Metro March 15, 2018

Form, Function, and Friendship

The ‘Boise Boys’ bring old, local homes to life

“You can tell we’re completely different people,” Clint Robertson said with a laugh.

Dressed practically and with the air of someone who doesn’t mind getting dirty, the Texas- born entrepreneur with a contractor’s conversational style is friendly and folksy, true to his Southern roots. He was referring to business partner Luke Caldwell, a former musician and current home designer. Caldwell, a Boise native, has an urban, coiffed style and a careful, measured way of speaking.

Variety is a large part of the appeal of their new HGTV series, “Boise Boys,” scheduled to air beginning in March. The unlikely designer-contractor duo sees the untapped beauty in old Boise homes and remodels them until their potential becomes reality. Caldwell and Robertson are highlighting the charm of local homes and neighborhoods in the new show premiering this spring, acting as designer and contractor, respectively.

Robertson and Caldwell—Bert and Ernie references are made—are different enough to make things interesting, but similar when it counts. You can tell by the way they finish each other’s sentences.

They met through a mutual acquaintance at church and an “immediate connection” was forged after they partnered on a construction project, Caldwell said. “We both knew that we didn’t need each other to be successful,” he said. “But what we realized when we did that first deal together, was (that) this just works because we have the same work ethic.”

Caldwell actually got his start renovating homes as a way to make quick cash to afford an adoption fee. He and his wife have since adopted four children, paid for by home renovations. Both men are husbands and fathers.

“I think we’re both grounded in the same thing, which is our faith, our families. And really just our friendship,” Caldwell said. “Those three things collectively, and just really wanting to do the best that we could do, in everything we do.”

Robertson had built, brokered, and sold multifamily homes in Texas until a change of heart prompted him to sell everything and move to Coeur d’Alene, fortuitously, right before the recession hit. He had a stint on “The Apprentice” in 2011, leaving as a popular runner-up. The family moved to Boise when Robertson’s eldest son was accepted to Boise State University approximately six years ago.

“We took a family trip down here, stayed at a hotel over on Parkcenter, looked at the stars, saw the mountains in the background and thought, ‘This place is great,’” Robertson said. “So that’s when we got a condo. Eventually, within a few months, we were living here full time.”

After their initial project, Robertson and Caldwell were soon renovating 15 houses a year. They reached national attention after a pilot show received high ratings last year, and HGTV offered them the chance to share their home renovation business, Timber and Love, with millions of viewers. The duo purchased seven local homes to remodel for the first season.

Caldwell describes their unique style as “Idaho mod”—clean, bright and modern with an Idaho vibe. Robertson says their styles converge where form meets function.

“That’s where the magic happens, at that crux of thinking alike but looking at completely different aspects,” Robertson said. “Luke … lives in the form and that’s why our houses are so beautiful, because he envisions these things. I come at it from the function standpoint, where I see what can be done and should be done, so that beauty and function can both prevail.”

They’re looking for homes with character, and that can turn a profit. But flipping houses, Caldwell says, is not what he and Robertson do.

“We don’t even consider ourselves flippers—we hate that word,” Caldwell offered. “We’re definitely renovators, and we restore.

“What draws both of us to properties is that you can see the house that was lived in, that was loved, and maybe just had too many years gone by before somebody’s done (something) to it. What we try to do is preserve what we can. Obviously, we don’t want to just tear it up if there’s character, if there’s history (and) if there’s charm.”

From a 1940s clinker-brick Tudor home in the North End, to an unusual Spanish-style farmhouse, the Boise Boys will feature a wide variety of styles in their renovation episodes this season. They’ve found gems in the North End, the Bench, the Central Rim and Garden City. Boise is the only Pacific Northwest location with an HGTV show, Robertson said.

“I knew that Boise was heading into a Goldilocks zone,” he said. “Houses weren’t so expensive that you couldn’t buy them and renovate them, and they weren’t so inexpensive that there was no margin to make.”

Granted, Boise housing stock has decreased with the ongoing market boom and prices are climbing. But both Robertson and Caldwell say the Treasure Valley housing market is still full of potential. Caldwell said they are even willing to branch out into nearby communities, including Nampa and Caldwell.

“We like staying in Boise because it’s close to our families and it makes it easier for filming, but at the end of the day, there’s beautiful homes and potential all around us,” he said. “We tell people all the time when they (say), ‘You guys are buying up everything; there’s nothing to be bought,’ that’s just not true.”

“There’s always someone selling a house for some reason,” Robertson agreed.

If the hometown reception is any indication, Boise is buying what Timber and Love are selling. The duo is getting shout-outs on social media and friendly honks when they drive around town.

“It’s cool because all the other houses we’ve invested so much love and life into over the years, you finish them, you occasionally drive by them and think, ‘Gosh, I hope someone’s really enjoying that house,’” Caldwell said. “But the fact that we’ve been having all these camera crews following us along, to be able to see that, watch it with our kids, our families…”

“Our work’s memorialized,” Robertson added.

This article appears in the Issue of Territory Magazine.