"I think what Extreme taught me is that as an artist, what you create with your hands has a lasting difference and actually makes someone's life better," he says of the show. "It's something that I'll always be proud of."
The series recently returned for four special holiday episodes, the last of which airs tonight on ABC and features a military family and celebrity guest J.R. Martinez. Pennington says that after Monday's show, there aren't any plans for future episodes.
Does he miss Extreme? "Of course, are you kidding me? That's my family," he says. In fact, Pennington says he's working on finding a more affordable way to do the show, so one day it can return to the air.
The charismatic carpenter, 48, spoke to PARADE about the end of the show, his plans for the future, and how he likes to celebrate the holidays.
On the end of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
"My friend recently said, 'Oh my God, dude. You look rested.' Now, I actually have a chance to try to get some of the things in my life in order. When you're on that show, you're literally traveling every three days. Everything is on hold until you can get back to it. So I'm trying to reconnect with my own family and breaking ground on a sustainable home I'm building for myself in northern Florida."
On working with J.R. Martinez.
"He was great—such a cool guy. He has a really strong connection with the family that we helped, who was a burn victim. J.R. Martinez was a real hero and an idol to our family. Having somebody like J.R. be able to say and show that life does go on was pretty special."
On how he likes spending the holidays.
"I think what's fun about the holidays is the funny things that happen, whether it's a disaster in the kitchen or it's the personalities. I have a very funny family with a really strong sense of humor, so to spend time with them is a lot of fun. That's what I miss. It's the Christmas disasters that are the ones you remember the most and I love that, whether it's a cat jumping into a tree, knocking it over, and turning it into a small house fire that you have to put out, or the dogs urinating all over the presents.