Tips To Recreate Erin & Ben Napier's Modernized Tuscan Kitchen Design

Once upon a time, back in the 1990s and 2000s, it seemed like everyone and their aunt had a Tuscan-style kitchen. Few remember it very fondly, because it tended to consist of heavy carved wood fixtures, backsplashes adorned with illustrations of wine jugs and grapes, and of course, lots of fake plastic ivy on the tops of the cupboards. But just because that's the way it was done in the past doesn't mean it's the way it will always be, and in Season 8, Episode 14 of "Home Town," HGTV stars Erin and Ben Napier showed us exactly that. 

They wanted to create a cozy and rustic, but still modern, Southern Italian-inspired kitchen for the Tomarazzos, an Italian-American couple relocating to Laurel from New Jersey. The result was a room that oozed old-world charm without feeling cheesy or like a bad movie set. To capture the beauty of Tuscan design, the Napiers relied on a mix of contemporary and traditional-style fixtures, and incorporated handmade elements that elevated the whole room. 

Don't be afraid to mix and match

When we think of the late '90s/early '00s Tuscan kitchen, we picture all of the dark, oppressive wooden fixtures and 50 shades of beige paint. But when the Napiers created a kitchen for the Tomarazzos, they used a mix of colors and textures. The blend of the natural wood tones, white painted cupboards, stainless steel appliances, glossy white countertops, black hardware, and natural fibers really make this space feel fresh and luxurious. It's much easier to just pick a single finish and put that everywhere, but it shows a very refined eye for design to be able to merge an array of textures, tones, and finish. 

One thing that stands out in this kitchen is the stunning wood archway, which perfectly complements the kitchen island and the butcher block cutting board. These wood features do not weigh down the room, partly thanks to the more modern white countertops and cabinets. We also like that the kitchen still has a chandelier, which is traditional for the space, but in a more industrial, modern style. The power of artwork also can't be underestimated in a cozy space like this — the impressionistic pastoral landscapes feel both wonderfully fresh and historic, like they would really be used to decorate an Italian Villa.

Add handmade details

The homeowners and "Home Town" viewers alike couldn't help but gush over the stunning tiles behind the stove and sink area. The backsplash is made up of terracotta square tiles with subtle white floral designs scattered throughout. The tiles were hand-painted by Laurel, Mississippi-based artist Bekye Fargason, and while it would be exorbitantly pricy to decorate the entire wall with them, just adding a few in makes a huge visual impact, all while building the authentic Tuscan vibe. Erin Napier describes the tiles as an almost "archaeological find, like something we discovered in Italy." The end result? A kitchen brimming with warmth and character.

Another outstanding homemade piece is the kitchen island, built none other than Ben Napier himself. The "Home Town" star said he wanted the island to feel like something they imported from Italy. It's a work of beautiful craftsmanship, without question.

If building your own kitchen island out of reclaimed wood seems a little out of your wheelhouse, you can take inspiration from another element of the kitchen, which was hand-carved wooden utensils such as spoons, spatulas, and so on. This small detail really gives the kitchen a serene, bucolic touch. To get the look for yourself, you can find hand-crafted kitchen utensils at many art fairs, or shop around online. You can never go wrong with handmade items when aiming for a Tuscan-style design