Good Bones wrapped up last week after a 20-week run, the longest in the hit show’s seven seasons. Mina Hawk led Two Chicks and a Hammer on 13 home renovations, a landscaping special, and a six-week dream project called Risky Business whose success might provide a new template for HGTV shows. We caught up with Mina to discuss the season and what’s to come.
Whew, that was a long season! How are you?
It was a long year and a half. We don’t stop filming unless I say, “I’m going to be gone, figure it out.” If it had taken any longer, I might have become completely, irreparably mentally unhinged.
You’re talking about Risky Business specifically, which focused on your biggest project ever, a mansion-turned-rental called Charlotte Hall.
Yeah. Risky Business was incredible to do and the response to it was incredible. The reason it made great TV is that it didn’t take four months, like it was supposed to—it took 14. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, including a global pandemic and terrible contractors. It was a big risk for us and the network. We weren’t editing things out. It was a lot more raw.
Risky Business highlighted a lot of things you don’t see in Good Bones by virtue of spending six episodes on one project. We saw a lot more of the headaches in construction.
Good Bones takes six to eight months of work on one house and whittles it down to 42 minutes for an episode. We had these issues in other projects, but there’s just no time to talk about them. With Risky Business, we had more time to dive into them. HGTV was nervous about how people would respond, but it was incredible.
On Discovery Plus, it got a .81 in our age bracket of women. Good Bones rates well, and it gets a .51. Risky Business got astronomically great feedback and ratings from the demographic.
It sounds like the risk to do something different paid off.
It challenged the idea that home shows can’t do a story arc. On HGTV, you have a beautiful reveal, put a nice little bow on it, and it’s this one-episode arc. Risky Business showed that people will follow along if they don’t get that bow at the end of every episode. People have the stomach for some drama. People want to know the problem and the solution. It worked. To be honest, I couldn’t watch old-school HGTV. It wasn’t real with actors or hosts. I’m hoping that the really positive feedback allows us to stick with that direction a little more.
Let’s talk about Thomas, the mansplaining project manager who walked off the jobsite.
I couldn’t have written a better villain. After the episode aired where he was awful to me, he texted me and said, “Hey, some friends said they saw me on the show. Hope everything turned out well. If you ever need anything, let me know.”
Is there that much mansplaining on every jobsite?
No. I honestly don’t know if it was the nature of the male-owned company, that that is standard operating procedure. What was shown was a snippet of how terrible it was.
In his defense, there was a lot of miscommunication in the company he worked for, your contractor.
One hundred percent. He wasn’t the first project manager, and he wasn’t the last project manager. A lot of internal things weren’t going well, which is why the business relationship didn’t last. The thing I admire about him is that he does not give a flying F. It must be a liberating feeling.
You had a good attitude about it.
He’s used to managing commercial projects. It was like speaking Greek and Spanish to each other. He couldn’t comprehend that I might have the right language. The only reason I was able to handle it with any amount of grace is that I had been doing some business consulting and was working on that skill set. Like, “What you said is more a reflection of you than me, so we’re going to move through that.”
“Risky” referred to the $1 million you sunk into this project before it started generating revenue. You tried to sell a rental property to raise the money for it. It was hard to understand how any house doesn’t sell in this market.
I was literally talking to [chief of staff] Finley about that this morning. Our old office is a profitable Airbnb with two units. It makes money every year and practically runs itself. I listed it, and it hasn’t moved. Meanwhile, Finley’s house is a single-family home one block away, and an investor bought it for $100,000 less than ours is listed for and is doing work on it to make it an Airbnb. I just don’t get it. Why would you buy a one-income property when you can buy a two-income property that needs no work? I don’t know.
It’s a big mystery, I guess.
One thousand percent agree. It’s like it’s jinxed.
What are your top design elements of the season?
The finale turned out so beautiful. I loved the integral backsplash to the counter. If we can afford to do it, I want to do it every time. And the beams turned out really great for how much of a headache they were.
What’s coming up, design-wise?
The plans we’re working on now, we have a lot of really cool floor installs, like basketweave patterns and herringbones. I grew up with parquet floors, and people hated them for a while. Now they’re coming back. I love it, because I’m like a grandma at heart. Patterns, bold wallpapers, bold finishes. I love that it’s all back around now.
Iron Timbers made some arched bookcases for the Episode 3 house, on Hoyt. Did they stay with the house?
They’re in our store, Two Chicks District Co. We use them as display shelves.
Does any of the decor stay in the house?
Usually if we do a custom piece, that will stay. But buyers can purchase anything in the house at a pretty steep discount. A lot of them do because they are first-time homebuyers. The Property Brothers have a great relationship with Wayfair and everything gets gifted with the house. We can’t afford to do that. But we always do a walk-through with the buyer after the reveal and tag anything they’re interested in and get them prices. The buyer of one of the twin houses bought everything for about $6,000.
That’s actually a great deal. We also saw you build a new office this season. It’s pretty easy to find. Do fans stop by?
Yes. My and Finley’s offices face the front. One time, she saw a cute family outside taking pictures and told me. I popped the window open, and it was a mom, dad, and a daughter. They were so excited, and I went down and chatted with them and took a picture. She put it on Instagram and asked for approval because I looked so crazy—two different-colored socks, a huge sweatshirt falling off one shoulder, my hair’s like … I just looked ridiculous. And I’m like, whatever, that’s how I left the house and that’s fine. But we are successful because we have awesome fans. If I can try to say hi, I definitely like to.
Where does the next season stand?
We’re halfway done filming.
Are there other special projects on the horizon like Charlotte Hall?
I bought a property in Fountain Square that’s three parcels with two houses and these insane garages on it. I’m obsessed with it, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. Part of me wants it to be my forever-forever home. But I’m kind of letting it sit for a bit. I typically knee-jerk dive right in, and now I’m trying to be more thoughtful on the front end than I was on Charlotte Hall.