Ben & Erin Napier Look Unrecognizable In Throwback Photos Before HGTV

HGTV stars Ben Napier and Erin Napier did not always have their finely crafted, TV-ready looks. Over the years, Erin has shared heartwarming details about meeting her husband in 2004 and has posted photos from that era. The couple met in college, and in December 2023, Erin celebrated a special anniversary for the couple with a heartfelt Instagram post that featured a carousel of snaps. While the caption tugged at the heartstrings of fans, it was the four throwback photos that had people buzzing.

In the first photo from 2004, the pair posed in front of a fireplace and Ben had puffy, shaggy hair with a short beard. He sported a long-sleeve white shirt underneath a T-shirt, as was the look of the time. The second slide was a solo shot of Ben that showed just how much rounder his face was then. Meanwhile, Erin's hair was short and spiky with her bangs brushed to the side. These college-day pics were a far cry from how crafted both Ben's beard and Erin's hair later became as they began starring in their home renovation series "Home Town."

Erin has said that she was inspired by Drew Barrymore's pixie cut when she was in college. "This is the grow-out from my Drew Barrymore cut freshman year of college," she said when appearing on "The Drew Barrymore Show" alongside Ben in December 2021. Speaking about his own look, Ben told The Wrap in January 2019 that it took a while before he learned to trim and shape his iconic beard. Even early on, that beard was central to his relationship with Erin. 

Erin Napier cried when Ben Napier shaved his trademark beard

Erin Napier has let fans inside her marriage to Ben Napier and given insight into their relationship. She told fans that one of the reasons she was attracted to the "Home Town: Ben's Workshop" star was his resemblance to a celebrity from her youth. "[A]ll this talk about the new [J]ackass movie has me feeling 16 when i had a crush on ryan dunn which led to my crush on ben napier," she wrote on X, formerly Twitter, in February 2022 alongside throwback snaps of her husband, and a photo of Ryan Dunn.

As shown in throwback snaps, Ben had that beard when he first met his future wife in 2004, but he did experiment with going clean-shaven in 2006. "And when he walked out [after shaving] I cried because he was like a stranger to me," Erin told The Wrap in a joint interview with her husband in January 2019. Beardless photos of Ben are tough to find, but Erin shared one on X in February 2022 after a fan asked.

Of course, Ben is not the only one of the reality TV couple whose looks matured over time. Before switching to short hair, Erin kept her hair long in high school as she showcased in three old pictures posted to Instagram in August 2021. In a separate throwback post, Erin said she "cut it all off the first week of college" (via People).

Erin Napier always had a crush on her husband Ben

To celebrate Ben Napier's birthday in September 2021, Erin Napier posted an Instagram carousel that featured a series of throwback pictures from early in their relationship. "We've spent 16 of your 38 birthdays together ... we had the luck of growing up together," she wrote in the accompanying caption. The pics showed just how much the looks of the HGTV stars had grown. A young Erin had her arms wrapped around Ben in the first photo. Ben's hair was more groomed than the Christmas throwback Erin shared from the first week they met, but his beard was still much shorter than what fans were accustomed to seeing. Meanwhile, Erin's hair was longer than the early spiky look from 2004, and was closer to the style she wore on "Home Town."

One thing that remained consistent in the early photos to the present day is that both Erin and Ben had giant smiles on their faces. Erin was particularly happy when she started dating her future husband because she harbored a crush on him long before they were an item. "I admired him from afar, thinking I'd never be the kind of girl he'd notice," Erin wrote in a December 2021 Instagram post.

She also uploaded a spicy pic of Ben to Instagram in June, circa somewhere around 2014, that showcased his arms. It's no wonder Erin does a special thing for her husband every day like preparing his coffee every morning. It's clear these two were meant for each other.