Nothing lasts forever. Houses. TV shows. Not even open concept living. It’s hard to imagine now, but one day we won’t want our messy kitchens on display from the front door.
Unfortunately, we don’t have to imagine life beyond Good Bones. It’s here. After eight seasons, the HGTV hit based in Indianapolis has turned out the lights. The end follows host Mina Starsiak Hawk’s decision to scale back her renovation company, Two Chicks and a Hammer. Her staff was burned out trying to renovate and film 13 houses a year. The friction became too much. The joy was long gone. Mina made the gut-wrenching decision to call it quits and re-evaluate her career.
There’s likely a lot more to it. Covid didn’t help. Two Chicks was a family company, with several of Mina’s relatives and close friends on staff. Rumors still swirl that bad blood infected Good Bones, but out of respect for the people involved and the elusive full truth, we’ll refrain from speculating. Mina discusses some of it on her podcast, Mina AF, for those interested in the backstory from her perspective.
Nevertheless, it’s safe to say the tears on the finale are mostly those of joy. Tad Starsiak, Mina’s brother and the demo leader since day one, finishes his new house and proposes to his girlfriend in the kitchen (she says yes). Tad has grown up before our eyes on Good Bones, evolving from the reckless “Tadmanian Devil” who broke things he shouldn’t, to the more responsible “Demogod” crew leader, to the owner of Hammer Construction, his own company. Now he’s settling down with quirky accountant Anna, with whom he shares a love of J.R.R. Tolkien books.
The episode is full of sweet surprises for Anna (and for the rest of us—there’s a pullup contest at the Iron Timbers workshop). In the process of decorating their moody, eclectic new home, which is painted black on the exterior (another trend that definitely won’t last forever), Tad pulls out all the stops for his lady.
First, he brings in chocolate-scented mulch. Then fluffy yellow ducklings as new pets. Then the snail-shaped cabinet pulls she requested. Then a custom gate with the White Tree of Gondor from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. And finally, a one-of-a-kind Elvish engagement ring inspired by the same saga.
Talk about sealing the deal.
Tad is a ball of emotions for the whole episode. Six minutes in, he announces that he’s a crier and will probably weep during the whole process of decorating the house with the help of Mina and Two Chicks designer MJ Coyle. “I’m so grateful [for] their expertise,” he says, adding that it wouldn’t feel right if they weren’t there to help.
They hone the specific version of “eclectic and moody” that Tad and Anna like to “Old World, traveled, antique-y, with some quirk.” Mina suggests they bring in the quirk through a few big pieces, not a ton of tchotchkes. Anna wants the house to feel like it has been lived in for 40 years, but it’s hard to fake a curated life—the point is to live it first and build it as you go. However, a few design tricks can set the tone without feeling disjointed.
They opt for smoky green-gray wall colors and go shopping for stone for the countertops in the kitchen, wet bar, and library. (Pause for the cause: Who would have thought in the early seasons that Tad was a library kind of guy?) In the main suite, Tad and Anna explain their plan to stop the black-green tile at the edge of the wet room (a tub and showerhead in a doorless area, another trend). It would stop midway below a window, and the rest of the room would be drywall. Mina says it would look cheap and stop the eye, and it’s worth the money to continue the tile through the whole room to make it feel bigger and look cohesive.
If it’s quirky they want, Karen has just the thing. In her studio, she and Austin unleash feathers on a dress form they salvaged from the attic of Tad’s new house. It’s bizarre and god-awful and has plumage that looks like a turkey. Karen knows it’s ridiculous and FaceTimes MJ so he will tell her to drop the glue gun, but he just enables her instead. Karen feels “compelled” to continue assembling it for a reason she cannot explain. She and Austin name it Desiree and acknowledge that Desiree shouldn’t exist.
Thankfully, the finale makes one last trip to Iron Timbers in small-town Osgood in Southern Indiana. Iron Timbers is a father-and-sons business that does immaculate custom woodworking and metal work. Two Chicks has collaborated with them for many seasons. Tad asks them to make a ladder and a railing for a loft and incorporate the White Tree of Gondor into the design. Tad may have grown up, but he’s still Tad, so he challenges Caleb and Dustin, the Iron Timbers sons, to a pullup contest on the forklift blades. Tad does three and Caleb and Dustin blow him away with 18 and 17, respectively.
On landscaping day, Tad says he intends to learn the names of the plants Karen chooses out of respect for her work, which is really thoughtful. Mina swings by with “a cute baby”—her 2-year-old, Charlotte—and then Karen breaks out the chocolatey cocoa bean mulch and a waddling (that’s what it’s called) of baby ducks. They’ll have to live in the bathtub until a structure is built. By the end of the episode, the ducks have their own mini version of the house.
At the jeweler to design the engagement ring, Tad says, “It finally feels like I’m getting this slice of happiness that I’ve really wanted for a long time. And I’m getting it in this amazing woman.” Later, he says of the house, “I can look at every corner and see the parts of my family that helped me build it. I wouldn’t be here without this team all around me, and I just can’t wait to show Anna what we built for her.” Of all the muses on Good Bones, they saved the best for last.
Anna, who, unlike Tad, is not a crier, indeed tears up walking in the front door with Tad, Karen, and Mina. She’s overwhelmed by how beautiful it is, by the snail cabinet pulls and the White Tree of Gondor gate to the loft. And so many living rooms! Four! The main one downstairs, one upstairs, a sitting room that’s part of the main bedroom suite, and the loft (which has a pink couch)!
They meet their new roommate, Desiree, the tragic feathered torso perched on the library’s wet bar. Tad graciously says he likes her, and she’ll be a good conversation piece. Karen signs off from Good Bones in true form: “I love her, and she’s everything, and she should not exist. It’s all right there. And that’s how everyone feels about her. Why … but then they’re drawn to her. It doesn’t make any sense.” It’s easy to imagine Karen having long conversations with Desiree on holidays after a few glasses of wine.
Alone in the kitchen with Anna, Tad sweetly points out where he’s going to do the dishes and where he’s going to cook them duck egg omelets, and at the corner of the island, he says this is going to be her favorite spot … because it’s there that he drops to a knee and pops the question, calling her his “dearest companion.”
Their families pour in from another room, and the last scene of Good Bones is Tad giving a champagne toast. “It’s a moment you get to have forever, and it’s so special.”
Two Chicks and a Hammer set out to give new life to old homes, working in neighborhoods where Mina and Karen live, in this writer’s opinion because they care about their community. They did that for 103 episodes, driving tourism to Indianapolis and showing beauty shots of downtown and Fountain Square to millions of HGTV viewers. They certainly increased home values in Fountain Square, Bates-Hendricks, and the Old Southside, contributing (along with other flippers) to the improved livability, as well as the gentrification, of those urban-core neighborhoods—for both the good and the bad. They opened a home store in Bates-Hendricks, which will close at the end of the year. Mina became HGTV royalty, appearing on specials like Rock the Block and Battle on the Beach.
What’s next? Apparently not a show for Tad, which I speculated about as Good Bones focused on his new company this season. But on her podcast, Mina says she expects to have a long future with HGTV and has pitched other shows. She has also mentioned that some specials might air next summer. In the meantime, she will keep doing what she loves—renovating houses—just not at the feverish pace that cameras require. If you miss Good Bones and Mina’s personal trials and tribulations, listen to her podcast, Mina AF, for lots of behind-the-scenes tales and confessional thoughts.
But for now, it’s goodbye, Good Bones.
Goodbye, gross discoveries.
Goodbye, toilet Rochambeaus.
Goodbye, bobo vibes.
Goodbye, Carrara marble.
Goodbye, barn doors.
Goodbye, Iron Timbers.
Goodbye, Mama Chick’s House.
Goodbye, Justin Vining.
Goodbye, Rottmann Collier Architects.
Goodbye, Mina, Karen, Tad, MJ, and Austin.
And good luck to you all.