You know, I tried the open shelf look when I was renting an apartment a few years back. The cabinet faces were pretty ugly; and since I was renting, I wasn't too motivated to paint. Long story short, I accidentally dented one of the hinges, and then ended up taking all the cabinet faces off and storing them in the garage. Initially, I really liked the look: It looked more carefree, easily accessible; and besides, hadn't Ione Skye done the same thing in her kitchen according to Domino magazine?
A few weeks went by, and I have to admit that for me, the look wasn't all that great: I didn't exactly have the prettiest set of dishes (more utilitarian, all white dishes picked from Crate and Barrel along with various selections from Ikea and Target), and I certainly didn't have enough dishes or glasses in rotation to keep the shelves from looking a bit sparse.
Anyway, the lesson I learned was that as cool and great as open shelving may look in Ione Skye's kitchen, it certainly didn't translate well into my home. But the next time I am gunning for a "sleek, modern kitchen" look, I'll certainly weigh this option (especially good for those awkward, empty area usually located above kitchen cabinets): Long shelves with a frosted glass door hinged at the top. The frosted glass gives the cabinets a softer look than trendy glossy (not to mention, easier to keep clean from smudgy fingerprints), and the top hinge is a cool nod to those old-fashioned barrister bookshelves.
(Images: Bo Bedre)