The ManFlesh and I have decided to move to another state and are in the process of preparing his house for sale. It's a 1911 Craftsman with lots of nice unpainted wood work, built-ins and details. But... the kitchen was an moderately sloppy 1980s redo that was a worn out style that was wearing out physically. Obviously he doesn't want to dump a bunch of money into it so we decided to work with the existing footprint and cabinets, but to change all the surfaces except the floor. That's where I come in with 7+ years experience as a decorative painter and a life-long interest in interiors.
Before the cabinets were a yellowed white, the counters were scratched and worn (and missing in places) nearly-maroon laminate, and the open cabinets painted to match the counters. The light fixture was the standard builder's cheapo of the day and someone added a plug-in track light over the sink. The cabinet hardware a period charming style in a worn and out-of-style brass finish.
The walls were a nice sagey green, but they were also full of pinholes and poorly patched spots. The ceiling had some cracks and was what I like to call formerly-white. Like all old homes, it didn't have lots of storage and adding some would be difficult, because that room had 4 (count 'em, 4) doors into/out of it.
NOW! It's all in neutral black, white, greys with new brushed nickel hardware, stainless steel appliances and a cement counter veneer that imitates Carrera marble.
Because we know from watching HGTV, looking at listed houses online and talking with our awesome agent, that we had to clear the clutter we removed all the things from the shelves that weren't black/white/grey/silver/wood or our chosen accent color (purple). We cleared up the garden window over the sink and I made a quick valence in a black/white/grey spoon and fork print to dress it up a bit.
We did the same on the other open shelving and packed up most of the small appliances stored there, but left a few to show that there was room for some and because we use those. We packed up most of the cookbooks, etc., too.
The counter is a product called SkimStone which is a cement hybridized with an acrylic solution then tinted with proprietary pigments. It's designed for concrete floors, but with a special bonding primer will adhere to laminate and tile. The pic at the top shows it well. The white tiles are left over from when I tiled the shower at my house which I sold last year and the black tiles are made from recycled glass that I bought on sale at a home center.
We got the dishwasher used from a seller on craigslist ($80); the KitchenAide range ($275) and light fixture ($27.50) used from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
One of the former owners seemed to think that expanding spray foam was duct tape and could fix anything.
Sigh. So I shouldn't have been surprised when I started chipping away at this mess over the stove (knowing the old stove pipe vent was under there) that he'd just filled the pipe with, smeared some spackle on it then painted over it. I repaired the plaster properly and while these 101 year old walls are far from perfect, at least they just show age, not neglect and indifference.