What is a Shaker Kitchen?
Wicker furniture, popcorn ceilings, woodchip wallpaper: some design concepts have a shelf life to rival an already-ripe avocado. But when it comes to living sustainably, longevity is one of the most important factors to consider.
Some kitchen designs, like the Shaker, are so well-loved that they never go out of style. When Home Stratosphere surveyed 1.7 million kitchens, they found it to be the most popular design (over 27% of surveyed kitchens were home to Shaker cabinetry) – despite first appearing over 200 years ago.
Here, we’ll provide an answer to one of our most commonly-asked questions: so what is a Shaker kitchen?
What is a Shaker Kitchen?
The Shaker Kitchen is defined by simplicity. Its functionality is closely interlinked with its context and history (more on that later), and its easy-going style is one of the core concepts of the Shaker style. It’s versatile, effortlessly chic and can be tweaked for town or country living. You won’t find any elaborate or fussy details in a Shaker kitchen.
That’s a brief overview. To fully understand the ethos of the Shaker style, we’ll need to look at the beliefs of the people who pioneered the design.
The history of the Shaker Kitchen
To find the origins of this beautiful design concept, we’ll need to rewind the clock around 200 years.
As the 18th Century came to a close, one faction of the Quakers broke off on their own. This Manchester-based religious sect used shaking motion and dancing in their worship and, despite officially being called The United Society of Believers, they became more commonly known as the Shakers.
Emigrating to America, they first came to New York before settling in New England. Producing fine, handcrafted furniture became a part of their culture and helped them to develop a reputation for high quality workmanship.
What are the key features of the Shaker Kitchen style?
To the Shakers, manufactured goods needed to be honest; an overload of fussy details would be seen as deceptive. Motifs were rarely used because their focus was on function, durability and sleek style.
Keeping everything in its place was a key factor in the Shaker design philosophy. Drawers and cupboards are designed with the home-dweller’s lifestyle in mind, often being measured to fit certain items, like knives and butcher’s blocks, with precision. Lots of our clients prefer to hide their appliances behind simple doors, enabling a clearer work space. Nooks and crannies get thoughtful consideration, allowing each space to enjoy its best use.
What kind of materials are used in a traditional Shaker Kitchen?
Imported woods like mahogany were rejected in favour of locally-sourced timbers like pine, maple and cherry wood. As today’s preference is for natural materials and a more sustainable lifestyle, this focus on materials has been given a new lease of life with oak and birchwood as popular options. You can read more about the Sustainable Kitchens materials philosophy here.
Traditionally, handles were simple: rather than brass, the Shakers opted for wooden knobs, like the ones we made for our client’s kitchen below (read more about that project here). When it comes to worktops, the traditional Shaker Kitchen exhibits high-quality timber; though modern alternatives such as granite or marble can be more suitable for busy kitchens.
There’s a reason the Shaker style kitchen is so popular. It’s a design for life.
We’ve been creating bespoke Shaker Kitchens for our clients for over 10 years, channelling the traditional philosophies of clean design, sustainable materials and a focus on function. To get inspired by our gallery of Shaker Kitchens, pop the kettle on and peruse our portfolio here.