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Shaker Styles Kitchen Tips with a Modern Twist

It's hard to believe that Shaker kitchens have been an interior design staple for more than 30 years. Amazingly, the trend has lasted and is still extremely popular today in both period homes and modern pads. Best of all, this simple, traditional design can be adapted and updated in a myriad of ways and without too much effort.

Of course, you don’t have to do anything – Shaker kitchens look great as they are. But if you feel the need to inject a bit of oomph into your kitchen without spending a fortune on a brand-new design, there are options aplenty. Let’s take a look at some of them.

What are the characteristics of a Shaker kitchen?

Shaker kitchens are instantly recognisable for their iconic cabinetry. The style is essentially defined by the principles of simplicity and craftsmanship employed to create a refined, minimalist aesthetic.

As one kitchen expert explains: “A Shaker door has a timeless appeal. It consists of a four-piece frame and a recessed flat panel. Dating back to the 18th century Shaker movement in England and later the USA, their furniture was designed to be unembellished, functional and durable, based on the Christian values of cleanliness, honesty and frugality.”

It's the clean lines and absence of fussy ornamentation that make these kitchens so versatile in our modern homes, creating the perfect backdrop to define your own kitchen style.

If you’re not a fan of traditional design, or want to give your home a more forward-looking vibe, it’s easy to change up your Shaker kitchens to fit in with current interiors trends, colours and accessories. Here’s how.

Upgrade cupboard handles and knobs

Traditional Shaker cabinets often feature simple knobs, or cup handles on drawers. These would be understated and made of wood in accordance with utilitarian Shaker principles of honesty and simplicity.

Craftsmen tended to avoid metal as this type of material was thought to be too ornamental. Today’s Shaker kitchens may feature simple metal versions in brass, brushed nickel or steel that still tick the ‘traditional’ box while being much harder wearing.

It's one of the quickest DIY jobs to change the handles on drawers and cabinetry. In terms of low effort vs high reward, the visual impact of such a simple upgrade can be immense.

Why not opt for modern pull handles or contemporary flat bar pulls? New cupboard knobs made from glass, crystal, porcelain or even plastic could be round, oval or square, and there’s a wealth of novelty shapes available to add that quirky touch.

And who says you can’t mix and match designs and finishes? There are so many options to personalise your kitchen cabinets, you’ll have fun finding a solution you will love.

White shaker style kitchen with black surfaces
David Haugh Kitchens - Bayham Road project

Change up the colour scheme

Most householders play it safe when it comes to major investments such as a kitchen. If you have white, grey or neutral-hued kitchen units, you’re certainly not alone. And if you wish you could add a pop of fresh colour to liven up your kitchen space, there’s absolutely no reason why you cannot do just that.

Bold colours will instantly modernise a Shaker kitchen and draw the eye. The latest trends include inky blues, vibrant greens, candy pinks, happy yellows and even jet black. And why choose one colour when exciting two-tone schemes can be used to demarcate base and wall units or zone different functional areas?

A lick of paint is all it takes to transform cabinet doors and give your kitchen added depth and character while putting a contemporary spin on the traditional Shaker style. And it doesn’t just have to be the cabinetry either. Think of lush paint colours or bold wallpaper on the walls, jewel-coloured tiles or funky flooring designs and patterns.

A shaker style kitchen with a dark blue kitchen island and white quartz surface
David Haugh Kitchens - Orpington project

Prioritise more hidden storage

Ask any householder and they’ll tell you there’s no such thing as having too much storage! No one wants to have clutter on display, so the more storage options you have available to hide unsightly kitchen paraphernalia, foodstuffs and cleaning products, the sleeker the overall aesthetic appeal will be.

Make sure you optimise the internal storage of any cabinets you have. Could you add shelves or drawer dividers to make the most of the space? Is there space for a pantry cupboard or bottle racks? Might it be possible to add fitted cabinets to awkward spaces and alcoves, ideally up to ceiling height?

Where possible, make sure that appliances are fully integrated into the overall kitchen design for a tidy finish to conceal bulky ‘white goods’, or at the very least hide them behind doors, screens or even curtains.

David Haugh Kitchens - Sevenoaks project

Have a kitchen island installed

If your kitchen space is big enough for a dining table, it’s big enough for an island. Kitchen islands are a popular design feature in Shaker kitchens and they’re way more useful than a simple table.

You can still have a seating area or breakfast bar, but you also get a wealth of choice when it comes to valuable extra worktop and storage space. More cupboards and drawer space? Wine chiller or bottle racks? Waste and recycling cupboards? Integrated dishwasher, fridge or hob? A kitchen island can do it all.

Design a size and shape that is bespoke to your spatial needs and functional requirements and add a new twist to your ‘old’ Shaker kitchen. How about finishing it off with a marble or quartz worktop to give the wow factor?

Shaker style kitchen with a central island
David Haugh Kitchens - Sevenoaks project

Add some funky finishing touches

Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make the most difference. Without the need to change your entire kitchen, you can pair contemporary elements with the existing traditional cabinetry to hold on to the character of your Shaker kitchen but update the look so it works seamlessly in a modern home.

For instance, think of the patterns of your brick wall tiles and consider that a stack bond pattern is more modern than a running bond layout. Think of your kitchen lighting and perhaps upgrade it with an eye-catching modern light fixture that draws the eye. Place living plants to lift the energy, perhaps with fresh herbs on the window sill or a floor-standing palm.

Finally, don’t forget the power of some good artwork on the wall, an unexpected piece of furniture and the odd quirky accessory to add interest to any interior space and make it feel fresh.



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