Tried and True Shaker Kitchen Cabinets Never Go Out Of Style

Wow, what started out as an article about Shaker kitchen cabinets ended up being quite an education on Shakers in general. I grew up in Alfred Maine, where there once was quite a Shaker community, so it was kind of fun for me to learn more about Shakers while aiming to write about Shaker Cabinets. On with the show…

Bertch Shaker Cabinet Door


The Shakers were all about simplicity.  You can see it in Shaker kitchen cabinets, Shaker furniture, and even in pictures of Shaker living spaces.  As simple as Shaker kitchen cabinets looked though, they were some of the best built cabinets ever.  The equivalent today would cost obscene amounts of money, and there aren't many Shakers left to build cabinets anyway (I read that there are four surviving members total).  Most of us have to live with Shaker "inspired" cabinets.


Shaker kitchen cabinets are very plain. Square edged stiles and rails surround a flat panel, and the drawers are either in the same style, or just a slab. The simplicity of Shaker kitchen cabinets is good though when a kitchen design is busy. Energy spent on just the right countertop, backsplash, or paint can be wasted by elaborate cabinet doors with glazing, raised panels, arches or cathedrals that scream louder than anything else in the room.    



If you are really looking to tone down your kitchen design, aim for Shaker kitchen cabinets with subtle grain. This can mean painting the cabinets (for no grain at all) or getting a nice tight-grained wood like maple or birch. Cherry or Oak can sometimes detract from the simple look of Shaker kitchen cabinets with their (sometimes) rowdy grain patterns. If you like woods that do have a wild side, darker stains can help subdue the grain and help achieve the sparse Shaker kitchen cabinet look.  


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2 responses to “Tried and True Shaker Kitchen Cabinets Never Go Out Of Style”

  1. I’m remodeling my bathrooms and like the dark espresso colored cabinets. What wood species would I use to get that look without the grain found in oak.

    • Craig says:

      Birch might be a safe bet, or maple.  You’re going to want to see some samples first.  Some manufacturer’s Expresso shows more grain than others, so have a look.  Hickory can be pretty grainy, so steer clear of that.  The only other one I can think of would be Eastern White Pine, but you’d have to be certain that the wood is without knots.  It’s also very soft (I can make a mess of it with jsut my fingernail) so keep that in mind.  My personal preference would be birch.

      Check out to see some differences between birch and maple

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