Seven years ago, Luke Caldwell and his wife, Miranda, were looking to grow their family. “We had two kids of our own, and we were trying to find a way to make some extra money because it’s about $35,000 to adopt a child,” he says. So he decided to flip a house.
At the time, Caldwell was a full-time musician with little experience doing construction and no formal design training. “I loved the aspect of finding a good deal and envisioning what it could become,” he says. “I definitely made a lot of mistakes, but I was able to make quite a bit of money on that first flip.”
Soon after, the couple brought home their son from China. “We just kept doing that,” Caldwell says, recalling how he would take on projects between music tours, renovating homes whenever he had a chance. “We ended up adopting three more kids—and it all happened through real estate.”
Around the same time the pair adopted their third child, Caldwell met Clint Robertson, a Texan real estate attorney turned licensed contractor, broker, and developer who had moved his family from Fort Worth to Coeur d’Alene, just north of Boise, Idaho, a few years before. “My eldest son got a scholarship to come down to Boise State, so we kind of helicopter-parented down and met Luke right about [then],” Robertson says, noting that the two were introduced by a mutual friend at church. That day, “Luke and I actually rode off together and looked at one of the houses he was working on. He was about to leave town to go on one of his music tours, and I said, ‘You know what, shoot. Let me just jump in, and I’ll make sure your house gets done while you’re gone.’” Shortly after, the pair renovated a house together—“and we’ve been going for about five years now, full throttle, ever since,” he enthuses.
In 2015, Caldwell and Robertson founded Timber and Love, a company dedicated to building, restoring, designing, and selling homes in Boise. It didn’t take long for the peculiar pair to draw the attention of HGTV scouters who had been on the lookout for an unconventional duo—that is, one who wasn’t married or related—to star in their next series.
“It took a while—I think it was almost a couple of years from start to where we actually had the show going,” Caldwell remembers. “We didn’t pursue it—we weren’t looking for it,” he insists. “It just kind of slapped us in the face, and we were like, ‘You guys want to follow us? It’ll probably be entertaining, if nothing else.’”
“I can’t tell you the number of times we’d be walking through either Home Depot or Lowe’s and we’d get into an argument and at the end of it just say, ‘It’s a good thing there are about to be cameras here, because I’d hate to miss this,’ Robertson chuckles. “We amuse ourselves sometimes at how silly things can get.”
The hour-long show, which premiered in April 2018, was well received—and just four months later, the network renewed it for a second season. “We’ve got 13 episodes—last year was six. Right out of the box, we’re doing double the houses in the same amount of time,” Robertson says. “They’re all so unique,” Caldwell adds. “We definitely go big in every episode.”
Here, “the odd couple of home renovation” talk about their one-of-a-kind relationship, reveal why there’s no real best time to buy or sell a home, and offer a behind-the-scenes look at Boise Boys, which premieres tonight at 11 p.m. ET.
You call yourselves “the Bert and Ernie of real estate.” How do you two get along so well, despite your wildly different styles and personalities?
Clint: We row the boat in the same direction because we care about each other—we have the same objectives in life. I love his family and I feel like he loves my family. We just look out for each other.
Luke: We’re both very type A and aggressive—we see a lot of the same characteristics in each other. It’s almost like a marriage, except we’re business partners. At the end of the day, we work through it, and we talk through it, and we compromise. But there’s definitely a lot of negotiating going on—we both love to negotiate.
When it comes to shopping for homes, what do you look for?
Luke: It first comes down to location. We want to buy properties that are [as near] downtown Boise as possible. Boise’s the fastest growing city in America, and there are only so many homes available close to downtown, and a lot of people are going into the outskirts, the suburbs. So we really try to focus in Boise. You really have to see where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck. That’s why [our] process is so great—we brainstorm, we talk through every scenario, and then we help come up with a conclusion about what we’re going to do. There are a lot of factors in it. But the key is that we buy right. If we buy right, everything will usually work itself out.
Clint: From my perspective, as a real estate broker—a numbers guy—I’m looking at the bottom line: how much is it going to take to buy it, how much is it going to take to renovate it, and how much are we going to make when we sell it. It’s kind of a dance we do.
What’s the best part about living in Boise?
Clint: We love the area—we love the people. When we first moved here, the eating scene was on the slight, but it’s amazing how the cuisine, the city, the people—it’s a diverse place—have progressed. Wherever you go, there’s beauty. My wife and I live right on the Boise River, and we live in paradise.
Luke: Boise is amazing. It’s crazy how much it’s changed in the last 30 years. I’ve always loved it because growing up, you could go snowboarding 20 minutes from [my house], and you could also go water skiing, yet we lived just five minutes from downtown. You really get the best of both worlds as a kid—we could enjoy the outdoors and float down the Boise River in an inner tube, but we still have a very cool downtown. You feel safe. To this day, I don’t lock my car door. I’ve never had an issue my entire life that I’ve lived here. It’s a great place to raise a family.
Clint: You want to hear a funny fact about Boise? Luke calls it BOY-SEE. The locals are militant about what you call it here. But in my drawl, it’s almost impossible for me to say BOY-SEE. I say BOY-ZEE. In fact I told Luke I’m gonna get me some t-shirts that say “BOY-ZEE” and start selling them!
Luke: You’re gonna ruin our show!
Clint: I’ll make the people here so mad, but that would be funny.
What’s it like on the set of “Boise Boys?”
Clint: There are surprises. Nothing goes down the way it’s written out on the whiteboard. It’s always changing.
Luke: Clint and I—we’re simple guys, but we’ve got a couple of demands when it comes to what they bring us to eat at the craft table. Clint has to have guacamole, and I have to have Gushers. But where we come together in the middle is peanut butter cups.
Clint: And La Croix.
Luke, how have music and travel influenced your signature aesthetic?
[I’ve been] exposed to so many different cultures—as a band, we’ve played in 15 different countries and every state but Alaska. We’re out and about quite a bit and it’s amazing, the different things that we see in different cities. I just love it. I’m always inspired and taking pictures and notes. I’ve always enjoyed architecture and color and culture. So when I started designing here in Boise, I think a lot of that just got infused into me without me realizing it. One of the things that the executives at HGTV have said to me is that they like the fact that I’m not trained because I approach it differently than an average designer who’s gone to school for it.
Name a few of your go-to spots for art and furnishings.
Luke: Facebook is a place I use all the time, and Craigslist. Tons of local thrift stores—that’s where I’m finding a lot of unique pieces. You always have to be on it, hunting. I’ve got a few people on our team looking. Flea markets are a great place to find items. When I find something, I buy it—Clint can attest to that—and then I hold onto it until it works with the right house.
Clint: Which is why we own a million-dollar warehouse here in the middle of downtown Boise. We store a lot of stuff. Talk about packrat city!
What’s the easiest way for homeowners to refresh their interiors?
Luke: The simplest thing that you can do is create a simple palette through paint—often lighter paint. I love different forms of white because you can add so much to it once you have that clean palette to start with—clean lines. Life comes through all of the furniture and decor—vintage pieces that add soul to the space, amazing art pieces for the walls. All of that tells a story. But if you have simple white walls, you can get that contrast and tell a story. Your house almost becomes a gallery.
When is the best time to buy and sell a home?
Clint: If you’re getting into a house that you’re going to love and is going to be your home—if you find the right house and you have peace about it—buy it. The market, since the beginning of time, has always gone up, but it’s gone up in kind of a roller coaster fashion. Just know that if you’re buying the right house—if it’s the house that you’re supposed to be in and you feel that’s the house you’re supposed to have in the long term—don’t be afraid. Jump into it. Find a budget that works for you, and just know that that home will never go to zero. A house will never go to zero, unlike stocks.
How do you renovate a home on a budget?
Luke: People think that these big statements in your home—these special features they want to do—take tons of money. It has more to do with the ideas than it has to do with the amount of money it’s going to cost. Some of the greatest things we’ve put into homes are all about the idea. It’s a vision of what it could become—just a blank wall, doing something unique on it. It has very little to do with the amount of money it takes to do that, because it could just involve paint or wood. Last season, I had an idea to do a feature wall in a master bedroom that was a mountainscape, but I wanted it done with dowels. So Clint went out and bought all the dowels for me and I drew out a mountainscape and put them all up. It was super inexpensive, and it turned into this amazing [work of art].
Clint, what was it like being a contestant on “The Apprentice?”
On The Apprentice, I realized as soon as I got there that there were all these people trying to be someone in front of the camera and set a tone. I realized really fast, “man, I’m going to be the first guy voted off this ship if I end up trying to be somebody else.” So really early on I thought, “I’m just going to be me and do my best.” I ended up being a finalist on that show. I don’t think I can be an actor or anything, because you have to be someone you’re not, and that’s really difficult. It is hard enough to be me. I don’t know how to be anybody else.
Luke, talk about your passion for adoption, and why you and your wife have decided to focus on children with special needs.
It’s nothing my wife or I ever thought we would be doing with our lives. We have always been open to adoption. We love children. Going to India for the first time when I was 12 years old with my dad really exposed me to a different world—[to the fact that] there are kids out there who don’t have parents, who were abandoned. Even at a young age, that really impacted me because I didn’t understand why a child wouldn’t have parents. Once we had our first two kids and we were kind of talking about what was next, we really felt in our hearts that if we could show these kids love, why wouldn’t we?
There were a lot of obstacles in the way, and there were a lot of things you could say all day long, whether they be excuses or reasons why it wouldn’t be a smart decision—but we just had a very strong conviction. And you have to have that when you go into this, because ultimately it is a challenge. But I don’t focus on that. I’m not doing this so that people pat me on the back. I really don’t care about any of that. I just want to be able to be a dad who shows these kids how much he loves them and how much he wants the best for them.
We’re actually going to be adopting again this spring—another child, from Ukraine. So the journey continues. It’s been a joy—honestly, more so than any other thing I’ve been a part of.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kids?
Luke: The biggest thing that I try to teach them is good work ethic and to be passionate about what their investing their time into—to try to live with purpose. Those are the most important things to me and what we’re trying to teach them.
What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring house flippers?
Clint: Luke and I are not really special in that we’re doing anything that anyone else couldn’t do. The difference between Luke and I and the people who want to do it is that we’re just doing it. We’re putting one foot in front of the other. Luke’s not letting what he wants to see versus what he can get done get in the way. He goes in and finds stuff that he likes and designs a room around it. Anybody can go and find things that they like and start designing a room around it. Same thing with construction—so many people are afraid of what’s behind the sheet rock. Don’t be afraid—you have to start somewhere. Just do it. Start small. It’s a matter of putting one foot in front of another and not just watching TV and saying, “I wish I could do that.” You can.
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