Let's start with the kitchen since that is where I will be today. There was tremendous water damage in the kitchen from leaky pipes under the sink. The floors were rotten and the floor joists were rotten. So we pulled up the floor, being careful to save as many boards as possible. We wouldn't have enough old flooring to use it all over the house, so we decided to go with new pine flooring in the kitchen and save the kitchen's old wood to use in the dog trot. Once we could walk without falling through the floor and the house was rejoisted and leveled, we got to make a few fun decisions like cabinets, appliance size, and whether to try to get the paint off the walls or paint over it. The kitchen and the bathroom were the only rooms that had ever been painted. Obviously, we decided to paint the kitchen.
We had the cabinets custom made at the house. I wanted them to seem as if they had been there as long as the house and I wanted them to fit our not so square house. We decided on banded pine flooring (which was my mother's design) for the solid cabinet doors and hardware cloth for the upper doors and the pie safe. The pie safe was original, though the doors were gone. For the cabinet tops we went with Formica everywhere except right next to the stove. There we used tile so I could move things off the heat without damaging anything. We went with this arrangement because I wanted a practical kitchen. I didn't want to spend any time worrying about whether I was going to ruin a counter top. Julia Child also recommended a Formica and tile combo.
After having lived in the kitchen two years, there are a few things that I would have done differently. I would have moved the island back toward the refrigerator to give us more walking room around the table. I would have made the harvest table a little smaller. I would have added a ceiling fan to this room somewhere. And I would have thought long and hard about the lighting. I don't have enough light over the stove and I don't like the counter lights. With tall wooden ceilings darkened by years of wood stove use, light seems to disappear just when you need it.
Mostly, I still love what we did with the kitchen - practical farm, with touches of modernism.