Nicole Curtis takes on a run-down, 1902 Victorian-style home. When her contractor walks off the job, she manages to keep up the renovation work on her own, but falls behind schedule. In need of cash, she goes after an investor. To win him over, she transforms the bathroom, laying every tile herself and designing and constructing a beautiful vanity from an estate sale find.
Frustrated by unreliable workers and shoddy work, Nicole Curtis turns for help to her brother and cousin, both skilled carpenters. Together the family tackles the second floor, working miracles with salvaged wood to add detailed trim and repair the rotting entryway floor.
Cash flow and contractor problems have caused serious delays, but with the Lyndale house finally on the market, Nicole Curtis tackles the Minnehaha house head on. To start a buzz in the neighborhood, she first creates curb appeal with ambitious landscaping, painting and concrete work. The Minnesota winter is fast approaching and she wants the house to shine before the snow falls. The massive neighborhood eyesore is transformed into an elegant landscape with new sod, brick-lined walkways, trimmed trees, manicured flowerbeds and new window boxes. Plus, a fresh coat of paint returns the home to its original color scheme.
After transforming the exterior of the Minnehaha House, Nicole Curtis turns her attention to the interior where massive plumbing and electrical problems lurk behind the walls. Construction cannot start until the 100-year-old wiring and piping are up to code, and that means the little Sheetrock that is up must come down. At the same time, anxious to get started on cosmetic work, Nicole restores antique exterior sconces, and works with restoration experts to repair the glass window for the grand front door. When the lights finally go on and the water flows, the walls go up throughout the house and Nicole completes her entryway restoration.
After years of neglect, the upstairs guest bathroom and main-floor powder room are in horrible shape. But underneath the grime is valuable ceramic tile, antique fixtures and unique character you just can't buy. Nicole Curtis is determined to save everything she can, but it won't be easy. She needs to figure out how to patch the damaged spots with new tile that blends in with the aged color and texture of the original tile. While starting from scratch with all new materials might be easier, Nicole sticks to her restoration plan and stays true to the original vision for this one-of-a-kind home. She rebuilds a classic built-in medicine cabinet, re-glazes and polishes a Victorian sink and digs up vintage sink legs to replace a circa-1980 vanity trashing up the otherwise quaint powder room. With a little creativity, ingenuity and a lot of elbow grease, Nicole makes her turn-of-the-century bathrooms shine like new.
For a year and half, Nicole Curtis has been painstakingly restoring a 1916 mansion. Her plan is to build out the dark, dingy, old cellar, creating new living space that adds nearly 1,000 square feet to the home. A guest bedroom, full bathroom, laundry room and recreation area will be a major addition and a major selling point. Nicole goes for classic details like ceramic subway tile in the bathroom and hexagon floor tiles in the laundry room, but adds a fully plumbed wet bar in the recreation area. The end is in sight, but when Nicole discovers water pooling in the basement, she fears the worst. A costly problem at this point in the project could mean major delays that she just can't afford.
Every old house has its quirks, and for Nicole Curtis' grand Minneapolis mansion, it's the garage. It's a crumbling old structure attached to the back of the neighbor's house! On any other house, Nicole might spend about 500 bucks sprucing up the garage, but this is the exception. Given a 4,000-square-foot, high-end home and brutal Minnesota winters, a nice, serviceable garage is a requirement. So it's a bit of a gamble, but Nicole decides to allocate $10K for clearing away debris, building a terraced retaining wall and adding a picket fence sure to please even the pickiest of neighbors.
Nicole Curtis - the tough-talking, hard-working entrepreneur - indulges her most glamorous fantasy in the master suite. Going for old Hollywood style, she solves the problem of no storage by designing a functional and fabulous dressing room with custom shelving and cabinets. And she spares no expense on the master bathroom. While sticking with the early-20th-century style of the other bathrooms in the house, she ups it a notch with marble tile and surfaces that capture top-of-the-line, old-world Edwardian elegance. Finally, for the ultimate romantic touch, she works late into the night repairing the old wood-burning fireplace. And she's gonna need it as the Minnesota winter persists with freezing temperatures and snow to complicate nearly every renovation task.
One of the great old features of Nicole Curtis' big house in Minneapolis is the dining room. Original oak woodwork, charming old light fixtures and a one-of-a-kind built-in buffet could make for a spectacular room - but all of it is in horrible shape. Nicole gets to work stripping, staining and restoring every inch of the room. Then she enlists the help of expert glass workers to repair the original cabinet doors. Next up is the dark back entryway. Nicole takes her cue from the front entryway and designs custom moldings for a matching back staircase.
Going on year two, Nicole Curtis tackles the most important room in the house - the kitchen. She restores her favorite existing feature - the stunning marble tile floors. The marble floors become the inspiration for her new countertop and custom cabinet selections. Nicole is determined to come up with the perfect layout that can accommodate modern-day needs. If that means re-doing the design a few times, she's gonna do it! If that means tearing down Sheetrock for strategic positioning of a top-of-the-line 36-inch range, it's worth the effort to get it just right. But is it worth the added time and money?
The only problem with Nicole Curtis' sunroom is a rotting wood floor and a temporary plywood and plastic door. So it's off to the salvage yard, where Nicole digs for turn-of-the-century materials to make her repairs. Nicole gets a surprise visit from a brother and sister, Gary and Noni, who grew up in the house. Their gratitude for her careful restoration work is just what Nicole needs to keep going. She returns heaters to their original copper color, restores the original iron window hardware and painstakingly paints the border around her favorite feature in the house - that amazing living room fireplace.
It's a cathartic time as Nicole Curtis works her way through an endless punch list. She and her business partner, Michael, are determined to find the best possible sales strategy given a tough real estate market in the dead of winter. Nicole is a perfectionist to the end. She manages to focus on scavenging for antique door locks, insulating the old-fashioned mail slot and, in a last-minute decision, painting the blue floor tiles black in the breakfast nook. And then, there's the final inspection to pass. Unbelievably, the day has come when Nicole can say it's finished. We see the entire house transformed from a neglected monstrosity to an elegant mansion, and with her first open house, Nicole gets to hear what the neighbors think of her work.
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