Effortlessly transcending kitchen trends and outliving dated fads, a Shaker kitchen is an enduring classic. Thanks to its clean lines, uncluttered elegance, and crisp palette, the white shaker kitchen in and of itself has become a hallmark of kitchen design. But don't take our word for it, we've asked the experts.
Inspired by the humble yet masterful Shaker craftspeople, a Shaker kitchen has evolved with time, trends, and technology into a symbol of a traditional kitchen with versatile charm. The beauty of white cabinetry is its ability to bend and blend in with whatever style you choose: from rustic to modern and everything in between.
As designer Kathy Kuo says, 'White Shaker kitchen ideas are just about as timeless as it gets when it comes to kitchen design.' So to help you find a white Shaker kitchen that works for you and your home, we've spoken to interior designers for their take on how to perfect the look like a professional.
White Shaker kitchen ideas
There's a reason white kitchens are so very popular: bright and airy, they don't require a lot of effort when it comes to nailing the room's color scheme. Maximizing on natural light to create a bright and inviting atmosphere, a white Shaker-style cabinet enhances classic aesthetics, making it a staple in modern and traditional homes alike.
So what is a shaker kitchen? Simply put, "Shaker" is a generic name used to describe a cabinetry door with no molding and a flat drawer head.
'In the latter quarter of the 18th Century, the Shakers became known for their craftsmanship of domestic furniture and cupboards,' explains Merlin Wright, design director at Plain English Kitchens. 'With a desire for neatness and order in the everyday, their influence on kitchen design has been more than significant.'
'Shaker has more recently become synonymous with a simple kitchen cupboard design, without any fussy detailing and usually in a painted finish, easily adapting to neutral shades as well as a more traditional Shaker palette,' adds Merlin. 'Two very popular influences coming together to make an easy-to-live-with and somewhat timeless kitchen.'
Are white Shaker cabinets in style for 2024?
'Shaker-style cabinetry always feels timeless and classic. A style that will never go out of style,' says Shannon Wollack, founder and partner at Studio LIFE/STYLE. 'We like to use this as a skeleton and further develop the details within the cabinetry when designing custom,' she adds.
Richard Davonport, managing director at Davonport Kitchens, however, finds that their popularity is dwindling in favor of more saturated hues.
'Pure white shaker kitchens aren’t something we get asked for a lot anymore,' says Richard. 'Often, people think turning to white is the best option for a space that might be north-facing as they think it will lighten the space. However, it doesn’t contain any warm pigments to provide much-needed dimension so actually has the opposite effect to what people were after, which is where a secondary color comes into play.'
Whether they're feeling particularly of the moment or not, white Shaker kitchens will forever be a design staple. But it's not as simple as just picking a white-tone door and running with it – with a white kitchen, the magic is in the styling. We've curated 7 different ways to successfully decorate with white and avoid it looking too stark, according to interior designers.
1. Use all-white to brighten up a small space
In small kitchens, by fully embracing an all-white color palette like seen above, in a tiny white Shaker kitchen by deVOL Kitchens, you're able to create a brighter and more spacious feel to the space. Natural oak floor, a buttery-cream oven, and raw, unlacquered brass faucet and hardware add a veil of warmth to the entire room.
'In small kitchens, keep colors to a minimum and try to stick to a calm and soft color palette to avoid things feeling busy,' says deVOL's creative director, Helen Parker. 'It's surprising how a limited selection of colors creates a more serene and tidy feel to a room,' she adds.
Helen is the Creative Director at deVOL, a leading kitchen design company that mixes classic and contemporary. Helen has been creative director at the company since 2011, passionate about the signature understated approach deVOL takes to designing kitchens.
2. Try a dark countertop
A clean and minimal kitchen with white marble or light wood kitchen countertops might look too stark to some (and super fresh to others), so by combining it with dark countertops, you can add a certain level of contrast that will elevate the entire kitchen.
For a traditional look, a dark-stained oak or Iroko countertop will bring a natural feel to the kitchen that will ground the all-white Shaker doors. 'Complement this rustic-chic style with accouterments like beautiful linen dish towels, reclaimed wood cutting boards and serving trays, and stoneware dishes and mugs,' advises designer Kathy Kuo. 'The general rule is to keep the decor in your Shaker kitchen simple, chic, and cozy!'
If you prefer to err on the more contemporary side, microcement and dark marble or stones will add a modern edge that remains fresh while introducing a new dimension to the palette.
Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry.
3. Pair with a statement island
'White Shaker cabinets are a classic backdrop and instantly create a clean, timeless look. They can match any style of décor, giving an opportunity to inject a little individuality to the hub of your home,' says Elizabeth Sherwin, creative director at Naked Kitchens.
To create a punchy and more modern twist to the traditional design, opt for a statement hue such as dark wood, deep purple, forest green, or navy blue on your kitchen island. 'The dark shade will pop against the white elements of your kitchen creating a bold look,' advises Elizabeth. 'White features such as marble worktops and countertops will offset the dark hues and reflect natural light around the kitchen.'
Richard Davonport, agrees. 'Individuals often want some contrasting color such as on a kitchen island or freestanding unit that adds warmth to a white kitchen.'
'Rather than an all-white kitchen, consider adding in a white oak tone on the island in order to ground the light tones and bring in a touch of natural materials,' adds designer Anne-Marie Barton of AMB Design.
Elizabeth Sherwin is the creative director at Naked Kitchens, a bespoke kitchen company with a focus on contemporary and functional design.
4. Create texture with the backsplash
Designer Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, advises keeping it simple for a timeless, fresh look. 'Add warmth and texture with natural materials like wood and stone, and use tiles to introduce interesting textures or, bring in color with your backsplash, appliances, and decor.'
'The natural beauty of marble can serve as a focal point in a space without overwhelming the room,' adds David Hood, director of Goddard Littlefair. 'Introducing different tones and textures through wood, metal, and glass accents can contrast with the stone, adding depth and visual appeal to a white palette,' he adds.
Based in New York, Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight, has a decade of extensive and considerable global design experience. Prioritizing minimalism, sustainability, and authenticity, Artem, alongside his team of professionals, works on projects in the US and worldwide.
5. Contrast with your lower cabinets
'For 2024, one kitchen trend we are seeing come to life within white shaker kitchens is the use of wood to contrast against all-white,' says Richard Davonport. 'Post-pandemic, there has been a shift to more organic materials, textures, and color palettes, and this includes letting the beauty of the wood speak for itself,' he adds.
When creating this modern-meets-contemporary kitchen, above, interior designer Abbie Naber opted to confine her white cabinetry just to the uppers. 'Use a two-tone scheme to break up all of the white,' she advises. 'A thin Shaker profile helps to modernize the look.'
The addition of a vintage rug and simple organic styling props brings the space to life, giving it a lived-in feel.
Abbie Naber is the owner and principal designer of a NABER DESIGN, a San Diego based interior design firm. Focusing on renovations, new builds, interior design, and styling, Abbie strives to create spaces that are approachable, fresh, and inviting.
6. Select an off-white for warmth
'Variations on a white kitchen have been popular from the 1930s onwards,' observes Plain English Kitchens' Merlin Wright. 'At Plain English, we have opted for murkier, more muted tones such as ‘Boiled Dishcloth’ or ‘Rice Pudding’ from our own paint range – rather than avoiding trends and fashions, we take inspiration from them,' he adds.
'We love using Drop Cloth from Farrow & Ball for an off-white shade that makes the space feel cozy and inviting,' advises Studio LIFE/STYLE's Lexie Sokolow.
Annie-Martie Barton says 'I prefer to use paint on cabinets so that I can sense the texture and realness of wood even though it’s painted.'
'Your paint color is best in a dewy natural white such as Pashmina from Benjamin Moore or 50% strength of Revere Pewter from Benjamin Moore. My favorite white (when you actually do want white) is Sheep’s Wool from Benjamin Moore,' she advises.
7. White wash a small pantry
From cabinets devoted to storage or full-blown walk-in pantry rooms, utilizing the brightening power of white really comes into its own in a pantry or larder space.
In a small pantry space, white Shaker kitchen cupboards and walls allow for no distraction from your carefully curated collection of jars, bottles, and bags. A Shaker-style design will honor traditional craftsmanship and quality materials in a way that perfects the Shaker's age-old admiration for organization and functionality.
'For us, the most essential ingredients for a kitchen are a pantry and a kitchen table, they will never date and will always be the very center of your kitchen. There is nothing that will ever replace the joy of these two pieces of furniture in a kitchen,' adds deVOL's Helen Parker.
There are so many ways to create a stylish White shaker kitchen. From paint ideas to statement stones and ways to bring in pops of color, our panel of expert interior designers has plenty of ideas to get your white scheme just right.
White shaker kitchen cabinets are a popular choice due to their clean lines, simple design, and timeless style. They offer a sleek look that fits well in both modern and traditional kitchens, making them an ideal choice for those looking to create a space that stands the test of time. Whatever your interior design style, you'll find a white Shaker kitchen idea here.
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Charlotte is content editor at Homes and Gardens, having joined the team the week before Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she found herself working at many women's glossy magazines including: Grazia, Stylist and Hello and most recently working as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with Charlotte's passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome
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