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Which door style are you planning to use? The cabinet boxes only come in white and birch, so if you're not using white or birch doors, the open cabinets will look very different from the rest of your cabinets.
Also, most of the cabinets have pre-drilled holes running down the entire length of both sides of the interior. This is to give you options as to where to place shelves, etc. So with open cabinets, you'd be able to see the holes.
We have some open cabs and it looks pretty decent with the Stat/Lidi/Applad white finish.
You can see a door next to an opening of just cabs here--and I'd say the lighting in this photo actually exaggerates the difference--I don't usually notice it even this much:
Doorstyle: Nexus Brown-Black +Abstrakt & Rubrik White
Re: open upper cabinets, no doors
Your downdraft may be a LOT more efficient than you think. I collect Fiesta, a line of vintage American dishware. In my last kitchen we installed open Lack shelves to display some of my collection. I can tell you that grease was a major problem for us. We had to take everything down and wash it at least once a quarter.
Luckily, we only displayed washable dishes. Then again, we also had to wash down the cabinets, glass doors, pulls, backsplash, and even walls from time to time. Maybe we're just slobs, but in our kitchens, grease seems to get everywhere. But, we are also everyday cooks who do a lot of stovetop frying, pan frying, sauteing, and grilling.
I'm certainly not trying to change anyone's mind about open display. Dare I talk! I love it and am still committed to display space in the new kitchen. Just reiterating that, in my case, grease was a problem. Dust was a problem only that it collected on the grease... So I am researching and plan to invest in the best ventilation system I can afford and use it religiously. (Recommendations welcomed!)
This is even more important now because we have knocked down walls and moved to the popular open concept plan. Basically, our whole house has become one big kitchen - which has opened up a completely different set of livability challenges, but that's another thread all by itself.... Did I mention that we need a low sones exhaust system? Arrrrgh....
I guess I should have been more specific... I'm not really concerned about the cleaning aspect. I won't be using it so much as display, but for everyday items that will be within reach while cooking ect... so they will be cleaned on a regular basis anyway.
I guess what I want to know is, will they look OK without doors and is there anything I'll need to do differently with installation. What about the part that attaches to the rail and those plastic cover things? Will they look bad? Any way to disguise them?
We no longer do deep frying since we moved into this place. We grill outdoors (California lifestyle!) but we do cook sausages or bacon once most weekends with a splatter screen. The downdraft IS more effective than I had feared, but maybe I just don't notice the grease!
I think that the boxes themselves should look good, but it's good that you are thinking about the plastic rail covers. What I might do in your case is to get some white electrical tape or even just white paper and cover them before snapping them on to the attachment points. If they're white they won't be noticeable at all. If you leave them gray, you could also hide them by putting one of the top shelves fairly high up, so that the shelf is in the way of the sightline to the back edge of the cabinet.
The other place you might have trouble (with or without doors), is on the outside sides of the cabinet where they meet the wall. If you aren't planning on any cover panels, there will be a small gap. Some folks cover this nicely up with a piece of white trim, others choose to use cover panels for this reason. If you aren't having doors, I think it might look funny to have a cover panel on the side of your open cabinets.