They're going to do a little updating, but keep the changes budget conscious. First thing to go in will be a new, granite counter top and a new wall color. Beyond that, though, changes are uncertain. I suggested they keep the floor until they can invest in exactly what they want, but they aren't keen keeping it since "this particular laminate looks very clearly not real".
For such a relatively small space I think cork, bamboo, or vinyl composite tile would work. They're all fairly affordable, durable, and DIYable, which will keep the cost manageable. Beyond that, updating the cabinets (and outlets and switch plates) would be a quick and easy change to dress the cabinets up a bit.
Farther down the road a tile wall behind the stove would dress the area up even more.
Cabinet hardware from Rejuvenation.
Cork and bamboo floor from US Floors, vinyl tile by Armstrong. Somertile Mica Stone Subway River Wall Tiles from Overstock.com and a much more affordable glass subway tile from Home Depot.
Have you made any improvements on your kitchen? What's the best and most affordable trick you learned in the process?