The touching history behind Erin Napier’s entryway – and why she's right to preserve its original features

The designer shares a glimpse into her fairytale farmhouse – it's a 'casual and unexpected' space rooted in history

Erin and Ben Napier
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Erin Napier and her husband, Ben, are known for their two mutual loves: simple, Southern living – and historic properties (with scope for renovation).

The Home Town host is a master of revitalizing properties – and she admits that most of her ideas are drawn from a property's original features and character to create authentic-looking, inviting spaces that celebrates their history. Therefore, it is unsurprising that the couple's own old brick Tudor home in Laurel Mississippi follows this ideology, too.

The HGTV designer has shared a glimpse into the most 'whimsical' areas of her home, beginning with the 'formal and quirky' staircase, which has a touching story behind it that really plays into the emerging trend of creating interiors with a strong architectural and decorative heritage. What is the biggest lessons you can learn from these spaces? That you can and should make a home your own without removing its original character; and that your entryway ideas really do set the tone for the rest of your home. 

The Napiers' home was built in 1930, and it's notable for its beautiful, original wood paneling, floors and millwork, all of which were made from trees cut and milled on the property. 

Erin has said before that the house's 'British' style is what won her heart when she first went to view it, with the warm wood tones making every room feel instantly warm and inviting. In Home Town Season 6, the couple also recently revealed a little of the house's history. Built by a returning World War I veteran with a love of British architecture, the entryway, staircase and hallways have beautiful panelling, typical of 1930s properties in the UK.

'We’ve been told the wife of the man who built our house played the lyre so he made a stencil and hand carved each banister rail for her. It’s very formal and quirky, to be sure, but I don’t have the heart to change what Mrs. Moore must have loved so much,' says Erin on her Instagram feed. 

'Instead, we used the girls’ art and had it framed professionally by @napierframeslaurel so it feels like an art gallery and makes the very formal stairwell feel more like us: casual and unexpected.'

Having family photos on the hallway walls is something Erin's own mother has always done and Erin admits to having recreated the look in her own home because it makes a house feel like a home instantly. And, of course, she has chosen furniture to complement the period of the home. 

'The antique cane train bench was recovered in leather by our friend Matt at @preservation_upholstery and has become the very stylish diaper bag drop.'

Erin and Ben Napier

(Image credit: GettyImages)

'I spent my teen years in a home very similar to Erin and Ben's,' says Lucy Searle, Editor in Chief, Homes & Gardens. 'It was, like theirs, a Tudor brick with wall panels that went from floor to ceiling in the entryway. Thankfully, these houses were often built with large entryway windows, often stained glass, so it didn't feel oppressive, though the occupants before us had limed the wood to make it just a touch lighter.

'And while there's a move towards encouraging homeowners who are lucky enough to have original features such as these to paint wall panels in a fashionable color or even ripping them out, I would advocate for doing as Erin has, and keeping them in place, and the natural wood on show. You absolutely cannot beat the beauty of its textures and tones, and a home's history is so important – we are, after all, just guardians of where we live.'

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.