Everything You Ever Wondered about Shaker Kitchen Cabinets

Shaker kitchen cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are a bit of a dozy for many homeowners. Most will not know the difference between one style and another, and many will not care. However, from a design perspective, it matters.
One of the most popular styles is the Shaker kitchen cabinet. Here are a few things you might want to know about it before you make your final choice.

What is it?

sketch of original Shaker kitchen
A Shaker-style cabinet takes its name from a religious group that came to the US, the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, most often called the Shakers. They wanted to create a community that valued the simple things in life to foster honesty and integrity.
They were self-sufficient, so they made much of what went into their homes. Much of what they valued had a utilitarian, rather than decorative, value. Simplicity and utility are the main characteristics of Shaker styles of furniture, including kitchen cabinets.

A Shaker cabinet is mainly comprised of four pieces of wood to create the frame of the cabinet door, and a fifth flat and recessed piece that served as the center panel. The door was set precisely inside the cabinet box, or inset, and had exposed hinges. Back in the day, the cabinets were made of pine, birch, or maple.

Most Shaker cabinets are rectangular, tall rather than wide because this was structurally sounder. Because of its simplicity, it is quite versatile. It goes with any style kitchen, from traditional to modern.

What is the right finish?

Shaker cabinet with paint
Traditionally, Shaker cabinets are made of solid wood, so it didn’t really need anything more than a coat of wood oil or stain to finish it. Today, however, many designers turn veneers to simulate the look of wood or paint to match the overall color design of the kitchen.

What hardware goes with it?

Shaker cabinet door with simple wood knob
Because it is so versatile in its simplicity, any type of pull will go with Shaker kitchen cabinets, from simple to ornate. Currently, the fashion is for brass pulls, preferably not lacquered, and bronze, but these tend to be quite expensive. In keeping with the spirit of the Shakers, most designers say the simplest wood pulls work best.

Can mixing styles work?

slab-door cabinet
Shaker kitchen cabinets blend particularly well with slab front cabinets because both are inherently simple and utilitarian. In addition, slab-door construction is less labor intensive, and thus more cost-effective, so combining the two may also serve a practical purpose.
While Shaker cabinets have frames, in which raised panel doors to fit snugly, slab front cabinets present a solid appearance and have no frames. In some cases, designers will mix Shaker wall cabinets with slab-door base cabinets. However, most experts recommend using the slab-door aesthetic for side cabinets and smaller drawers. This will preserve the old-world look of Shaker kitchen cabinets without going over the top.

How expensive is it?

cost estimate form
The doors of Shaker cabinets must fit precisely into the frame. This means considerable skill and precision when it comes to custom cabinets, which increases labor costs. Back in the day, a Shaker household would make their own furniture, so labor cost was not a factor. They had the skills and time to make each cabinet fit beautifully.
However, ready-to-assemble or RTA and stock cabinets do not need that kind of individual attention. The simple construction of Shaker-style cabinets is easy to replicate in mass production, so they tend to cost less than other, more intricate styles of cabinet doors. This is part of the reason for its continued popularity.

Is it good for the kitchen?

thinking person
It would be hard to find a room where the Shake style of cabinet will not look good. The current trend for minimalism even makes it a necessity in many cases. Most designers choose Shaker kitchen cabinets to either complement or match styles that are more elaborate or similar, respectively, in other rooms and tie them in.
You might think of Shaker is to cabinet style as white is to paint. It has a unifying aspect that is hard to find in other cabinet styles.

What are important considerations for Shaker cabinets?

diagram of Shaker cabinet construction
The most important consideration for any cabinet is the material and construction, which should be as good as you can afford. This will apply to any style or brand of the cabinet, so make sure you get them from a reliable supplier such as Cabinet Land.
For Shaker kitchen cabinets, however, you should take special note of the width of the frame if it is an inset type. You want the frame to be between 2 to 4 inches, so it will not look too flimsy or heavy. This applies even if your Shaker cabinets are of an overlay type.
You should also check the sample cabinets if they have sharp or eased edges. The eased edges are safer for you, as you don’t want very sharp angles anywhere in your kitchen. An eased or slightly rounded edge also minimizes the chances of nicking or denting.


Shaker kitchen cabinets are a good choice for most homes, especially if you want your kitchen to look neat and homey. Your next important decision is where to get your new kitchen cabinets. Cabinet Land Kitchen and Beyond is just the one you need if you are in the Chicago, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estate, and Elk Grove Village area.

We are a local remodeling company with a showroom located in Schaumburg, Illinois. We carry only the top cabinet brands, including Schrock, Fabuwood, J and K Cabinets, Forevermark, and Wolf Cabinets, at lower prices than big box stores. This goes for all cabinet types, from RTA to custom cabinets. Our turnaround is none too shabby, either, compared to our competitors such as Cabinets To Go, Advance Cabinets, and Handsome Cabinets.

Visit us today to see what we have to offer. We offer free consultation services and quotes, so you can benefit from our expertise without spending a dime. We have the expertise and resources to complete virtually any type of kitchen cabinets – ON TIME and ON BUDGET with top-quality craftsmanship that will exceed your expectations.