Start with this . . . (see more "before" pics here):

Sad, faded cabinet fronts: where did your varnish go?

Add a little of this:

Ooo, at this point the cabinet fronts were already
stripped and re-varnished--so glossy!

We removed the old tile and removed much of the wall at the same time, so we replaced the drywall and then installed subway tile in a herringbone pattern for visual interest.  We worked in very small sections until we got the hang of it.  We opted for brushed silver edging that matches the NEW brushed silver hardware and NEW light fixtures.  This pattern required LOTS of measuring, cutting, swearing, re-measuring, cutting . . .  We also installed the new countertops ourselves (it is laminate, but I think it looks like concrete--I love it!).  We did a lot of research and it turned out to be a pretty easy task, which saved us $400 of labour.  We did opt for delivery though because we have a small car.  (CORRECTION: Husband says, "we don't have a small car, we have a Nissan Versa.  You can't post lies."  Our beloved Charlie is up on blocks while we save up money to race him.  No joke.)

Now we have this:

We tried to do a very inexpensive makeover on the kitchen—what I called the “spit and polish”.  We kept the ceramic tile floor, appliances (except for range hood), cabinets and faucet (which rocks--you can pull it out to fill buckets or water plants).  Because my kitchenware, such as dishes, place settings and even my blender, are so colourful (lots of vintage turquoise, green, and pink) I kept the colour scheme in the kitchen pretty tame.  I usually favor vintage tea towels (I have a collection Martha Stewart would envy—but only if she has fewer than 30!) but I just bought these Marimekko ones in Boston, MA recently and I am love.  I heart Marimekko (I think I have to--I’m Finnish & Hungarian).  The print above the sink was made by my mom and it is based on a still life she set up in her kitchen. 

We stripped and re-varnished the cabinet fronts and then painted the inside of the cabinets white to freshen them up.  We used a chemical stripper because the cabinet fronts are veneer and we didn’t want a belt sander to strip below the veneer.  I love the look of the painted cabinetry, but the cabinet fronts had some really nice grain.  I just couldn’t cover them, but the next owner could easily paint to suit. 

We posted a want add on an online classifieds looking for a mid-century teak dining table.  A lovely couple replied and we purchased the set below.  The table is actually in the dining room and we purchased another round teak table to pair with these chairs in the kitchen.  We reupholstered the chairs with a black and white houndstooth.

Don't worry, empty wall, I will dress you up soon . . .