This week's episode of Home Town is a bittersweet homecoming, a reunion for longtime friends, and a testament to the old saying, "There's no place like home." After years of living away, Rebekah Staples, a public policy consultant for the State government, bought a fixer-upper home to plant roots back in her hometown to be closer to family and her oldest friends that still live there.
Rebekah said, "I grew up in Laurel, and it has always been home to me. Laurel's the place where I got my first job, my first car, went to high school— it's very much my hometown. Then I moved to Jackson to go to Mississippi College at 18, and I've been there ever since."
She said, "I can work from anywhere because my job is remote, so I started looking for houses back in Laurel because I wanted to move back home. I've never had the opportunity to live near my family in my adult life. I've always lived two hours away, which has hindered my ability to be a part of the big moments, so I started looking for houses here. With the Napiers' help, I found the perfect home!"
It has been a big step for Rebekah to lay down roots because she is so accustomed to packing them into a suitcase and heading onto the next adventure. She's a small-town girl who has seen much of the U.S. and the world in her lifetime, and she attributes a trip to Germany in 10th grade as the experience that inflamed her love for international travel.
Rebekah says, "Both on a personal and professional level, I travel a good bit. I do a lot of domestic traveling with my work, whether it's to D.C., Colorado, or California. I've been lucky enough to have clients in different states, and I think that spurred me on to have a personal love for traveling and experiencing new things."
Rebekah has been to over 20 countries. In more recent years, she's been to Antarctica, hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, made the route from Johannesburg to Cape Town in South Africa, and even got to see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned (a life goal since she considers him her hero!)
She says, "I actually got a degree in French at Mississippi College, and so I have always had a love for international affairs and the European way of life. It's fascinating to observe how their culture is so ancient compared to American culture."
She continues, "Traveling to new places makes me feel like a global citizen. It makes me feel more connected to people, and I see so much commonality between different cultures everywhere I go. There's this common thread that we often don't see, and it causes us to think we're so separate and apart, but once you begin to meet different people, you understand that everyone is doing their best to get along."
"It's made me more of an empathetic person, and it's made me understand different cultures, people, and worldviews. It's helped me be better at my job because I do so much political work. It has helped me see other people as humans and not just as the other side."
Though Rebekah has traveled thousands of miles, her fondness for a small town in Mississippi is deeply engrained. For someone with an expansive view of the world and an endless list of places to live, Rebekah chose her hometown as the place to settle down. Though some wouldn't understand her decision, for her, it was a no-brainer.
She says, "It's the community that always draws me back to this place. I've noticed that Laurel embraces tourists and visitors that come here so well and that hospitality is what I remember growing up here. Random people will talk to you like they genuinely care about you, and locals like to make connections, like, Whose family did you come from? Where are you from? How can I help you?"
Rebekah continues, "I see Laurel residents treating tourists in the same kind and gentle manner. As someone who is often a tourist in another country, I know what how special that is. I'm excited that my hometown is so welcoming, and there's no other place that embraces hospitality like Laurel."
Erin and Ben share this sentiment, and that's why welcoming Rebekah home was so meaningful to them. Not to mention that they have known each other for a long time. Since high school, Rebekah and her sister-in-law, Hope, have been friends with Erin. It was a homecoming and reunion all in one!
At the reveal, Rebekah was stunned by the transformation. From the exterior changes to the creative details inside, she was blown away by the kindness and intentionality of Erin and Ben's design.
She recalls, "When I was walking up to the house, I kept remembering what it looked like before with the blonde brick. I wasn't a big fan of the blonde brick, but the exterior renovations, like the lamps and the new facia board, made it look modern and sleek. I had no idea that repainting the exterior would have such a dramatic effect."
She continues, "Ben and Erin really listened to what I wanted in terms of converting the garage to a bathroom and strategically utilizing the space. I love the walk-in closets and how they turned an old drab room into a gorgeous main bedroom."
"I love to wake up and see the sunshine coming in and the Camellia bushes under the window. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw deer at the edge of the property— it's just beautiful! It's everything I've ever wanted in a home."
Ben built two timeless additions for her house that doubled for functionality and beauty. He made an office desk for the bedroom and an open cabinet for shelving in the master bathroom.
Rebekahs says, "The best thing is that he used beadboard from my uncle's old house. It's a beautiful piece and looks so cool. Even the color of the wood has a rose gold tint to it and matches the rest of the house so perfectly."
From the stunning kitchen to the spacious master bathroom, this house is a dream come true for Rebekah. She's most excited to begin her new life, share her space with others and have a soft landing pad to return to after she travels the world.
We're excited to have Rebekah back in Laurel to share her life and experiences with others. We can't wait to see how this journey will turn out. Welcome home, Rebekah!