photos showing the progress over the past fortnight.
When Gail comes back, we will decide what to do with the dark cabinets. They can be painted, refaced or tossed out entirely and replaced. But the "working" side of the kitchen is much brighter and more livable now. The new range hood has a lot more (and warmer) light than the old buzzing fluorescent, and a quieter variable-speed fan. (I had fun turning it on "full", and running outside to see the breeze from the outside vent.)
The backsplash material is paneling, made for kitchens and bathrooms, that has a glossy ceramic-tile face. It's quite inexpensive, less than $20 for a 4' x 8' sheet; I only needed two sheets. I chose one with sand-colored tile and white "grout" lines, and ran a line of white caulk into the corners. I finished the edges with some 3/8" pine corner stock, cut down to the thickness of the paneling where necessary. Now it's all waterproof and easy to clean; it's a good solution for a quick DIY makeover. (Hmm, he thinks, casting his eye on the downstairs bathroom...)
Anyway, it's been a long time coming. I bought this house back in 2001, basically sight unseen; the location, size and price were exactly what I wanted. So when I walked through it and saw the hokey 70s decor and the mud-dark colors, I just figured I would pull down the wallpaper and paint when I was ready. But then I just got used to it, and since I spent most of my time flying I wasn't home that much anyway. But now I'm looking forward to sharing it with Gail, and I really want to make it a comfortable place for us. A home.