When we think of television, we think of fictional, scripted plot lines with lead characters, extras, and a surprise twist to keep you on your toes. All good television shows have a formula, including Home Town. You have a buyer, the hosts who show the potential homes and their new floor plan, a final decision, a renovation that takes 8 weeks, and a reveal. It’s a formula for a successful episode, and it’s what keeps the projects on time and on a straight path during the planning phase.
There’s one significant element that can’t be calculated or measured— the human element. Each episode takes on its own character with its complete accidents, perfect comedic timing, and the purest, most genuine surprises that cameras can only catch once. For Ben, this is what makes filming Home Town a thrill and inspires him to build furniture that provides a deeper connection and not only satisfies an aesthetic.
While preparing to film Brooke and Robbie Jefcoat’s house during season five, Ben knew that it would be an emotional project for the entire crew. If you haven’t heard Brooke’s story, her late husband, Brandon, was a member of the Home Town crew and a dear friend to Erin and Ben.
“While all of us knew Brooke’s story, not many of us knew Robbie or his story. What I did know is that he’s a great guy. I remember telling Randy that I wanted to build something special for him.” — Ben
“We discovered that Robbie’s grandfather was a woodworker. We were told that he just built little projects, and that he had a hobby shop where he made a bookshelf for somebody one time. But then we went to his shop, and it was a legitimate wood shop.
It was as good or better than our woodshop at one point. It still had a lot of machinery: a big planer, lumber storage and even had a dust collection system. So we went through the shop, and we just grabbed a bunch of wood. It was all so oxidized and covered in dust. We had no idea what any of it was, so we just grabbed as much as we could fit on the truck and then brought it back to the shop. We ran a piece through the planer, and it was Southern walnut. Absolutely beautiful.” — Ben
Ben decided to build an elegant, round table for the Jefcoat's new dining room using the wood in Robbie's grandfather's shop.
“We had an original plan for the table already set in stone. We had even started building it with another piece of wood. When we started filming and building the rest of it, out of curiosity, I wanted to see what another piece of wood looked like. I ran it through the planer, and I just stopped in my tracks. It was prettier than the first piece of wood, but we had already done a ton of work on the table.
I just told them that we had to redo this, because it was too pretty. This had never happened on camera. This piece of walnut had a strong fade that went from really light to really dark, and I knew I wanted to use it as soon as I saw it.”— Ben
“I came up with this idea to add a lazy susan, and we made a starburst using the dark and light wood. In the beginning, it was just a round table with a rounded edge, but by the end, it was the beautiful piece with cool features. We've made tables before with a nice turn pedestal underneath it, but we've never put a lazy susan in the middle. So that made it a unique piece.”— Ben
Ben's attention to detail and ability to change plans is testament to his dedication to satisfying new homeowners. Except there was a bit more pressure to surprise these homeowners since they were friends. Ben didn't realize that this table would be a special gift for Robbie in a way that he hadn't planned.
“The best part about this build was that it was such a beautiful piece that transformed throughout the process on camera, and nobody really got to see that in the final cut. People also didn’t see the most emotional moment for me.
On camera, I began to tell Robbie that we got the wood from his grandfather’s woodshop, and he started crying. After we stopped filming, I asked him, “So, which side of the family was the woodworker?” He told me, “My mom's side,” and I said, “You think she's going to love this table?” He said, “I know she does. She's looking down at it from heaven.” And then I started crying, because I didn't know his mother had passed.” — Ben
“So that was a piece of furniture that ended up taking on a life of its own. At first, I knew it would be pretty, I knew it would look right in the room, and I knew Brooke would love it. So we weren’t too concerned with the story behind it, but then we found the wood at his grandfather's shop. We changed the plan during the build, and it turned out to be something we had never done. Robbie’s connection to it was something we hadn’t planned. That table became exactly what it was meant to be, and it meant a lot to me that he loved it.” — Ben