HGTV “Home Town” star Ben Napier is kicking off 2021 with a bang. The famed woodworker is taking his talents center stage with a new show, “Home Town: Ben’s Workshop,” returning with wife Erin Napier for the fifth season of “Home Town” and the pair will unveil a spinoff of the show later this year, “Home Town Takeover.”
In an interview with TODAY, Napier talked about how he and Erin balance family life with three shows, how he deals with social media — the good and the bad — and how his woodworking show came to be.
“It actually finally came to fruition through Twitter,” Napier said of “Home Town: Ben’s Workshop,” premiering Jan. 4 on discovery+, a new streaming service from HGTV’s parent company, Discovery, Inc. “Every time our show (‘Home Town’) would air, people would be live-tweeting and would say, ‘Ben needs to create a woodworking show.’ Every time I saw one of those tweets, I would retweet it and tag the networks,” he shared. “It was sort of like I was using fans on Twitter to grow an audience for this show that didn't exist yet.”
On the show, Napier takes his love of carpentry and craftsmanship and invites famous guests into his workshop to help build customized wood projects while getting to know them. Afterward, the custom pieces are donated to a good cause.
“I’m describing it as ‘The New Yankee Workshop’ meets ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’” he explained.
Renowned astronaut Scott Kelly, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, comedian Loni Love and country music star Chris Lane all make appearances on the four-episode series.
“He actually didn't have any building experience, but our high schools played each other in sports and so we immediately connected over that,” he revealed about Lane.
The skilled artisan said whether you’re an expert woodworker, curious about the trade or just looking for some entertainment, “there is something for every viewer” on the show.
Napier is also teaming up with his wife to roll out another new show in 2021, “Home Town Takeover,” where the HGTV stars take their renovation and design knowledge to small-town Wetumpka, Alabama, to help revitalize the town.
The professional craftsman said they won’t be fixing up every house in Wetumpka, but rather laying out the foundation for what it takes to save a small town — something they have helped do in their own hometown, Laurel, Mississippi. Fans have been able to see the transformation of their city over the years on their hit show, “Home Town.”
“It's sort of been a mission of ‘Home Town’ all along to give small towns a voice,” he shared. “The idea behind this was to be able to show America that any of these towns can do this.”
Even though the stars have been helping revitalize Laurel over the years, there’s still plenty of work to do that viewers will be able to see on the fifth season of “Home Town,” which debuted Sunday on HGTV. “This season we have a connection to nearly every homeowner we’ve worked with,” he explained, adding that viewers will see them renovate a house for his brother, Erin’s uncle, really close friends and people who work on the show.
Napier said that COVID-19 made filming more challenging and that the camera crews had to get creative with camera angles on set. However, he assures fans that the crew took the necessary precautions to film the show safely, despite the negative comments his wife recently received about the family’s treatment of the virus on her Instagram post.
The 37-year-old father discussed that while people can be critical on social media, he and his wife take different approaches to the criticism.
“Erin likes to use it as a teaching tool — she likes to take a more serious tone with it and say, ‘You know, what good is this doing?’ I sort of approach it from a different side of using it to show like, ‘Wow, you have so much free time that you not only are taking offense to this, you’re taking the time to then post about it.’ I mean, it’s just golly, there’s not enough time in the day for that.”
With three shows slated for 2021, Napier candidly revealed that balancing his career while raising his young daughter Helen with his wife Erin has not been easy.
“I’m not going to lie, the last six months of 2020, like we thought the first six months were tough, these last six months have been really hard,” he said. He credits the support of family, friends and a nanny for making it all possible, noting that without that team and support system, “we wouldn't be able to do this.”
He shared that the pair have turned down several opportunities and that their priorities lie within their family. “No matter what it is, if it’s something show-related, if it’s a personal project, we always weigh the reward of it against our family and our family always comes first,” he stated.
As for what the new year and future hold for the famous family, proud of their small-town roots, he hinted that both he and Erin are eyeing up projects off the small screen.
“She had a really interesting idea for a children’s book recently that she was wanting to work on,” he said. Napier, who minored in English in college, also expressed an idea for a book that he would like to write in the near future but is focused on one of his favorite pastimes. “I just want to build furniture — I love working on houses, I love restoring these historic houses, but getting to design and build things, that’s what I like to do.” He added, “I don’t know what’s on the horizon. We never planned to do any of this. I mean this is all just kind of happened.”