Here's the "painted stainless steel stove" above. It doesn't look as terrible in photos but in person it looked totally, well, painted. Anyway, they recommended a product, CitriSolve and we got it at Home Depot and my poor husband went to work undoing what I'd had him do the day before. (He really puts up with me. )
After letting it sit for 30 mins, he scrubbed it and was able to prettty much just wipe & scrub all the paint off. (Which took a couple of hours.) The only problem is that since it took so long to come off, the solvent was left on for too long and took off some of the stove's white factory finish on the bottom handle. (I'm more than okay with this because I'm just so happy to have it back white.. we'll just touch that up with white appliance paint.)
And here is is this morning: brighter & whiter than it's been in a long time! (It really got a good scrubbing ;)
It's not too too terribly far off from the Big Chill vintage reproduction stove (below). Does anyone know if there are replacement handles you can have put on your stove that might look a bit more vintage? (I feel like that's what's mostly keeping mine from being attractive.)
as far as the fridge is concerned, many of you suggested I cover it in chalkboard paint & Linda from Lime in the Coconut sold me on this image:
Thanks so much everyone!! When Dave was at Home Depot picking up the paint stripper, he also picked up some black chalboard paint. It won't help in lightening back up my kitchen, but at least it will be a fun & easy alternative to the fake stainless. We'll keep it until we can afford this:
Or this I love too: Anyway, thanks everyone so much for your suggestions & thoughts. I have to admit I am a stainless steel lover (finger prints and all- I think it's beautiful) but taught myself the lesson that it's not always right for a space. I was so excited to hear so many of you say how you loved your white appliances! Will be posting soon on the chalkboard fridge!!!
ps- my dishwasher (a dying old thing that's really more like a dish "disinfector" because you have to clean everything before you put it in) is going back to the same gray-green as the cabinets again... It honestly didn't bother me when it was green so back it goes!