During the height of the pandemic, people worked on DIY projects and even went to the experts for inspiration. For Kristy and Mike, a couple from Utah, watching Home Town gave them endless inspiration and made them want to visit the small town in Mississippi. After a busy season of work for Mike, a law firm owner, he and his wife booked a trip to Laurel to see if it was all they imagined.
Mike said, "From the minute we arrived, we fell in love with everything about it. We loved the small-town feel and the vibe of the town. We walked around the historic downtown and neighborhoods and loved it. We hadn't expected to want to move there as much as we did."
Kristy and Mike were instantly drawn to Laurel. Though it's different from their home in Utah, Laurel felt like a place they could settle into and find friends easily.
He says, "People are great here in Utah, and we love our life here. Yet we had never met friendlier people than we met in Laurel. We were surprised at how open, warm, loving, and welcoming people were. There is something true to the old Southern hospitality mantra that you hear about it."
The Ostermillers were utterly enamored with the idea of sharing life in Laurel along with their life in Utah. To their surprise, it wasn't that hard to convince themselves to apply for Home Town.
Kristy said, "We just thought it would be awesome to just have a second home in Laurel as a vacation home for now. As life, work, and kids permit, we could start spending more of our time in the south. It's where we love to be!"
The Ostermillers have four children. Two of them are in their 20s and living independently, and two teenagers still live at home. While their lives are still set in the West, their hearts would adopt a second place to call home in a few short months.
Buying a house from another state was challenging, but they trusted the Home Town team entirely to create a space their family would love.
Kristy said, "They [Ben and Erin] are just as genuine in person as they are on the show. They made it easy, and the whole crew made effortless and not stressful. The whole process was just fun."
Over the next few months of renovation, the anticipation thickened, and they made their final trip as guests to Laurel for the reveal. From the moment they saw the home, the entire family was struck by the instant hospitality, warmth, and intentionality.
Kristy said, "My favorite part of the renovation is the little reading area by the fireplace and the bookshelves. It's just charming and cozy, and it's a nice little space for us."
Mike remarked, "When we first looked at the house, I loved the sunroom. We don't have anything like that in Utah because it's not very common. Now it's by far my favorite part of the house, and that's where I spend all my time when we're there. We love to watch a football game, work or read. I still think it's the coolest thing."
Ben's signature build for the episode was something that Kristy and Mike's family will cherish forever.
Kristy said, "Ben combined the idea of a gaming table and a barrister desk by using the original sunroom windows as a glass top with wooden dividers. So you can work on a puzzle or play a game, leave it in place, place the glass on with the divider on top, and use the table as a normal table. We sat around that table all week during Thanksgiving."
Ben also transformed the mudroom by creating a bench with dividers and placing hooks on the wall. He wanted their mudroom to be functional and aesthetically pleasing to view from other parts of the house.
Since their reveal, the Ostermiller kids have visited Laurel and grown in love with the small town that captured their parents' hearts.
Mike said, "Our son went for a walk early one morning, and he came back and said, Dad, I wondered if you were losing your mind when you bought a vacation home in Laurel. But this is a calming, peaceful place."
He continued, "Our daughter loves the warmer weather compared to our weather in Utah, but mostly, I think they have grown to appreciate the feel of small-town life."
Mike and Kristy have wasted no time getting involved in the community and partaking in localevents when they're in Laurel. Mike even won Annual Day in the Park 5K this past May.
He had planned on casually running the race, but his daughter challenged him to win the grand prize of Chik-fil-a gift cards for a year. He says, "I didn't start the race wanting to win, but I'm highly motivated by trying to get my daughter, Sarah, to think I'm cool. So I just decided I'm going to win this thing." And he did! He has the trophy on the bookcase to prove it.
It was a delight to watch Kristy and Mike plant roots in Laurel, and we're so excited to see how their family will treasure time in this new space together. Welcome home, Ostermillers!