John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino hosts of HGTV’s ‘Kitchen Cousins’ talk with Mark and Theresa

Interview with Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri hosts of HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins

Theresa: And you are back inside MyFixitUpLife with my husband Mark.

Mark: And my wife Theresa.  And we are rockin’ it out, talking kitchens.

Hosts of HGTV's Kitchen Cousins - John Colaneri (left) and Anthony Carrino (right)

Theresa: We are, we’re rockin’ it in the kitchen.

Mark: All good parties end up in the kitchen…at least they say.

Theresa: Or they start in the kitchen too.

Mark: They could.

Theresa: Well you cook it up, you make some nice drinks, and then you start the party.

Mark: There you go.  Or maybe we should defer to our guests.

Theresa: We can start even further back, before you even start making any food; you have to have a nice kitchen.

Mark: That’s a possibility.

Theresa: And that’s where our guests, from HGTV’s ‘Kitchen Cousins,’ come into my whole vision for the whole party.

Mark: The whole vision.  John and Anthony are you there? And are you checked down with Theresa’s vision of good parties?

John: We are here and we are on board with the vision of good parties.

Mark: Alright well let’s skip all the serious questions and go to what do you guys do when you party?

Anthony: Oh boy.  Ha Ha.  John and I like to throw parties over by his place or my place quite a bit.  I’ve got a cool little roof deck that we created with a semi outdoor kitchen on it as well.  So we kind of bring the outdoors in if you will.

Theresa: Oh I love that — outdoor kitchens.  Now do you guys do that in your business?   Do you create outdoor kitchens as well as regular kitchens?

Anthony: Yeah there are not a lot of limits to what we do.  Any challenge, anything that’s a creative project, anything that’s going to be fun, we’re into trying it.

Theresa: That’s so cool.

John and Anthony on the set of 'Kitchen Cousins'

Mark: Wow that sounds great.  Now even though your show is ‘Kitchen Cousins’ on HGTV — you guys run a full scale remodeling operation don’t you?

John: Yes we do.  I mean we really do — it’s nuts — we do everything.  We’ve done huge development projects that we’ve GC’d and owned the building as well.  Specifically, actually the building that Anthony and I live in, talking about parties, we both live in the same building so we actually built that building, GC’d it, developed it, from start to finish and it was 22 condos.  It was quite a project, and you can imagine it was built in the early 1900’s, it was an old warehouse.

Mark: Ah love it!

John: Yeah it’s a gorgeous building.  It has the exposed brick, exposed ductwork throughout.  A lot of what you see on ‘Kitchen Cousins’ mixing the old and the new.  We put two very modern new floors on top of the structure to make it a five story building.  So really, you name it, we do it.

Mark: That’s super cool.  Now as far as you know you’re in people’s homes and you’re tearing out old stuff to bring in new designs and so forth, is there any particular treasure or weird thing you’ve found inside the walls?  We remodel here so we know what it’s like to tear into old plaster and so forth, and people hide stuff between the studs or there’s a fresco in there.  You know did you find 100,000 dollars in cash for example?

Anthony: Yeah we found a couple million dollars that’s why we’re still working so hard.

Theresa: It’s a good find…you know you do need to keep working.

Anthony: We haven’t found anything super, super crazy.  There are two cool things that we’ve found recently.  We just moved our office about five months ago to an old fire station that was built in 1896 fully restored.

Mark: Killin me.

Theresa: Oh my goodness I can’t tell you how many times my husband has said that he wants to live in an old fire station.  Like literally, have a tractor and live in a fire station are like the dreams of my husband.

Anthony: Well anytime you want to come and hang out with us, when you find the time.  Until you do though, they feature the office pretty prominently on ‘Kitchen Cousins’ so you can definitely see some of the architectural elements.  Especially the brick work on the outside is just fantastic.  But when we were in the middle of the restoration, we took down some old, rusted tin paneling in the building and behind it written in pencil on the plaster it said, ‘This firehouse erected in 1896 by fireman Bill O’Keif’ I believe was the name.

Mark: That is awesome.

Kitchen makeover by John and Anthony from an episode of 'Kitchen Cousins'

Anthony: So we photographed that and got it saved and we’re planning on framing it just as soon as we can find five minutes.  And then the other cool thing that we found up in the ceiling was a lot of old, glass soda bottles.  You know the small ones that are all pop cap and stuff so those are kinda neat.

Theresa: Those are really neat.  Our ten year old is fascinated by them actually.

Anthony: Yeah we’ve got those saved on the side, and again when we find all that free time we’re gonna clean them up and do something with them.

Theresa: So between filming for your show and running your business, and apparently having a really nice time having parties at your residence — that we’ll be invited to shortly — how do you have five minutes?  Seriously?

John: Our lives have been kinda turned upside-down.  Five minutes?  We don’t have five minutes anymore.  It’s kind of a 24/7 thing now.  We are constantly working all the time.  At the same time, we love what we do so even though we are working, we are doing it — it’s him and I — we are cousins but we’re best friends doing what we love and we have just a compassion for it.

Anthony: If we were not as passionate as we are, I mean we get excited over some crazy things.  I mean you put the right kitchen cabinets in front of me, I’ll be jumping up and down.  But it’s the kind of thing were if we weren’t together, and we weren’t as passionate about it, I don’t think it would work because the time commitment is beyond substantial.  But everyday we’re finding something new, we’re pushing each other and we’re having a blast doing it.

Mark: Wow…wow.  Now on a day to day basis, you guys have so much going on are you — like many remodelers and DIYers for that matter — juggling between doing the business stuff then throwing your tool pouch on and then running out to the van or the truck to say. ‘Hey that fill in the black tool’s not here oh no what do we do?

John: You just described our day to a T…every single day.  That’s exactly what happens.

Mark: So who’s to blame for the missing rotary hammer?

Anthony: It was him.

Mark: I love it…another family thrown under the bus.

John: Actually when that happens I’m like ‘Oh your dad must have taken it and used it.’

Anthony: We blame my dad all the time, that’s alright.

Mark: Nice.  Is he even there to defend himself?

Anthony: No of course not.

Mark: Awesome.

Theresa: That’s even better.  That warms my heart entirely. Now I was reading your bios on your website and I saw that Anthony you don’t love your kitchen, but John you do.  What’s the deal?

Anthony: I like the materials that were used, but I don’t like my kitchen because it’s set of to the side of my apartment where John’s got this great open concept kitchen which we’re both huge fans of.  And just the innate nature of the building, you know adaptive reuse projects whenever you’re working within the confines of existing space, you’ve got these existing conditions that you’ve got to deal with so the way the layout worked out for my particular unit it forced the kitchen kind of off to the side, and it’s not that I hate it, I just I love to entertain and to be in the kitchen and in the party at the same time is kind of a crucial mix for me.

John and Anthony on Countertop Catastrophe episode of 'Kitchen Cousins'

John: And just like Anthony said, my kitchen just the way it kind of laid out when we were developing and breaking down on the units, I was able to do a nice island, and it opens up to the back of the living room so when I do have a party or people over, everyone is constantly in the kitchen, in the living room — it’s one big area.  Like how you guys were saying having a party, it’s very ideal for entertaining.

Mark: Sounds awesome.  You know here’s a question for you, because that’s my job to ask them until we run out of time.

Theresa: I’m so glad you’re up to speed on the whole talk show format, Mark.

Mark: Right.  I actually had to write that down for myself.

Theresa: Must ask questions.

Mark: I can only count to eight, so I have a really hard time passing my own tests.  If you were to give advice to a DIYer who wants to tackle their own kitchen project — and keep in mind your answer can be ‘Don’t do it’ — what advice would you give someone considering a kitchen remodel?

Anthony: I was answering this question with a friend of mine the other day and they were saying ‘How do you answer this question?’ It is difficult because you don’t want to give somebody bad advice, and everyone has a different level of comfort when it comes to these projects.  I mean if somebody says to me, ‘You put the backsplash on like this, and you adjust the cabinets like this,’ you know I’m totally confident to go in and do it, so for somebody who has proficiency with power tools and levels and tape measures and they aren’t afraid to use tools and they have a comfort level with them, you know I would give them different advice than someone who has just bought their first home and they are figuring out where the hot water heater is.  So I think you definitely want to start with smaller projects.  If you’re doing small updates like your backsplash or even some hardwood flooring for that matter, you know those are things were even if you make a mistake those things are correctable.  The one thing that we tend to steer people away from, kitchen cabinets are deceiving because there’s no electric, there’s no plumbing it’s like ‘Oh you take the cabinets out, you put the cabinets back in.’  You have to level these cabinets and if you have an older home your floors could be out of level, walls are not always square, so to get a real professional instillation of your kitchen cabinets and having all the doors adjusted and the drawers working properly, there’s more that goes into that than one may think.  So when it gets into the kitchen cabinetry, the electrical, and the plumbing, we definitely suggest sticking with the pros.

John: Yeah I couldn’t agree with Anthony more.  I think we always say we don’t want anyone flooding or burning down their house.

Mark: Ha Ha Ha.

Kitchen makeover by John and Anthony

John: We laugh about it but I can’t tell you how many times we go in to doing any of the demolitions, remodeling, anything that we do and you find the home owner special — someone trying to do some electrical work, someone trying to do some plumbing work and they just exacerbate the problem and make it ten times worse than it is, and they are very lucky they did not burn down their house.  So small, little tiny projects like that — absolutely, you know if you make a mistake they are kind of easy to correct, or if you’re half way through and you’re like, ‘I can’t do this,’ you can have someone else come in.

Theresa: Well we have to go to break.

Mark: We’re lucky we got to talk to you guys.  You guys are awesome.  Check out ‘Kitchen Cousins’ on HGTV and we’ll be back with more MyFixitUpLife.

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