In her instant New York Times bestseller Better Than New, Nicole Curtis, the star of the megahit HGTV and DIY Network show Rehab Addict, reveals her private struggles, her personal victories, and the inspiring lessons we can all learn from them. Read Nicole’s preface to the book below, and check out the second half of her tour, which kicks off in Los Angeles this weekend.
Hi. I’m Nicole Curtis, and I’m addicted to rehab (well, home rehab).
Rehab Addict is the name of my HGTV show, but it could just as easily be the title of my life. Ever since I can remember, I’ve fixed things. I was brought up in a family where that’s just how it was. And every moment seemed to yield a lesson to learn. I heard “money doesn’t grow on trees,” “never judge a book by its cover,” or my Gramps’s favorite, “Do you work for Edison?” more often than I can count. These are lessons I carry with me to this day.
Throughout my childhood, I couldn’t wait to have a home of my own, and at eighteen, I bought my first house. It seems like I’ve always been rehabbing a house. But as much as I put into my houses, as much as I believe they save neighborhoods and change people’s lives, make no mistake—I get something in return. The houses teach me valuable lessons. More than once, a dilapidated house that I’ve restored has actually helped save me, and given me a path to restoring the structure of my life. I’m here as proof: You can do a lot worse than listen to the lessons an old house can teach you.
As I’ve built my real estate and renovation career, I’ve come to associate particular lessons with a given house. The glorious Minnehaha mansion in southwest Minneapolis taught me that sometimes in order to move ahead, you have to be willing to let something go. That lesson keeps on ringing true. It has made me tackle houses that others wouldn’t touch, and that’s led to a lot of success, both on and off my TV show. Whenever I think about the Dollar house in the Central neighborhood in Minneapolis, I remember that I need to be able to back up my words with action. For someone who is not afraid to speak her mind, that lesson is a good reality check. And even my first house, a feeble structure in Tampa, drove home the universally useful point that every mistake is knowledge waiting to happen.
I’ve renovated so many old houses that after a while, the lessons piled up and started to seem like a guidebook to a well-lived life. I realized that every new one was another page in the road map out of troubled times—not just for me, but for anyone. I write about these lessons in my social media posts and talk to friends and family about them, and now I’m collecting them in a book to pass on what I’ve learned.