Once upon a time in Jersey, there lived two first cousins: John Colaneri from Wyckoff, and Anthony Carrino of Franklin Lakes. Their suburban childhoods consisted of riding BMX bikes, playing sports, hanging out, and lots of family celebrations, while summers in high school and college were spent working in construction.
In 2007, John joined Anthony and his father in the family construction company. Soon after, a friend of the cousins sent in a tape to HGTV showing them doing their everyday job, and pitched that they would be perfect for their own show. It wasn’t long until The Cousins made its television debut on HGTV in 2011.
The Cousins build happiness any time they take on a project. Anthony and John do not change structures—they change lives. The Garden State-born cousins first captured America’s attention with Kitchen Cousins, where they breathed new life into kitchens across the country. Cousins On Call saw them take home renovations to a new level, while Cousins Undercover gave homeowner heroes the surprise of lifetime upon returning from a weekend getaway. With 2015’s America’s Most Desperate Kitchens, The Cousins target the country’s most disastrous kitchens and re-envision them. (Season 2 of the series debuts this summer.) They have also been seen as special guests on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Online, the cousins can be found on Ulive.com’s Chill & Grill, or AOL’s MANuscript.
Beyond television, the cousins have opened up a restaurant in Jersey City: Talde Jersey City, an Asian-American restaurant. Anthony calls Jersey City home, while John resides in Ramsey.
Heart of the Home
If you ask The Cousins about the most important room in the home, they will tell you that the kitchen is the heart of it. “I would say 90 percent of our renovations involve kitchens. Sometimes designs can be complicated because kitchens have to be more functional,” John adds.
Having so many kitchens under their tool belts, John and Anthony are up on the latest trends. As a design/build team, they always implement their signature elements into designs:
Mixing the old and the new: “When you travel across the country as much as we do, and you see the architecture, one of the great things about our state is its history. You get beautiful old homes that have great stories within New Jersey. For designers like us, it allows us to step up and do things that are really special because you can intermix the old decorate elements with new and functional elements. We love doing that in so many of our projects,” John comments.
Opening up the space: “People want to open up their kitchens. With the older architecture, you have a lot more, smaller rooms. We are constantly knocking down walls and opening up homes to create more of an open concept, which is a kitchen trend that remains strong,” notes Anthony. (Shown left.)
Kitchens with a wow factor: “People want elements that make their space stand out—different than their friends or neighbors,” Anthony says. John says that painted cabinets are hot. “You have your whites and grays, but you see a lot of pastel colors that are really coming into the mix. Your main cabinets may all be in white, but your island will be in a light blue or green.” Some clients like their color to come from textured materials, such as a colorful backsplash made of recycled glass bottles. Another way to use color in kitchen design is through appliances. “Appliance companies have been one unique appliance that stands out. Instead of an all stainless steel package, you might have a range or refrigerator in a vibrant color,” John points out. (Shown right.)
For those thinking about redesigning their kitchens, or are just curious about the creative possibilities, John and Anthony hand-selected three kitchens to inspire Bestofnj.com readers:
Location: Mahwah, New Jersey
Design: Contemporary with a rustic aesthetic
Client: Friends of the family (private job not on HGTV)
John and Anthony worked on a 1970s-style ranch home for friends in Mahwah. The entire house was gutted for The Cousins to work their magic. A very dramatic change took place in the kitchen, which was to be the major focal point in the home. John provided some context: “There was a large footprint to work with and we could go crazy with the design. The family wanted a space where they could entertain with family and friends in the main area. We took down every single wall on the entire right side of the house. With the opened up space, you now go from the kitchen to the dining into a living room.” Impressive elements of this sleek space include an island that is over 13 feet long, exposed beams wrapped in barn wood, and state-of-the-art amenities. The fireplace features a rustic mantel that was reclaimed out of a 300-year-old barn, and a black Dekton stone covering that gives a leathery look.
Location Hoboken, New Jersey
Design: Modern and functional
Client: Chef Anthony Pino and family
HGTV Episode: Kitchen Cousins Season 1, Episode 5: A Chef’s Kitchen
Anthony and John also recalled the time they met Liz and Anthony Pino, a young family living in Hoboken. Anthony Pino is a successful local chef who wanted a more modern and functional kitchen, while his wife Liz wanted something out of a magazine. The Cousins created a design that made them both happy. John mentioned that “We have done a lot of restoration work in Hoboken and Jersey City. When you think of a kitchen in a brownstone, you imagine a small space. We knocked down some walls and opened it up. The space now has a great eating area and kitchen area intertwined.” Special details of this interactive kitchen include custom cabinetry, a backsplash with touches of pink, a farmhouse sink, and a Carrara marble countertop. The island features a cooktop and sprayer style faucet for when Chef Pino entertains his guests, or is working on his online video series.
Location: Long Beach Island, New Jersey
Design: Contemporary with family feel
Client: Anthony Carrino’s parents
HGTV Episode: Cousins on Call Season 1, Episode 7: From Sandy to Sparking
John and Anthony sprung into action when they learned the Jersey Shore beach house they spent so many family summers in was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The Cousins managed to surprise Anthony’s parents and revive the home above and beyond its former dwelling. The makeover resulted in a space that equally emphasized function and design.
“To be able to give back to my parents was fantastic. It offered a real sense of pride. We entertain a ton and we are always having family barbecues. Like any Italian family, the kitchen is the heart of the home. We wanted a nice open kitchen space that you can move through. There also had to be plenty of countertop space for prepping different dishes, and a nice wide kitchen sink to stack things while making meals,” Anthony says.
The new and improved contemporary beach home still retains its warm family feel. The kitchen has sleek cabinets that were imported from Italy—mixing wood and lacquer finishes with a thin stainless steel countertop. All of the hardware on the doors and drawers is soft close. If you look at the colorful backsplash, you will see that it is made of recycled glass bottles. The polished concrete floors work well with the stainless steel appliances. The great room area next to the kitchen was renovated, along with the family’s outdoor living space. John adds that no Italian family backyard is complete without an outdoor kitchen, bocce court, and pizza oven.
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Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Kevin Smith / PMK • BNC Entertainment
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
America’s Most Desperate Kitchens / Facebook
Anthony Carrino profile shot / PMK • BNC Entertainment
John Colaneri profile shot / PMK • BNC Entertainment
Mahwah Kitchen / Anthony Carrino & John Colaneri
Hoboken Kitchen / Chris Amaral
LBI Kitchen / Chris Amaral