I'm pretty sure this will consume me for the next few months. Our kitchen isn't awful. It's just worn out, doesn't allow traffic to flow, and gets too crowded when more than one person tries to cook at a time. It's that last bit that's the biggest motivator. I like help. I especially like chopping help, because we eat a lot of veggies around here and they all need to be sliced, diced, or julienned.
Right now we're evaluating bids. We've received two, and one is substantially higher than the other. At the moment, I'm inclined to go with the higher bid because it came with item-by-item documentation. I can believe in it. My husband would like to believe in the lower bid, too, so we need to ask questions of the contractors and that's what I'm doing today - assembling a list of questions for each.
This is all a bit scary for us because we had a bad experience with the last general contractor we hired. Seventeen years ago, around the time our youngest was born, we decided to add a bedroom, bathroom, and laundry room. Our contractor did a reasonably good job on that addition, but when we decided to also turn an unfinished area under the garage into a rec room, we ran into trouble. Our contractor disappeared, leaving us a room which was framed but unfinished. My husband and my son worked patiently on weekends for two years to finish the room and the deck onto which it opens. (When they laid the decking, my husband marked the location of every screw. Then he drilled each hole and set the screws in place; my son, who was fifteen by then, came behind and tightened every screw. This took days. After working for several hours, they'd come in rubbing their arms and complaining about being exhausted by all that screwing, causing my eyes to roll back into my head. 'Right,' I'd say.)
When we first moved here, in 1984, the kitchen had avocado green and harvest gold foil wallpaper. No, really, it did.
The guy we bought it from liked to party. The plastic panels which covered the fluorescent fixture had numerous champagne corks embedded in them. He didn't feel the need to remove them, which was part of why we were able to afford the house.
My husband replaced the garbage disposer sometime in the first week. We didn't get that wallpaper down for four (long) years.
Once I turned on the oven to preheat and went back to mixing the cornbread I was making. All of a sudden, a very strange crackly noise began emanating from the upper oven. My husband and I exchanged a glance, and I opened the oven door. Thick black smoke poured out, and below it I could see electrical sparks and something dripping onto the floor of the oven. I stood there, paralyzed, thinking, Oh, shit, the house is going to burn down. I knew this for a certainty because a) my sister's house had burned down a year or so earlier, and b) we'd had a close call a couple of months before when an electric blanket shorted out and started a mattress on fire. So, I just stood there, waiting for somebody to dial 911. My husband reached around me and turned off the oven. The sparks stopped sparking, the ceramic lining of the heating coil stopped dripping, and the smoke stopped smoking. Thank goodness somebody kept their head.
That big black refrigerator you see is the newest appliance we own. It's enormous - absolutely dominates the space. (Well, okay, if I were to reduce the clutter on the front, it might not seem so huge...) My son named it Darth on the day it was delivered. It will be replaced by a white side-by-side, which is taller than Darth but won't stick out so far. (I'm quite sure the clutter will simply transfer to the new location.) We haven't been terribly happy with Darth. It's really very difficult to organize those bottom freezer drawers in any meaningful way.
We bought the range top a few years before we bought Darth. It's black glass. Here's my very best advice: don't ever, ever, ever buy a range top made of black glass. It will always look dirty because there's no cleaning black glass without leaving streaks. By the end of the first week after it came to live in our kitchen, we knew we'd made a mistake. We've been marking time for ten years, waiting an appropriate interval to get rid of that sucker. It (and the double oven) will be replaced by a white, five-burner, double-fuel, double-oven range.
I expect this venture will have its moments. I'll keep you posted.