Host Joan Kohn explores with designer Michelle Shields the history and design elements of the beautiful and versatile Shaker style of cabinetry.
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The unadorned cabinet style was first produced by the Shakers around the 1790s. The Shakers were a religious group that valued simplicity and solid craftsmanship.
- In contemporary settings, high-tech finishes and ornate hardware styles blend well with the simple lines of Shaker cabinetry.
- Original Shaker cabinets might have been painted in this blue tone or stained yellow ocher. Matching wood knob pulls were used almost exclusively.
One of the hallmarks of Shaker cabinetry is dovetailed wood joints. No glue or nails are used in corners, so that the wood swells and contracts uniformly, resulting in an extraordinarily sturdy joint.
The Shakers valued neatness and orderliness. Furniture is well-suited to its task, with multiple drawers, shelves, etc., so that there is a place for everything. Built-in furniture was popular with Shakers because it fit the space exactly and had a specific function.
Ornamentation for Shaker furniture was considered unnecessary. Once the piece had reached a point of exact functioning, it was finished. Plain fronts, limited trim and simple hardware were all that was required.
With its simple, clean lines, Shaker style furniture is suited to any decor. It can be modernized with high-tech finishes and ornate hardware, or fit comfortably in a traditional home using warm woods and old-fashioned pulls.
Designer Kahi Lee explains a creative way to repurpose an old cabinet.