Often described as humble, hardworking, and utilitarian, Shaker cupboards are, in a nutshell, a design no-brainer. The style is defined by five no-nonsense segments: vertical pieces on the sides called stiles, horizontal pieces on the top and bottom called rails, and the recessed panel in the center. “The lack of ornamentation and clean lines has made it a go-to look for those of us who just want to keep it simple,” says Helen Parker, the creative director at U.K. brand deVOL Kitchens.
But simple doesn’t have to mean boring. While other types of doors can skew super-traditional (beadboard) or ultra-contemporary (slab), Shaker can blend with just about any aesthetic. And because the style has become so popular, you can get it on any type of budget. (While deVOL’s Real Shaker Kitchen installments start at $20,000, IKEA sells individual doors that start at $65.) These 11 kitchens took the classic cabinets and made them all their own.
Spice It Up with Wallpaper
In her tiny rental kitchen, designer Kate Hamilton Gray took an artful approach by balancing the dark lower cabinets with a breezy scene on the wall. The sleek wood floating shelf and Dotted Leaves print by Rebecca Atwood add a graphic quality to the room that the gray cupboards alone can’t provide.
Think in Terms of Threes
Because Shaker cabinets are so versatile, a multicolor scheme is a nonissue. For this coastal Orange County space, Studio McGee went for the trifecta: white Shakers, plain wood beadboard, and a navy island.
Make It Shine with Contemporary Hardware
Polished nickel hardware makes this Chroma SF–designed kitchen shimmer. The sleek edges of the square knobs echo the lines of the frames of the cabinets but, like magic, a vintage rug warms up the cool, silvery tones at play.
Choose a Happy White
Without tearing down a full wall, Michael Geller took his teeny NYC kitchen from claustrophobic to cozy by flipping the cabinet layout 180 degrees and swathing his new custom cabinets in Benjamin Moore’s buttery White Down. The yellowy neutral exudes warmth, no matter the natural light situation.
Or Bring the Drama
To add a bit of interest and depth to her Portland kitchen project, OG designer and stylist Emily Henderson opted for a slight step between the panel and the stiles and rails. While the designer admits she thought about going white with the upper cabinets, she used Sherwin-Williams’ dark Pewter Green all around, so the effect completely draws you in.
Embrace Smoother Curves
You can’t go wrong with brass hardware, especially when it comes in the form of antique-inspired bin pulls. Designer Dee Murphy used a mix of these half-moon silhouettes for her drawers and simple round knobs on the Shaker-style cupboards.
Put It In Neutral
Katrina Hernandez’s modern farmhouse in Water Mill, New York, is best described as “quirky Quaker,” according to the designer. The wheat-hued oak she chose for the cabinets and range hood definitely give off utilitarian vibes, and the black ikat cement floor tiles bring some necessary spunk.
Make a Monochrome Statement
There’s little to distract you from this ocean blue hue, all thanks to the fact that the knobs and ladder are painted the same color. The much-loved old table in the center of the room is the only thing that stands out, and luckily the worn piece of furniture is full of character.
Pick an Opposing Stone
Eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone’s understated lower cabinets let a bigger power player take center stage: the Calacatta Paonazzo marble counters and their dramatic veining.
Break from Tradition with Tile
On a mission to create a garden view in a room where the windows overlook the facade of a neighborhood building, designer-architect Jessica Helgerson didn’t choose just an ordinary backsplash for this Portland, Oregon, home. A hand-painted mural of overgrown sword ferns is a state-of-the-art solution for a closed-off city kitchen.
Invest in Retro-Looking Appliances
Between the Esse Range Cooker, farmhouse sink, and wide plank floors, this deVOL-designed kitchen packs a ton of character into such a tight nook. It’s also proof that sticking to neutrals can actually be a great way to shake things up.
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