Nicole Curtis, host of the hit HGTV show “Rehab Addict,” is a study in contrasts. Glancing at the glossy in her press kit, one might confuse Curtis for a Lexus-driving ‘yummy mummy,’ who spends her spare time getting manicures and playing doubles at the Club. One would be terribly mistaken. Look more closely at Curtis’ blond locks and you’ll see streaks of paint primer. Peer at her calloused hands to see the tile grout beneath her fingernails. The holes in her blue jeans? From days spent on her knees refinishing floors, not strategically distressed by a fashion designer.
Curtis will bring her brand of “do it yourself restoration” to Central Florida, when she headlines the Eighth Annual James Gamble Rogers Colloquium on Historic Preservation. Scheduled for Saturday, May 17, Curtis will kick off the day’s program with her keynote lecture, “Restore, Repurpose, Reuse!” The morning session will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. at the Tiedtke Audiorium at Rollins College.
“We are beyond excited to have Nicole Curtis speaking at this year’s Colloquium,” said Margie Bridges, chair of the event. “Nicole represents that next generation of preservationists, shaped by leaner economic times, who value the old, make do with less, and celebrate the recycled.”
“Rehab Addict” features Curtis tackling condemned houses in midwestern cities, restoring them to their former historic glory. Minnesota Monthly describes Curtis thusly: “With spitfire intensity and a wolf-mother protectiveness toward ugly, abandoned houses, the DIY Network’s Nicole Curtis is a fresh firecracker in the banal world of TV home improvement.”
Here’s a peak at Curtis’ take-no-prisoners approach to home improvement:
Though the single mom is a Detroit native who lives with her teenage son in Minneapolis, Curtis earned her rehab chops in the Sunshine State. “My first home purchase was a heap bought via land contract in Tampa–I couldn’t afford a “pretty home” so I bought the ugliest 1945 Ranch for $52,000. My house payment was $596.42 a month and I waitressed and sold cell phone contracts while going to school to afford it. I had to learn how to paint, plumb, tile from the ground up.” That was almost two decades, dozens of fixer-uppers (both investment properties and personal homes) and a hit TV show ago, but Curtis still loves to roll up her sleeves and pry up bad linoleum.
She’s also a preservation proselytizer. Through her television show, blog and Facebook page (38,000 fans!), Curtis doesn’t hesitate to preach the gospel. “My goal is to strengthen the preservation movement –but I can’t do it alone,” she says. “My favorite people are those that know they have a civic duty and act on it to get involved in their communities. Don’t say ‘Nicole, save this house.’ Say, ‘Nicole-I’m following your lead and am saving this house.’
Colloquium House Tour
After the morning session and a break for lunch, Colloquium attendees will see theory in practice as they tour some of Winter Park’s finest rehabilitated historic homes. Primarily located in the Forrest Hills and Virginia Heights neighborhoods, the tour will feature homes that have been lovingly restored rather than remodeled. “These are houses that, by and large, still have their original ‘bones,’” said Julie Lamar, chair of the Friends of Casa Feliz. “The homeowners have not come in and said, ‘I like the envelope of the house, but let’s rip out the innards and have some fun with travertine.’ No, they appreciate their homes for their historic patina, inside and out.”
In other words, Nicole Curtis will find some kindred spirits when she comes to Winter Park.
Full details about registering for this year’s Colloquium will be available on the Casa Feliz website, www.casafeliz.us, beginning April 1.