A network producer spotted the college sweethearts' own home makeover and called them up

By Emily Strohm
April 29, 2020 08:00 AM
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Ben and Erin Napier might be some of HGTV’s biggest stars, but the college sweethearts never planned on being famous.

Before the former church minister, 36, and his graphic-designer wife, 34, shot to success on their hit series Home Town, on which they find and renovate homes for families, they were newlyweds trying to fix up their own dream house: a 1925 craftsman cottage in Laurel, Miss.

“Since I was a kid, I had always wanted to live in it,” Erin says of the home in the latest issue of PEOPLE.

As they overhauled the house room by room, every choice had to be made on a budget. “We didn’t have a dime to waste,” she says. The couple got thrifty with materials, and Erin documented the project from start to finish. Once their home was completed, it was featured by several magazines and websites, where it caught the eye of an HGTV producer.

“She sent us an email and said, ‘This might sound crazy, but I’ve been stalking you on social media, and I’d like to put you guys on TV,’” recalls Ben. “I was like, ‘Really? Why?’”

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Now the Napiers, who are also parents to 2-year-old daughter Helen, command a growing home-improvement empire, including their series Home Town (now in its fourth season), plus the spinoff Home Town Takeover, two retail stores, a book and a furniture line. “We never expected this,” says Erin. “Getting a TV show never even crossed our minds.”

Credit: Brooke Davis

Making the couples’ evolution even more unexpected is the fact that they had had zero formal experience in construction or home design before launching their show in 2017.

“The way it all happened was crazy,” says Ben. “ It was never something we thought would turn into a career.”

For more from Ben and Erin Napier, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.