Nicole Curtis of The Rehab Addict purchased this house for $1.
An additional $140,000 was spent for its rehabilitation.
The residents of Minneapolis wanted to demolish this house in favor of a beautiful empty lot.
Thanks to Nicole’s fight this house was saved.
I think it’s great that Nicole Curtis and her show, Rehab Addict educate the public on the value and importance of saving a dilapidated building and restoring its features instead of replacing them.
While I agree with her philosophy, I don’t always agree with her work. I recently saw her “Dollar House” rehabilitation posting and thought it would be important to point out some issues that have a negative effect on curb appeal.
Within 2 hours after Nicole Curtis posted this photo on her face book page, 20,000 people liked it. There were tons of comments on the dollar house such as “so beautiful” etc. All this is good for her PR of course.
Keep in mind that on FB, Houzz and all social media, the most ugly renovation can be posted and people will comment sweetly on how pretty the improvements make the house! You would be shocked how people can get praised for some real crazy things they do to their home.
Many readers out there when seeing a cleaned up house or even a historic house with fake purple siding will still respond “how beautiful”. I have encountered some people that will insist that their vinyl sided Victorian with all decorative features removed looks barely different from what it did originally. It seems people just like change. Even a neighbor’s bad remuddeling job will be referred to how they “fixed up” their house.
While a new clean paint job may impress people, here I try to educate so readers will understand what to look for, by comparing the before and after photos.
The focus in this article is the exterior design. Not interior design or other repairs which I’m sure were desperately needed.
Unfortunately these Rehab Addict photos are poor quality and a lot of features can’t be seen well. When comparing the before and after photos of this house, I definitely prefer the before photo. Making repairs and giving this house a new coat of paint will most definitely make it look better than the renovated photo.
Why do I prefer the original dollar house (left photo)?
The first reason is the style of the porch. This may or may not be the original porch but it works much better than the Rehab Addict porch.
Notice the new very skinny porch posts and the weak looking railing. There are no bases for the porch posts or piers. Below the porch posts is the porch skirt which consists of lattice but no supports. For a better understanding of this problem and comparison photos to really see and understand the difference, please refer to my explanation of porch skirts here.
The original house had a strong stucco porch that was in proportion to the house and appeared strong enough to support the porch roof. The house was welcoming because it had a wide set of stairs as you approach the front door. Now the porch stairs are narrow and unwelcoming.
The new Rehab Addict house is painted a cool green and white that appears more cheery compared to the warmer stucco color with brown trim. However, the new house also has brown trim. This is a simple house and only one color trim – the white trim – is necessary. The brown just adds confusion.
The new house is a common makeover you see everywhere and most people on social media will ooh and ahh and make a fuss about such a wonderful improvement. Unfortunately they fail to or are unable to understand the logic of architecture and allow the new and shinny to rule.
As for the Rehab Addict, Nicole Curtis does quite well with her houses with a Real Estate background. I just think she rushes through projects way too quickly.
Realtors are on the front line of the battlefield. I wish all realtors could educate their clients before they make a mess of the houses they buy!
However though, the point of this article is not about what someone could do better or worse. It’s about no matter how good or bad the job is, people like change and will almost always praise the change just because it’s different than before. Like if there’s a change it’s gotta be good.
She did a lovely job on the interior, but I agree the exterior could be better. She demolished and rebuilt the porch after taking the old one off. The house had to be jacked up and the old basement was demolished and rebuilt, and the masonry columns and closed apron went with it. She was running out of money by the end of the remodel and got the porch parts for free.
As for the color of the trim, she kept the aluminum fascia and soffit, but wanted to lighten the rest. I think thicker square posts with appropriately scaled supports and lattice would have looked better, and I would have painted the capitals and brown to relate to the brown trim, and perhaps painted the window crown molding as well. The porch lintel across the front looks a bit thick too, so perhaps some more brown trim there to narrow it would have worked as well. Unfortunately modern building regulations require the high skinny railings unless you go custom and make your own, and box in the steps for safety sake. I would have liked a heavier top and bottom rail and a real top hand railing, perhaps in brown as well.
The white a brown is a tad contrasty, so it has to be carefully balanced to look right. Making the white a more ivory tone would help, but then the white railings of the porch wouldn’t match. I do like the greeny grey body color though. When using prefinished materials, you get locked into these kind of color and proportion problems, which she resolved more successfully than most. I would also say that this is the least successful of her facades.
Michael stamp says
Yes the house turned out beautiful. Anyone doing a old house better have a huge bank account. If you have unlimited funds I say risk it& rehab it.
I think Nicole’s forte is her ability to stage a finished project house. Her interior work isn’t always done to the standard a buyer would expect, nor are her kitchen & bathrooms feature the ideal layouts. I believe she’s too stuck in trying to make those spaces look like the original plans, which won’t always function well in the 21st Century & results in useless gaps & sometimes terribly mismatched cabinetry, etc. She also often applies stain to flooring (sometimes just subfloors) without taking time to apply wood conditioner, so the floors often turn out blotchy. I cringe whenever she paints over rough surfaces without smoothing out chipped paint, patches badly-damaged subway tile with grout, & squirts wood glue on top of damaged cabinet doors (rather than under each ply of wood, clamping, allowing to dry, then sanding smooth). Some of the ‘special’ features she creates–such as ripping out plaster to reveal structural brick (which was meant to be covered by plaster) or installing a window to make a closet–aren’t really good ideas for resale. I do admire her passion for rehabbing old homes, but her work doesn’t qualify as RESTORATION. Of course historic restoration requires more of an investment in both time & finances. I just wish more people realized the difference, because too many think it’s possible to repair an old home easily, quickly, & within a modest budget.
James Olson says
You’re the only one I know who seems to think the only reason why a project isn’t perfect is because those who did it were ignorant. The “time, cost, and quality” project management triangle is a reality your criticisms seem to ignore.
While you’re free to criticize the results of a project, without explaining how doing it right would impact the limited resources of it, it does seem a bit ungrateful to criticize those who make a sincere effort. I think Rehab Addict is unique among renovation and design reality tv in it’s focus on the traditional. It seems to me only a Modernist would try to undermine it.
Ultimately, what would have been better for the $1 House, demolition or an incomplete interpretive restoration? You don’t need to be told what the project’s goals were. So why criticize the project for not meeting goals that were never intended?
Aren’t there any Modern spec homes that are more deserving of your negative attention? As for teaching how to do things correctly, you could show your projects’ “before and after’s”.
Ken Roginski says
Yes – you’re correct. Ignorance is a main reason projects do not reach their full potential. In this project if funds were low, square box posts could have been constructed for a fraction of the cost of cheap box store turned posts and provide a 100% better appearance. When doing the porch skirt do you think it would take a lot of effort and funding to line up the skirt panels to the posts? Yes as you state, these are all errors caused by ignorance, and are relatively inexpensive to address. I suggest you re-read the post and my website to understand that. Your comment on teaching how things can be done correctly with before and after photos of my projects just shows you are making a statement without reading or understanding my website! I do this all the time!
Nicole is doing a great job in the battle to preserve old homes. Many times with her or anyone’s projects there is room for improvement. But as I also said in my post, the slightest change to a house – even if it has a negative effect, will still please people that do not understand architecture. I strive to change that through my articles.
Sue Harviel says
Looks to me like you have had a “Curtis Fanatic” replying to your post. They are almost like a cult in their complete adoration of her and will attack at the tiniest hint of negative comments pertaining to their idol. I used to be a FB friend of hers but I left because of this reaction. I have watched her show for years but stopped about 2 seasons ago because her show no longer educated me or gave me ideas. It had turned into a Nicole show rather than a house show. As to your post, I half agree with you on the after. While it would have been nice for her to bring the house back to its original glory, whatever that was, I still think it looks much better than it did when she bought it. The important thing is that this house will live to see another generation of owners, if not many more. I’d rather see an old house renovated and lived in than demolished any day. P.S. you are 100% correct in your assumption that people tend to like “new” no matter the appearance.
I feel exactly as you do about Rehab Addict, Ken. She’s doing a great service by saving these old homes, but I don’t always agree with what she does to them. I wonder if it’s her choice sometimes though.
I also agree with the before porch looking much better than the new one, but at least the house was saved.
What I’d really like to do is introduce her to the other people that have shows on HGTV.
I have watched the show a lot…and get the impression she sometimes takes on more than she can handle…rushing from job to job. I know some is this is for “effect” on a reality show but it seems she sometimes is handling 2 or 3 or more houses. There isn’t much time for crucial decisions…and funds seems to drive many of her decisions. But as others have said…at least she is saving older homes instead of creating more parking lots.
Ken Roginski says
Historic Signs says
I can’t stand brown or green as trim colors. Both are losers if you ask me.
Al Fortunato Furnituremaker says
Ken, I fully agree with your views on the project. The new porch looks like the typical big box porch. Plastic everything. As for the trim, it could have done better. But, as you also said, HGTV, FB, Houzz, and on and on are feel good shows. Sit down with you special comfort food, relax, watch them, and everything is good. Even though the outcome could have been a lot better.
Personally, I think the old look made it look closed off and drab. There was no life to it. Who would want (other than you apparently) to sit out on that closed off porch? It looks like the older project homes in my area and no matter what paint you put on it, it would still be big bulky and leaving people wondering why it was left that way. The design she came up with on the budget she had was wonderful. Its open and inviting with a calm feel in an otherwise busy area. I don’t care how clean you got the previous look or the amount of paint you put on it, it would still be ugly.
Ken Roginski says
Thank you. You just proved the point I was trying to make by writing this article!
Yes it was drab and the porch did close it off. There are better ways of going about it though. Unfortunately so many of us are accustomed to seeing bad architecture and shinny Home Depot plastic features that any change that looks brighter and cleaner no matter how bad it is has to be better. Architecture is a science and very few understand that today.
I can’t understand why you “thought it would be important to point out some issues that have a negative effect on curb appeal” on someone else’s work. Unless she asked for your opinion or critique, it really isn’t necessary to share criticism. Here is someone who took a house that would have been demolished and it is now sound and ready for habitation for many more decades. The old adage “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” comes to mind here. The whole tone of your post was critical and negative and completely unnecessary.
Ken Roginski says
You really have no understanding of my post except to prove my point. Please re-read my post and try hard to comprehend what I am saying if you are able to.The old adage is to “think first before saying or writing something stupid”. Yes I am being critical of you because it is necessary.
Theresa Giancola says
He was educating. Plain and simple.
Unfortunately she often goes for cheap and easy. I would be concerned buying 1 of her houses.
Anna Woodward says
I appreciate the critique, and I understand it. You articulated something I feel in my gut whenever I see a newly “remodeled” older home updated with all the cheapest, easiest and tackiest materials now available at the local Home Depot. The older home is a work of art, often one of a kind, and they really don’t make them like that anymore. I am relieved to have found someone with a discriminating eye that calls it like it is. Thank you for the education. I am eager to learn more.
Janelle J. Taylor says
Thanks for sharing your valueable thoughts,This blog is helpful for many other people
I don’t mean to appear rude or disrespectful, but your comments make you seem bitter, even petty. One of your comments was that you “wish realtors were allowed to educate their clients before they make a mess of things..” First, you do know that Nicole Curtis IS also a licensed realtor, right? Aside from that, simply being a realtor does not inherently qualify one as a better designer than someone who works with designers as an extension of their work. At the end of the day, it’s really apples and oranges, isn’t it? You say po-tay-to while I say Po-tah-to…you’re certainly allowed your opinions, but you spent a great deal of time suggesting the project photos she’s displayed on social media are mostly filled with comments by people who, for some reason, really don’t like what she’s done…but they’ll say they do anyway simply to make a comment….? I’m not sure where you live, but the world I live in includes people that would GLADLY and HAPPILY tear another person down, boldly classifying the work as ‘less than.’ I can’t imagine many, however, that would write ‘false praises.’ If your issues were structural, then that’s something to discuss. But reading your article, it’s become evident that your faults are aesthetic. At the end of the day, isn’t it better that someone actually cares about Detroit enough that she was willing to put in the work, spending a substantial amount of time and money all for the rehabilitation of Detroit? For me, the answer is a resounding yes!
Ken Roginski says
Hi Robert – I hate to waste more valuable time defending myself but here it is one last time. I don’t know if I am not properly wording what I mean or readers are reading too quickly and not getting my point.
I agree with you that what she does for Detroit or any other city is very good.
This is what I wrote in the article:
“I think it’s great that Nicole Curtis and her show, Rehab Addict educate the public on the value and importance of saving a dilapidated building and restoring its features instead of replacing them.” Don’t you agree that by saying this I agree with you on that aspect?
I did not mean that people are lying and saying they love something when they don’t.
This is what I wrote
Many readers out there when seeing a cleaned-up house or even a historic house with fake purple siding will still respond “how beautiful”. I have encountered some people that will insist that their vinyl sided Victorian with all decorative features removed looks barely different from what it did originally. It seems people just like change. Even a neighbor’s bad remuddeling job will be referred to how they “fixed up” their house. Does this mean that I am insinuating that people are lying?
People will praise change whether it is positive or negative. They are not lying. They just don’t understand architecture or just don’t care enough about it.
I did not know she was a realtor and it doesn’t matter. What I was saying is that realtors can do a lot for preservation although from what I am hearing most of the realtors want natural woodwork painted white and the kitchen and dining room opened up.