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Shaker Style Kitchen Cabinets

The Shaker Style Kitchen Cabinets are one of the three major styles of kitchen cabinets. In a sense, you could say that the shaker style is a middle ground between raised panel doors and flat panel doors. Like a raised panel door, shaker style doors are usually made from a five piece frame and panel design with four frame pieces surrounding a center panel. The difference between them is that a shaker style cabinet door is incredibly simple with four straightforward frame pieces surrounding a flat recessed center panel.

In 1774, just a couple years before the war that would make America into a country, a religious sect called Shakers emigrated out of central Europe to the Province of New York. Their immigration would continue for the next hundred years as Shakers settled in areas of New England, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Indiana. The Shakers were known for four things, the shaky ecstatic behavior they would display during worship that was the cause of their namesake, their strict views and adherence to their celibacy laws, their progressive views on sexual equality, and their fine craftsman skills particularly in the area of furniture.

The Shakers believed that adornments in all aspects of life were an offense to God. That is why they lived strict lives with very plain clothing, and they surrounded themselves with simple yet functional possessions, paraphernalia, and accouterments. Following this strict mindset, the Shaker Style kitchen cabinets had a distinctively simple but very functional design that has survived through the decades.

The public perceptions of morality, style, class, and fashion are very interesting things. They sway back and forth like a pendulum. One decade people are so chaste that they sew cloth skirts to wrap around the legs of coffee tables and pianos to keep people from having indecent thoughts about inanimate objects, and the following decades will be filled with widespread rampant free love and debauchery. One decade rock stars are on stage covered in neon lycra and spandex being celebrated for their extravagant excess and then ten years later they are wearing t-shirts and jeans on stage being praised for maintaining their status as an “everyman” in touch with the working class. Similarly, we are currently in an interesting time where public perception has been shifting away from unnecessary waste and excessive living. For that reason and others, there is a big push for people to simplify their lives and embrace minimalism.

More and more people are openly embracing the simple and functional nature of Shaker style furniture, especially in the kitchen. Right now, these centuries old Shaker style kitchen cabinets are the most popular type of all kitchen cabinets.

As I briefly touched on before, the shaker style kitchen cabinet is characterized by a simple and functional look. Doors on shaker cabinets feature a design similar to commonly raised panel cabinet doors but with simple rectangular stiles and rails surrounding a flat recessed center panel.

As long as a cabinet has doors that are relatively simple and flat with a recessed panel and no gaudy detailing, it can qualify as a shaker style cabinet.

Although all shaker cabinets are designed to be simple and void of extra details, there are still a number of factors that will affect the look and possibly the performance of your shaker style cabinet door.

1. Five piece door or solid slab door construction.

By far the most common design for any cabinet door is a variation of the five piece frame and panel design. This is the design described earlier. The advantage of this design is that it allows the center panel to shift ever-so-slightly within the four frame pieces. This makes each door more resistant to the warping that naturally occurs when wood is exposed to extremely high or low humidity. However, you can also get doors that are made from a single slab of hardwood. This refreshing look can make for a beautiful cabinet with strong reassuring feeling doors. Certain woods like Rubber tree wood are less susceptible to the same warping problems that you get with other hardwoods.

2. Wood grain or painted doors.

Obviously one of the biggest factors that will affect the look of your shaker cabinets is whether you decide on a natural wood stain or painted doors. With a wood stain, you can see all the grains in the wood. Natural wood causes us to think about nature and that can be very comforting. The visible wood grains also help mask the seams where the wood has been joined. Painted cabinet doors can create a cleaner look for your kitchen. With painted doors, you also get a modern smooth and often cooler look and feel to your kitchen. Some people avoid painted cabinet doors because the natural wood expansion will cause the paint around the seams to crack and chip. This is why it is a great idea to use solid slab doors for painted cabinets since they have no seams.

3. Mitered or cope and stick.

Since the vast majority of cabinet doors are made with a form of the five piece door design, it is important to be aware of Mitered doors and doors made with the cope and stick design. Both of these designs focus on the carpentry method used to join the frame pieces together. In a mitered door, the four frame pieces have been cut at a 45 degree angle so they can be joined with a biscuit and create a square or rectangle.

The mitered cabinet doors have a diagonal seam on each corner. This seam can be an attractive element that some want visible and can also be very well hidden if that is desired. In a Cope and Stick (C&S) door, the vertical stiles will be made with grooves running along the inner sides. The rail portions of the frame are made with corresponding edges to fit neatly into the grooves of the stiles.

The face of the C&S cabinet doors has vertical seams along the edge of the stiles in line with the center panels. These seams can be made to look discreet if necessary but oftentimes cabinet makers will embrace this look by adding small grooves to accentuate the area where the frame pieces meet to create a simple homey or rustic feel. Neither mitered doors nor C&S doors are stronger than the other. Both make quality attractive cabinet doors so long as they are made correctly with care, precision, and quality materials.

Shaker Style Kitchen Cabinets utilize a truly beautiful and durable design. This cabinet style has lasted for centuries and recently boomed into popularity. There are so many different kitchen styles and looks that can benefit from shaker style cabinets.