Light is also an issue in my kitchen, I needed a brighter/lighter look. We plan on updating our countertops, backsplash and kitchen sink, but I wanted to make color/style decisions slowly as I finished each phase, instead of deciding all up front. Originally, my kitchen had black appliances except for the refrigerator, which is stainless steel with a small amount of black trim. When my dishwasher and oven died last year, I replaced it with stainless. The only thing left black was the oven hood and micorwave.
For the cabinets, I would strip and sand all of the original color off down to the raw oak wood. This would mean a fairly big mess inside my home, so I started this project by moving out of my kitchen. I stored everything in my dining room during this phase, which is next to the kitchen. It was pretty easy to still operate and make the family meals around the mess.