To answer this, we need to look back at an 18th century religious sect from the North-West of England; The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Coming, nicknamed ‘Shaking Quakers’ for their rather exciting ways of worshipping. It might seem odd to take 21st century kitchen design cues from religious groups from the 1700s, but bear with us. After the Shakers emigrated from England to America in the latter half of the 18th century, they became renowned for their signature furnishing styles that reflected their religious philosophies of modesty, practicality and honesty. These philosophies led to the creation of timeless utilitarian kitchens that continue to fit seamlessly into even very modern homes today. So, why are shaker kitchens popular?
Simplicity and practicality
The Shaker style is effectively a kind of ‘rustic minimalism’, making it perfect for those looking to fuse traditional materials with the more contemporary design features of sleek minimalism. An old saying from the religious group declares that ‘beauty rests on utility’. In other words, a Shaker kitchen lacks many of the unnecessary decorative pieces or wooden embellishments that often go out of date far too quickly. The root of the shaker kitchen is this; every part of the kitchen must have some kind of function.
Furthermore, the utilitarian nature of the Shaker kitchen means that they’re one of the best kitchen styles for budding chefs or anyone who loves to make sure they keep their cooking area organised. If you like the idea of having an incredibly practical kitchen where no space is wasted, Shaker kitchens give you just that. Storage choices often take centre stage, with drawers in tables, multiple racks for both ingredients and cookware, and dominant statement pieces like wardrobes-turned-cabinets for storing crockery. No matter how many kitchen essentials (or non essentials) you have, with a Shaker kitchen there’ll be a place for absolutely everything.
As we’ve already mentioned, the best elements of Shaker kitchens often come from the simplicity and utility in the design. The core elements of the kitchens have changed very little since the development of the style, with high-quality craftsmanship and the signature framed panel cabinets being design hallmarks for around 300 years. Due to this centuries old, near-unchanged style remaining consistently popular, we can say with near certainty that a Shaker kitchen will never look outdated, and if done right, could last you a lifetime.
But it gets better. Not only are Shaker kitchens incredibly unlikely to ever look old-fashioned (in the negative sense), but with colour palettes that tend to favour dark, muted shades of grey, blue, red, and orange, traditional Shaker kitchens are definitely in line with current trends. Sleek, ultra modern kitchen designs are leading the charge at the moment with their muted, matte colour schemes. However, it actually seems that they’ve taken cues from traditional Shakers which have been designed around those colours for years.
Perhaps the most standout design aspect of a good Shaker kitchen is the quality of the materials used, as well as the craftsmanship required to create the traditional designs. Using sturdy, attractive woods such as cherry, maple and oak, Shaker kitchens tend to have a real air of refinement about them that can bring a truly unique style to your home. Many people can associate wood with outdated, farmhouse-style kitchens, but like many things Shaker, you’d be amazed by how seamlessly these wooden design elements suit almost any property.
Although many rustic, historically inspired kitchen designs can be truly beautiful, they often fall into the trap of being suited only to equally rustic houses. As we’ve made clear, this is just not the case for Shaker kitchens. More than that, however, is the great versatility of the kitchens in the way that they are suited to a multitude of different lifestyles. Due to both ergonomic designs and their timeless style, Shaker kitchens are designed to fit around you. Whatever you prioritise in your kitchen, whether it be storage space, counter space, or an area for your appliances, a Shaker can be worked to accommodate that. Plus, with storage trends such as open shelving dominating contemporary design catalogues, you’ll feel like the Shaker kitchen was a product of the last six months rather than the last 300 years.
Leading on from the level of versatility offered by a Shaker kitchen, in recent years they’ve jumped in popularity due to the way in which modern accents can be seamlessly worked into the design. Adding small modern elements throughout can give your rustic Shaker a 21st century update, without making any major departures from the core of what makes the traditional Shaker kitchen so iconic.
Here at Squarepeg Designs, we design bespoke kitchens with great attention to all those details that make a kitchen truly yours. Our specialist team of London-based designers and cabinet makers work hard to bring traditional craft values to each of our projects. Get in touch!