Are you wondering what Shaker cabinets are and why they are popular among homeowners? Well, you are not alone. Shaker cabinetry has gained attention in America since its inception due to its simple yet unique craftsmanship.

If you are considering an entire home makeover or simply planning a kitchen remodel, understanding the basics of Shaker-style cabinets can help you make an informed decision. This comprehensive guide will answer most of the questions homeowners ask about Shaker style cabinets.

What Are Shaker Cabinets

Shaker-style cabinets have become a staple in modern home renovation thanks to their clean lines, sturdy construction, and minimalist charm. Their minimalist design makes them look good in most areas of the house and seamlessly fits into almost all contemporary bespoke kitchens.

By definition, this traditional cabinetry consists of a recessed center slab with rails and stiles. The rails are the two horizontal parts, while the stiles are the two vertical pieces.

Shaker Cabinets Five Piece Construction

Their durable construction and classic design reduce the need for frequent replacements, contributing to a more sustainable approach to interior design. In addition, they make for an excellent transitional design during remodeling and redesigning the home.

You will often find them finished in light colors and featuring basic hardware. They are primarily all-wood construction, but cabinet makers can paint, cover, and panel them according to your taste.

Some manufacturers offer Shaker cabinet doors with various detailing and decorative options, such as crown molding, furniture legs, and glass doors. They feature beautiful hardware and stunning finishes that make a kitchen stand out.

Later in this guide, we will discuss the look of Shaker-style cabinets. In the meantime, let us take a quick tour of the interesting history of this type of cabinetry.

Why Are They Called Shaker Cabinets

Let’s learn their profound and interesting history to understand shaker cabinets. To truly appreciate the craftsmanship of this beautiful cabinetry, one must first go back to its origins.

Shaker cabinet history begins with the Quakers. This religious group sprang out in the 1650 English Civil War. A subset sought freedom from religious repression and emigrated to America in the 1700s.

They were first called the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. Eventually, they adopted the name “Shakers” over time.
The Shakers were a hardworking and talented group of artisans who gained recognition for their fine furniture and cabinets. The Shaker community’s guiding principles were equality, simplicity, and humility. With these ideals in mind, they created the first cabinets that would subsequently be referred to as Shaker cabinets.

The Shaker design is now considered a classic cabinet look that is always on trend for any bathroom or kitchen. It is prized for its simple beauty and unfussy design.

Gray Shaker Cabinets

Shaker cabinets, in particular, were designed with clean lines, minimal ornamentation, and a focus on functionality. The Shaker-style door is known for its high-quality materials and construction techniques, contributing to the modern aesthetic of Shaker kitchen cabinets.

The simplicity and timeless appeal of shaker cabinets resonated with the Arts and Crafts movement in Europe and America, inspiring renowned architects and designers to revisit this unique cabinetry style and adopt similar principles in their work.

Why Are Shaker Style Cabinets So Popular

According to the 2023 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, Shaker-style kitchen cabinet doors remain the most popular, with 61% of homeowners choosing them as the best cabinet style.

So, what makes shaker cabinets so unique? Let’s look at some key features that make shaker cabinetry on trend and popular with homeowners.

Clean Lines

Shaker-style cabinets feature straight, uncluttered lines. This no-fuss design brings a sense of calm and order to any kitchen.

Their clean and uncluttered look contributes to a sense of spaciousness in kitchens, enhancing the overall functionality and visual appeal. The minimalist style of Shaker cabinets is perfect for those who want a sleek, modern kitchen appearance.

White Shaker Kitchen

Timeless Design

Shaker kitchen cabinets are always in style. They are like your favorite shoes, which you can’t live without. The enduring style of shaker cabinets can weather changing kitchen remodeling trends because they always seem to be in style, no matter the changing times.

Durability and Craftsmanship

Although simple, Shaker-style cabinetry is usually sturdy. Crafted from sturdy woods such as maple, cherry, or oak, shaker cabinets are built to last.

Though it still depends on the materials used by the manufacturer, we have seen these cabinets grace homes for years or even generations. Traditional joinery techniques, such as dovetail and mortise-and-tenon joints, ensure strength and durability, reflecting the Shakers’ commitment to excellence in craftsmanship.


One of the defining aspects of Shaker cabinets is their versatility and compatibility with various interior styles. Shaker-style cabinets can blend seamlessly with any color scheme or hardware.

Whether used in traditional, contemporary, or transitional settings, Shaker cabinets seamlessly blend into any kitchen or living space, offering a classic yet adaptable aesthetic. Homeowners can switch from farmhouse design to modern style without getting overwhelmed by the transitional appeal.

The straightforward design of the Shaker cabinets makes them versatile and suitable for traditional and contemporary kitchen settings.

Overall, shaker cabinets remain a steadfast choice for those seeking a balance of tradition and modernity. Their clean lines, quality craftsmanship, and sustainable attributes ensure they will continue to grace kitchens.

What Does Shaker Cabinet Look Like

It is easy to tell if it’s a Shaker cabinet through its door style. Shaker cabinets are easily recognizable due to their simple door design without excessive ornamentation or ornate details.

Generally, there are two types of shaker door construction: the five-piece and single-piece construction methods.

Shaker Style Cabinets - Five Piece Vs One Piece Construction

The single-piece construction is made of a single slab with the center panel cut out from the same piece of wood.

Typically, a five-piece construction method is used to make a shaker door, which has one recessed center panel surrounded by a frame made of four separate panels.

While the five-piece door construction is sturdy, it does not account for natural defects or weaknesses in the wood. This construction method needs to stabilize the wood to prevent expansion or contraction and deal with tiny cracks or imperfections.

If the stabilization procedure is not done to the best standard and if a lower quality of wood is used, there is a higher chance that the wood may crack, and the joints or seams between the panels will become obvious.

Moreover, it is crucial to note that a five-piece door structure may have seams and gaps between the panels compared to one-piece construction.

You can learn more about Shaker cabinet doors through this detailed guide.

Compare Shaker with Other Styles

Shaker vs Raised Panel vs Flat Panel

Shaker vs. Raised Panel

It is easy to distinguish a Shaker from a Raised Panel cabinet door. As their names suggest, the main distinction is in their panels. Shaker doors have a flat recessed center panel. In contrast, Raised Panel cabinet doors have a raised center panel that slopes to the corners.

Furthermore, shaker designs are simple, with no embellishments or ornamentals. On the other hand, Raised Panel cabinets are more difficult to work with.

Shaker vs. Slab Door

While a Shaker door usually consists of a 5-piece design, a Slab door takes a very modern and minimalist approach to design. Each door is a piece of building material, usually wood, made into the whole door.

A Slab cabinet door is usually not adorned in any way. Instead, it is kept simple to the extreme. They are typically stained or painted, which can lend itself to large spaces of color.

Shaker Cabinets vs. Traditional

The difference between standard Shaker cabinets and Traditional kitchen cabinets largely depends on what you mean by Traditional. Traditional cabinets are decorative and sophisticated, while Shaker cabinets are known in the cabinetry industry as clean, minimalist cabinets.

These two cabinet styles are available in framed and frameless construction. Traditional cabinets typically feature a framed construction to preserve their classic look, while shaker cabinets often use the frameless design style.

Shaker Cabinet Doors Construction Options

If you are renovating your kitchen cabinet designs or baths, there are three Shaker cabinet door constructions: Overlay, Inset, and Frameless construction.

Overlay Shaker Cabinets

Overlay Shaker Cabinets

Overlay refers to the amount of the face frame that the door covers. You can go for Partial or Full Overlay for your framed cabinets. The Partial Overlay Cabinet exposes part of the cabinet frame, while the Full Overlay Cabinet completely covers the cabinet frame and is the most popular choice today.


  • Frames provide more structure to keep cabinets square
  • Installation is easy even when the walls and floor are not level


  • Potential to damage because of the exposed cabinet door
  • Hardware should be lined up properly in order not to look messy

Inset Shaker Cabinets

Inset Shaker Cabinets

Another Shaker cabinet construction is the inset. With this type of construction, the inset doors and drawer headers are fitted well inside the face frame, giving the front of the cabinet a smooth and clean look.

The inset door construction is the perfect match for the simplicity of true shaker-style cabinets.


  • Custom Look, a designer favorite
  • Protect cabinet door corners from being chipped or scraped


  • Hard to adjust doors and drawers
  • There is less storage space due to the bigger frame

Frameless Shaker Cabinets

Framelss Shaker Cabinets

Frameless Shaker cabinets combine the clean lines of contemporary design with the classic simplicity of the Shaker style. Unlike traditional framed cabinets, frameless Shaker cabinets are constructed without a face frame, allowing for more accessible interior space and a sleek, modern look.

The Shaker design is characterized by its five-piece door with a flat center panel and minimal ornamentation. This creates a timeless, versatile aesthetic that fits well in various kitchen styles. The frameless construction enhances this design by providing seamless edges and a more streamlined appearance.

Homeowners who choose frameless Shaker cabinets appreciate their functionality and straightforward elegance. This style is perfect for those looking for a modern twist on a classic design, offering both beauty and practicality.


  • Modern look and easy-to-assemble cabinets
  • More storage space compared to framed cabinets


  • Installation may take longer when the walls and floors are not level
  • It is still new – many installers need to learn how to install it

Shaker Cabinetry in Modern Society

The enduring popularity of Shaker cabinets can be attributed to their versatility and ability to blend seamlessly with various design aesthetics. Whether in a modern farmhouse kitchen, a sleek urban loft, or a cozy cottage, Shaker cabinets offer a timeless appeal that enhances the overall ambiance of the space.

In kitchens, Shaker cabinets provide a clean and uncluttered look, creating a sense of openness and functionality. Their panel doors are easy to clean and maintain, making them a practical choice for busy households.

Whether pre-assembled or custom-made, Shaker cabinets can easily fit any kitchen space, including Contemporary, Traditional, Mid-Century Modern, and Farmhouse, furthering their popularity even more. Whatever design idea you have in mind, Shaker cabinets fit the bill.

Beyond kitchens, Shaker cabinets are also popular choices for bathrooms, laundry rooms, and even living room storage units. The simplicity of the shaker-style cabinets blends perfectly well with any bathroom vanity design. Their elegant design lends a sense of cohesion to any room while allowing other design elements to shine.

The White Shaker Cabinets are one of the most popular shaker cabinets. But it’s common to see stained wood and various painted colors, too.

Should You Buy Shaker Style Kitchen Cabinets

When deciding on a kitchen cabinet style, it is important to consider the function and aesthetics. You want to make sure you invest in well-built units. Your shaker kitchen cabinets should handle the bumps and scratches that you expect them to take.

Here are some additional factors you may need to consider before buying shaker-style kitchen cabinets for your home.

Cabinet Door Style

When choosing shaker-style cabinets for your kitchen, you also have the option of overlay, inset, or frameless doors, which are very important to the overall look of your kitchen and home interior design.

Cabinet Door Knobs and Handles

The cabinet knobs and handles can have a big impact on your overall kitchen look, although they seem like a small part of the cabinet. Wood or metal handles work well in Shaker-style kitchens. The choice of materials and cup or knob style gives you plenty of choice and the chance to find a style that works for you.

Shaker Cabinet Wood Species

Choosing the right wood species based on your preferred style and kitchen design idea is important before buying a shaker cabinet. Historically, shaker furniture is made of solid hardwoods such as Maple, Birch, and Chestnut. Today, alternative wood choices are available. Modern shaker cabinets are also made from Oak, Pine, Poplar, and Cherry.

Some Shaker kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts even use different types of wood species. These modifications can help you achieve the look at a budget-friendly price point.

If you are looking for painted colors, you do not necessarily need to choose Maple or Walnut wood species for your cabinet. The wood grain will be covered by the paint, so long as the doors are made from solid wood, the quality of your Shaker cabinet should be good.

If you want the natural grain, look for a Shaker cabinet with a stained finish. However, it is important to understand that the stained color may vary among the five-piece door components just like the Carolina Hickory Shaker Door below.

Carolina Hicory Shaker Door

Others may treat the stained finish as part of the design, some may find it a defect. Thus, you must consider this carefully depending on the kitchen design you have originally planned.

Shaker Cabinet Finishes

Firstly, you can choose painted finishes on your shaker cabinets to give them an exquisite, sharp appearance while retaining their recessed, squared edges to look more intrinsic. You can opt for specific color combos to have a more distinct look.

You also have burnished finishes, when previously painted cabinets get burnished features to give them an aged appearance.

Furthermore, you can also choose Thermofoil finishes that use vinyl wrapping to enhance the durability of shaker cabinets. They are applied to medium-dense cabinet areas with high-temperature heating and intense pressure settings.

Lastly, polyurethane finishes give cabinets a rustic, earthy feel. It’s a matte minimalist cabinet finish that enhances the appearance of solid wood frames, giving it a transitional design.


While the price can vary greatly depending on the type of wood and finish chosen, Shaker kitchen cabinets can be expensive due to their construction and the quality of the material.

Customization Options

With advancements in manufacturing technology, homeowners can now customize Shaker cabinets to suit specific needs and preferences.

Whether opting for different wood species, finishes, or hardware, customization options ensure that Shaker cabinets can be tailored to fit any style or space requirement. However, remember that the more detailing you add, the more the cabinets will lose charm.


Shaker cabinets are easy to care for. They can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and don’t require special cleaning products or treatments.

This makes them a great option for busy families who don’t have time to worry about upkeep.

Yet, like any other kitchen cabinet style, premium and low-quality shaker cabinets can be available. The crucial decision is up to you whether the Shaker style is the best option based on your specific needs and preferences.

Disadvantages of Shaker Kitchen Cabinets

If you are considering shaker cabinets, it would also be beneficial to notice the potential drawbacks before buying one for your home.

The most notable disadvantage of shaker-style cabinets would be their style limitation. Though shaker cabinets can blend with various home designs, they have a specific look. If you prefer ornate designs or ultra-modern cabinet style, shaker cabinetry won’t suit your aesthetics.

Another potential problem with Shaker cabinets is the recessed center panel contraction and expansion due to changes in temperature and humidity, which can lead to cracking or warping over time.

Lastly, the most common damage found with shaker doors is paint chipping. As most of these doors are created with the five-piece construction, painting over the lines can result in the paint chipping when the door warps with temperature. This will result in visible cracks of paint where the outer frame pieces join together.

Frequently Asked Questions About Shaker Cabinets

Here are some of the common questions people asked about Shaker-style cabinets.

Are Shaker Cabinets Expensive?

Shaker cabinets are not necessarily expensive. The type of material and finish you choose still depends on the style. However, other cost factors, such as whether the cabinets are custom or stock, have a bigger impact on your overall project cost than the style of cabinets you choose.

Are Shaker Cabinets High-Quality?

Shaker cabinets should be of high quality and based on Shaker principles. Choose Shaker kitchen cabinets and doors made from quality materials. Choose Birch or other natural wood species for durability and aesthetic appeal.

Are Shaker Cabinets Outdated?

Shaker-style kitchen cabinets are not generally considered old-fashioned. They have maintained their popularity and are still widely chosen for modern kitchens. With their enduring popularity, Shaker cabinets offer homeowners a timeless choice far from going outdated.

Shake Up Your Kitchen’s Overall Look Today

Check out our extensive range of selections and sample doors to see how Shaker-style cabinets, with their enduring elegance, can transform your kitchen or home.

author avatar
Jocelle S Senior Writer & Kitchen Renovation Specialist
Jocelle is a seasoned writer and kitchen renovation expert at Bestonlinecabinets. With a deep understanding of kitchen cabinets and the latest trends in home improvement, she crafts engaging and informative content to help homeowners achieve their dream kitchens.