While the 90s child inside us will always love Tim Allen’s famous show, Home Improvement, these days “home improvement” shows are much more literal. After all, we are among a generation who wants to build and DIY more than ever before. If you’re following the HGTV craze, then these two makers might look familiar.
Meet real-life cousins Anthony Carrino (left) and John Colaneri (right), stars of the HGTV show Cousins Undercover. They serve up renovation and construction expertise every week to viewers across America. On Undercover, the cousins make over the homes of hometown heroes from coast to coast. The result? Heartwarming stories, amazing home transformations, and some really good TV.
Get this: The duo also hosted a Lowe’s holiday event in New York City that our team recently attended and I was lucky enough to chat with Anthony and John for hours. After realizing that we had similar design philosophies, I knew we had to share some of their work and expertise with all of you. Read on for their renovation and design tips, plus the ONE thing you need to remember when renovating your house!
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
My cousin Anthony and I have been best friends since I can remember. Growing up, our families were always together and I always looked up to Anthony as my older brother. We lived in North Jersey towns next to each other and Anthony even drove me to high school.
I have been working in construction since my teenage years. I spent every summer of my college career back home putting in more time to learn the trade. After graduating from Penn State with a degree in business, I worked for a couple different companies in various managerial positions before going to work for my uncle and cousin. I have been working at Brunelleschi Construction for six years now. I am also attending Stevens Institute of Technology for my Masters in Construction Management.
How did you get into home renovations? How did Cousins on Call get started?
Our families have always been in construction. My uncle and cousin started Brunelleschi Construction ten years ago, and my cousin and I were randomly discovered by HGTV in 2011. Kitchen Cousins was our first show and because of the great popularity, it grew into Cousins on Call and now Cousins Undercover, which airs Sundays at 8/7c on HGTV. Cousins Undercover is about helping hometown heroes. We travel the country trying to find the most deserving people for an incredible renovation.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
I love design and construction and they go hand in hand. I am constantly pushing myself to find the latest in the design world so I can bring it to the screen and to our fans.
What are the most common renovating mistakes you see?
Homeowners do not plan! You have to have a design and a construction plan before the renovation begins. If you start the work with no plan in place, your project will take twice the amount of time.
What’s the one thing everyone needs to remember when renovating a house?
Always be prepared for a change in orders. In any remodel we have done, it has never gone to plan and we find things we need to fix that we did not expect. Always have a 15% contingency ready in case you go over budget.
What’s the one thing everyone needs to know when it comes to kitchen renovations?
Spend your money on the backsplash and counters—these are items that are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. Also, do not overlook lighting. Pendant lights or a designer chandelier over the island really makes a statement in the kitchen. (Editorial note: that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money! Check out these DIY pendent options.)
What’s up next for both of you?
We’re going to start shooting season two of Cousins Undercover over the next few months and cannot wait to start helping people again while bringing great design and construction to the screen. I am currently building my new home in North Jersey, so if I’m not shooting, I’ll be at my own home or participating in other private projects that Brunelleschi Construction has on deck.
Want to catch Anthony and John in action? Tune in to HGTV this Sunday, November 17th at 8pm to catch the Cousins Undercover season finale!