Hello and welcome to the Grit and Polish! 

I’m Cathy and I’m obsessed with old houses!  Thick wood moldings, leaded glass windows and hidden hexagon tiles are the things of my dreams.  To put this obsession to good use, my husband, Garrett and I began renovating old houses around Washington state in 2008 and haven’t looked back since. We manage many of these newly-renovated homes as Airbnb’s and longer-term rentals. 

Our Story

Garrett and I got our start in renovating quite by chance.  Eight months after buying our first house, a 1916 craftsman “fixer” in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, I got laid off from my engineering career.  Garrett had just gone back to school for his PhD in BioChemistry, and we were left with a big mortgage and no way to pay it.   So we rolled up our sleeves and came up with a plan to ‘house hack’ our way through the recession.  We finished out our basement and found renters to cover the mortgage.  Garrett and I moved into the 400sf cottage in the backyard, which at the time was more like a hobby space with a sink and toilet.  Small-space-living was an adventure, but we found out pretty quickly, that we liked being landlords (and even better, we liked the renters paying our mortgage).  A few years later, we saved up enough money to buy a second house and then a third and a forth.  Today, we have 4 Airbnb and longer-term rentals in Seattle, all of which we fixed up and lived in.

In 2016, renovating old houses and ‘landlord-ing’ turned into our full-time, family business when we quit our jobs in Seattle and moved to an old Farmhouse in the country.  You can read more about our path to ‘early retirement’ here.  Now we design other people’s renovations, manage our rental properties, fix up our Farmhouse, and take on our own renovation projects when the perfect old house comes along.  In 2017, HGTV’s cameras followed along as we renovated the Porch House and the pilot episode for our show will air this Fall (more on that here and here)

The Grit and Polish - Tacoma Hood Vent Cathy and Garrett Smile 1.2 2000.jpg


I, Cathy, am the designer behind this renovation duo but I also get my hands dirty with pretty much everything during a renovation.  I love old houses, sleeping babies, and baking for my brood. Garrett does most of the construction work on our houses with help from his dad.  He also manages our rentals, flips a mean pancake, and is a walking encyclopedia for pretty much any animal you’ve ever seen on the Discovery Channel. Garrett and I met in the 7th grade when his family moved to my hometown of Ellensburg, WA and ten years later he asked me to marry him (spoiler: I said yes!). After ten years of living and renovating old houses together in Seattle, we are happy to be back in our hometown with our two boys and baby girl, living in my dream home, a 1912 farmhouse in the country. Life is good!


Our Homes and Renovations over the Years

The Farmhouse

The Porch House

The 6 Day Kitchen Reno

The Bryant House

The Ravenna House

The Dexter House

The Wallingford House

The Tacoma Garage

head on over to the blog

and catch up on the lastest project