So we decided to go with the open shelves. This is a picture of the beautiful shelf Chris Cobb, of Cobb Woodworking, built for my kitchen. The open shelf definitely makes my kitchen feel more spacious and less confined. The change in paint color from a maple cabinet to this nice gray also adds to the openness. They used a low-voc paint which means no smell and less impact on the environment. I decided to place dishes and cups that I use often on the shelf to minimize dust. Mission Accomplished!