On “Home Town,” Erin and Ben Napier made such a difference in Laurel, MS, that a new spinoff, “Home Town Kickstart,” aims to replicate their revitalization efforts across America.
In the latest episode, “Upstate Update in Cornwall,” the Napiers get help from Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, who head from New York City to Cornwall, NY, to make over a local clothing shop as well as a family home where the community gathers.
The resulting renovations prove that even small changes can make a huge difference. Curious to see how the team blends big-city style with small-town charm? Check out the before-and-after photos below and learn some smart lessons you can apply to your own abode, too.
Vinyl flooring is durable and looks just like wood
In Cornwall, Brent and Berkus meet Karen Kaiser Sharp, the owner of a beloved local store called Madison Avenue. Named after Kaiser Sharp’s daughter (not the street in NYC), the shop specializes in children’s clothes and rents out prom dresses. It has a lot of great inventory, but the decor leaves a lot to be desired—particularly the old green carpet beneath their feet.
Berkus and Brent decide to replace the floors, first fixing the subfloor, which had some water damage, then adding new flooring with a more elegant look.
“We’ve chosen a luxury vinyl with a very rich color,” Berkus says. “The distressed wood look is definitely going to be way more sophisticated.”
Vinyl flooring is also very durable, which is perfect for any shop or residential space where people gather. Along with a fresh coat of bright paint on the walls and new furniture, the space is transformed into a sophisticated boutique, proving that sometimes, a renovation should start from the ground up.
New signage helps an exterior pop
Toward the end of the Madison Avenue renovation, Berkus and Brent freshen up the exterior.
“With just a little bit of paint, it’s going to go a long way,” Brent says. “The shutters are going to go this really beautiful, glossy black, as well as the front door.”
They also create a new logo for the shop and add signage that helps the exterior pop. While most homes wouldn’t need a logo out front, a lovely new mailbox, address numbers, or welcome mat could have the same effect.
Neutral colors are a timeless backdrop
Next, Berkus and Brent visit Kurt and Laura Hahn, whose home is a popular gathering spot for the community. They love to cook big meals for lots of friends and co-workers, but their home’s layout makes entertaining difficult.
To help, Brent and Berkus decide to remove part of their living room wall and give their kitchen a refresh, choosing muted colors to make sure that the food, friends, and kitchenware can take center stage.
“Neutral colors with classic touches of natural wood, stone, and brass,” Berkus says of the style selection. “This project is really about creating an enduring space that will last forever for this family that is the center of the Cornwall community.”
Black and white flooring is timeless, too
While Berkus and Brent want to install light, fresh cabinetry in Kurt and Laura’s kitchen, they decide to go a little more dramatic for the flooring.
“Today in the Hahns’ kitchen, we decided to add one of our signature styles: black-and-white–checkered flooring,” Berkus says of the tile choice. “It’s a classic look that will give the Hahns a timeless kitchen. We want things to last and look great forever so their lives are worry-free and they have the freedom to continue supporting the community.”
Add new hardware to old furniture for a fresh look
While Brent and Berkus agree that the Hahn home needs some work, there’s one feature they both love: a hutch made by Kurt’s grandfather.
“It’s not often that I say this, but I don’t want to do anything to this,” Brent says when examining the furniture piece, even pointing out that he would normally pay a fortune for a finish like what this hutch has.
However, they decide that they can improve upon the piece by adding a stone top and some antique hardware. In the end, the hutch still looks beautiful but feels a bit more modern, while the stone top gives the piece a bit more function.
“This’ll also be a great place to serve if they need to,” Brent points out.