Ladder for high shelves in kitchen, but need to still have good balance to use one. Floor to ceiling cabinets would give you more to hold onto I think, and then could use the ladder to reach the shelves.
Keep to a neutral colour palette and go to town with reclaimed wood, ceramic metro tiles, copper – anything goes. The use of cladding will also give your kitchen a cosy cabin feel, as supposed to just being plain old small. A handsome dish, indeed.