Today's Shaker style kitchens designers get their inspirational ideas from the simple designs of Shaker kitchens, which date back as far as the late 18th century. These kitchens, proudly handmade by the Shakers, came with clean crisp and straight lines, devoid of the usual ornately carved features and components of traditional furniture of the same era.
A religious sect that broke away from the Quakers, Shakers were deeply religious and held firmly to their beliefs of industry, living a frugal lifestyle, celibacy, and integrity. Shakers made some of the most honest and forthright pieces of furniture and cabinetry found in the United States at the time, and were actively producing furniture, both for their use, and for that of the community, mainly residing in Kentucky, New England, and the State of New York.
High quality workmanship was as important to them as their religious doctrines, and can be aptly considered as part of their religion. A standard of works for these traditional furniture were set by the community in the “mother house”, in Mt. Lebanon, New York and was strictly adhered to by all Shakers all over the country.
History of Shaker Kitchens
Shakers mastered the art of built-in cabinetry systems, and they believed firmly in creating only what is required. They believed in the utility of every single piece of household object, how form should follow function. They believe that true beauty lies only on the suitability of an item to its purpose.
Originally, Shaker style kitchens were made with whatever wood was available in the locality. Popular woods used for kitchens at the time were pine, maple and cherry. The kitchen cabinets were large built-in cupboards with functional compartments designed for specific storage purposes. Clutter and messy kitchens was almost a sin, as cleanliness and orderliness were dominating prerequisites of the community.
Features of Shaker Kitchen Cabinets
Shaker kitchens were built to be organised and functional, and this meant everything had its own space, and anything not in use was stored away. Every kitchen item, whether kettles, pots, pans, bowls, crockery, etc. had a place, and every object was indeed put in its place.
Shaker kitchen cabinet doors are recessed within an outer frame, giving them straight and simple clean lines that is the hallmark of their kitchen cabinets, chests and cupboards.
Today's Shaker Style Kitchen
Traditional kitchen designs are very popular today, and are the first choice of many homeowners. Many love the simplistic individuality of Shaker kitchen designs, with their unfussy features and user friendly attributes. One thing that hasn't changed from the traditional lines is this simple functionality.
Obviously, over 300 years after the Shakers fashioned their kitchen styles, people's needs and requirements have of course changed. Technology has brought into our homes, many kitchen electrical appliances, such as toasters, microwave ovens, refrigerators, ice making machines, electric hotplates, etc., but today's kitchen designer always finds it interesting to blend the old with the new.
There must be room and storage space for everything, from the 3 step ladder for reaching hard to reach tops, to wire baskets that glide like drawers for fruits and vegetable storage. Kitchen counter tops can be made of slate, stone, marble and granite, but they must be almost devoid of glaring graining or patterning.
It's a good idea to have a bit of contrast with the addition of a few subtle accessories, such as brass knobs, stainless steel cabinet door pulls, napkin racks, a simple vase with fresh flowers (or dried ones), etc. These accessories will enhance the straight edge Shaker style lines, and give a pleasant appeal to any kitchen.
It's good to note that bold patterns may not work so well in Shaker style kitchens, so the room shouldn't be covered with extravagant patterns. If there must be patterns, they can be introduced into the kitchen with pretty items, such as patterned jars, kitchen towels or flower vases. Colours scheme for the Shaker kitchen style can be as soft or as bold as is desired, as long as there are no bold out-of-place patterns 'running riot' in the kitchen setting.