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All About Shaker Cabinetry

We tend to think of Shaker-style cabinets as being rather simple, yet this is not always the case. The design and style of how shaker cabinet doors are constructed can vary, in addition to their color and the type of wood used. But it certainly doesn’t end there, since there are some shaker doors that you didn’t know even existed, which is why this guide is so important to know more.

History of Shaker Furniture & Kitchen Cabinets

religious Shakers group

Just as you would expect with any crafted wood cabinet, Shaker cabinets get their name from the frame technique used to construct them. The name itself comes from the religious group known as the Shakers. They were formerly part of the original Shaking Quakers’ but decided to form a new group that was largely in favor of both men and women that believed in social equality. These colonial folk also practiced celibacy which led to their decreased following.

Yet, if there is anything but shaky about their sense of furniture construction, Shaker cabinets were as solid as they get. A standard Shaker frame is typically 4 pieces of wood that make an outside frame with a flat center panel within the frame. The type of wood that was used was mainly from local fruit trees like maple, birch, and chestnut. If it’s quality wood, then cherry or walnut was used for the grain and deep color.

The original Shakers believed that natural maple shaker kitchen cabinets were better for a light-colored appearance rather than dark. However, as time went on, light maple shaker cabinets were usually replaced with richer wood tones including cherry and walnut by woodworkers who studied the Shaker style. The allure of light maple shaker kitchen cabinets is still just as popular for kitchens that are looking for an original look that doesn’t sway too far from the classic style.

Types of Shaker Cabinet Doors

shaker cabinets styles

The basic design of a shaker style cabinet door frame doesn’t deviate from its original design that much aside from some decorative touches added to the exterior frame. These can be beveled, angled, or carved, to give the frame more depth. These are often called the Stile and were only applied to the inset edge of the frame itself. It can also allow for more than a single inset panel so it has a little bit more appeal.

In addition to the one-panel version, there are two-panel and three-panel designs that fit inside the center panel. You don’t typically see ornate shaker doors since Shakers saw this as being unholy or deceitful in some religious way. This is what makes shaker cabinets so ordinary and simple looking compared to other types of cabinet doors, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be just as lively when it comes to color selections which give shaker doors and cabinets more appeal.

The natural wood color is completely allowed for extra panels or inset edges, however, some enjoy a painted appearance instead. Standard colors (back in the old days) would include earthy red, green, yellow, and blue which often determined which Shaker sect they came from. But these days you can see a whole slew of perfectly acceptable colors when it comes to shaker style cabinets. Now you can see added tones including many new tones and neutral shades.

These include white shaker kitchen cabinets, grey shaker kitchen cabinets, and every shade in between. This goes the same for navy blue shaker cabinets that range from light blue to dark blue shaker cabinets too. It’s not uncommon to find exotic colors including espresso shake cabinets, greystone shaker cabinets, and even pearl gray cabinets. Chances are if it fits into an earth tone shade, it’s perfectly fine for adding to your cabinet color selection.

Cost of Shaker Doors

Shaker doors price illustration

Many people ask, “Are shaker cabinet doors more expensive?” As a rule, most shaker doors and cabinet doors a not very expensive at all. What can make a frame expensive is custom-made cabinets that are using expensive wood. This can include exotic woods such as hickory, birch, and even oak. Because certain types of wood can be pricier than others, it will be essential to have veneer coverings that go over cheaper wood or wood composite materials such as MDF.

There are also alternatives such as laminates that hold up better than wood in many cases. These are also easier to clean since they will resist oils and stains that come from the daily ingredients of popular foods you like using in your kitchen. It’s also much easier to order prefabricated shaker doors that are made from a variety of cost-effective materials. Needless to say, anything that is custom-made or built from scratch will have a cost increase.

Another factor that can increase the cost of shaker cabinets is adding inset glass. Now, this is crossing over into a totally different territory since this is actually considered a mullion rather than a shaker. If the style matches the same kind of frames, it can work, but with very limited usage. Shaker cabinets do not typically use glass as an inset panel so it would have to be part of an overall custom design that matches the shaker frame style.

Are Shaker Doors Solid Wood?

shaker cabinets material

Obviously, the original cabinets and doors that were made by Shakers in the 1800s were made from authentic wood. It’s still possible to find solid wood shaker doors that are made from quality wood materials too. As technology and woodworking techniques have advanced, it’s getting to be more common than wood composites, and veneers are used instead of solid wood. There are even molded shaker doors that resist shrinking and cracking made from plastics.

These molded versions often have wood composites inside that are MDF or particle board that’s sandwiched inside a textured plastic exterior. These types of prefabricated shaker doors are inexpensive choices for those who want the look of wood but prefer a solid color such as white shaker cabinets or a variety of other molded shaker panel doors. As an alternative to using wood, many of these pre-made shaker cabinet doors give an expensive look without the high costs involved.

What Is a Modern Shaker?

black and white shaker cabinets with metal pulls

Modern shaker style cabinets are all about using natural materials like wood and were meant to be very simplistic. Added metal ornamentation like hinges was very simple and bare-bones, yet pull handles and knobs were exclusively made from wood. Now with that being said, it seems that modern shaker cabinets are breaking the rules by adding metal pulls made from stainless steel and chrome.

Bold colors are also now being introduced rather than muted earth-tone colors that certainly switch the tables for old-fashioned rules. There are even some shaker cabinets that have added aluminum or metal trim along the inside stile where the inserted panel fits to add a splash of modern style. Whether you want to call this modern or modern chic kitchen cabinets set within a shaker style, anything is possible when creating a modern kitchen or transitional style kitchens; here are some additional ideas on customizing your cabinets to fit your style.

There is nothing quite like elegant white shaker cabinets that make any kitchen classic looking, yet modern contemporary kitchens can certainly add more style when combining old classics together.


Shaker Cabinets

What are shaker style cabinets?

Shaker style cabinets are a type of cabinet that are characterized by their simple and functional design. They typically feature a flat panel door with a recessed center, and a minimalist look that is inspired by the Shaker community of the 18th and 19th centuries.

What are the defining features of shaker style cabinets?

These types of cabinets are always simple, functional and in some people’s view, plain. They are characterized by their simple square shapes with another simple square shape within the first. So the first square is almost a “frame” for the rest of the recessed door of the cabinet.


Shaker type cabinets are also very simple ones. They are more often that not painted white or a coat of clear varnish is added to protect the wood. These cabinets are never ornate, but the simplicity is beautiful in itself. They are also known for their sturdy construction and attention to detail, which includes dovetail joints, solid wood frames, and high-quality finishes.

What is the history of shaker style cabinets?

The history of Shaker style cabinets is quite interesting. They originated with the “Shakers,” a group of people from Manchester in the UK that broke off from the Quakers and later migrated to the USA in about 1790.


Like the Quakers, they believed in a simple life was more “Godly” and their lifestyle, clothes and even furniture reflected that. Their cabinets in particular were very well made, simple and in effect, timeless. Even today people enjoy the beauty of these simply designed handcrafted  cabinets.

What are the benefits of shaker style cabinets?

These simple cabinets show that simple can equal timeless. Due to their simple style, Shaker cabinets are still being installed in homes all over the world. Their design and function make them easier to build and less costly in way of materials and hardware. And due to their handcrafted uniqueness, they can be either stained or painted in any color to keep up with the times. A timeless classic.

What materials are used for shaker style cabinets?

Most often Shaker style cabinets are made of solid wood, from a cheaper pine to a solid oak wood are used so that they last and are easily treated. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be made of other materials like plywood or MDF (medium-density fiberboard). To cut costs some manufacturers will use these materials to create the cabinet, while the doors and parts you see are still made using solid woods.

What colors are popular for shaker style cabinets?

The most poular colors are either white, usually a white wash, or a completely natural look using a coat of varnish or shellac. These choices are simplistically beautiful and will always be in style. But due to their construction, you can choose ot paint or finish your cabinets in whatever colors you desire.

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When you engage our design team, we simplify the very complicated and tedious kitchen remodel process. We do this by listening to what you want, then translating your vision and expression into a virtual design that is uniquely yours.

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