The likely biggest revelation in the new book from HGTV’s “Rehab Addict” star Nicole Curtis is how she hid her pregnancy from viewers and fans while still filming and doing public events.
“I wanted something of my own,” said Curtis in a recent phone interview. “I wanted this time to be sacred.”
Curtis, 40, is the star of “Rehab Addict,” which airs on DIY Network and HGTV. The show follows Curtis, who renovates older homes in Minneapolis and Detroit with historical restoration as the aim instead of gutting and updating. The show, which started airing in 2010, completed its fourth season earlier this year. She is the mother of two boys: Ethan, a teenager, and Harper, now a toddler.
So how did Curtis hide her pregnancy? Cameramen shot her from the shoulders up. When doing walk-throughs in a home, she’d carry props to hide her belly, like a mirror. She stayed quiet on social media. At public events, Curtis explained, she would wear black dresses, sit at high bar tables and strategically hold her lap dog.
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Fans will find lots of what they may have always wondered about Curtis in her autobiography, “Better than New: Lesons I’ve Learned from Saving Old Homes (And How They Saved Me).” The show depicts Curtis as a single, entrepreneurial mom without ever revealing much about her personal history, her older son’s father or her love life. In the book, Curtis doesn’t just share the “pulled herself up by her bootstraps story” that leads to success and a happily-ever-after life. Curtis also writes about the heartache, mistakes and bad business decisions.
Readers do learn her bootstrap story. Curtis left home after high school graduation to move to Florida with her boyfriend and worked as a waitress – first at IHOP, then Hooter’s – and later started her own cleaning business. She got her real estate license after renovating two of her own homes. She received a phone call from a television production company to be a real estate expert on another show. She persuaded them that she deserved her own show because her business model was so different than most in the house flipping genre.
Readers also learn about the rocky road before, during and after success. Curtis writes about her relationships with her sons’ fathers and when she let business and romance become intertwined and how it ended badly. Among the worst: she lost any financial interest in a 1916 Arts and Crafts mansion – known to viewers as the “Minnehaha house” – when a boyfriend bought the house, which she believed was being purchased for the two of them, but her name wasn’t on the closing papers.
Lawsuits ensued, and Curtis lost.
Curtis said writing such a revealing book was hard, especially since the writing and editing overlapped with her being pregnant and postpartum, her older son going to live with his father and her grandmother dying. “I’m in the middle of new crises and reliving old ones,” Curtis said of the time when she was writing the book.
Regardless, Curtis said she was determined to share her own mistakes as a way to help others.
“What has been the most important thing is that I don’t want people to look at me – I don’t want women to feel bad about themselves because their life is going through (bad) cycles. That’s life,” she said. “I spent 30 years looking at women that had husbands and got to stay at home. I’m thinking I’m doing something wrong because these women got it down. The truth is those women weren’t being honest.”
Curtis added: “We all do this. It’s OK. We get through it.”
Right now, Curtis said she is focusing on her children, especially her younger son. She says she’s a much more confident mother this time around. “When I had my first son, I was 21. When I had my second son, I was 38,” Curtis said. “It’s been liberating. ... I’m a much more relaxed mother.”
So when will the next season of “Rehab Addict” air? No word yet, although Curtis said she hopes to make an announcement soon. She bought a couple of houses via auction this summer and has several renovation projects in the works. Only this time, she has a toddler in tow.