What is Shaker Style?
Originated from the modest interiors of the religious communities of rural America in states like Massachusetts, the Shakers have given us a style that is one of the most enduring and well-loved of all interior styles. The strict codes by which the Shakers lived meant that their homes reflected these codes and created a style so pared-down and simple that it appears almost modern today, reflecting our tastes for clean lines and simple but strong design.
The style so familiar to us today is characterised by simple wooden furniture, unadorned by elaborate decoration. The shakers used simple, primitive motifs like the heart which they carried through their furniture and kitchen utensils and familiar items like peg rails, wooden cupboards and painted furniture all have their origins in the Shaker homes of the past.
What is the appeal of Shaker Style?
The kitchen is now regarded as the most important room in our homes with many of us using the kitchen for more than simply cooking and preparing food. We want our kitchens to be warm, welcoming and places where friends and family can come together and relax. The shaker style of simple, timeless design lends itself so perfectly to this relaxed approach.
This simplicity makes it so easy to incorporate it into any style or period of property. The shaker style is so pared-down that it works well in contemporary new-builds as well as traditional houses and cottages. If you are incorporating new shaker units or free-standing pieces with your existing kitchen just make sure you keep the whole design neutral by using soft colours and keep clutter to a minimum.
A sense of harmony pervades the shaker kitchen making it the ideal design choice for families. Its unfussy and practical appearance can easily withstand the daily hustle and bustle of the busy family kitchen. The overall design will ensure that no one piece dominates, creating a seamless kitchen which everyone feels relaxed about using. Most importantly, Shaker kitchens are to be lived in and their inherent practicality makes them the perfect choice for easy, modern living.
Functional beauty – in the original shaker homes, each drawer was carved to fit the exact size of the contents. This style is, above all eminently practical and nothing was included unless it had a practical purpose. Of course, today we can be a little more flexible in our approach and modern kitchens have to house a bewildering array of gadgets and equipment. However, we can adopt the shaker principles and plan our cabinetry and cupboards around our existing possessions to maximise space and streamline our kitchen activities.
Flexibility – the shaker style gives us so many options when choosing our ideal kitchen and it is worth taking time to plan and research thoroughly. The timeless appeal of historic designs like shaker allows us to choose the finish of wood or colour of the painted furniture if this is the preferred option. We can choose between free-standing units or fitted to ensure that the kitchen works with our lifestyle.
Quality -The rich history of shaker is carried on today with a genuine respect for the past combined with modern craftsmanship and the highest quality materials. If you choose a shaker kitchen you know it comes with an authenticity and quality not found in mass-produced, flat-packed kitchens. An experienced cabinet maker can often make bespoke cupboards to fit an awkward corner which is wholly in keeping with spirit of shaker.
How to use Shaker Style in your home
Shaker is such an enduring style and it is easy to bring it into your home either as a whole design or by using elements such as an island focal point.
Painted island – massive as a design trend at the moment, the island is a key feature of contemporary kitchen design which lends itself perfectly to shaker styling. Choose a simple wooden design in a neutral colour such as cream or duck-egg blue for the painted finish or make a bold design statement and have an island in a colour of your dreams. The island is hugely practical too, and a vast amount of equipment and china can be stored away adhering to shaker principles of functionality and practicality.
It’s all in the detail
The shaker style is so simple and practical that it can be bought into any part of the home but it is in the kitchen that Shaker has proved so popular and long-lasting.
Colour – The simplicity of Shaker style, with its key elements of soft, neutral colours allows you to add your own stamp very easily and effectively.
Originally, Shakers used small wooden boxes which were painted in light reds, blues, yellows and greens to colour code their contents and these muted colours have become integral to the shaker kitchen.
There are a huge number of paint companies, both specialist and on the high-street who offer a wide range of heritage colours ideal for painted kitchen furniture.
Accessories – the shaker kitchen is essentially timeless with clean lines and unfussy cabinetry so it acts as a perfect backdrop for almost any kind of cookware and china. Keep things simple and use a few colours to make sure your look stays uncluttered. It’s nice to mix old and new when choosing accessories and antique shops, car boot sales and auction sites all offer beautiful, vintage china and cookware. Look out for enamel, copper and reclaimed French cast-iron ware which come in colours that work very well with the neutral shades of Shaker style.
Decorative detail was always plain and simple in the original shaker homes and this means that the finishing touches we choose make more impact as they are not competing with elaborate decoration. We can make individual design statements by carefully choosing cupboard handles, tiles, flooring and lighting. Use interior magazines and websites to help with sourcing ideas and inspiration for creating a shaker kitchen that truly reflects you and lifestyle.
Vale Designs are hugely experienced at creating and designing Shaker kitchens and they are still our most popular style by far. Our customers love shaker for its lovely appearance and practicality and we would love to help you create a kitchen that works for you.
Call us today on 01728 830581 to find out more about our shaker kitchens.