September 26, 2023

DIY Solver

I'm lovin Home Improvement

Nicole Curtis of ‘Rehab Addict’ Shares Renovation Struggles With Her Own Home

4 min read

Nicole Curtis, best known as the star of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict,” now has a spinoff show, “Rehab Addict: Lake House Rescue,” where she renovates her own personal passion project.

The backstory: Curtis had bought this lake house in her hometown of Lake Orion, MI, because it was slated to be torn down.

“I saved this little lake cottage from demolition eight years ago,” she explains. Given her renovation chops, it seemed like a simple project.

“I thought there wasn’t any project that I couldn’t tackle,” she admits. “I thought this lake house would be a breeze.”

The problem? She’d made the cardinal homebuying mistake of purchasing the property sight unseen. Once she laid eyes on it, it was clear that this project wouldn’t be a “breeze” at all. We doubt she’d ever make this type of impulsive decision ever again!

Yet Curtis has kept chipping away at it over the years. In the second episode of this three-part series, “Old Parts Are the Best Parts,” she shows how this lake house is at long last coming together.

Original, 700 square foot lake house
The original 700-square-foot lake house


Find out how Curtis navigates what may very well be the hardest, longest renovation of her life—and learn some great tips that prove that just about anything can be fixed if you try hard enough.

Add a second story underneath

New main floor and foundation built below original
New main floor and foundation built below the original


“The inside was just 700 square feet when I bought it,” says Curtis.

The foundation wasn’t strong enough to hold another story, so “We decided to lift it up for a new foundation, bring on a new first floor and basement, and take the existing cottage and make it my second and third floor,” she says.

It wasn’t easy, but the tiny cottage now has five bedrooms, enough space for the whole family and then some.

Repurpose the sleeping porch

Sleeping porched repurposed into bathroom
Sleeping porched repurposed into a bathroom


Many old houses built before air conditioning became common had “sleeping porches” off the bedrooms. The sleeping porches had windows, which could be left open so residents could sleep comfortably and catch the summer breezes at night, instead of being cooped up in a stuffy bedroom.

Since the remodeled lake house has air conditioning, Curtis decides to make the long, narrow space into a gorgeous bathroom and dressing room. It’s a thing of beauty.

Boat themed bunk beds
Boat-themed bunk beds


“Bunk beds sound so scary to me,” says Curtis. Is there a mother out there who hasn’t had nightmares about a child falling off the top bunk?

Curtis finds an interesting way to make the top bunk as safe as possible. She buys an old, leaky boat and cuts it in half, securing one half to the wall, and putting the other half on the floor below it.

It’s almost impossible for the kid in the top bunk to fall out, and a great deal of time and effort is spent on securely fastening it to the wall. The result is brilliant!

Look for good wood under painted floors

Stripping paint off painted floors
Stripping paint off the floor


“The third-floor floors? They were painted,” Curtis cries. It’s hard to tell what condition the floors are in when they’re covered with several coats of paint. But after stripping a small patch, she finds that underneath all that paint, the floors are in fabulous shape.

Of course, it will take some major stripping and sanding to get them back to their original sheen.

Speaking about one of her crew, she admits, “Steve’s least favorite thing is to strip paint off 100-year-old floors, but that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

But before working with old paint, be sure to test for lead, she cautions. Chances are high that there’s some toxic substance in there. In this case, the floors are clean.

Make custom windows to connect old with new

Bedroom with additional windows created to look like the originals
Bedroom with additional windows created to look like the originals


In the primary bedroom, there are lovely, simple square windows—there just aren’t enough of them. Old photos reveal that there were once more windows, but for some reason, the previous owners covered them up.

Curtis decides that rather than replacing and resizing all of them, she’ll create new windows that look just like the old ones.

It’s a lot of work, but “I actually did it without losing any fingers,” she says proudly.

“People don’t realize a lot of the time, they’re like, ‘Why are you having custom windows made?’” adds Curtis. “Now you’re going to see why. It makes all the difference in the world.”

How is this lake house looking by the episode’s end?

“Everything I ever imagined when I first set foot in here eight years ago is now here,” announces Curtis by the episode’s end. “It has been so much fun reworking all these original spaces of the 1904 cottage into living spaces for my family today.”

But she’s not quite done yet—the new downstairs is still basically just studs. We’ll find out next week how Curtis carries this eight-year project across the finish line.

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