I wish I had before and after pictures so you could see the difference, but somehow before pictures never got taken, and if you watch home reno shows at all, it would seem like we didn't change very much anyway. HGTV seems to concentrate on trendy and over the top designs and colour schemes that soon go out of style, but we chose a classic plan and will stick with it for years to come so as not to create a lot of waste now or in the future. For example, rather than get the latest in cupboards, we kept our old ones (gasp!) because they are nice solid oak -- just wait a few years and they'll be the next trend! Not that it matters a whit to us.
We aimed for practical, so all that really changed structurally speaking is that our fridge and dishwasher traded places, and we added the two nearest counter pieces with cupboards made to match the ones we already had. What a difference the changes have made to the way our kitchen functions! We're not bumping into each other nearly so much as we put meals on the table or empty the dishwasher, and I'm thrilled to have enough cupboard space so that running to the basement to get bread bowl or food processor isn't necessary any more! (I run enough river valley steps when I walk the dog!)
There are some nice aesthetic changes, too. The new cupboards match the old ones (thank you, Delton Cabinets!), and we found better door pulls that don't bite my fingers. The fridge no longer blocks the window, and I love the sunshine that crosses our new counter space on the right. All the counter tops are a fresh arborite that actually wipes clean. A new back splash means grout isn't falling out every time I wipe it. And for a nature lover like me, it's nice to have a leafy-patterned lino underfoot, and spacious skies blue on the walls. (Who names these paint colours?? Our dining/living room is whispering waterfall pale green. I'm not kidding.)
Of course, it all cost a pretty penny, but it would have been a lot more expensive if we hadn't kept the existing cupboards, subcontracted a lot of the work, and done the really time consuming stuff ourselves (like scraping off the previous tiles' glue and re-painting the insides of the old cupboards). Net result: a simple, spacious, and more functional kitchen that is already making this year's garden produce easier to handle. Not to mention less waste of renovation resources!
I've heard a lot of kitchen reno horror stories -- usually from people who rip everything out because they want a complete update. But keeping it simple makes a lot more sense -- not just for the homeowners' pocketbook and sanity, but also for the sake of the planet. And of course, we are known for trying to keep things simple around here!