The beauty of form and function

John Colaneri has completed hundreds of styles of kitchens over the last 10 years, so when it came to his own kitchen renovation – he knew what he wanted. But he wasn’t the only one who had a say.

“Yes, I know what I want, but I have a wife who also knows what she wants. You have to find the happy medium – the in-between,” says Colaneri, co-host of HGTV’s Design Duo. “I wanted to hear her say, ‘Thank you, you really put all the things I need.’ And I think we got there.” Combining beauty with family-friendly functionality was designer and builder John Colaneri’s main goal when redesigning his home kitchen. The North Jersey mid-century modern ranch he shares with his wife and two daughters has a contemporary rustic blend that mixes old and new elements.

“Over the last five years, I’ve brought an industrial feel into my designs with lighting elements and unique details,” he says. “It’s a little contemporary, but with an urban feel in a suburban setting. I capture it throughout the whole house, but especially in the kitchen. The handles, the small touches of brass. That’s what makes it unique. The design details make a difference. It’s what people haven’t seen.”

But beauty is only one part of the design. Space planning for function is critical.

“You need the kitchen to be functional – you need it to work for you,” says Colaneri. “If the layout doesn’t work, it makes it difficult to flow with the rest of the home.”

With the whole home being renovated, it was easier to do full-scale planning. The entire space between the kitchen, dining area and sunroom were combined into one; flowing seamlessly into each other. This open concept allowed plenty of room for an 11-foot island, ample seating and easy access to the Monogram appliances and items used regularly. Large sliding doors lead to a stone patio deck that overlooks one acre of property, perfectly combining outdoor and indoor.

“Now that outdoors is such an important part of our living space,” he adds. “People are home and they want to experience both environments.”

COVID-19 did present some delays – making an easy renovation more challenging. But it also gave Colaneri a first-hand look at what the pandemic has done to the industry.

The project was scheduled to finish in February or March. But once COVID hit, it was an immediate stall. The custom cabinets were delayed, then everything else came to a dead stop. “It did give me the opportunity to really talk with my subcontractors to make sure they were comfortable coming in,” says Colaneri who completed the project in May.

It was all worth it though, and the memories they now have are priceless.

“I make breakfast every morning with my girls, who are ages 5 and 1,” says Colaneri. “It’s a nice way to start the day, and it’s a great connection. They get whatever they want, with Sesame Street playing in the background. These are the moments I’ll look back on and remember, especially when I’m not the ‘cool dad’ anymore.”

Colaneri will most likely never grow out of his “cool dad” label, at least when it comes to design.

Look for the Colaneri home featured in the September Renovation issue of HGTV Magazine.

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