How to design a Shaker Kitchen

15th September 2020
Shaker kitchen design

A Shaker kitchen is a popular traditionally handmade style that has been around for more than three centuries. It dates back to the late 1700s and the religious group known as ‘The Shakers’ who made furniture renowned for its simplistic craftsmanship and high standards. Having evolved over time to suit more modern spaces, this style of kitchen is designed to be timeless and suits contemporary homes, country cottages and grandeur residences.

As our most popular kitchen design, here we explain what exactly a Shaker kitchen is and how to create one.


Shaker kitchens traditionally feature plenty of clean lines and balanced proportions, typically with flat centre panels on cabinets with square edges and minimal detailing. These often include local woods, simple knobs and colourful finishes. They are also symmetrical and avoid intricate carvings or ornamentation, instead offering simplicity, functionality and high-quality craftsmanship.

Our Shaker style kitchen was created over 30 years ago, honouring the Shaker’s principles of uncluttered, simple open-plan living with traditional features. We offer this style in a prime option using a water-based primer that allows our skilled painters to hand paint it any colour you want. You can also have your kitchen finished in oak or walnut instead, or even combine the two finishes.



Shaker style kitchen cupboards and cabinets were traditionally constructed from hardwoods such as pine, maple, cherry or oak, while the doors have a simple inset panel. These can be left natural or painted, with the latter a good way of updating your existing space to create a bespoke look. Combining two colours for a two-tone effect or mixing natural and painted finishes are both excellent options for your Shaker kitchen. However, don’t overdo it. If you’re planning on having painted units, keep the walls neutral or vice versa, and try experimenting with different colours and materials to give your kitchen a completely personal look.

Our bespoke cabinetry can be hand painted any colour while our smart storage options, such as these integrated bin cupboards, can create a clean, finished look, tucking away all of your appliances and accessories. We use traditional joinery methods at our Cambridgeshire workshop to produce your cabinetry. These can be adapted in terms of height, width and depth to create your dream kitchen, allowing us to work with any awkward space you have.


Kitchens with enough space for an island fit the Shaker style perfectly. An island creates a free-standing design which improves your kitchen’s functionality, offering more space and storage to cook and entertain, while also adding an interesting design element. Traditional Shaker worktops often use high-quality timber, while other materials such as granite and marble are also now popular for a contemporary twist on classic design. For instance, a white marble worktop works well with a bold blue kitchen island for a statement look.

To keep your island worktops clear, you can supplement your space with a pantry larder to store your food, kitchen equipment and spices in an orderly fashion. However, if your kitchen isn’t big enough for an island, you can still create a timeless look using darker colours for the lower kitchen cabinets and lighter tones for the higher shelves and wall units.


A Shaker kitchen often features handles made from the same wood used in the rest of the design instead of metal pulls, as these were seen as too elaborate. Minimalist turned timber knobs for your cupboard handles will suit the style perfectly. However, many Shaker styles now incorporate metallic handles to bring a contemporary edge to an otherwise traditional style.


Your bespoke Shaker kitchen won’t be complete without storage. This involves incorporating different options for your appliances, equipment and food. Some typical Shaker features include drawers in the table front for utensils, peg rails for hanging outdoor garments and shelves instead of high mounted cupboards. You’ll also find styles with storage taking up the entire length of a wall.


Wood is a Shaker kitchen design staple and the religious group commonly left the wood in its natural beauty. Natural varieties such as pine, maple and cherry wood have typically been used, though more sustainable materials like oak and birchwood are more popular today.


Traditionally, a classic Shaker kitchen has a neutral colour palette which naturally makes a small space appear larger. However, while neutral tones like grey, cream or pale blue are most popular, many do choose to feature bold primary colours to add depth to an open-plan kitchen. Incorporating colour into your kitchen can also add character. For instance, colours liked muted deep blues, dark green and inky black can create a dramatic feel for your modern kitchen.


Here at Harvey Jones, our team can design a bespoke kitchen for you, exactly how you want it. You can honour the traditions of the Shakers with a full natural oak kitchen or choose a wood of your preference. Switch up the natural look with white painted cabinets to contrast the solid wood worktop. Or go classic with a full white Shaker kitchen with neutral furniture and hand painted units with a beech or black granite worktop for the perfect contrast.

Experimenting with colour is also a great option, putting a spin on the traditional Shaker style. For example, bold deep blue cabinets with metallic finishes or simple grey units with a statement mirrored splashback brings a modern twist on tradition. Some Shaker kitchens are two-toned with a large island and curved cabinets hand painted in two different tones of the same colour. For instance, the lower cabinets could be painted a deep shade of blue, while the higher units painted in a lighter tone.