What is a Shaker kitchen? The on-trend kitchen style that will never look dated

This is where this timeless kitchen style originated from and how to style it for the modern day

green kitchen cabinetry with sinks and marble worktops
(Image credit: Middleton Bespoke)

While the popular framed kitchen door style most likely features on your dream kitchen wishlist, you might find yourself asking 'What is a Shaker kitchen?' when it comes to shopping for your new space.

Shaker kitchen ideas crop up heavily in a lot of our kitchen content so we're sure you're familiar with the appearance of these cabinet doors. Still, it's also common to see references to Shaker kitchens without really knowing what it is specifically referring to.

In a bid to gear you up with all the information needed to purchase a new kitchen (it's a big investment, after all) and provide a little history lesson on this particular style along the way, we've dissected exactly what a Shaker kitchen is and how to make it work for your home.

What is a Shaker kitchen?

While a traditional kitchen idea, Shaker has had a resurgence in recent years thanks to many younger generations wanting to recreate the nostalgic, classic style they grew up with.

'As we approach more recently, the cozy and rustic classic looks have gained a new appreciation. The quintessential British Shaker brings a sense of nostalgia for a simpler and more authentic way of living. This is particularly prevalent in younger generations seeking a comforting echo of better times,' says Jen Nash, senior design lead at Magnet.

Referring to the period in which they originated, in short, Shaker doors are those with a classic framed appearance. Ranging in width, the frame is the main attraction of the door and will most likely be finished with a handle on either the bottom or left or right sides. Although, handleless options are now becoming increasingly available.

Why is it called Shaker style?

Pale pink shaker kitchen with terracotta tiles

(Image credit: Ca'Pietra)

Shaker style originates from the mid-18th century and was designed by the 'Shaking Quakers'. With roots in Quakerism, there's a heavy emphasis placed on hand-crafted furniture that was built to last and provide timeless quality.

This ethos has continued to the Shaker kitchens we see today - they're overwhelmingly popular for the traditional style that will look stylish for years. Not to mention they're often handmade or built from heavy, high-quality materials so that it doesn't need to be replaced.

The iconic look is often made from real wood or a wood replica. The good news is that while the style was typically more expensive, it's now much more readily available and affordable so that you can achieve the classic look on any budget. It doesn't just work for large kitchens either, it's a great way to pull a cosy small kitchen idea together.

Why are shaker kitchens popular?

Green shaker kitchen with open shelving and white worktops

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Modern kitchen ideas remain popular, with Scandi-style slab doors creating a fuss-free design that is incredibly tempting for busy family homes. However, more and more people (especially younger generations) are being drawn to the nostalgia of more classic styles, like Shaker.

'Shaker style cabinetry has a timeless, classic feel and is defined by a simplicity of lines and purity of materials. Refined and elegant, they offer all the style and utility of modern-day kitchens without fussy detailing or unnecessary finishing touches, which are now considered outdated by many,' adds Richard Moore, design director at Martin Moore.

'Although still rooted in classic form and function, today’s Shaker kitchens can be infused with added personality and character through use of bold colours and beautiful natural materialsm,' he continues.

Kitchens are undeniably a big expense, so you'll want the cabinets you choose to be hardwearing and enduring. This way, your kitchen will look good through changing trends and you won't have the urge to update it besides changing around accessories. Shaker doors are great for this as the traditional construction is hardy and has been stylish for decades - it's not going out of trend anytime soon.

How should you design and decorate a shaker kitchen?

green kitchen cabinetry with sinks and marble worktops

(Image credit: Middleton Bespoke)

Shaker kitchens lend themselves well to antique-inspired features, but it's okay if this isn't your style.

Brushed brass cabinet hardware and taps will bring out the traditional aesthetic, making it look like a new and improved Victorian kitchen. Brushed brass is also a practical choice as the patina will wear beautifully over time so it will last as long as your classic kitchen cabinets. A Belfast sink is also a popular choice for a Shaker kitchen design, providing a large space for dirty dishes and a hardwearing ceramic construction.

In terms of choosing a kitchen colour scheme, the classic style of Shaker lends itself well to colours such as duck egg blue, cream, sage green and butter yellow to inspire a country kitchen idea.

Similarly, why opt for one shade when you could pick two as a timeless kitchen colour combination? This will add dimension to your space and is particularly effective when one colour makes a statement on a kitchen island idea, to inject colour in a less abrasive way. Some retailers now offer paintable Shaker kitchen ranges too, making it easy to update the colour over time so you don't need to purchase entirely new cabinets.


Are Shaker kitchens more expensive?

Traditionally, Shaker kitchens were handmade, making them a more expensive option as you're paying for the labour. However, more and more retailers are offering affordable Shaker styles that mimic the design but aren't handcrafted or made from solid wood.

This offers homeowners the opportunity to recreate the classic look without investing tens of thousands of pounds in their kitchen. Whether you have a smaller budget or you aren't yet in your forever home, you can be safe in the knowledge that you won't have to break the bank to achieve the Shaker look.

Whether it's a plywood construction as opposed to solid wood doors or you choose to save on a stone-replica work surface, there are many budget kitchen ideas that still allow you to create the dream cooking space aesthetic-wise, without breaking the bank.

Now you know exactly where Shaker kitchens come from, start perusing some of the best collections out there. From more affordable options like Magnet and Wren's ranges to more bespoke designs that you can work with Herringbone to create, there is something for every home and budget.

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).