Nicole Curtis is no stranger to the gritty and ugly. The star of HGTV’s Rehab Addict has taken numerous homes from dilapidated to a designer’s dream, and has endured a rough road of personal setbacks along the way. In her new book, Better Than New, Curtis opens up about her struggles and what each renovation taught her along the way.
Curtis, who will be signing copies of her book at the Johnson County Home + Remodeling Show Saturday, spoke to Kansas City Spaces about her latest project.
What made you decide to open up about your private life in such a public format?
It was a way to get my story out there. I just wanted to set the record straight and tell people that it’s a long road to get your life in order. And when you have everything in order, things go right back out of order. It’s a daily struggle for everyone. People who have watched my show know that there’s no fluff in anything I do. I didn’t want to put out a pretty design book—I wanted the book to have some substance to it. I think my fans always knew there was something more to my story, and now they get the full story—now they can kind of connect the dots.
In the book, you discuss being a single mom and working your way from a waitress to a television star. Why was it important to share that aspect of your life?
Everyone assumes that their struggle is their own. The more I open up about mine, the more vulnerable I am. No one’s life is perfect. And no one helps out somebody who doesn’t ask for it. A way to get through most of it was putting my energy into doing fun stuff that I enjoyed. There were so many days where my life was a complete tornado, and somebody would call and say “so-and-so can’t pay their mortgage because they’re paying for chemo,” and I would say, “Well let’s do something for them.” Things like that really set your priorities straight—that anything I’m going through is a small, tiny pebble in comparison.
What kept you motivated during your years of setbacks and struggles?
My children. As a mom you have to do what you have to do, that’s it. There’s no “i” in motherhood. I don’t know many moms who put themselves first, ever. I had a cute little cheery-faced boy looking back at me that I had to take care of.
What do you hope readers gain from the book?
I hope people realize that everything is resolvable, always. If you’re stuck in a situation you’re not happy about, you can find so many different avenues through volunteerism. That’s how I escaped. My volunteer days were days that I loved. I always found a way to find joy. And if you do have a fabulous life, what you can do is help others.
I think viewers are inspired by your remodels and how you’re a self-made expert. What tips do you have for homeowners who want to tackle their own projects?
I always just say start small, otherwise you get discouraged. Any task, I always start small and work my way up, and that’s the best way to do it.
Home renovations and rehabbing seem fun and glamorous on TV. What behind-the-scenes aspects do viewers not see?
It’s never glamorous. There’s not one glamorous day. My show has always been on one path—the real, the raw and what it really takes. But I get up every morning and I’m blessed I have the opportunity to keep going. It’s the people who have watched my shows for so many years that make the difference, and I don’t take one single minute for granted.