A Jill of all trades

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2011 - 8:11 AM

Nicole Curtis, host of "Rehab Addict," taught herself how to revive old houses.

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"Rehab Addict" host Nicole Curtis

Don't call Nicole Curtis a house flipper. She doesn't just buy dilapidated old homes to sell them.

"I restore, remodel and rehab them," said the real estate agent and host of the DIY show "Rehab Addict" (9 p.m. Thursdays.) "A flipper wouldn't take the time to do what I do."

She's so good at it that camera crews shoot her doing everything from reglazing a Victorian sink to sanding and painting brick.

Curtis is putting the final touches on a 1916 Arts and Crafts-style home on Minnehaha Creek that's featured in the show's premiere season. She took a break from applying a coat of polyurethane to talk about her upcoming Warner's Stellian appearance, her re-use philosophy and favorite salvage yards.

Q Why are you so passionate about restoring fixer-uppers?

A It's something innate in me. When I was growing up, we were taught that everything is reusable. It's not really a green thing. I just hate to see anything go in the trash. My philosophy is to restore and salvage everything you can -- even the kitchen cabinets. And I love to take a house back to its original period. Sometimes it involves ripping out eight remodeling jobs.

Q How did you get your own show?

A I was at the right place at the right time. I guest-starred on another show and I met John Kitchener at Magnetic Productions. They checked out my projects. There's not too many people out there like me.

Q How did you get to be so handy?

A My parents taught me a lot. When I rehabbed my first house, I paid someone to install the sink and it killed me. I was a poor girl and I wanted a nice house and I'm cheap, so I learned how to fix things myself.

 

Q "Rehab Addict" shows you confronting some of the hassles of fixing up an old house. What else do you want to teach viewers?

A I'd like to show people how to maintain these historic old homes in a couple of episodes. You can keep everything old, but you have to learn about the quirks of the house.

Q What are some of your favorite salvage spots?

A The Reuse Center. My entire house in Uptown is from there. I absolutely love it for cabinets, doors, windows, light fixtures. You don't always find what you're looking for, but you'll find something else. Another one is Bauer Brothers in north Minneapolis.

 

Q What can homeowners do to increase their resale value?

A $100 can go a long way. Replace the fluorescent lights with updated pendant fixtures. Spruce up the kitchen with new black or stainless steel cabinet hardware.

Stainless steel appliances will be hot for awhile. The key is to make sure they match and they're clean. Commercial grade gas stoves are always a winner, but make sure it fits your budget and the value of your home.

I'm not a fan of granite counters because it's overused. In my old homes, I use butcher block and carrera marble. For a newer designed home, I like soapstone.

Q What's your favorite rehab job?

A I love to do demo and tear out what isn't natural to the home. Although a sledgehammer looks good on TV, a saw works the best.

Q What's your least favorite?

A The final punch list of all the little things that have to be done -- like putting on doorknobs. I've mentally moved on to the next house.

Q In the show, you're drilling, sawing and handling lots of different tools. Do you ever get hurt?

A There are always dangers. I stay up-to-date with my tetanus shot. I'm famous for stepping on rusty nails. Sometimes the crew hopes I get lockjaw.

Q You're from Detroit. Why did you move to Minneapolis?

A The great housing stock drew me here and I'm a runner, so the lakes were appealing. And it's a good place to raise my son.

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619

  • NICOLE CURTIS

    What: Host of the TV show "Rehab Addict" will talk about kitchen improvements.

    When: 5:30 p.m. Wed.

    Where: Warner's Stellian appliance store, 3533 W. 70th St., Edina.

    Tickets: Free.

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