By Paula Hendrickson
It’s not that often my sister discovers a good TV show before I do, but that happened quite a while back when she asked, “Have you seen Rehab Addict?”
I hadn’t. But DIY just happened to be airing back-to-back (to back!) episodes of it that weekend, and I was hooked.
No, it’s not a reality show about a semi-celebrity who can’t seem to stop landing in rehab. The show follows the self-taught home rehabber (and flipper) Nicole Curtis as she saves and restores old, neglected — and often condemned — homes to their former glory. She doesn’t go the easy route by gutting the houses and making them all shiny and new inside. She restores as much original detail as possible. When something is too far gone to reuse, she replaces it with a salvaged item in a similar style.
Anyone who appreciates older homes and architecture would love this series because, unlike a lot of home repair shows, Rehab Addict isn’t about “upgrading” and modernizing old homes, it’s about saving them for future generations.
It’s inspiring to see someone so dedicated to preserving the beauty and integrity of century-old (and older) homes that she has literally taken houses thought to be beyond repair — even slated for demolition — and made them structurally sound enough to last another 100 years.
Did I mention she makes them beautiful, too? Curtis has an exquisite sense of design.
The first four seasons of Rehab Addict aired on DIY because Curtis is a hands-on rehabber who rips out unoriginal cabinets and has pulled pine planks up from an attic floor and reused them on the main level, and DIY is a hands-on kind of channel. But the show tested so well on DIY’s sister network, HGTV — which generally tends to focus more on ideas and inspiration than action — that starting this season, Rehab Addict is officially an HGTV series. After all, not only does Curtis inspire viewers that they can refurbish their own old house, but that even some of the most neglected structures can be saved.
Curtis works in and around Minneapolis and her hometown of Detroit, but some of the homes she’s saved are in the same type of condition as most of the Rockford-area homes currently earmarked for demolition. I know some of those are truly beyond repair, but I still wish the city would get creative and sell some of those abandoned or condemned properties for $1 each to rehabbers willing to put in the effort to bring them up to code, move in, and increase property values. It’s not a big risk, and sure beats paying thousands of dollars to rip everything down. Besides, if the rehabbers can’t make the home habitable, the city can always raze it later. If they do that, maybe the city can even entice Curtis to come to town and show Rockford rehabbers how it’s done.
If you haven’t already seen Rehab Addict, HGTV is running a mini-marathon of past episodes leading up to Thursday’s season five premiere. If you live in an older home, or just like watching people swing hammers, you’ll like it.
Season five of Rehab Addict premieres at 8 p.m. Central, Thursday, Oct. 2, on HGTV.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to email@example.com.
From the Oct. 1-7, 2014, issue