Crown molding on upper cabinets add style to a kitchen, and backsplash tile are not only a great focal point, but are easier to clean than painted walls, and keep the drywall, well, dry!
If a completely new custom cabinet set up is not in your budget, new finishes on the cabinets can work wonders for the kitchen. While you are having the cabinets re-done, new hardware will make a splash as well. You could even have a few of the upper cabinet doors modified (replaced?) with glass fronts.
New countertops, with sink and faucet will make a huge splash for your space. Countertop materials come in awesome colors, patterns and styles in everything from inexpensive laminates to granite and engineered stone. Today’s laminates are not your grandfathers laminates. If the pricier options are not in your budget, you will feel great with these alternatives.
Replacing outdated light fixtures are another way to update the kitchen without a complete overhaul. While your contractor is doing that, have them install some under-cabinet lights; they make a big difference when you are working in the kitchen, and make great background lights when you just want a little bit of light.