July 10, 2009, Newsletter Issue #59: The Shaker Kitchen

Tip of the Week

Let's say you like a minimalist look in the kitchen but you are turned off by contemporary or modern styles. Or maybe you do have contemporary rooms in your home but want the kitchen to be both different and complementary. The beautiful elements of a Shaker kitchen may be a good solution in either case.

The Shaker philosophy, which is still practiced today, evolved out of a 19th century religious movement based on a sense of humility. The Shakers believe that utility is key. Therefore the style of a Shaker kitchen won't focus on fancy elements, old world drama or scrolling on cabinets. Instead the cabinet style features plain panels and tapered legs. Cabinet faces and hardware are simple and the colors used are natural, such as olive green, lighter blues and pale yellows.

If you want to create a true Shaker kitchen, paint the walls white and use simple decor pieces such as plain white bowls, glass vases and wooden Shaker boxes. Fixtures should be chrome or -- ideally -- brushed pewter. Shakers did not use typical varnishes on wood. Instead they would apply dyes or oils to enhance natural beauty. The floors in a Shaker kitchen are simple hardwood, the windows covered with plain shutters and panel-style curtains. Unless you are a purist at heart, you can adjust this simple style as you like. But remember, the essence of the Shaker philosophy is sticking to just what you need and enjoying the natural look of wood and natural elements.

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