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Shaker Kitchens

What is a Shaker Kitchen?

By January 20, 2023February 3rd, 2023No Comments

Design trends come and go, but the Shaker kitchen trend is one which has remained popular with interior designers for generations. And for good reason! Whilst questionable design fads such as woodchip wallpaper and beaded curtains have come and (thankfully) gone, the Shaker kitchen looks set to stay. But what is a Shaker kitchen? And what exactly makes this kitchen design trend so unshakeable? (Pun intended!). Let us unravel that question for you with our guide to Shaker kitchens…

What is a Shaker Style Kitchen?

Since the mid-18th century, Shaker kitchens have proved a popular design choice. This simple, pared-back style of kitchen celebrates simplicity and tradition by combining faultless craftsmanship, functionality and sustainability. The artistry afforded by the Shaker-style of kitchen means that it is supremely versatile and can adapt to all manner of interior design styles. From traditional farmhouses to modern city pads, scandi-inspired homes and contemporary dwellings by the sea…the standout feature which makes a Shaker kitchen so sought-after is its simplicity. The distinct lack of intricate carvings or ornamentation gives way to an effortlessly chic kitchen that can be adapted to any style of home.

The Shaker kitchen is defined by symmetrical cabinetry that features a flat centre panel and square edges, with minimal detailing or profiling. The functionality and versatility of this simple design has made this the most sought-after kitchen design on the market.

Which Are The Key Features of a Shaker Kitchen?

In a nutshell: functionality. Performance has always been the main philosophy behind the design of every Shaker kitchen. Shaker cabinets are designed to make everything easier by giving a place for everything to be stored and accessed simply and efficiently. From drawers to cupboards and everything in between; every element is designed with precision and the kitchen-owner’s lifestyle in mind.

So many of our clients have asked us to hide their appliances behind cabinet doors or chosen to add our clever chopping board and tray storage options to enable a larger, clearer work space. Shaker kitchens are about looking at every nook, cranny, corner and space with careful consideration to make sure every aspect of the kitchen is used to the maximum in a way the homeowner can enjoy.

Another defining feature of the popular Shaker style is handles which were traditionally crafted from the same wood as the cabinet or drawers to embody the minimalist principles which underpins the Shaker design. Nowadays kitchen designers incorporate chrome or steel handles for a more modern look, but the defining principle formed 200 years ago still remains.

The History of Shaker Kitchens

Who invented the Shaker kitchen and why is it named so? Every design trend has a story, and the Shaker kitchen is no different. But to better understand the origins of the Shaker design concept, we need to head back 200 years to the mid-18th Century, when a small group of Quakers split to create their own religious sect. Based in Manchester, this newly-formed religious group was officially known as The United Society of Believers, but because of the way they used dancing and shaking in their worship, they became known as “the Shakers” — a name they took with them when they emigrated to America.

Having settled in New England, it was here that they became known for producing artisan furniture of such high-quality that they developed a reputation and prestige for their unrivalled craftsmanship — a craftsmanship that we still celebrate in our UK-based workshops today.

The other key characteristic of the Shaker culture was honesty, which is why they did away with unnecessary details and motifs — features that they believed to be misleading — and instead focussed on three new pillars of design: functionality, durability and simplicity.

Olive & Barr country house kitchen as featured on Channel 4's Renovation nation
Olive & Barr Shaker Kitchen

“Beauty rests on utility” is the Shaker ethos upon which Shaker kitchens are based; an ethos which embodies the art of simplicity, functionality and fine craftsmanship. Whilst other trends come and go, the Shaker kitchen remains a steadfast favourite, boasting a longevity which outstrips all other passing kitchen design fads. Fuss-free simplicity, seamless functionality and unrivalled timelessness are the elements which make the Shaker kitchen one of the most popular styles of kitchens in the UK today.

      • Functionality – This guiding ethos behind every Shaker kitchen means that this is a style of kitchen which works for everyone. The precision of the craftsmanship and the thoughtful placements of every element ensure a seamless functionality which is difficult to match. Shaker kitchens are kitchens which work for you.
      • Simplicity – A huge appeal of the Shaker kitchen is the simplicity. There’s just something so reassuringly homely about a kitchen style which is rooted in simple honesty. Beautifully understated, the universal appeal of a Shaker kitchen is impossible to ignore. The modest style means that whatever your personal style choice, it can be interpreted with a reassuring backdrop of pared-back cabinetry to suit you and your home. A Shaker kitchen gives you a clean, simple backdrop upon which to stamp your individuality.
      • Timelessness – Opting for a versatile design with clean lines and a timeless style makes a Shaker kitchen a sustainable choice for the intelligent homeowner. Rather than having to update or replace your kitchen every few years, your Shaker kitchen is here to stay.

    “For the 25 years I have been in the industry, never has there been a time when shaker kitchens have gone out of fashion. Their simple design means they can adapt to changing tastes and styles making them utterly timeless.”
    Al Bruce – Olive & Barr Founder – Shaker Kitchen Expert

    Are Shaker Kitchens Old-Fashioned?

    Whilst the guiding philosophy which underpins Shaker kitchen design is rooted in the past, this ever-popular style of kitchen remains admired by those who consider quality craftsmanship and simple functionality to be vital elements for the heart of the home. The timeless versatility of the Shaker kitchen means that its ongoing popularity outstrips that of other fads which ebb and flow, remaining a steadfast cornerstone of home design which isn’t going anywhere. We lavish an abundance of care and thought into every single design because we want your new handmade Shaker kitchen to exceed your expectations. Why change perfection?

    What is the Difference Between a Shaker Kitchen and a Traditional Kitchen?

    There are two main differences between Shaker and traditional kitchens: functionality and look. A shaker-style kitchen is more about function with the design focus being on practicality and efficiency. Traditional kitchens tend to be more elaborate with ornate details and focus more on the look. Shaker kitchens boast a sleek, minimalist look, whilst the classic traditional kitchen is often more fussy with decorative details which don’t necessarily add to the function of the final kitchen.  Shaker kitchens are also characterised by clever storage, thanks to the age-old Shaker principle of utility. With built-in, hidden away appliances and minimalist design, Shaker kitchens boast clean lines and do away with clutter.

    What is the Best Colour for a Shaker Kitchen?

    Traditionally, Shaker kitchens were painted or stained, and popular colours were blue, green and red. Depending on whether you’re going for a traditional look or more modern feel, there are a number of colours that work well in a Shaker kitchen.

    Ivory Shaker Kitchens

    Hilcrest Parisian Shaker Kitchen in ivory with beautiful views out of large glass patio doors
    Olive & Barr Parisian Kitchen

    Ivory Shaker kitchens look crisp, clean, modern and stylish. The neutral colour scheme creates a blank canvas to which you can add your own style of worktop, handles and accessories. Ivory adds comfortable elegance to your kitchen and is an ideal colour to brighten up a space that lacks natural light.

    Grey Shaker Kitchens

    Shaker kitchen with rustic wood island and top cupboards
    Olive & Barr – Cora May Kitchen in Pavilion Grey

    Grey Shaker kitchens are hugely popular and very much on-trend for 2023. Grey adds a contemporary flair to the classic Shaker style. Whether you opt for a smart dark tone or a warm and inviting light hue, grey works well in most Shaker kitchen spaces.

    Green Shaker Kitchens

    Green shaker kitchen with wood worktop and farmhouse sink
    Olive & Barr Hunter Green Kitchen

    Green Shaker kitchens are beautifully bold. If you want to make a statement, while keeping a peaceful and uplifting feel, green is an excellent colour choice for your Shaker kitchen.

    Blue Shaker Kitchens

    Shaker kitchen in ivory and navy blue with open pantry doors and large windows
    Olive & Barr Shoreham By Sea Kitchen

    Blue Shaker kitchens ooze class. Dramatically different, deep blue tones create the ideal backdrop for stylish kitchens that are made for entertaining. This up-and-coming colour is warm, homely and deeply luxurious.

    Can You Paint Shaker Kitchens?

    At Olive & Barr, we meticulously hand paint all our Shaker kitchens with high-quality durable paint that adds lustre and a subtle sheen. We offer Shaker kitchens in a range of colours or we can finish in the colour of your choice (for a small charge). And if you want to change the colour of your kitchen in the future, we can do that for you too.

    Shaker Kitchen Ideas and Inspiration

    Shaker cabinets are here to stay for 2023, but they’ll get an update from being stark white to flaunting deeper hues which give a nod to the Shaker heritage. Expect to see an abundance of dark greens inspired by nature, warm neutrals, and a flush of soft pink.

    Exposed hinges, minimalist knobs and exposed latches offer a rustic look, whilst a matte finish and wide border can give a more contemporary feel. There’s good news for those who prefer natural surfaces over manmade materials; 2023 will see a trend for the warm reassurance of solid wood and classic natural stone reappear so give your Shaker kitchen an update with a natural kitchen worktop which works hard for you and your family.

    Shaker Cabinet Materials

    Where more traditional craftsfolk would opt for imported woods such as mahogany, Shakers preferred to use locally-sourced timbers everywhere they could, like pine, cherry wood and maple wood — and that is exactly what we still do today. Preferring to use natural materials that celebrate a more sustainable lifestyle, we use carefully-sourced materials from local-suppliers that are traceable, accountable and accredited by the FSC (the international organisation that’s dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests).

    Shaker-Style Kitchen Handles

    Close up image of navy blue shaker kitchen with silver coloured round handles
    Olive & Barr offers a variety of handle options to suit your taste.

    The simple style of a Shaker kitchen means it lends itself well to most types of handles from wood to metal, cups to knobs. With a Shaker kitchen, you have the versatility to choose handles that work with your personal taste, the style of your home and your practical needs.

    Here at Olive & Barr, a recent kitchen design trend we have spotted is the growing popularity of brass and antique brass handles due to their ability to add warmth and character to a kitchen. The unique patina that develops over time on brass and antique brass handles gives them a sense of history and sophistication, making them a great choice for those looking to add a touch of elegance to a shaker style kitchen.

    At Olive & Barr, our creative kitchen designers can take this all into account and propose a range of styles that will complement your kitchen perfectly.

    Shaker-Style Cabinets

    Shaker-style cabinet doors are defined by the classic bevelled edge and recessed centre. The high-quality finish and uninterrupted straight lines of Shaker kitchen cabinets are simple and elegant, with minimal embellishments. And above all, Shaker kitchens are built to last. Here at Olive & Barr, our handcrafted Shaker kitchen cabinets are made with solid oak drawer boxes and stunning tulipwood doors to ensure the longevity of our designs.

    Shaker-Style Kitchen Islands

    Ivory shaker kitchen with kitchen island, wood floors and shuttered window.
    A kitchen island is a great option for any shaker kitchen.

    Shaker-style islands create striking, practical centrepieces. Kitchen islands are a traditional Shaker way to create extra storage and worktop space, in keeping with the clutter-free ethos. Shaker-style islands are also a clever way to manipulate the space in a kitchen, moving the stovetop or sink for example, allowing conversations to continue throughout meals, from preparation through to cooking and cleaning. On the whole, Shaker kitchens combine impressive style that’s ripe for entertaining, with the practicality you need for everyday life.

    Shaker Kitchen Finishing Touches

    Simplicity is key when it comes to finishing touches for a shaker-style kitchen. To complement the clean lines and minimal detailing of the cabinetry, consider open shelving for added storage and display. Simple, sleek taps in a neutral finish will blend seamlessly with the overall design. Keep with the neutral theme for the worktop, using materials such as marble, wood or granite, adding a touch of elegance while maintaining the clean and uncluttered aesthetic. Built-in appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers can be easily incorporated into the cabinetry for a harmonious look.

    Different Ways to Style a Shaker Kitchen

    Just because a shaker kitchen is a classic style, doesn’t mean it can’t be personalised to reflect your own unique taste and style.There are so many ways you can add a personal touch to the timeless Shaker kitchen design, from incorporating different colours, materials and textures to experimenting with different lighting and hardware options. Here are just a few design ideas:

    Modern Shaker Kitchen

    Modern navy blue shaker kitchen with feature lights, lots of flowers and large kitchen island
    Abbots Leigh Contemporary Kitchen in colour Nightcap

    When it comes to styling a Shaker kitchen in a modern way, the key is to play with different colours, materials, and textures. You could add a contemporary touch by incorporating bold and vibrant colours as an accent – use colourful bar stools or a statement backsplash. Another great option is using materials that are on-trend like concrete or marble, you can install it on countertops, or as flooring to add a modern and sophisticated touch. Textures such as a rough-hewn wood table or industrial-style pendant lights can also be added to give the space a more modern edge. With simple styling tweaks, you can easily transform a classic Shaker kitchen into a modern kitchen.

    Traditional Shaker Kitchen

    Styling a Shaker kitchen in a traditional way is all about embracing the simplicity and timelessness of the design. One way to do this is by incorporating natural wood finishes such as oak or cherry throughout the space, from the cabinetry to the flooring and even the table and chairs. This will give the kitchen a warm and inviting feeling. If wood isn’t for you, another great option is to use classic materials such as granite or soapstone for countertops, and simple subway tiles for the backsplash. These materials are timeless and will add a touch of elegance to the space. Finish off the kitchen with traditional hardware like brass or oil-rubbed bronze knobs and handles will complement the timeless design and bring a cohesive look to the space. If you have the space, incorporate a farmhouse sink, a large hood and an island to make the space more functional and hopefully create a cosy and inviting Shaker kitchen that will stand the test of time.

    Scandinavian Shaker Kitchen

    Styling a Shaker kitchen in a Scandinavian style is all about embracing minimalism and functionality while adding a touch of warmth and simplicity. One way to achieve this is by incorporating a light colour palette with a combination of white, grey and natural wood tones. This will give the kitchen a clean and airy feeling. Follow this theme throughout by using natural materials such as wood and linen for the cabinetry and textiles such as curtains, cushions or rugs to give the space a cosy feel. You can also incorporate clean lines and simple forms, such as pendant lighting with sleek metal finishes, to keep with the Scandinavian design aesthetic.

    We also love the incorporation of plants and greenery, which not only adds a natural touch but also brings freshness to the space. With these simple Scandinavian styling ideas, you can easily give your Shaker kitchen a fresh and inviting look that celebrates simplicity and functionality.

    Cottage Shaker Kitchen

    Light and bright galley kitchen in pale blue
    A cottage style kitchen by Olive & Barr – Saversnake

    Styling a Shaker kitchen in a cottage style is all about embracing a snug, warm and homely feeling. One way to achieve this is by incorporating a warm colour palette with a combination of pastel shades such as soft blues, greens, and yellows. This will give the kitchen a charming and inviting feeling. Another way to add a cottage touch to your Shaker kitchen is by using natural materials such as reclaimed wood, which not only adds a charming rustic touch but also bring character to the space. Incorporating vintage and antique elements, such as a farmhouse sink, can also add a charming touch to the space. Use finishing touches such as vintage pendant lights, scalloped valances or patterned tile to add a touch of playfulness to the space.

    Where can I buy shaker kitchens in the UK?

    If you’re looking to purchase a high-quality Shaker kitchen in the UK, look no further than Olive & Barr. We have kitchen showrooms located in the beautiful Malvern Hills and South London, where you can browse our range of Shaker kitchens and speak with our knowledgeable team. We also have an online store where you can purchase shaker kitchens and other kitchen related products. And you don’t indeed to worry about the installation – our team of kitchen fitters has years of experience fitting handmade in-frame kitchens. Each kitchen receives a coat of paint by hand after it has been installed. Stone worktops are fitted by our partners with a fast turnaround time using skilled craftsmen.

    With cabinetry handcrafted by skilled artisans right here in the UK, Olive & Barr truly celebrates the glory of British craftsmanship.

    Olive & Barr Shaker Kitchens

    When it comes to crafting high-quality Shaker kitchens, Olive & Barr is proud to be a leader in the industry. With an unwavering commitment to impeccable quality and craftsmanship, we specialize in creating cabinetry that is handcrafted by skilled artisans right here in the UK. Our founder Al Bruce, a cabinet maker with 25 years of experience, ensures that every aspect of our work is guided by his expertise, excellent customer care and attention to detail.

    We are proud to source our materials locally, and remain committed to sustainable and ethical practices. With a range of options available, we can help you design the perfect bespoke kitchen for your home. Let us guide you through the design process and bring your dream kitchen to life.

    View Some Of Our Work


    The Shaker kitchen is a timeless and versatile design that has stood the test of time and continues to be popular with interior designers. Defined by its symmetrical cabinetry, flat centre panel, square edges and minimal detailing, this style is all about functionality and simplicity. The Shaker’s philosophy of “beauty rests on utility” and emphasis on functionality, durability and simplicity are the main reasons why they remain popular today. Even though it’s a traditional design, it can be adapted to any type of home and interior design style simply by tweaking the colour, materials, and finishing touches to your personal taste.

    Design Your Dream Kitchen Today

    Olive & Barr is an excellent option if you’re looking for high-quality craftsmanship and a wide variety of options for your bespoke shaker kitchen. Speak to one of our experts to begin your journey to your dream culinary space.

    Book your shaker kitchen consultation

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can I have a handleless shaker kitchen?

    Yes, it is possible to have a handleless shaker kitchen. Handleless shaker-style cabinets can give the kitchen a more modern and minimalist look.

    Can I design my own shaker kitchen?

    Yes, many kitchen companies, including Olive & Barr, offer kitchen design services – both in person and virtually. This allows you to create a truly unique and personalized kitchen that meets your specific needs, space and taste.

    Are shaker kitchens difficult to fit?

    A top-quality kitchen needs a first-class installation. In order to guarantee the beauty and quality of our shaker kitchens, quality installation is an integral part of the process so here at Olive & Barr, we always recommend that our kitchens are fitted by our approved installers.

    Do I need a big kitchen for a shaker kitchen to look good?

    Not at all. Shaker-style kitchens can work well in both large and small spaces. In fact, the simplicity of the design can help to create the illusion of more space in a smaller kitchen.

    Why do people like shaker cabinets?

    Shaker cabinets are popular for a variety of reasons. They are known for their timeless and classic design, as well as their durability and functionality. Many people find them to be versatile and easy to incorporate into various interior design styles. Additionally, the focus on simplicity and craftsmanship resonates with many homeowners.

    Are shaker cabinets in style 2023?

    Shaker-style cabinets have been popular for a long time, and there’s no indication that they are going out of style. They are timeless and classic design which never go out of fashion. Their versatility and functionality make them an evergreen design choice for any kitchen, and will continue to be popular in 2023 and beyond.