Shaker kitchens have been around for a long time and they’re here to stay. But What Does The Term ‘Shaker’ Mean and Where Does it come From? Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The History and Evolution Of The Shaker Kitchen, From Humble Beginnings To Modern-Day Iconic Style.

What is a Shaker kitchen?

Shaker kitchens are typically simple, elegant designs that make the most of space. Free of excessive decoration, Shaker kitchens are timelessly styled with clean lines, a quality finish and are highly functional.

The modern Shaker kitchens we see today have their roots in Quakerism and we’re originally designed by the ‘Shaking Quakers’ of the 1700s.

Who are the Quakers?

The Shaker story starts with the Quakers. Founded in 1650, the Quakers were an English religious sect that sprang out of the English Civil War. Prizing peace above all, the group spread throughout the country and quickly migrated to America. This saw them quickly gain a foothold in a number of states, where their message of quiet contemplation, conscientious objection to conflict, and rejection of slavery appealed to many.

Out of these tenets, the Quakers prized quiet self-reliance. Wherever possible, groups wove their own clothes, grew their own food, and built their own houses and homes. This saw families pass on skills through generations, training their sons and daughters in how to build unique, assured furniture – making items from natural products that were truly built to last.

Shakers are an offshoot of Quakerism, adopting many of the principles that Quakers followed, but adding livelier energy to the mix.

What is the Shaker lifestyle?

Shakers – so called due to their high-energy religious services – embraced spiritual and material equality. This saw women given as much authority and leadership as men. This approach to daily life attracted many converts who prized peace, simplicity, and hard work.

The Shakers also continued the Quaker tradition of hand-crafting home furnishings, emphasising true quality and craftsmanship over replaceable fad-products.

In short, Shaker furniture was truly built to endure, be highly useful, and provide ageless quality.

Where did Shaker style originate?

While Shakerism was first founded in the mid-1700s, it was only in the 1860s that their unique approach to design gained mass-market appeal. This started with the production of long-backed, woven seating chairs – allowing members of the community to mass-produce items to meet public demands.

Defined by uncluttered, warm simplicity – the ‘Shaker style’ is a quintessential American aesthetic that looks fantastic in a range of homes. Defined by the principles of ‘simplicity’, ‘utility’, and ‘honesty’, their designs are predominantly minimalist, wooden, and highly sought after by collectors.

This means deploying handcrafted, highly-skilled designs that eschew ‘bells and whistles’. Shaker designs are well-wrought, warm, and welcoming. There are few methods of gaudy ornamentation such as engraving, carvings, bright colours, or modern materials. This allows for a confident, earthy design that shows quiet confidence in any property.

Image Source: Wikipedia

The history of shaker kitchens

Often thought of as the heart of the home, kitchens were communal areas where the family gathered before starting their day. This meant creating a space where people could rest in comfort, eat, cook, and commune with ease. As a result, the kitchen plays a key role when it comes to the shaker aesthetic and allows for a wide range of choices when it comes to customising your space.

The evolution of the Shaker kitchen

It may come as little surprise that things have changed a lot since 1747, but the tenets underpinning Shakerism and its design aesthetic remain firmly in place. First and foremost is a commitment to innovative storage solutions and welcoming design – something that may be an afterthought in larger American homes, but becomes essential in countries where space is potentially at a premium. This involves combining an unassuming Shaker design with stylish modern options. This can include options such as appliance integration, dedicated compartments for food storage, and much more.

Deciding to crunch down on clutter helps free up space, opening up your design space in a way that Shakerism is famous for. This makes even the most cramped apartment kitchen seem light, modern, and airy. With an emphasis on neutral, natural colours – the Shaker design and colour scheme can play a part in any modern home and truly add to the natural beauty of your kitchen and beyond.

Are Shaker kitchens still in style?

Thanks to their timeless design, durability and practicality, Shaker kitchens have stood the test of time and are still a hugely popular kitchen choice today. Shaker kitchens are also highly versatile. They can be styled traditionally, or given a modern twist with bold colours, contemporary worktops and metal handles, so they’re a great choice for new builds and character properties alike.

Here are some examples of today’s Shaker kitchens, all handcrafted by us at Olive and Barr:

Hillcrest Kitchen

Deerfold Cottage Kitchen

Burgess Hill

If you want to learn more about Shaker kitchens or modern Shaker-inspired design, our team at Olive & Barr are happy to help. Our handcrafted Shaker kitchens are made right here in the UK and offer incredible value, bespoke design. Get in touch today to discuss your needs, browse our Shaker kitchen ideas or visit our showroom.

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