Shaker-style kitchens – 10 of the best

A perennially classic kitchen design is the Shaker style – from the religious sect of the same name, founded in the late 1700s in New England. The Shakers believed that every object in a house had a function and that decoration was unnecessary, producing furniture that was proportionate and minimalist. From its humble beginnings, Shaker style is now renowned as a notable design movement, and is popular to this day.

You won’t find exaggerated curves, intricate carvings or superfluous decoration in a Shaker-style kitchen – the emphasis is on practicality and durability the Shakers intended their creations to last a lifetime. Here’s how to achieve this timeless look in your kitchen:

Cabinetry and furniture
A typical Shaker kitchen is built around a model of a square framed, classically-proportioned doors with an inset panel, constructed in wood (cherrywood and maple were the most used woods in Shaker kitchens), which can be left bare, or painted – a matt finish is more authentic than gloss. A simple trestle table and bare seats or benches were used for dining. You may wish to add padding or cushions to your dining chairs – the Shakers may have forsaken such unnecessary comfort, but there’s such a thing as taking a theme too far!

Colour palette
Keep walls pale and neutral – ideally, finished in bare white plaster if your walls are in good enough condition. The Shakers stuck to a heritage palette of light and dark blue, blue-green, warm yellow and red.

Flooring and storage
Floors should be bare boards, but may be varnished or painted in a pale finish. As the Shaker lifestyle was one of practicality and austerity, everything had to be functional, and in a typical kitchen of the period, everything had its place. A classically Shaker-style storage solution is to have peg rails hung around the wall at head height, which cooking implements, mirrors – or even chairs were hung. This kept the rooms tidy and the floors easier to sweep.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to follow the Shaker style bible to the letter – in today’s kitchens, an element of the classic design lends a heritage feel, but also creates a scheme neutral enough for you to put your own style stamp on a space. Have a look through 10 of our favourite Shaker-style kitchens…

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