Learn How to Use Shaker Style in Transitional, Contemporary AND Traditional Kitchens

Styles and themes come and go in the kitchen industry as we see popular fashion and tastes change and cycle through.  However, one design style that has remained popular over the years in the kitchen realm, is the Shaker style.  

The Shakers are a religious sect founded in 18th century England and settled in Colonial America.  They live by simplistic principles, which were translated to their furniture and architecture.  Ornamentation was thought to be a bit lofty, so the Shakers designed and built everything in function and practical form.

In present day kitchen design, we see modifications and contemporary interpretations of elements that are mixed with the style (countertops, backsplashes and color combinations), yet the cabinet doorstyle is always the same.  Simple, square and practical.  Just like the Shakers intended.

Some of the reasons why homeowners today still love the Shaker style in the kitchen, is because of its simple lines, cabinet doors are easily cleanable, and a Shaker door is easy to “dress-up” with other materials and moldings (the true Shakers are probably cringing in their moccasins!).  

A simple Shaker door can become Transitional, Contemporary or even a bit Traditional depending on the surrounding elements such as the countertops, backsplash, hardware, lighting, etc….  Not to be confused with Craftsman style, which had a bit more decoration in exaggerated and exposed joinery and trim work. 

Shaker Kitchen Collection - Shaker Built Cabinetry and Sideboards - Historic Map Works LLC / Historic Map Works / Getty Images

A Shaker Kitchen From 1851-1921. A True Utilitarian Workspace.
Historic Map Works LLC / Historic Map Works / Getty Images

The 1850’s – 1920’s Shaker Kitchen

The original Shaker style kitchen was simple.  That’s it.  It was a space with basic cabinetry, a few work surfaces, a possible table in the center to be used to sit while working and preparing meals.  

It was also not uncommon to see darker wood tones used. 

continue reading below our video

How to Go Bold with Color at Home

Kitchen with a Shaker Cabinet that we now call Transitional - Casual and Functional Style | kitchens.about.com - Nicolette Patton, CKD

Transitional Kitchen using a Shaker Cabinet Door – Great for Casual Styling and Awesome for Cleaning (minimal profile = minimal dust) | kitchens.about.com.
Nicolette Patton, CKD

Shaker Style Cabinets in Transitional Design

Shaker style cabinets are great for homeowners looking for simplicity.  Square or eased edges on the outside and inside profiles create a casual and very practical cabinet.  

Because it so simple, it is versatile.  Read more on Transitional Style.

You can pair a shaker doorstyle with ANY backsplash to create a Transitional Style kitchen.  In the Transitional style, glass tile is popular, like the photo shown.  A beautiful and timeless option for your cabinets.

Shaker Cabinets used in a Contemporary Kitchen Setting  - A Timeless Choice! - Warren Diggles Photography / Moment / Getty Images

Contemporary Kitchen using a Shaker Cabinet Doorstyle – Warm Contemporary but still CLEAN!.
Warren Diggles Photography / Moment / Getty Images

Shaker Style Cabinets in Contemporary Design

The Shaker style cabinetry can also be used in Contemporary design.  Other elements should be selected carefully to establish a contemporary look (so it does not get confused with transitional).  

Lighting fixtures, backsplash, sinks, faucets and countertop surfaces should have a more sleek aesthetic and often times less detail and movement.  

Classic Traditional Kitchen with Shaker Style Cabinetry - David Papazian / Photographer's Choice RF /

Traditional Kitchen with Shaker Style Cabinetry.
David Papazian / Photographer’s Choice RF /

Shaker Style Cabinets in Traditional Design

Shaker style cabinets, not to be confused with Traditional Shaker, which would be a definition more like American Classic Shaker.  Traditional as in, Traditional home or Old World.  

The Shaker style door, can be dressed-up with Traditional accents.  Lighting with traditional flare, granite or marble countertops with a Ogee edge, travertine or subway tile backsplash and of course, dark wood.  Dark wood always points to traditional, either on a kitchen perimeter, or an island.  More on where to shop for your Kitchen accessories.

You might also add some carved corbels from Enkebohl or a fancy hood to enforce the traditional feel. 

Shaker Shaker Everywhere

I do LOVE the practicality of the Shaker door and appreciate its simplicity. And even if you love the Traditional or Contemporary style, you can still get the benefits of the Shaker door.

Thoughtfully planned out, a shaker door can work in almost ANY kitchen!