I bought my house new and completely finished in May of 2007. It's a craftsman bungalow that I completely adored, with the kitchen being the only exception. The cabinets had a dark stain that matched the hardwood floors. You literally could not tell where the floor ended and the cabinets began. It only gets light during the day from a set of windows above the breakfast area, making it a seem cave-like.
I decided I'd open up the space by tearing down the two cabinets on each side of the sink, adding exposed shelves and painting everything white. I could not be more happy with the results!