We didn't necessarily love this kitchen. My parents built the house in 1999, but the kitchen had a random, generic feeling to it. Oh sure, Mom dressed it up and tried to make it her own, but it just never felt right to her. We just started calling it "the room with the food" since we knew we could do better for her kitchen-wise.
After my dad passed away from a long illness, my husband and I wanted to make their home as comfortable as she liked and exactly as she wanted it. The room with the food was the eyesore. She loved everything about their home - just the kitchen. Ick.
So we started slow with a new refrigerator and then, after the worst dishwasher in the world finally collapsed, we got the dishwasher that dreams are made of (the old one sounded like an airplane taking off - the new one is so quiet we have to check to make sure it's on). Then, of course, a new stove to replace the one that came with the house and a new microwave to go above the stove, which was a first for her. More counter space!
After that, we paid someone to come in and paint all the cabinets and put hardware on them. Worth every penny (about $800) and it was done in two days and we didn't have to leave the house. And this is a cheap wood for these cabinets, but they made them look fantastic and they're still going strong a year later.
But the clincher was the lighting. I'm not a design person. I'm terrible at the big picture, but holy moly, I had NO IDEA lighting could make such a difference. We waited until Mom went out of town, got the electricians in, and had fisheye recessed lighting installed along with two small pendant lights over the bar and a larder pendant light over the sink. All on dimmers. I couldn't believe what a huge difference LIGHTING made (pendant lights were somewhere around $200 at Pottery Barn and I had a discount).
Mom has been THRILLED with her "new" kitchen and we actually like going in there now. We used to just go in there for food, but now we sit at the bar and talk and it's Mom's new favorite place for her crossword puzzles. She deserves it :)
Thank you, Katie!