I was hoping you would show us what you had been up to!
All told, not bad at all.
Especially for just $500!
I'm sure you added far more than that to the value of the home - kitchens are so
important to home-lookers nowadays (as I believe you've begrudgingly noted
Red stimulates the appetite, so it's a great fit for kitchens and dining rooms (though not if you're trying to lose weight
). My personal favorite is a Mediterranean palate with tomato reds and deep, glassy blues; as my friends would tell you I love citrus colors as well - especially for small metal appliances! - but they're much too strong to be anything more than an accent in a neutral, modern kitchen (though they stimulate alertness, so they're perfect
for a small breakfast nook).
You are totally right that going smaller-scale with the new items was the way to go; especially when coupled with the darker wall color (going darker with the paint can make a room feel smaller, though in your case the white cabinets and trim will mitigate this).
I especially like the various "Carnation" memorabilia sprinkled throughout the room (and what a perfect place for a clock that is!). The colors also remind me of Campbell's soup and Coca-Cola, other nice food connotations.*
A job well done, and a lovely reminder to all of us that you actually can
make a world of difference in a house with a small investment, as long as you're willing to learn and do things yourself.
*Though not necessarily together. "Chicken noodle soup with a soda on the side"?