The HGTV designer opened up her Mississippi retreat for photographer Alyssa Rosenheck's The New Southern Style: The Interiors of a Lifestyle and Design Movement

By Claudia Harmata
September 22, 2020 03:54 PM
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Erin Napier's home design mantra: A house should reflect the people living in it.

The Home Town designer, 35, recently opened up the Laurel, Mississippi, house she shares with her husband and co-star Ben and their daughter Helen for photographer Alyssa Rosenheck's new book, The New Southern Style: The Interiors of a Lifestyle and Design Movementgiving a tour of the cozy space and speaking about the special ways they decorated.

"We should let our homes be a little bit weird, like the people who live in them. I wouldn’t give up my porcelain Elvis bust for the world, but perhaps that has less to do with style and more to do with being Southern?" she told Rosenheck in the coffee table book.

Erin adds, "I wish people wouldn’t worry so much about how other people are styling their homes. It removes the individualism, which is what makes home so comforting. You can really be you there, you know?"

Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck
Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck

Erin notes that although her "rooms are small," the several oversized windows "let it feel like we’re living in a terrarium when the drapes are open. Sunlight makes you feel more alive. It makes me want to make things. Music, art, biscuits!" she explained.

Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck

When it came to designing the space, Erin, who started her career creating custom wedding invitations before finding HGTV fame, said she referenced an "accordion folder of magazine clippings of rooms" that had inspired her since she was a kid.

"My taste never really changed. Since I was old enough to know I loved home design, I’ve loved cozy Americana, worn wood, linen, slipcovered sofas. So I started making my dream home a real one," she said.

Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck

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One focal point of the home is a hand-made coffee table that Ben constructed from quartersawn white oak, with spool legs to match their 2-year-old daughter Helen's crib.

"The rack underneath is Helen’s secret hiding place for her toys. There is a smudge in the finish on top near the corner where Ben put his feet up after he finished, thinking the polyurethane had finally cured completely. It had not. I wouldn’t change it," Erin says of the meaningful imperfections.

Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck

Speaking to Rosenheck's theme of the book, Erin explained that the concept of "New Southern" design captures "a softness, a rumpled unfussiness, a 'take a nap here' coziness."

"The art may be formal oil paintings, but it’s just to dress up the casual outfit the rest of the house is wearing," she says.

Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck

In her book, Rosenheck, a renowned interiors and architectural photographer, explores the American South and the ways in which people are using its traditions and culture to design new and innovative spaces.

Along with Erin, Rosenheck's interviews several other designers, artists, celebrity chefs and authors — including Queer Eye's Bobby Berk; star of HGTV's Restored by the Fords, Leanne Ford; the Home Edit cof0under Clea Shearer, and many more.

The New Southern Style is out Sept. 22, and is currently available for pre-order.