A Purpose for Everything

DIY rehab addict talks work and family with NS

A creative mind sees every pile of junk as a jigsaw puzzle, and Nicole Curtis happens to like a brainteaser or two.

You might recognize Curtis from Rehab Addict, her hit reality TV show on HGTV and the DIY Network. In the show she restores old homes to their former glory and tackles a variety of do-it-yourself projects by repurposing items others might consider useless.

“I grew up in a family that cherished everything old. I always make the joke: we like old houses, old motorcycles, old cars, old bikes, old furniture, old dogs, and old people,” says Curtis. According to her, it’s no surprise she made a career out of educating people on restoring historical homes.

Curtis has specific reasons for using reclaimed materials in her projects: “First and foremost, it’s just the right thing to do—my family had a garbage business and we were taught to reuse everything. It makes me sad when people throw out perfectly good items. I’ve always been a single mom with big dreams and little budgets—reclaimed not only saves me money, but it sets a great example.”

But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. “In an average day, I am told ‘It can’t be done’ at least five times before noon. It’s the frustration that gets me,” she explains. “That’s where I come in—[our crew] researches, plans, and proves them all wrong.”

Curtis isn’t afraid to get dirty, either. You will often find her covered in sawdust as she attacks the next project in her lineup. But she always sticks to a guiding principle: reuse, recycle, restore, and repurpose. In one episode, for example, she and her crew can’t use an old bathtub in their design scheme. Instead of smashing it, like many would do in a typical teardown phase, they carefully take it out and haul it to a recycling center.

“Recycling means making a second use out of everything,” says Curtis. “On my projects, you will even find me making use of old socks—we use them to stain and clean. To-go containers, specifically many fat-free cottage cheese containers, can be found stacked everywhere. They’re perfect for old-house-part sorting and paint trays.”

A tornado of energy, Curtis seems to always be moving and has endless ideas and effort, but her son is more important to her than any project or television show.

“I make the most of every minute, and my priority is my family. Does it drive everyone batty that we start work at 9:00 AM because I drive my child to school? Probably, but what’s important to me is that my job is mom first, house-saver second. As a mom, I set the course for my son. He knows it’s important to do what you love and to find what makes you happy. For me, I’m fortunate that those two things are being a mom and saving old homes.”

 

To learn more about Nicole Curtis, you can visit her at nicolecurtisdesign.com, like her Facebook page (Nicole Curtis the RehabAddict), or follow her on Twitter at @NCRehabAddict.