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What is a Shaker kitchen?

“Don’t make something unless it’s useful; but if it is useful; don’t hesitate to make it beautiful.” The Shaker Philosophy

A simple philosophy which shaped the familiar Shaker style we know and love today. Dating back to the early 18th century, the Shakers followed a dedicated yet humble lifestyle, guided by the principles of simplicity, honesty and utility. The Shakers we largely self-sufficient; enabling them to implement their values into all aspects of their life; growing and rearing their own crops and cattle, constructing their own buildings and making their own furniture and tools.

Living communally, in large shared dwellings, required them to be highly organised; to maintain a clean and tidy standard. In turn, this resulted in ingenious storage solutions, including the now iconic practical peg rail which wrapped rooms, and ladder chair which could hang when not in use, keeping the floor clear.

Furniture, like their values, was honest in its construction and appearance. Each piece of furniture was thoughtfully made. Shaker craftsmen would only design a piece knowing its exact purpose and intended placement in the room. Details such as the tapered leg were designed in order to tilt furniture when cleaning, and were made using a lightweight timber, making furniture easy to pick up and move. Beauty lay within their attention to form and proportion, rather than intricate ornamentation.

This mind-set is best exemplified in their beautiful, timeless kitchen design. Cabinetry doors were solidly constructed, formed in five separate elements consisting of two grooved rails and stiles in which a central panel sat; providing lateral restraint to the door. The style was aesthetically pleasing, very durable and generated very little wasted material. It is a testament to its designers that the appeal of the Shaker style door still endures to this day.

Here at The Shaker Kitchen Company, we embrace this traditional design and combine with modern manufacturing techniques. Focusing on excellent craftsmanship, good materials and clever design to create a beautiful, practical and affordable kitchen.

Quality craftsmanship combined with the very best materials, is essential when it comes to guaranteeing the longevity of our furniture, in terms of both style and functionality. With this in mind, look no further than our framed construction. Unlike ‘lay-on’ doors that will drop over time, our doors sit within a 22mm solid hardwood frame. Like the original Shaker kitchen, they are fixed using exposed butt hinges that not only allow the doors to open 180 degrees but can also bear a heavy weight. Hardwoods such as Oak and Birch are also used for the rails and stiles providing maximum strength and durability, while a moisture resistant 18mm MDF centre panel and internals make up the remainder of our cabinetry.

Elements of original Shaker joinery can be seen throughout our design. Thoughtful details like dovetail joints, can be found on our solid hardwood drawer boxes. Not only are they a beautiful design feature, they are used in carpentry for their strength and longevity. The pins and tails interlock creating a bond that gets tighter every time it’s pulled, so essentially improve with age. Our stiles and rails use mortise-and-tenon joints, to join two pieces of wood at 90 degrees. This age-old method requires absolute precision, producing a strong and neat joint.

Like the Shaker’s we consider the beauty of our cabinets both externally and internally. Rather than drilling sets of vertical holes to house small pegs on each side of our shelved cabinets, we use a clever tooth system with adjustable increments every 50mm to rest our shelves on. The internal sawtooth frames not only add flexibility but also improve the strength of our cabinets too, allowing shelves to maintain a heavier weight load whilst also creating a more robust internal framework.

It’s all in the detail when it comes to quality kitchen design, and we understand the importance of thoughtful and efficient storage. Utility was key for the Shakers and we carry that ethos with us when designing our kitchens for clients today.

Our much-loved Traditional Larder (link to kitchen with Traditional Larder) is a great example of this functional approach to design. Honest in its construction and appearance, it has been thoughtfully made with its purpose in mind. Adjustable hardwood shelves, drawers and spice racks make organising groceries easy, and the large double doors keep it hidden away from view. Sockets can be discreetly installed at the back of the cabinet, so that small appliances like a microwave or coffee machine can be stored neatly behind closed doors. Tall larder-style cabinet doors can also be used to conceal a fridge and freezer combination too, making the overall effect beautifully simple and streamline.

There is no other kitchen that has stood the test of time quite like the Shaker design. Its simple, unpretentious style means it is versatile and timeless and sits happily in homes from all eras. With every kitchen we design we work hard to create a practical space for our customers to cook, eat and entertain, gather as a family and relax. Our designers work collaboratively, bringing together their expertise and the owner’s creative vision to create dream Shaker kitchens for our clients.

There is nothing more satisfying for us than seeing our kitchens fully installed and being used and loved by the owners. No kitchen ends up looking the same thanks to the choice of 25 colours from our paint collection and the carefully curated choice of hardware, natural stone and wood worktops. While our kitchens offer variety in terms of colour and finishing touches, the integrity of the Shaker principles have stayed the same and will do for many years to come.

If you would like to find out more information about us, or are interested in speaking with one of our designers, please call us on 0333 444 5 666 or email designs@theshakerkitchen.co.