All Shook Up

If the idea of paring things down to simple essentials appeals to you, then a Shaker kitchen may be just the ticket. Shaker looks great as a unified style if you're doing a complete overhaul, or you can bring just a few key elements into your kitchen to provide a taste of this practical style.

The Shakers were a religious group that fled England in the late 18th century, bringing their ideas with them to the shores of America. The simplicity of their lifestyle found expression in the homes they crafted and in their unique furniture designs. The Shaker aesthetic is a good fit with today's minimalist look and since functionality is an integral part of Shaker design, the kitchen is a perfect place to experiment with this style.

Durable Hardwoods

The cabinetry in a Shaker-style kitchen is made from durable hardwoods without any carvings or molding to detract from the design. The counters should be matte rather than shiny—soapstone is perfect, and the kitchen should have an open floor plan. The Shaker style has dignity and discretion.

The typical early Shaker kitchen cabinet has recessed panel doors: a central flat panel with a wooden frame. Hardware is simple, with a flat or brushed metal finish. The Shakers were known to use the finest hardwoods and best-quality craftsmanship in their furniture. Cherry and maple are excellent choices for Shaker cabinetry.

Subtle Focus

An island can work well in a Shaker kitchen. Choose a straight-legged island table with a short overhang. This gives you a central but subtle focus for your Shaker kitchen.

The original Shaker flooring consisted of bare, untreated boards, something you'd do well to avoid, though you can mimic the look. The ideal is reclaimed wood from barns and old buildings. A good cleaning and a bit of protective matte finish will give you perfect, Shaker-style flooring that will last a lifetime. You might also look for pine, maple, or oak flooring that shows a bit of grain and can be stained to the same color as your cabinets.

Reduce Clutter

Going along with the theme of functionality, Shaker furniture offers good storage solution by maximizing the interior space of cabinets. Utilizing items such as plate dividers and spice racks inside your cabinets go well with this aesthetic. Adding a pantry also fits in well with the Shaker theme, giving you a means by which you can reduce clutter to keep your kitchen spare and Shaker simple.