring – here's how to recreate her style far beyond Mississippi

Erin Napier
(Image credit: York Wallcoverings)

Based in Laurel, Mississippi, HGTV's Home Town designer Erin Napier has curated a career from renovating historic properties around the city – many of which exhibit similar colonial architecture that is rooted in nostalgia. 

These homes are usually built with traditional materials, including brick, clay, and wood. But how to make one stand out from the other? Erin has used paint tricks and bold accent wall ideas in her latest reno – and the result is eye-catching.

'The warmth of brick and clay and wood, the modern sensibility of a 20-something artist like Harley. I love to take a basic ranch and make it something unforgettable,' Erin says. 'Most of the houses where we live are this style, and this proves it doesn't have to be boring.' 

Here's what she did.

In the renovation, Erin experiments with an audacious color scheme – from the orange accent wall interrupting the otherwise neutral living room to the dark navy-black hues against which sits a bright painting (in the second slide) to a wall hanging by artist Kim Carson in slide four. 

Erin's bright choice of colors is not for the faint of heart – but it is an impactful way of bringing 'basic' homes alive – while emphasizing a home's architectural assets in the process. And color experts agree. 

'The addition of an accent color is a quick and easy way to transform a space, define an area, or highlight architectural elements,' says Ruth Mottershead, the creative director of Little Greene.

'If you’re lucky enough to have wonderful architectural details such as archways, deep trim, or millwork in your home, paint is the perfect way to highlight them to create a design detail.'

Ruth Mottershead
Ruth Mottershead

Ruth Mottershead is the creative director of the family-run paint and wallpaper businesses Little Greene and Paint & Paper Library, which specialize in creating luxurious paint and wallpaper that represent 300 years of decorative history.

But it's the arch paint effect that stands out. And paint expert Emma Bestley agrees. She, too, urges us to 'add a little extra flair to [our] space' by creating a painted accent wall or mural, much like the one designed by Erin.

'Most would assume you'd need to have an artistic flair, but that isn't the case. Start by pencilling abstract shapes to the wall and following these rough guidelines to paint your very own masterpiece,' she says. 

The almost-retro-style room exhibits dark custom woodwork from Erin's husband, Ben Napier, who works alongside the designer to create custom pieces, proving that – with the right colors and materials – any room can impress through the ages. 

For more design inspiration from Erin, we're taking notes from her book, available via Amazon below. 

Heirloom Rooms: Soulful Stories of Home by Erin Napier | $23.18 on Amazon

Heirloom Rooms: Soulful Stories of Home by Erin Napier | $23.18 on Amazon

This beautifully-illustrated book (featuring the Heirloom Floral print) is a unique celebration of the homes we live in and love. Erin tells the story of her modern family life – and the days that made her home the place she longs for when she’s away.

This is our cue to experiment with accent walls, no matter where our hometown may be. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.