Channel your inner “Rehab Addict” with 6 great tips from Nicole Curtis

Check out these great home rehab tips from Nicole Curtis to you channel your inner "Rehab Addict".


Spunky, resourceful, and passionate, Nicole Curtis has made a name for herself restoring old houses to their former glory as the host of HGTV’s Rehab Addict. For Nicole, no house is ever too far gone and maintaining historical integrity is not only possible, but crucial. Whether you’re the owner of an older home looking for expert restoration tips or just considering doing some DIY home projects, these home rehab tips from Nicole will help you channel your inner rehab addict. Plus, find out how you can receive a $10,000 grant for a community project and have the chance to meet Nicole in person!

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6 Home Rehab Tips from Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict

1. Thoroughly clean an item or space before you do anything else.

Nicole says one crucial steps that’s easy to overlook when doing home renovations or DIY projects is to thoroughly clean an item or space before you start flexing your rehab muscles. She recommends using lemon oil to clean and restore wood. You can find lemon oil at places like Home Depot and Amazon.


2. Save chalk paint for craft projects.

Using chalk paint is among Nicole’s pet peeves. You heard that right—no chalk paint on furniture, walls, or doors if you want to do it the Nicole Curtis way. Save it for your craft projects. Keep the historical integrity of vintage furniture by refinishing and/or re-staining wood and if necessary, reupholstering.  “There’s always ways to incorporate new into old without bastardizing the old,” says Nicole. “And no chalk paint, did I already mention that?”


3. Bring in new accessories to make an old space feel fresh and new.

You don’t have to use white paint on things like cabinets or wood paneling to make it feel fresh and new. According to Nicole, it’s all about adding crisp accessories, especially linens. Take for example the Eisenhower pink tile that is so common in the bathrooms of houses built in the 1950s. “You don’t hate the tile you hate that somebody painted the walls to match the tile—it’s too much,” says Nicole. So what’s her solution? Find a funky shower curtain, some fun mirrors, and neat prints for the walls. You’ll see the space in a whole new light while still staying true to your home’s original design.


4. Watch the Turner Classic Movie channel for inspiration.

Nicole finds inspiration for her rehab projects in many different places, but one she absolutely swears by is the Turner Classic Movie channel. “For one I love the old movies, but I also love seeing the old houses because you can see how they’re setup and I get so many ideas from it,” says Nicole. She also recommends using Google to find vintage catalogs and magazines to get a feel for the style and decor of a particular era.


5. Don’t be afraid to be nosy.

“Anyone who has an old house is passionate about it,” says Nicole. “Go knock on their door.” Anyone who’s seen Rehab Addict knows Nicole isn’t shy. Being appropriately nosy is just another way she does valuable research. Plus, chances are your neighbors’ homes have similar features and design dilemmas as your own. Strike up a conversation about tile or molding. Ask to see a particular room of the house so you can compare it to your own. “When you ask somebody for help, they’re more likely to help you,” says Nicole. “That’s the best way.”


6. Find your fire and help improve your local community.

Between now and December 7, you have the opportunity to bring your own rehab project to life and improve your community through BernzoMatic’s Find Your Fire Community Grants. “This is the easiest way to get a grant I’ve ever seen,” says Nicole. To be eligible for a grant, all you need to do is submit a photo and a description of your project idea between now and December 7. Click here for complete details and to enter.

Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Bernzomatic/AP Images

Want more of Nicole’s expert tips? New episodes of Rehab Addict are airing now!


Home images via Rehab Addict on HGTV. Images of Nicole Curtis by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Bernzomatic/AP Images.

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Clarissa is a wife and stepmom embracing life in the Land of Enchantment. She works as a nonprofit communication specialist by day and blogger by night. Some of her favorite things are Dr. Pepper, green chile, baseball, country music, and her yellow lab.

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  1. Yay Nicole! Right on and way to go! I’m sick of chalk paint on everything. Especially beautiful old furniture. The chalk paint craze of today is just as much a pain faze as the ladies of the 30’s and 40’s painting all the great woodwork in old houses and ruining it for generations to come. Keep up the good work Nicole! So refreshing to see someone with great design skills who doesn’t bend to trendy fads.

  2. Among the helpful tips was the one that is a little silly – NO CHALK PAINT. Painted pieces have been around for centuries, with different mediums. Chalk paint is just another medium.

    1. You are right paint has been around for longer than we can say. Heck, it is one of the first signs we have of human life that are still here for all to see (think cave paintings…). Remember, this is a certain style, the Nicole Curtis look that she is famous for creating. Doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing! But these are the things she does in her spaces. If you want the look she creates, then these are her ways of doing it.

  3. Sorry, almost every piece of furniture in my home has been refinished with chalk paint. Old pieces, new pieces, doesn’t matter. I’ll keep on painting away.

    1. Lisa, don’t be sorry, This article is talking about how Nicole creates her style. It is just her opinion and she is sharing how to create a particular style. Everyone is different, we can totally embrace that.

  4. I SO agree with MNKatie….when I see these DIYers chalk painting and distressing old furniture I could just cry…..they forget the ‘fad’ will change shortly and with some furniture there is no going back. It’s been ruined.