Home for the Holidays

What are you dreaming of this holiday season?

My to-do list is almost as long as my wish list to Santa. I am so behind on my holiday gift shopping, cards and even further behind on updating you with some more ideas for gift giving this season. (Post on Holiday gifts under $25 to follow this one)

We have been busy bees with holiday parties and home improvement projects to spice up our home for the holidays. Our kitchen desperately needs more functional space. Whoever planned it back in the 40s, probably never used it to actually cook much less plan a holiday feast. We have plans to gut it out completely to turn it into a chef’s kitchen sometime in the future, but for now we are making some minor changes to the layout.

We also are finally getting around to painting some of the rooms- living, dining, kitchen and guestroom. And because of all the decorating projects, we have to wait until they are almost done before we can get holiday stuff up. Never the less, I am truly enjoying this experience. Mr. Mochatini, aka Paul is really a good sport with all my experiments. I picked a silver tin gray paint for the wall with the fireplace. After I saw the first coat of paint, I thought I made a big mistake, but Mr. Mochatini’s assurance and looking at the finished product got me right back on track. “Trust your instincts you must” he says.

We are what you might call “nesting” and totally loving it. Updates on these projects soon. Here is a glimpse of work in progress.

How are you getting your home prepped for the holidays? Comment comment and share! I want to know.

Come back later for holiday gifts under $25 and reader contest results.

Project: Basement Kitchen – The Story Thus Far

The project outline: Kitchen face-lift to create a more open, attractive and functional kitchen space.

Tasks: Painting, countertop, backsplash, cabinets……….

I am really enjoying redoing the basement kitchen. I love designing, creating, working with my hands and it is a fun team activity. ( Paul and me) You would think that finding the energy for a project like this, would be hard. What with full days of work, blogging, social commitments, chores (umm, I do some chores, I think) and a zillion other tasks, it is next to impossible to stay on course. But you know, so far I love it. Despite it being physical in nature, I find remodeling and decorating relaxing.

I want this space to be one of those efficiency kitchens that also doubles as a bar and buffet area for parties. Clean, defined, welcoming

The budget for this project is very limited (under 350$) and we are doing a good job so far keeping it well under that.


I wanted to paint the cabinets to a shade of white. I used a spray paint shade called heirloom white. It has a nice antique white look. I was quite happy with the contrast and softness this shade of paint added to the cabinets. I couldn’t wait to see how these would look with my new countertop. I had my heart set on a butcher’s block but the real deal is far too expensive and I wanted to keep the entire cost for the countertop under $100.


I found the perfect one I was looking for at Ikea. PRAGEL laminate countertops that are moisture, stain and heat resistant. In Walnut finish for only $39 for a 49″ slab.

Yanking out the old countertop using a crowbar was such a fun and liberating activity. I was amazed at how easily I was able to remove the old countertop. After sawing and sizing the new PRAGEL, I wanted to see how they looked before doing anything more. So we placed the new countertops on the cabinets.

Basement Kitchen

Basement Kitchen

Guess what? It didn’t quite go with the cabinets. While I liked the softness and contrast the heirloom white added, together the look was just not happening for me. To complete the look that I have in mind, I decided to paint the entire cabinets in heirloom white. The electric stove in this kitchen is also white and the hood is creamish yellow (yuk!). I am researching how to paint the hood to match the stove.

When redesigning and remodeling, I tend to take time outs to look at the space and progress thus far. I think it helps me evaluate if I am going in the right direction. A lot of times, it all works beautifully on paper, but looks very different in reality. In one of those time-outs, something about the space was still bothering me. I felt it was not as airy and open with the wall cabinets. The room appeared to be dominated by them.

A few minutes of power drill action later I was really glad with the outcome. The room looked more open and welcoming sans wall cabinets. I plan to install floating shelves and some hanging organizers from Ikea like these.

Hanging Rods and S-hooks

hanging dish rack

The funnest part so far was creating the backsplash.

Basement Kitchen

I found the perfect 2″ ceramic tiles at Home Depot for under 3$ a sq. ft. I highly recommend using the premixed mortar and grout. They make tiling more efficient and easy.

Basement Kitchen


This is how the kitchen looks as of last night. What do you think?

Pending tasks:

  • We ran out of the tiles to complete the border around the countertop. Item on Home Depot list.
  • Grouting. We have to wait 24-36 hours before grouting.
  • Painting entire cabinets
  • Painting the wall
  • Paint the hood
  • Find hood vent cover. I am looking for something acrylic or stainless steel to cover the top portion of the hood
  • Installing shelves and rods for organizing
  • Find appropriate photograph to use as art in this space
  • Install countertop ( we have placed them on the cabinets to help design the room, but it is one of the last things to install)
  • Lighting. I need to find small accent lights to complete the makeover

Posts on Mochatini to be on the look out for:

Entire kitchen makeover costs and break down – along with techniques and tips.

How to plan highly economic upgrades to kitchens.

How to install tiles and you can’t believe how easy it is.

Creative organizing using Ikea rod/Shook combos around the house

And: Reader questions on kitchen makeovers.