Gorgeous Exterior Design Ideas You'll Want To Steal From HGTV's Home Town

No one knows curb appeal like Erin and Ben Napier. The Mississippi couple is famous for transforming even the most run-down old homes into sweet, chic bungalows that look fit for a magazine cover on their show "Home Town." It makes sense that fans of the show (and good outdoor design) would look to them for inspiration. Whether you are revamping your front porch, thinking about repainting your home's entire facade, or want a porch swing to add a touch of relaxation to your otherwise busy home — the Napiers have just the suggestion for you.

Most of these ideas are DIY-friendly (anyone can pick out a great outdoor rug and bring it home) while others might need a contractor if you are not comfortable with bigger builds (like putting in a new pair of French doors). Erin and Ben Napier have design ideas for everyone, no matter your budget. Whether you start work tomorrow or are simply dreaming of a potential revamp, these are a few of our favorite gorgeous exterior design ideas you'll want to steal from HGTV's "Home Town."

Add a porch swing for a touch of Southern charm

In the warm South, folks love to sit on their porch in the evenings with a glass of sweet tea to survey the neighborhood and talk about their day. Ben Napier is no stranger to this idea — and insists that porch swings are a great addition to any space, no matter where in the country you are. The features are also easy enough to DIY with his great advice. "It's one of the best pieces I've ever designed," he wrote on his Instagram. "Using the old-growth pine that we salvaged from the brick chase in their kitchen, I laid out two true 2 x 4 boards for the bottom rails and main supports."

Although Ben used upcycled wood from other parts of his client's house, you can easily achieve the same result with new wood from any home improvement store. "Then, I built a frame for the swing back. The arms are the same 2 x 4 old-growth pine with a 2 x 2 riser on the front. I then attached 1-inch thick boards flat on the bottom rails for the seat," Ben continued. Next, he "chamfered the bottom edge of a 1 x 4 board to frame the top with a 45-degree cut in the corner." The swing is meant to hang off four ropes, giving it more stability.

Swatch your outdoor paint to avoid sunlight damage

If you've ever repainted a room in your house, you will know how important it is to swatch the paint before you commit to it. This involves taking a few paint samples and putting them up in different spots of the room so you can see how things look in different lights, as well as at different times of day. Swatching also lets you see how a material feels and how it acts as paints might dry differently than you expect — for example, if you are painting wood, brick, or composite siding.

While you might be tempted to skip this step if you love a color, Erin Napier insists that you must swatch outdoor paint. "Paint tip: if you're painting an exterior, never skip swatching! ... What looks good in artificial light will look MUCH different in the sun," she shared on her Instagram. Even if you love the color under the lamps in your living room, it'll be different outside. Remember that paint will eventually fade in the sun as well, so this is something to keep in mind as you select your outdoor colors.

Shutters can add personality when needed

While superfans of "Home Town" might already know that Erin Napier isn't the biggest fan of shutters, she is okay with them if they serve a purpose and aren't just for decoration. In Season 8, Episode 12, "Tickled Pink," she told viewers, "When you've got a really big window, I typically say no shutters. If you cannot conceivably imagine those shutters closing and covering the window, you don't need them." However, most design rules are only there to be broken, and Erin is no stranger to this. "But sometimes there's a house with absolutely no personality, and in that case, shutters are the exception to the rule," she continued.

So before selecting your shutters, think about why you might need them. If you are just popping them up for aesthetic appeal, Erin is against this — unless your house is the ugliest one on the block. However, if you might need them for privacy or to protect the glass, you need to think about the material you want. While traditional shutters tend to be made from wood, modern options also include composite or vinyl, which might hold up better in poor weather and be cheaper. Next, think about window design when choosing between inside or outside mount shutters. Inside mounts fit within the frame for a sleek look, while outside mounts offer greater coverage. Factor in your home's architectural style and space around windows when deciding.

French doors leading to a porch create elegance

French doors are known for their charm. The symmetrical design, typically featuring multiple glass panels divided by wooden or metal frames, is a classic style. They work with nearly any home style, from colonial to contemporary, to enhance the overall curb appeal of any building. If your outdoor space is looking a little drab, installing French doors from your living room or master suite out onto your porch is a great way to turn this around. "The porch makes this house," Ben Napier told House Beautiful when discussing the choice to do the update on a client's home. "Without it, the house was bland and ignorable."

While French doors aren't typically a DIY activity because of the need to take out parts of a wall, they do have the advantage of flooding interior spaces with natural light, creating a bright and airy atmosphere. They also provide a seamless indoor-outdoor connection, allowing for panoramic views. If you live near the beach or mountains, they are even more of a plus. Additionally, French doors facilitate better ventilation and airflow. In most homes, ducted HVAC systems reduce the need for this — yet truly nothing can beat fresh air.

Create a gathering space in the backyard

If we learned anything from the COVID-19 years, it's that having outdoor gathering spaces in our homes can come in quite handy. With the right preparation, you can enjoy your backyard paradise, no matter the weather. On Season 6, Episode 8 of "Home Town," the Napiers show viewers how to put together the perfect outdoor gathering space. First, they start by showing the right way to get a space started, even if you don't have a porch or deck on your property.

"We want to pour a concrete pad here in the center of the courtyard so it's easy maintenance, and give you a long gathering table," Erin Napier told the clients during a planning walk-through. "We finish it with strands of party lights over the event space, so it feels magical all the time." She kept her word, as the final product for the outdoor entertainment space turned out exactly as planned. The party lights are nearly as important as the foundation poured, as entertainment space without proper lighting can only be used half the time!

Plant greenery instead of flowers if you don't want much to maintain

A yard in full colorful bloom in the springtime can't be beat, if you don't mind the upkeep that flowers come with. If you can't be bothered with spending much time in your yard and prefer to just let the automatic sprinkler system do its job, Erin and Ben Napier's landscaping design team has the perfect solution for you: greenery. "A little color without any blooms," the Napiers' team member said when looking around at the recently renovated yard. "90% of these plants will pretty much just take care of themselves. With maybe mulching once a year and a little fertilizer," he continued, on Season 3, Episode 13 "Moving to Main Street" per YouTube. Erin readily agreed with him.

A few of the easiest houseplants that can also live outdoors include pothos ivy, sage, and even prickly pear cactus. They would look great on any front lawn. These plants are also a beautiful bright green most of the year (in the temperate Mississippi climate of "Home Town" — be sure to check your USDA growing zone before bringing a houseplant outside) while flowers' blooms might come and go. 

Don't be afraid to get rid of plants, either

When designing your dream outdoor space, your first thought might be that you need to add flowers and greenery for a nice pop of color. However, Erin and Ben Napier both think that sometimes existing plants are just in the way. "Guys, that holly bush was so out of control. And once it was gone, the whole house changed," Erin said of one couple's home, on Season 5, Episode 3 of "Home Town." Instead of trying to relocate or trim it back the couple just got rid of it completely. The plant completely blocked the view of the home from the street, significantly impacting the home's curb appeal and thus potential value.

If you have a large, unruly plant in your yard, don't feel bad about getting rid of it. While chopping down small trees can typically be a DIY project, you might need to rent special equipment or hire contractors to remove stumps and larger trees. A small word of warning: Some areas have regulations against cutting down certain types of trees, as they are protected. To avoid this, check with your HOA or local council. You should also be sure to double-check that the plant is on the correct side of your property line to avoid issues with your neighbors.

Add a rug on your porch for a touch of inside, outside

One of Erin Napier's favorite exterior design ideas is simply to place a rug on your front porch. "Everybody loves a porch because porches are magical," Erin told HGTV when explaining the easy hack. While any rugs will do certain types of rugs might do better than others. Rugs made of synthetic materials like acrylic, nylon, polypropylene, or polyester are likely more durable in heavy traffic and all types of weather. This makes them easier to take care of over the years, so you won't have to switch them out frequently.

Other options for outdoor rug materials might be olefin (as it is hard to stain, making it ideal for outside!) or more natural materials like jute or sisal. Whatever you go for, remember that your porch's rug can be a bold statement with fun patterns, or more subtle to tie the porch furniture together.

An outdoor fireplace can turn your backyard into an oasis

No matter the temperature or the time of year, the Napiers insist that an outdoor fireplace adds warmth, ambiance, and great functionality to your outdoor living area. As temperatures begin to cool in the fall gathering around the warmth of the fire creates a cozy atmosphere that encourages outdoor enjoyment throughout the season.

Fireplaces also provide a focal point around which guests can gather and socialize. It's like having a second living room outside. In addition to these more functional "living" benefits, an outdoor fireplace adds visual appeal to your backyard oasis, as seen in Season 5, Episode 10, "Country House, City House." Ben and Erin create an outdoor fireplace for a couple to help them settle into Mississippi. Before, the yard was barren without much to make it feel lived in, but the fireplace adds a touch of familiarity and greatly excites the couple. Outdoor fireplaces can easily be freestanding, especially if they are wood-burning as you do not have to worry about the gas connections if you are doing it as a DIY project.

Use hanging baskets to create levels on your porch

If you want a gorgeous exterior for your home, you can create levels on your porch with hanging plant baskets "It really was a drop of sunshine wasn't it?" Erin Napier wrote about the porch featuring hanging baskets on her Instagram. To recreate the look, first, invest in some sturdy hanging baskets that can handle the weight of the plants and soil when they're all watered up. You can choose baskets in materials like plastic, metal, or wicker, depending on your style — as most can handle the weight if they are sturdy enough. Consider the baskets' size and shape to ensure they fit well on your porch and give your plants enough room to grow.

You should also aim for a balanced and symmetrical look when you're hanging your baskets on the porch. One way to achieve this is to place the bigger baskets lower down or in the middle, and the smaller ones higher up or on the sides to make them cascade nicely; however, most combinations work. When choosing plants, be sure to think about your porch's sunlight levels, climate, and the look you're going for. Mix it up with some trailing vines, annual flowers, and foliage plants to give your porch a nice variety of colors and textures. Finally, give your baskets drainage holes so they don't get waterlogged. Use a good potting mix that holds moisture but drains well.

Use pea gravel to set retaining walls apart

As seen in Season 2, Episode 10, "Small Town Sophistication" the Napiers suggest using pea gravel to give backyard retaining walls a bit more character. The couple thinks they are a great way to spruce up your backyard. Not only do these walls look good, but they also help with drainage and stability. The nice thing about pea gravel is that it always fits in with all kinds of landscaping styles, from rustic to modern. Its natural look blends right in with the outdoors.

It's important to remember that good drainage is key for the strength of your retaining walls, especially if you get a lot of rain. Pea gravel lets water flow through it, keeping it away from your wall. This helps prevent damage from water buildup and soil saturation. It does this by stabilizing the soil at the base of your retaining walls. This provides a solid foundation and reduces the chances of the wall shifting or sinking over time. It's also easy to maintain, as pea gravel doesn't need much upkeep once it's in place. It keeps its look, making it a hassle-free option to support your retaining walls.

Adding a pergola can create the ultimate outdoor space

In the Season 2, Episode 10, "Small Town Sophistication," the Napiers choose to open up a closed-in space to create an outdoor paradise. While you might not be as interested in doing such major construction on your house, it's possible to get a similar look by adding a pergola to your back porch. It's a great design idea to steal as pergolas look great while providing a little bit of shade and a touch of privacy to your outdoor spaces. A pergola can help define different zones in your outdoor space, making it feel more organized and easy to navigate. Whether you're setting up a dining spot, lounge area, or outdoor kitchen, the pergola acts as a visual separation, while still keeping everything connected. Just as the Napiers have done here, by placing the pergola strategically, you can maximize your outdoor space and create distinct areas for chilling, entertaining, and doing outdoor activities.

Pergolas also add a cool architectural touch and up the visual appeal of your outdoor area, turning it into a trendy and cozy retreat. Whether you go for a classic wooden pergola, a sleek aluminum version, or a modern steel structure, the pergola becomes a standout piece that amps up the overall look of your outdoor spot. You can jazz up the pergola even more by adding decorative elements like lights, curtains, or hanging plants.