There’s nothing staged about Rehab Addict star Nicole Curtis’s real life.
In her new book, Better Than New: Lessons I’ve Learned from Saving Old Homes (And How They Saved Me), Curtis opens up about her colorful, and sometimes troubling, past, including bad boyfriends, unexpected pregnancies and tough financial times. But the HGTV star also writes about how she manages to be strong for herself and her kids through it all.
“I think people want to know the rest of the story,” Curtis, 40, tells PEOPLE of her decision to pen the memoir, out today. Here are the five biggest personal questions Curtis answers in the book.
The Unorthodox Way She Got Her Start, from Hooters to HGTV
Better Than New begins with Curtis as an eager high school graduate, striving to prove she can survive on her own. After a few waitressing jobs, including a stint at IHOP, she took a friend’s advice and applied at Hooters. Before her shifts at the restaurant, Curtis would clean houses to make ends meet, and continued to do so after her son Ethan was born. “I never regretted giving up a corporate job to clean houses so that I could make Ethan’s second grade Halloween party happen,” she says.
She later became a realtor — a first step on the road to Rehab Addict. Although the production company originally reached out to her to film segments as a real estate agent, Curtis went into the meeting determined to convince them that she should have her own show. “I used to be a waitress, and here I am now,” she says.
Why She Decided to Keep Her Second Baby a Secret
Curtis was extremely private regarding her second pregnancy with son Harper, who she’s currently in a custody battle over with the baby’s father, Shane Maguire, according to The Detroit News. “Having my newborn child’s face plastered all over social media on a Facebook post where someone could cut and paste it and make it a meme, that wasn’t for me,” she says.
In Better Than New, she shares more details on the now 16-month-old, recalling how she would shoot Rehab Addict only from the shoulders up, and even carried a mirror throughout one of the houses she was working on to hide her belly. “It wasn’t anything strategic, it was just one of those moments where I was like this isn’t anyone else’s time and space. This is mine.”
WATCH THIS: ‘Rehab Addict’s’ Nicole Curtis on Her Custody Dispute & Reliving the Struggles in Her Life
Why She Decided to Show Her Oldest Son on Rehab Addict . . . And Why She Wouldn’t Do It Again
Curtis first started filming Rehab Addict when her older son, Ethan, was 12. “By no means could he make decisions for himself, but he could say, ‘I don’t want to be on camera’ or, ‘Mom don’t post that,’” she says of her decision to include the now 18-year-old on the show. “Honestly, I didn’t do it for a storyline. I did it because I was a mom and I had to go back to work after picking him up after school.”
How Her Troubling Romantic Relationships Affected Her Life
Relationship woes abound in Better Than New. One boyfriend’s smooth talking helped her get her first car. She got mixed up in a questionable real estate deal with another. “I’ve made stupid mistakes with my heart, just like everyone else does,” says Curtis. “I had some great relationships, but unfortunately in life it’s usually the things that are the most negative that impact you the most.”
How She Keeps It All Together
Despite being tested at every turn, Curtis’ drive and focus on her kids keeps the star looking ahead. “As long as you put your family first, everything else will work out,” she says. “I’m happy, the kids are happy so we’re good. That’s all that matters in my life.”