white shaker cabinets in a bathroom
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BWC Basics: What are Shaker Style Cabinets?

white shaker cabinets in a bathroom

Although trends come and go—especially in the interior design world—some popular staples never seem to overdo their time in the spotlight. Shaker-style cabinets are one of these staples, and they’ve become one of the most popular options for kitchen or bathroom cabinetry in the past few years. 

However, if you’ve just begun your search for bathroom or kitchen cabinets, you may not know what some common kitchen design terms mean. Today, we’ll be giving an overview of what shaker-style cabinets are, including their surprising history, construction, and versatile uses. 

History of Shaker Cabinets

The name “shaker” doesn’t come from a specific feature or purpose of shaker cabinets but the rich history surrounding the style’s origins. 

Shaker cabinets were developed and popularized by the religious shaker community in the late eighteenth century. The Shakers, also known as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, were a religious community that branched off from the Quakers due to their belief that their founder, Mother Ann Lee, was the embodiment of the female nature of God, and was the female reincarnation of Christ. They were known for their tendency to shake, shout, and dance during worship. 

Among the Shaker tenets was the belief that physical labor and hard work brought individuals closer to God. Because of this and their relative isolation from the rest of the world, Shakers made all of their own furniture, and the quality of their work was of high importance to them. Eventually, their accomplishments in terms of furniture design and different inventions in woodworking reached the outside world, where others were introduced to products like the shaker tilting chair and the shaker cabinet doors that we have come to know and love. 

How are Shaker Cabinets Constructed?

Although shaker cabinets have come a long way from the communal living spaces that shakers called home, the style of shaker cabinets has retained many of the features that made it so popular in the first place. Shaker cabinets are known for being durable and unadorned. They are traditionally made with solid, American woods, such as maple and walnut, although some manufacturers may use medium-density fiberboard (MDF) for added durability at a lower cost. 

Shaker cabinet doors are made of five pieces: two stiles, two rails, and one recessed center panel. The stiles and rails make up the frame of the cabinet; stiles are the vertical pieces of the frame, while rails are the horizontal pieces.

There are multiple joinery methods that make this frame one of the sturdiest designs in cabinetry. Firstly, the flat center panel is fitted into the stiles and rails using a tongue-and-groove joint, where sections of the stiles and rails—their grooves—are cut out to fit the inserted section of the center panel—the tongue. These joints are reinforced with wood glue, which is stronger than the tension between pieces alone. 

Secondly, the stiles and rails are put together using the cope-and-stick technique. This technique is relatively unique, as it is opposed to the more common mitered technique. With a cope-and-stick cabinet, the stiles and rails are joined together at a 90-degree angle, using a mortise-and-tenon joint—which is basically a tongue-and-groove joint, but perpendicular rather than parallel. This method is much stronger than the mitered method, which joins the pieces at a 45-degree angle. The primary benefit of this method is that, for hard-wood cabinets, the joinery allows for the natural swelling of the wood throughout the year without sacrificing aesthetics or durability.

As for the design construction of shaker cabinets, there are a few small variations. One of the most beloved features of the shaker cabinet is its clean lines, which can be softened by adding a beveled edge to the stiles and rails, which will soften the angle between them and the center panel from 90 degrees to 30, 45, or 60 degrees. You can also add a bead to the cabinet door, an additional groove in the wood that will accentuate the cabinet’s frame. There are many variations, but these two are the most popular, and they add subtle detail without detracting from the refined simplicity of the original. 

What are the Uses of Shaker Style Cabinets?

One of the biggest benefits of the shaker style is that the cabinets have nearly endless uses. While they tend to be more popular in kitchen design, a white shaker cabinet door will add clean elegance to a bathroom. That being said, we’ll talk here about some of the different ways you can implement a shaker cabinet into your kitchen. 

There are three primary kitchen styles in which kitchen cabinets shine: modern, traditional, and farmhouse. 

Modern

Modern kitchens are known for their minimalist design, from the lack of clutter and detail to the pared-down color palette. The clean lines of shaker cabinets will be a fabulous addition to the contemporary kitchen, as these kitchens are all about accentuating the horizontal lines in the space. Modern kitchens aim to serve as a canvas for bright and beautiful food and large gatherings, so a white kitchen with shaker cabinet doors will be the perfect backdrop to elegant cooking without being plain. 

Traditional 

The traditional kitchen is a perfect setting for shaker cabinets. While you may think that the ornate detailing of the traditional style is incompatible with the simplicity of the shaker style, shaker cabinet doors are a great idea if you want to introduce opulent drawer pulls and handles to your kitchen space. Furthermore, traditional kitchen design utilizes natural materials, and the solid wood or wood finish of a shaker cabinet will call upon their traditional usage in shaker homes. 

Farmhouse

Farmhouse-style kitchens are somewhat similar to traditional kitchens, as they also use natural materials, but the farmhouse style is characterized by unpretentious design, unlike the opulence of traditional. One of the hallmarks of a farmhouse kitchen is natural color blocking, with natural wood and porcelain paired together, or even splashes of bright-colored cabinetry. Shaker cabinets can be painted in all kinds of colors, and each will look wonderful in your farmhouse kitchen. 

kitchen island and kitchen with white shaker cabinets

Are Shaker Cabinets Popular?

Shaker cabinets have remained popular since their introduction to the public in the nineteenth century, and they will continue to be popular because of their versatility, quality construction, and low prices. In a world where kitchen trends come and go around every year, shaker cabinets make it possible to be perennially in style because they don’t try to be trendy—they’re just beautiful cabinets with lasting quality. 

Affordable Shaker Cabinets Online

If you’ve been convinced that shaker cabinets are right for you, or even if you just want to take a closer look, you’re in the right place. Buy Wholesale Cabinets makes it possible for you to browse many configurations of shaker cabinets in our catalog. Additionally, you never have to worry about falling in love with something that’ll break the bank, because we pride ourselves on providing wholesale prices to everyone. Give us a call today to see how we can help you on your cabinet journey and to experience our unbeatable customer service. 


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