What Are Shaker Style Kitchen Cabinets

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a nice country home wood kitchen with wooden island, wooden cabinetry, black countertops, and hardwood floor

We answer some common shaker cabinet questions and explore different styles of shaker cabinets to help you decide if they’re suitable for your home.

What are shaker-style cabinets? Originally built and used by the Quakers, shaker kitchen cabinets are a kitchen unit style that features a flat center panel and square edges, with a minimal flourish. Due to their visual simplicity and durability, many interior designers pair these units with contemporary kitchens. Their smooth surfaces allow easy cleaning, making them look naturally chic and clean.

Shaker cabinets in kitchens have endured because their classic appeal is rooted in practicality. As a result, contemporary shaker cabinets are ubiquitous and tend to be trend-proof. We answer some common shaker cabinet questions and explore different styles of shaker cabinets to help you decide if they’re suitable for your home.

What Are Shaker Cabinets

A shaker style cabinets’ definition can best be described as a style of American cabinets originally made and used by the Quakers, who immigrated to the United States from Manchester in the 18th century. So, what are shaker cabinets made of? Traditionally, they are built from oak, hickory, ash, cherry, birch, chestnut, pine, and maple wood.

If you wonder, ‘what is shaker style?’ the chances are you’ve probably come across a basic shaker style cabinet or a variation thereof; a five-piece door with a recessed center panel and additional flourish. There are different types of shaker-style cabinets with inset, standard and full overlays.

  • Inset: The doors and drawers rest inside the cabinet and face frame openings.
  • Standard: The cabinet door and drawer faces are slightly larger than the opening and more forgiving with alignment.
  • Full: The door and drawer faces are larger than the openings.

A Brief History of Shaker Style Cabinets

The shaker-style origin story begins with the United Society of Believers of Christ’s Second Appearing, who emigrated from Manchester to the United States of America in the 18th century and became the Quakers. The Quakers spread out across New England and were renowned for their high-quality furniture’s impeccable craftsmanship.

They took pride in building simplistic and sturdy furniture. Traditional shaker cabinets are devoid of decorative veneers as any embellishment was viewed as dishonest and not in line with their religious sentiments. Shaker cabinets are found throughout 21st-century kitchens. Their paneled doors, solid wood frames, dovetail, mortise, and tenon joints are still used in a bespoke fashion today.

Shaker Style Cabinets Features

The shakers were committed to functionality, which is reflected in their utilitarian cabinetry. Their common features include:

  • Designed with modest proportions, straight lines, and square edges.
  • A five-piece door or drawer front with flat recessed panels, light stains, or natural finishes.
  • Basic hardware with no ornamentation and ceramic knobs, flat bar pulls, latches or tubular bar pulls.
  • A recessed groove with shaker cabinet doors and drawers that can be opened.
  • Commonly made from maple, pine, chestnut, birch, cherry, ash, hickory, and oak wood.

Are Shaker Cabinets Going Out Of Style?

If trends are anything to go by, shaker door style kitchen cabinets are here to stay. While traditionally kept with their natural wood hues, contemporary updates include painted finishes in white, gray, black, greens, and blues. Shaker kitchen cabinet styles suit many interior design aesthetics, from rustic farmhouse to contemporary chic and the coastal Mediterranean.

Kitchens are typically divided into three styles in which shaker cabinets can be applied.

  • Modern shaker style cabinets: The doors of these cabinets can be left plain or come with additional hardware such as brass pull-out or edge profile handles for a contemporary feel. While traditional shaker cabinets have wooden doors, modern updates include open shelving.
  • Transitional shaker cabinets: As the name implies, transitional kitchens blend the new with the old without a clash in style. These kitchens may increase ornamentation when it comes to handles and stick to a modern color scheme. Countertops in transitional kitchens tend to be made from natural stone like granite or marble and have a slightly beveled edge.
  • Traditional shaker cabinets: Traditional shaker cabinets suit country or farmhouse interior design styles. Classic shaker cabinets can be stained or left with their original color for a rustic or more redefined look. Countertops play a large role in design; wooden or natural stone with bevel or ogee edging will complete a more traditional look.

Pros and Cons of Shaker Style Cabinets

Perfect for traditional, transitional, and modern kitchens, here are the pros and cons of shaker-style cabinets.

Pros of Shaker Style Cabinets

Kitchen Cabinets Shaker Style
Modern shaker-style cabinets transcend gimmicky trends, providing a timeless foundation on which to design your kitchen.

Timeless Appeal

The enduring legacy of shaker cabinets offers simplicity, yet they are distinctive enough to enhance the appearance of any kitchen. Current trends have embellished these simple wood cabinets with detailed handles and coats of paint. White, black, gray, and gem hues such as royal blue and emerald green add a contemporary spin to this traditional favorite.

Room to Express Yourself

A quick search on Pinterest reveals there are so many individual design aesthetics when it comes to shaker-style cabinets. Timeless and practical, these cabinets are simple building blocks to almost any type of kitchen imaginable. While there are traditional interior design principles that elevate interiors, there really is no set rule as a kitchen’s design should always be an extension and reflection of the homeowner.

Low Maintenance

Shaker cabinets with doors are easier to clean as opposed to those with open shelving where dust can gather. Those with minimal crevices and embellishment need only a simple wipe-down. Shaker cabinets with flat doors and baked-on finishes don’t require heavy maintenance. Even those with a high-gloss finish that show dirt are easy to wipe down.

A Consistent Favorite

From Monica’s kitchen in ‘Friends’ to Dunphy’s in ‘Modern Family,’ shaker kitchen cabinets have become somewhat of a design phenomenon. They are plain, durable and functional, yet offer limitless interior design possibilities. Shaker-style cabinets offer a clean and versatile look that can still be modern and trendy without dating too quickly. Are shaker-style cabinets timeless? Pretty much, yes.

Cons of Shaker Style Cabinets

Cleaning Could Be Hard

This is truly dependent on the style of the shaker cabinet. Flush cabinets are easy to clean, whereas more traditional shaker cabinets can collect dust in the corners and grooves of the center panel. Those with open shelves will also gather dusty more easily. However, this only becomes an issue if dust and grime are left to build up and cabinets aren’t regularly cleaned.

Too Classic for a Modern Kitchen

Some argue that regardless of the different styles of shaker cabinets installed, they are still too classic for a modern kitchen. This, however, is arguable as shaker cabinets can be designed without handles and painted with bold colors to emphasize a modern look. A change in plumbing and lighting fixtures can also make a huge difference, but ultimately, taste depends on the individual.

Affect Potential Buyers

We often get asked, “Are shaker style cabinets more expensive?” The answer is: They’re not and rather affordable for homeowners. However, your choice of the cabinet can affect potential buyers. If the style is too old, it can decrease your resale value, yet if it’s modern, the opposite occurs. Some buyers prefer purchasing homes needing minimal upgrades, while others enjoy the renovating aspect. It comes down to whether you are installing new cabinets for personal reasons or because you’re looking to sell.


At Pro Stone Countertops, we house a selection of cabinets available and ready to be assembled in different shaker kitchen cabinet styles. We can help you design and install kitchen cabinets that will suit your home for years to come. Consult one of our experts at 662-895-4795 to find out more, or contact us online.