So here's what I got (in the past few weeks): a 10-inch cook's knife & a 7-inch Santoku knife, a 3-inch paring knife, a deli slicer / bread knife & a 10-inch slicing knife and a sharpening steel. With the steel, I was able to get the edge back on a 6-inch utility knife I had from the Pampered Chef; I already had a pretty cool bread knife that was a gift. So there, all set on the cutting side of things, except maybe some specialty stuff like a cleaver.
Then to protect these things in a drawer (knife blocks have always grossed me out a bit, plus, where do you put the damned thing if you don't have a lot of counter space?), I got some of these cool plastic sleeves called KnifeSafes. The sleeves snap open and shut and you can put them the dishwasher if they get dirty.
So now I'm all set on the knife side of things. One recommendation I'd add to all this: Get some crappy knifes, the $4 kind you see in the stores. These are for cutting open things you don't want to risk / bother your good knifes for. Like cutting open a package of meat, things of this nature. I use some of the garbage knives as much as the good ones.
First couple of cooking jobs went amazing. I was able to slice celery and onions thinner than potato chips — not that I had any reason to, but I did it anyway. I used to over-work that utility knife like crazy and consequently the cutting used to take a lot of time. Now it takes about a zillionth the time. And the Santoku knife is so cool it defies description. It's really best all-around knife I got. If I were to get just one, that would be it.
Next up: A butcher's block.
* Frequent commenter and honored guest MarcV gave me a hard time the last time I wrote about kitchen stuff, calling me a pot snob. So I thought I'd preempt the accusation :)