In the kitchen I removed all of the uppers and added tile up the backsplash area to the ceiling to create height. This was a very simple change with dramatic results. I found the stainless steel vent fan on Joss and Main for under $300. The exposed shelving I had custom made with a local woodcraftsman. They are solid wood and very heavy so I went to our local welding shop and had custom brackets made to mount into the studs. The counter top I found on sale at a kitchen supply store. Lastly I added sconce lighting over the shelves and the large pendent light from Rejuvenation Hardware.
Here are the Before photos: