HGTV’s Cousins On Call

Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri are experts on all things concerning home renovation and interior design. You may recognize them from HGTV’s slew of shows which include Cousins on Call, Cousins Undercover and Kitchen Cousins, and tonight their newest show – America’s Most Desperate Kitchens – premieres on HGTV.

Since summer is a time we all like to make home improvements, we decided to sit down with the two on everything from composing a great photo wall to making your apartment look bigger in just a few simple steps…

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From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

Anthony: Let’s assume it’s a Saturday. I’m usually up by eight, regardless of the previous night’s activities, and I love to make breakfast. Scrambled cheesy (sharp cheddar) eggs with pink Himalayan salt and truffle honey on a toasted English muffin with a side of thick cut slab bacon. Moving on to lunch, or brunch number two (don’t judge me), we recently opened Talde Jersey City and the brunch is the best thing ever. My go-to is either the Filipino Pork Fried Rice with an egg on top (hangover cure of champions), or the Corn Pancakes topped with La Quercia speck, chili powdered sugar and coconut brown butter syrup (also known as crack syrup). For dinner, I’d make my burgers which are pretty badass. Half pork and half beef with fresh jalapeno, red onion, Old Bay and shaved pecorino mixed into the meat and then grilled on a pink salt slab and served on an English muffin.

John: In the morning, a shake with kale, blueberries, strawberries, and carrots. For lunch, a protein bar with a can of tuna and salad. For dinner, a turkey burger on an English muffin with avocado and bacon, spinach salad, and corn on the cob.

What tips would you give someone trying to update his or her kitchen without breaking the bank? 

Anthony: First off, if you dont like the layout of your kitchen – meaning you want to rearrange the appliance locations – there is not a very economical way to do it. You will need to hire a licensed electrician and a plumber in order to re-route gas and electric lines, so this will get expensive. If you are happy with your kitchen layout and you are just looking to get some design bang, you can add a new backsplash. You can also change pendant light fixtures over an island; this is an easy switch that can have a big impact. Also consider changing your switch to a dimmer for more control over mood.

John: Find a focal point in the kitchen where you can make a big statement. Changing out the range and doing a new backsplash behind that one area can make a big difference. As you get more money, you can expand off of it and change out more items in your kitchen.

What should be in every kitchen?

Anthony: A refrigerator and a stove.

John: Every kitchen should have something that makes it unique and really stands out. If it’s a colored appliance, a feature wall, or countertops that make a big statement, find the one element that you can splurge on.

Tips to putting together a great photo wall…

Anthony: This is something I love. I put a fun spin on this and actually have a tasting menu wall in my bar area; I save all of the great dinner tasting menus, frame them and then hang the memory. Creating that great haphazard pattern is more difficult than it looks. This is definitely a good job for two people if you are a bit, let’s say ‘visually challenged’. Balance is the key here; you don’t want to have any awkward gaps. Whether you are doing this with someone or not, I suggest measuring the wall and then taping that same dimension out on the floor with painters tape. Once you have this taped out, layout all your frames until you are happy with the arrangement. Then it’s just a simple matter of transferring the measurements to the wall and hanging the frames.

John: Look to having your photos printed on something that has texture, like wood. I have family photos in my house printed on wood and they are so rich and inviting. This is something that many people have not seen and it really gives your pictures great character.

Three easy things you can do to any room in the house to immediately update it…

Anthony: Paint! It’s the most underrated update you can do! And don’t forget you can paint your floors too! (Look into Chalk Paint) Wallpaper is certainly more complicated than paint, but an amazing visual. There are so many cool wallpaper companies doing such great things. A few favorites are Flavor Paper, JuJu Paper, Hygge & West and Timorous Beasties.

John: Paint or wallpaper, new rugs, and lighting/pendants or a chandelier.

Ways to create space in a cramped apartment that seemingly has no space…

Anthony: Multi-function pieces are the way to go. Pinterest is a great resource for all these kinds of projects. We once worked in a kitchen that was only seven feet wide and could not be made bigger, so we built a fold down butcher block table that functioned as a prep area, but also as a makeshift dining table with some folding chairs that were hung on the wall as well. We also once built a picture frame that folded down off a wall to create a four-top dining table in a small one-bedroom apartment.

John: A lot of cramped apartments have high ceilings, so use that space for storage. Shelves or built-ins go a long way to help when space is limited. Look into making desks and tables that fold up onto the wall so when you entertain you can move them out of the way and really open up the space.

What are some go-to weeknight recipes for you?

Anthony: Heirloom tomato grilled cheese with fontina cheese, heirloom tomatoes, red onion and arugula on sourdough bread. I love lemon rosemary chicken cutlets, made with thin chicken cutlets dipped in egg, flour and then Panko Breadcrumbs. Put olive oil in a pan over high heat with full rosemary sticks in it and fry the chicken on both sides. Put it on paper towels and pat dry. Squeeze lemon over the chicken. I also make a string bean salad, which is my Mom’s recipe and my favorite salad of all time. It has string beans, shaved almonds, chopped red onion, dried cranberries, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

John: I love making burgers on the weekend. I use half pork and half beef with hot peppers and Romano cheese chopped up and mixed in. I am also Italian so a weekend of making sauce, meatballs and sausage with a pasta is true to my heart.

What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?

Anthony: In New York, PerlaMarket TableUplandVinegar Hill HouseTalde Jersey City, and Carrino Provisions. In Los Angeles, Chi SpaccaTasting KitchenOsteria Mozza, and Republique. In Nashville, 404 Kitchen and The CatBird Seat. In Austin, Foreign & Domestic and Franklin Barbecue.

John: With all of the traveling Anthony and I have been doing, we have eaten at some incredible ones! In New York/New Jersey, Employees Only, Spice Market, I Sodi, Carrino Provisions, and Talde Jersey City. In Nashville, 404 Kitchen and The CatBird Seat. In Austin, Snack Bar, Perla’s and Elizabeth Street Café.

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s the new potato when it comes to home kitchens? 

Anthony: There are so many tricks you can do today, from pop-up counter top outlets to in-counter deep fryers and built-in coffee machines. The kitchen is the most functional room in the house or apartment, so I always encourage my clients to think about how they truly use their space and then we design for that use.

John: Colored appliances are so hot right now and they make a huge statement in your kitchen. I have red Bertazzoni range that is the focal point of my kitchen and the first thing everyone wants to talk to me about when they come over.

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*Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri photographed at The Smith in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.

Here are five of our favorite things to buy for your kitchen. Interior designer Sara Story also gave us these five killer interior design tips. Or you could just make your home look perfect.