I inherited a house from my great-grandmother that was in less than stellar shape. Structurally, it turned out to be okay but it was hideous and dirty. The tan Formica counters actually turned out to be white once they got a good scrubbing! The walls and cabinets were caked with grease. I cleaned out all the junk and scrubbed everything.
The walls got a coat of off white paint just to freshen and lighten things up while I tried to decide on a color palette, but I wound up really liking the neutral off white color ("Balcony" by Allen + Roth for Valspar). I painted all the cabinets and trim a glossy white. I used Rustoleum countertop paint in "Putty" to update the counters (it's held up for 3 years so far with no chips or scratches). I used a mixture of the same "Putty" countertop paint with a little stippling of "Pewter" in the same brand on the floor. While it was still wet, I sprinkled it with black and red glitter! I could never bring myself to pour glitter on nice floors, but having an old, ugly house is liberating! You get to experiment with unorthodox treatments without as much risk. The floor is sealed with polyurethane, mostly just to seal in the glitter, as the countertop paint is very durable on its own. It holds up surprisingly well on vinyl flooring. I also recently added paintable wallpaper with a tin tile pattern as a backsplash and painted it with some premixed Valspar paint in "Glossy Red".
The light fixture in the before was actually a ceiling fan that had had its blades broken off when someone opened a cabinet door while it was running. I replaced it with an inexpensive and basic fluorescent fixture. The gas stove leaked and I ended up having to replace it and went with a electric, smooth surface range. Had I not had to replace it (and eventually the fridge as well), this makeover would have stayed well below $500. No gut demo, it's all just paint!
Thank you, Kristen!