Meg asked for before/after photos of our kitchen renovation, so here are a few. This is the main view you got entering the kitchen when we moved into the house five years ago:
Why yes, those dark cabinets and fake marble countertops are original to the 58-year-old house! Note how that upper cabinet obscures all views and light from the backyard, requiring adults on one side of the kitchen to bend down over a hot stove to have a face-to-face conversation with anyone on the other side. And I get a facial tick just remembering the old cooktop. It suffered from narcolepsy. You'd boil something and realize that the power had nodded off when the bubbles petered out. Then you had to beat the burner with a wooden spoon to get it to wake back up.
This is what it looks like now, after years of incremental improvements. The fresh paint and built-in bench for the breakfast nook were the final projects:
Obviously we didn't go crazy and break the bank, knocking out walls and upgrading everything to the highest degree. It's still a small kitchen that has a 1950s feel to it. We didn't even put in new cabinets, opting to just paint the old ones and replace the pulls. But the floor is now eco-friendly marmoleum, the counters are silestone, and we went with a tile back splash to add a little bit of color. We also sprang for a new back door to take advantage of the views and light. Then we created a countertop peninsula for another food prep area, and added a small bookcase under that for more storage.
My favorite addition to the kitchen is the corner nook bench. Even though we always had a table and chairs back there, the space was awkward because there was only room for two people to sit. The nook is a real space saver that allows the whole family to eat together.
I still need to unpack my cookbooks and bricabrac, as well as get some curtains and bench cushions so it feels more homey. But overall, I'm really happy with the changes. The kitchen went from a dark and frustrating place to cook to a bright little spot where I savor my coffee while the kids throw food at each other.