The HGTV star, 44, opened up about his experience on his and wife Joanna’s hit series, which they chose to end after five seasons last April, in the January cover story for Cowboys & Indians magazine.
“TV was a funny thing for me. I’m an authentic, sincere person. So, as long as things are natural and organic, I’m in my element. But the more staged something becomes, or the more required something becomes, it boxes me up,” the father of five reveals. “I felt like toward the end of the Fixer Upper journey, I felt caged, trapped.”
While the beloved designer-contractor duo are known for their cute, candid and generally upbeat personalities on screen, Chip says they were both feeling worn out during the show’s later days.
“Jo and I couldn’t figure it out. I mean, why? You’re getting to have all this fun, right? But it’s like if I put a camera in your face and said, ‘Hey, say something funny.’ Or if I put a camera in your face and said, ‘Hey, be smart.’ I just struggled with that environment. Especially at the end of it.”
The couple announced in September 2017 that they would be calling it quits after the series’ fifth season to focus on their other business ventures (they run a home building company, a real estate agency, a magazine and numerous product lines) and spend time with family. They announced they were unexpectedly pregnant with their fifth child in January 2018, and welcomed baby Crew in June.
Chip also takes a moment in the feature to look back at how he and Joanna, 40, felt when they first landed their show, which contrasts greatly with their more recent stresses.
“At the beginning, it was so fun. The first three years of Fixer Upper were some of the best years of my life,” Chip admits. “The last two years, not that we don’t look back on them fondly, but they were more of a job. So, something about breaking out of that has been liberating.”
WATCH THIS: Chip and Joanna Gaines‘s Cutest Fixer Upper Moments
He adds, “Jo and I are both just kinda giddy, just like, ‘Man, what’s the future look like and what’s the next step?’ Because we’re both business people, and that’s fundamentally who we are.”
Since giving the interview, the Gaineses have gone public with exactly what their next big move is: creating their own TV channel with Discovery.
They shared the news during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in November.
“We are coming back to television,” Chip announced. “You are going to get to see the kids grow up, you are going to see us, well maybe a six-month delay like the rest of the world, but we are excited to be back.”
Magnolia spokesman John Marsicano also confirmed the news in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE: “We’re excited to share that we are currently in the early stages of talking with Discovery about a lifestyle-focused media network for Magnolia. The details surrounding this opportunity remain a work in progress, but together, our hope is to build a different kind of platform for unique, inspiring and family-friendly content.”
In the article, Chip hints at what’s to come: “I believe that the hard work that we put in to this show, to our relationship, our family, our business, that those things pay dividends, and it’s not always the very next day, but I think in the next decade you’ll look back and see all the fruits of your labor.”