I’ve always thought of a Shaker-style kitchen as being the design equivalent of the little black dress. It’s simple, understated and yet, for all that, enduringly elegant. Much like the dress, it’s also incredibly versatile and able to look just as good stripped of all details as it does when accessorised with a cornice, chunky handle or decorative beading. Whether in natural timber or painted, in-frame or with a lay-on door, in a rustic setting or a modern apartment, its timeless credentials shine through. Here are just a few ideas for making it work for your home.
Classic Shaker features
Two themes run through a traditional Shaker design; craftsmanship and simplicity, which is what gives the design its timeless qualities. Cabinets are classically proportioned, constructed from solid hardwood with framed doors and inset panels and subtle, if any, decoration. Another typical feature is peg rails for hanging cabinets, chalkboards and furniture, although modern incarnations may not include these. While exposed timber was the norm for the original Shaker furniture, with beech and oak often used, many kitchens are now painted, which gives even more design flexibility. This deVOL design is a beautiful example with discreet knobs, in-frame construction and shelves instead of wall cupboards.
Image source: deVOL Kitchens
The simple lines of a Shaker scheme make it the perfect vehicle for colour. Many painted kitchens still tend towards a palette of creams, off-whites and sophisticated deep greys but using brighter shades on key pieces is an easy way to create focal points. Pastels work especially well alongside pale greys as do bolder shades, such as chartreuse yellow and mustard. Best of all, if you fancy a refresh, the furniture can always be given a lick of paint for a completely new look.
Image source: John Lewis of Hungerford
Shaker with an industrial edge
Colour isn’t for everyone, but if you still like the idea of a Shaker kitchen with a less traditional feel, there are ways to style it to give it an extra edge. The current trend for industrial-influenced décor echoes the Shaker aesthetic, uniting the authenticity of raw, unfinished materials with a pared-back look that’s built to last. Shaker-style kitchens are a perfect match for bare brick walls, exposed copper piping, knotted natural timbers, industrial-style ducting, stainless-steel appliances and concrete or concrete-effect worktops. Finished with elegant bar handles instead of knobs, the overall look is one that’s reassuringly classic with a modern twist.
Image source: Harvey Jones
While most Shaker kitchens sit comfortably in a contemporary setting, the basic style has evolved beyond its fundamental features into a range of designs with increasingly modern overtones. Bringing in sleek, minimal elements, such as recessed plinths for a floating furniture feel and three-quarter-height cabinetry as a practical option for banked appliances, the new take on Shaker style allows it to be a good fit with busy family lifestyles. Twinned with fuss-free, seamless composite worktops and smart storage solutions, the result is still recognisably Shaker but interpreted for a modern age.
Image source: Second Nature