That's a hard question to answer without looking
at the actual cabinets. The type of wood? The
quality of the grain? If it's oak with good grain
and you can do a good refinishing job, that might look
good. You could then paint the boxes a dark, solid
color for accent. Maybe cranberry, forest green, or
deep blue. You can also buy hardwood veneer
with paper backing to put on with contact cement.
(One caveat with that, though: It can sometimes
buckle in heat.)
Another thing you didn't mention: Are the doors
flush or panel? If flush they're probably wood veneer
plywood. It would make the most sense, in that
case, to just replace them.
To be worth refinishing assumes solid wood and that
you do a very good refinishing job. Even with flat surfaces
that's hard to do. It also assumes good grain, which is
rare in mass market cabinets. When maple was the fad,
Home Depot used to sell do-it-yourself cabinets. I'd have
to pick through the doors and drawer fronts because some
would have green or even burnt wood in them. And all
were made up of poorly matched scraps. They get away
with that because most people just aren't very discerning
about grain quality. But it still shows in the final
product, even if people can't put their finger on why
they think it doesn't look so hot. (On the other hand,
the self-assemble HD cabinets were very cheap compared
to pre-made, and the same quality in general, so they
were great for budget jobs.)
With newer styles like the dark "mahogany-esque"
finish that's currently popular, the wood underneath is
obscured by the stain, so it's unlikely to be any good.
Probably something like low grade beech or maple. If
you can't see the grain well, assume it's no good.
Another issue is type of grain. Oak is open grain, which
will show up through paint. Maple will paint better, but
the wood is less likely to be worth saving. There are
pros and cons with each wood.
Then there's the finish. In most cases that will be
some kind of plastic factory finish. It may or may not
strip easily. If you don't also strip any face frame then
the paint may not stick very well.
Another possibility is that the wood grain might actually,
itself, be plastic. I was on a job recently in a very
"exclusive" condo complex in Boston. The customer
wanted me to remove mirrors that the former owner
had stuck to the kitchen cabinets, which were allegedly
something like rosewood. (I don't remember the actual
wood type.) The cabinets were from Poggenpohl, a
company that's managed to market itself as high end.
Their store is on the fashion street in Boston -- Newbury
St. But the cabinet doors were low-density particle board
with plastic veneer. Very tacky. The customer just assumed
they were high-grade wood because the condo cost a
fortune and the cabinets were bought from a fancy
looking "concept" store. Last I saw, the mirrors were still
there. There's no way to fix junk cabinets like that. Like
Ikea furniture or Scandinavian Design before them, there's
really nothing of value in the product, so there's nothing
to repair or refinish later. They're just junk particle board
with plastic or junk-wood veneers.
If you're uncertain about the doors and they have European
hinges, you can remove one of those to see the core.
Without seeing your cabinets and without knowing what
level of quality you're going for, I'd suggest sticking with
paint for the whole thing if you want a budget job. If you
want it nice, and the boxes are "European" style with
no face-frame, I'd suggest ordering new doors and
draw-face slabs from someplace that will make them to
order. Then you'll have basically new cabinets with
good wood grain.