Sheryl from Arizona, who owns the kitchen below, has plans to paint the cabinets white and install a white subways tile backsplash. I love those ideas, Sheryl, and I'm going to suggest a couple more. First off, I love this kitchen for the size and all the potential it offers... and I'm jealous over your countertop space! Second of all, I'm not sure about your budget, so I'm sorry if some of these ideas are too big...
Four ideas (some are easier than others):
Put cabinets above where your current cabinets stop (where the off-white paint is on the wall). To avoid the room looking too "cabinety" I think it would be great to have glass fronted cabinets and display things you don't often use... or paint the wall a dramatic color behind the cabinets and buy a bunch of white ceramic pottery to display. Here is a photo that shows a little bit of what I mean (although there is definitely lights in each of the glass fronted cabinets).
Because this will be hard to reach it would make a fun, and dramatic statement if you had a ladder that could be hooked up (am I over the top here? yes. but would it be amazing? yes. :)) This photo makes the ladder look obtrusive but you wouldn't need to keep it out all the time... search "kitchen library ladders" on Pinterest and you'll see some great ideas.
Second, are you handy at all? I think if you or your hubby made a range hood to cover the distance in between the cabinets you would love the custom look it gives to your kitchen. Sherry and John, from Young House Love, recently made an inexpensive one for their kitchen so here is a great tutorial, and they even did it over their existing hood to save money (so could you!). Picture something like this that makes it look integrated into the cabinets:
If it seems like too big of a deal to build a range hood then just extend your subway tiles to the top of the range hood.
Third and Fourth: before you replace your countertops could you build a raised bar like this for your island? That way it could create some height on that side of the kitchen. This is definitely the least important thing on my list and if you don't do it your kitchen will still look great!
Could you have two to three pendant lights dropped from the ceiling?
Before I sign out, a couple of other things:
Replace the faucet in the island to something more sophisticated (see photo below for an idea).
And if you are already planning on changing the floor I really like darker hardwood floors next to white cabinets, if you aren't going to do that then the light floor is fine!
Okay, I promise I'm done now, Sheryl. :) Just wanted to give you some inspiration for what this could look like when you are done... I think it'll be gorgeous!
Remember, stop by at 2pm to see some ideas for the second kitchen!