Shaker style kitchen

Timeless Elegance of the Shaker Style Kitchen

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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In the realm of kitchen decor, fashions may ebb and flow, but there are designs that remain steadfast, emerging as everlasting icons of refinement and straightforwardness. Among these resilient design themes shines the shaker style, renowned for its timeless appeal, practical simplicity, and adaptability in modern homes. This article delves into how the shaker style, which dates back to the 18th century, persists in influencing current kitchen design due to its blend of classical elements with modernity, appealing to a diverse spectrum of preferences.

What Is a Shaker Cabinet?

A shaker cabinet is a type of kitchen cabinet that features a flat panel door with a recessed center and square edges. The name comes from the Shakers, a religious sect from England in the 18th century and later migrated to America. The Shakers were known for their simple and functional furniture, reflecting their honesty, simplicity, and craftsmanship values. Shaker furniture was made with solid wood, often pine or maple, and used dovetail joints and wooden pegs instead of nails or screws. Shaker furniture was also painted or stained in natural colors, such as white, gray, blue, or green.

Shaker-style cabinets are inspired by the original shaker furniture, but they have evolved over time to adapt to modern tastes and needs. Today, shaker-style cabinets can be made with different materials, such as plywood, MDF, or hardwood, and they can feature different types of hardware, such as knobs, pulls, or handles. Shaker-style cabinets can also come in different sizes and shapes, such as base cabinets, wall cabinets, corner cabinets, or drawer cabinets.

Incorporating Shaker Style into Modern Kitchens

shaker-style cabinets

Modernizing a Shaker-style kitchen does not mean straying from its core principles of simplicity and functionality. Instead, it involves adapting those principles to fit the needs and aesthetics of contemporary living. You don't need to be an interior designer to embrace the Shaker style in modern kitchen design when you are doing a kitchen remodel. Just use these tips:

a) Color and Texture

While traditional shaker kitchens might have favored natural wood finishes, modern interpretations often play with color, from crisp whites and soft grays to bold blues and greens. These colors can breathe new life into the simple lines of Shaker cabinetry, making them fit seamlessly into modern homes.

b) Hardware and Fixtures

The choice of hardware can significantly influence the overall look of a Shaker-style kitchen. Sleek, modern handles and knobs can give Shaker cabinetry a contemporary edge, while classic hardware can emphasize its traditional roots. Similarly, modern fixtures and lighting can complement the clean lines of Shaker design while providing functional benefits.

c) Open Spaces and Natural Light

Modern kitchen design often emphasizes open spaces and plenty of natural light. Shaker-style kitchens, with their unobtrusive cabinetry, can enhance this sense of openness, making the kitchen feel more spacious and welcoming.

d) MDF Doors Made to Measure

One of the key aspects of shaker style is its adaptability, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the choice of materials. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) doors made to measure offer a modern twist on traditional Shaker cabinetry. MDF provides a smooth, uniform surface that is ideal for painting, allowing for a wide range of color options. Moreover, MDF doors made to measure can fit any kitchen layout perfectly, ensuring a seamless look that is both beautiful and functional.

e) Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness

Modern kitchen design increasingly focuses on sustainability, and the shaker style aligns well with this trend. The emphasis on quality and durability means that Shaker-style kitchens are less likely to need frequent replacements, reducing waste. Furthermore, choosing sustainably sourced materials and eco-friendly finishes can enhance the environmental friendliness of a Shaker-style kitchen.

f) The Color Scheme

Shaker style typically uses muted colors, such as white, cream, gray, or beige. These colors can create a sense of spaciousness and brightness in a kitchen, but they can also look bland or boring if not paired with some contrasting or accent colors. You can introduce color with accessories, such as rugs, curtains, dishes, or plants. You can also use darker colors for the cabinets, countertops, or backsplash to create some contrast and depth.

What Are the Benefits of Shaker-style Cabinets?

shaker-style cabinets

Shaker-style cabinets have many benefits that make them a great choice for your kitchen renovation. Here are some of them:

1) Shaker Cabinetry is Versatile

Shaker-style cabinets can blend well with any kitchen design, whether you want a classic white kitchen with traditional elements, a cozy farmhouse kitchen with rustic accents, or a sleek modern kitchen with minimalist features. You can also mix and match different shaker cabinet colors and finishes to create contrast and interest in the door style options.

2) Shaker Style Cabinets Are Timeless 

Shaker-style cabinets have a simple and elegant design that never goes out of style. They can also withstand changing trends and fashions, as they can easily be updated with new hardware or accessories. Shaker-style cabinets can also increase the value of your home, as they appeal to many home buyers.

3) The Shaker style Emphasizes Durability

Shaker kitchen cabinets are made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship that ensure their longevity and functionality. They can resist wear and tear, scratches, dents, and stains better than other cabinet styles. They are also easy to clean and maintain, as they have smooth surfaces and minimal details.

How to Choose the Best Shaker Cabinet Colors and Finishes for Your Kitchen

shaker-style kitchen cabinets

One of the most important decisions you have to make when designing your shaker style kitchen is the color and finish of your shaker cabinets. The color and finish of your shaker cabinets can affect the mood, atmosphere, and overall look of your kitchen. Here are some tips on how to choose the best shaker cabinet colors and finishes for your kitchen:

1) Kitchen Lighting and Size

If you have a small or dark kitchen, you might want to opt for lighter colors, such as cream, beige, gray, or white shaker cabinet door options. These colors can make your kitchen style look more spacious and bright. If you have a large or well-lit kitchen, you might want to experiment with darker shaker cabinet colors, such as black, navy, green, or brown. These cabinet colors will introduce depth and drama to your kitchen.

2) The Kitchen Theme

If you want a farmhouse or traditional kitchen, you might want to choose warm or neutral shaker cabinet colors, such as cream, beige, tan, or wood tones. These options will create a cozy and inviting feel in your kitchen. If you want a contemporary or industrial kitchen, you might want to choose cool or bold shaker cabinet colors, such as gray, black, blue, or red. These colors can create a sleek and sophisticated feel in your kitchen. Plus, you can paint the cabinets yourself!

3) Balancing Contrast and Harmony

If you want a high-contrast kitchen, you might want to pair opposite shaker cabinet colors on the color wheel, such as white and black, blue and orange, or yellow and purple. These combinations can create a striking and eye-catching look in your kitchen.

If you want a low-contrast shaker style kitchen, you might want to pair similar shaker cabinet colors on the color wheel, such as white and gray, blue and green, or yellow and orange. These combinations can create a harmonious and soothing look to your kitchen cabinet design.

4) The Finishing

As for the finish of your shaker cabinets, you have two main options: matte or glossy. Matte finishes have a flat and smooth appearance that can hide imperfections and fingerprints better than glossy finishes. Glossy finishes have a shiny and reflective appearance, making your shaker cabinets look more polished and modern than matte finishes. The choice of finish depends on your personal preference and the style of your kitchen.


Shaker style has stood the test of time, evolving from its 18th-century origins to become a beloved choice for modern kitchen cabinet designs. Its enduring appeal lies in its simplicity, functionality, and versatility, offering a foundation on which homeowners can build their unique vision. By incorporating modern elements such as MDF doors made to measure, contemporary colors, and sustainable materials, it is possible to create a Shaker-style kitchen that feels both timeless and thoroughly modern. As we look to the future of kitchen design, it is clear that the principles of Shaker style will continue to inspire, proving that true elegance is indeed timeless.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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