Many of us choose a typical Shaker style kitchen cabinet door because we simply love the look of it. It is sturdy, has a handmade look and feel and it fits in with traditional settings as much as it does a more modern home. In fact, the Shaker kitchen is a great all-rounder. Perfect for a kitchen makeover that will last the test of time (and fashion).

Shaker kitchen door
This Washington door in Montana Oak is a perfect example of the plainer Shaker style.

But how many of us understand where this traditional furniture came from and origins of the Shaker movement? Read on for a short history lesson that may well encourage you to try one of our Shaker style replacement kitchen doors for your new kitchen.

Shaker history

The Shakers are best known as being an American religious sect. However their origins actually lie in the UK which they left in around 1774. Led by the prophet Ann Lee, this group of English Quakers believed that the end of the world was coming and that they needed to surrender themselves to God by living a pure and simple life. The term "Shakers" came from their dancing during worship which was thought to be a physical manifestation of their religious fervour.

Shakers went to great efforts to avoid the modern world. This included the construction of their own homes and furniture. But unfortunately also included a vow of celibacy ( a rule that led to their eventual decline in recent years).

The Shaker style

The guiding principles of honesty, practicality and simplicity can be seen in everything the the Shaker's made. Their furniture in particular is well known for being of high quality and a with a minimalist feel. It is this final point that really allows this furniture to have a place in modern society. It is a style that simply works well in almost any setting.

Most furniture was made from solid wood and then painted or stained to preserve the colour and the wood itself. The colours used were strictly limited to blues, reds, greens and yellows - but a clear finish was most common. For the Shakers, it was considered deceitful to produce an item that had veneer or ornamentation. It was felt this could detract from the hand-crafted quality or worse still, hide imperfections.

This commitment to handcrafted quality did not, however, prevent the Shakers from using modern tools to help them with production. They were happy to use labour saving devices, stating that the utility of the tools allowed them to be used. In fact they handcrafted many of their own tools. It certainly did not detract from the finished articles which are still incredibly popular in the US.

Shaker kitchen doors

Here, the Shaker style is best known in kitchen cabinetry and we offer a number of options that take inspiration from these original craftsmen. The standard Shaker style kitchen uses a framework around a plain central panel on both the drawer fronts and the doors. To improve on this is difficult, but we also add grooves and chamfers to our doors to bring them to life and to add extra detail.

These days, Shaker kitchen doors are produced using more modern materials including MDF and vinyl finishes. This makes the modern versions more easily manufactured, long lasting and cheaper than solid wood. However the principles that guide the Shakers are still there. The doors are simple and minimalist, well made and constructed and practical and easy to use. You can also add versatile and easy to use in any kitchen to that list.

The Shaker kitchen door comes in the plainest and most beautiful through to the most detailed. But all adhere to the look and feel that has existed for hundreds of years.