Here's a photo of the original wall dividing the kitchen and living room.
Here's what it looks like with the new wall opening.
If you don't have the budget to do a full-scale renovation, just prioritize and choose to do one thing that will help your biggest problem. The countertop is butcher block from IKEA that they stained and finished. My sister ordered the two stools for under $150 for the pair from www.barstools.com I saw the new space in person last week and it looks like a completely different house. I love it!