Dear Marcia, I know how you feel about having a dark kitchen with dark cabinets. I'm in the middle of redoing my cabinets to a lighter color also. My cabinets are made of rough cedar and if I were to stain them, they would become darker than they are now. So I first sanded them down with a belt sander(80 Grade)and used a wood filler paste to help smooth holes. I then sanded them with a fine grade on the orbital sander so it had a soft smooth texture. You then get some latex paint in the color you want(I used a medium tan) and white wash your wood by taking a wet cloth and dipping it into your paint(just a little at a time). Rub this into your wood and wipe back off just enough to see the grain good. Let this dry and then put at least three coates of polyurethane. Don't forget to steele wool sand inbetween coates.(oooo grade is the best for this) Now I have kitchen cabinets that look like light natural maple. Now everyone thinks that I went out and purchased new cabinets. Good Luck!