Next to bathroom home improvements, kitchen home improvements can provide the best return on investments for improving the value of your home - where every dollar spent in the bathroom increases home sale price by about $5, nearly every dollar spent in the kitchen increases home sale price by about $3. As kitchen home improvements can range from the simple to the extravagant, this is something that needs to be targeted carefully.
First, decide what you dislike about your current kitchen. It may have a truly horrible work flow, with counters and appliances set around in odd locales making it hard to work productively. Maybe you want to have an island counter for staging food preparation, or maybe you've developed a deep aversion to harvest gold or want more shelf space to work with.
If your desire for kitchen home improvements is simple, the first and often times most often overlooked aspect to try is refinishing the kitchen cabinets. Take a moment to consider this - if your kitchen is too dark, sanding down the finish off your cabinets, installing maple or light oak trim and a new varnish can often be done in under a week, and without expensive contractors coming in. (You may have to eat out for a week while everything is curing...) The best part about it is that as anyone who's ever gotten contractor quotes on a kitchen can attest, getting professionally fitted cabinets is expensive. Everything has to be custom fitted, and lathed and put together, and budget can get blown out the window, and fast.
The next cheapest method to consider is replacing the flooring or repainting the walls. Vinyl floor tiles are inexpensive and easy to install. Repainting the walls can give you a new and airy look without costing you an arm and a leg, and in conjunction with resurfacing the cabinets, you can make your entire kitchen look like new with only a couple of weekends of work.
More extensive upgrades involve replacing appliances, and that can cost a fortune. However, a lot of modern appliances have color panels and doors that can be removed and replaced, allowing you to update them to your current favorite color scheme.
When decorating your kitchen, think about workflow and sight lines. Now is the time to decide what goes where, and where appliances and kitchen gadgets live, so that they're not constantly sitting on the countertop, eating space that could be used for something else. Think about the steps of preparing food - where things get set when they come out of the refrigerator or pantry, where chopping goes into place, where dishes are stored when they're waiting to be washed, what goes in what counters. Take the time to plan the ergonomics of your kitchen and it'll not only look better, but work better too!