With seven seasons of "Rehab Addict" under her (tool) belt, HGTV star Nicole Curtis is finally releasing a book that is part memoir, part photography capsule of her favorite home restoration projects. "Better than New: Lessons I've Learned from Saving Old Homes (and How They Saved Me)" is available on Amazon and other book retailers today. As if that weren't enough on her plate, the DIYer is also partnering up with Bernzomatic Blow Torches for their second annual community project grant program, "Find Your Fire," where anyone can submit a community project idea (that would make use of a blow torch) and be in the running for grant money to complete the project and a chance for a day with Curtis to get started on it.
We took a few minutes to chat with Curtis on both of her recent DIY endeavors.
It’s exciting that you finally got the chance to write a book after 7 seasons of "Rehab Addict." What was the writing process like for you?
It contains everything I learned in high school and college English classes thrown together, and then you go back and pick everything apart. It was a lot bigger process than I set myself up for originally. It’s funny, because you think ‘I’m going to write a book,’ but I had no idea how the publishing world works. I went into a little blind, but we did it. It was definitely a process, but we got it done. It took a couple of years; I started in 2014. It was just kind of one of those random ideas where everyone was telling me for so long to write a book and I really didn't think I had anything of value to write, but we came up with something.
The subtitle of your book is "Lessons I've Learned From Saving Old Homes (and How They Saved Me)." How has the last 7 or 8 years of working on the show saved or changed you as a person?
Most people think it’s cool to save old houses. The reason I want to save old houses is because of people. You’re investing in the house, but you really invest in the people of a city. And that’s where the value is. Some people, the older they are, the more joy they find in things. I’m the opposite; I can pretty much do whatever I want these days, but it’s just because my experiences in life are what bring me the joy and the happiness: wisdom, experience, trial, error, mistakes—really just moving forward from there. Everyone always used to tell me the quickest way through hell is to keep moving, and I'm like, 'Really? Because this is a lot of hell.' It’s not like my life is perfect by any means, but it’s all about your approach. The difference now is that I’ve had enough experiences to know that it’s all relative and it all balances out.
What do you hope your fans will appreciate most about the book?
The thing I really want people to take from this book is that the time they’ve dedicated to learning my story and supporting our cause has made the difference. Everywhere you look right now, old is in. When I started in this business, people thought I lost my mind when I said I’m going to redo old houses. We've really put this new spin on what people think of historic restoration. It's cool now. People say others are copying my look and I say, 'What do you think I was doing? I was copying old design!' Nothing is new, it all keeps coming around.
The collaboration you're doing with Bernzomatic Blow Torches' "Find Your Fire" community grants program is in its second year. What were some of the projects that won last year and how can someone enter the competition?
We want to really focus on the makers. There’s all sorts of great ideas out there. For me, the reason I love being involved is that I know people who’ve tried to get money for projects like this, and now they’ve made it very accessible to anyone who gets online and applies for it — we’re gonna have $38,000 available. It really gets community groups thinking what they have a need for and what they can come together over; that’s the best part. Over the next couple of months, we’re going to see all these entries and see how creative people are.
Just go to Find Your Fire: Community Grants and follow the steps. If you have 15-20 minutes, put together a really great entry. Be as creative and descriptive as you can—this is all about first impressions.
Do you have any plans for filming an eighth season of "Rehab Addict"?
(Want more Nicole? Check out our other interviews with her here and here!)