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Shaker kitchen ideas: A guide to Shaker kitchen design


Whether you favour traditional or contemporary interior design, live in the city or out in the countryside, Shaker kitchen design stands the test of time. It complements a variety of homes and could be perfect for your next kitchen fit-out or renovation project.

Croft kitchen real room

But while you may recognise its clean lines and recessed panel cabinetry, is that where your knowledge ends? Understanding the Shaker’s origins and principles can help you decide if its right for you and guide your other design choices.

Below, we ask our experts ‘what is a Shaker kitchen?’, before offering tips on how to design one yourself.


What is a Shaker kitchen?

“Shaker kitchen design is owed to the Shakers, a religious sect guided by principles of simplicity, self-sufficiency and a rejection of luxury and ostentation. As a result, Shaker kitchens tend to be timeless in appearance, functional in design and generally easy to live with.”

Josh, Hammonds designer

The faith is understood to have settled in America in the 18th century and owes its nickname to the group’s often frantic movements during religious worship. Their desire for communal independence and to live off local resources led to the creation of high quality, durable furniture. They used foraged materials and handmade tools to build it, initially for their own use and only much later for sale.

Abbey 5

Those beginnings have been built on since, with Shaker design’s effortless appearance a large part of why it remains so popular today. It’s easily dressed up or down to suit any home and offers an ideal backdrop for modern appliances, storage and decoration.

But looking closer, what are some of the key features to look out for?      

Key characteristics of Shaker kitchen furniture

“Traditional Shaker kitchen furniture reflected their devotion to their faith and moral code. Functionality and simplicity came above all else, while additions like embellishments, ornamentation and veneering were judged as dishonest and undignified.”

Heather, Hammonds designer

Modern Shaker kitchen design is therefore seen as thoughtful, well made, and simple. It’s a perception owed in part to the following traditional characteristics:

  • Use of wood: The Shakers rejected importation, instead choosing to make the most of the materials around them. Local timbers such as pine and maple were common choices for stools, cabinets, tables and drawers.
  • Balanced proportions: Size, shape and weight were all carefully considered. Drawers were symmetrical and beautifully graduated to store heavier items at the bottom, while legs were commonly tapered to make pieces lighter and easier to move or store.
  • Simple finishes: Wooden pulls and knobs were favoured over traditional brass to avoid standing out.

Shaker kitchen ideas: How to design a Shaker kitchen

As touched on already, modern Shaker kitchens can be almost anything you want them to be. There’s no need to feel constrained by traditions. But if you do want to pay homage with a pared back practical feel, or simply desire a consistent aesthetic, here are just a few of the ways to do it:

  • Install Shaker-style cabinetry: Shaker cabinets have square frames, recessed panels and minimal details or profiling. Fixing metal handles or repainting existing Shaker kitchen cabinets are easy ways to update the look.
  • Feature real wood: From worktops to stools and storage baskets, real wood is a staple of Shaker design. Look for simple, freestanding furniture that can be painted or left natural and easily moved around.     
  • Add a multifunctional kitchen island: A kitchen island can contribute to the free-standing impression while adding storage and another work surface. Placing it centrally will offer symmetry and mean everything is within easy reach.  
  • Opt for hard-wearing flooring: Your choice of flooring should ultimately match the aesthetic of your home. Consider stone and other durable materials that are a match for hectic modern life and easy to clean.
  • Maximise storage opportunities: Shaker kitchens are free from clutter, with smart storage solutions giving everything its rightful place. Wooden shelves and pegs are ideal for hanging essentials at arm’s length.

Explore Hammonds Shaker kitchen ideas

If you’re completing a full kitchen fit-out, why not choose a beautifully fitted Shaker solution? We offer stunning contemporary and traditional Shaker kitchen ranges, including Croft, Highbury, Abbey, and Harraton. Explore available finishes and extras today.

You can then book a design visit to discover what our designers can do with your space, or request a free brochure and receive money off your order.

In the meantime, find plenty more kitchen guides like this one on our blog.


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