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Reinventing White Shaker Cabinets

There’s a reason why white Shaker  cabinets are so hot; it’s because they are so versatile, just like pasta, the final result depends on what you put with it.  Not only can you get this style in any price point but you can make it work with your own unique design style. Today I thought we’d take a look at some very different successful results all using garden- variety white Shaker cabinets.

Traditional to Transitional white Shaker cabinets with 2 1/4" frame (stiles and rails)
Traditional to Transitional white Shaker cabinets with 2 1/4″ frame (stiles and rails) by Artful Kitchens featuring RD Henry Cabinets installed by Brendan Donovan Furniture & Cabinet CO. Photo by Michael Hoffmann Spallholz Photography


First of all, in case you’ve been off somewhere living in a cave, Shaker cabinets feature what we call flat panel doors. There’s a flat panel in the center surrounded by a frame.  That frame is typically 2 1/4″ wide which will give you a traditional look or 3″ wide which is a bit more contemporary.  A word of caution, if your kitchen will have small doors (less than 15″ wide) and you’re going to be using glass in the center, go with the 2 1/4″ or the glass section will be too small.


Encyclopedia of Shaker Furniture
Encyclopedia of Shaker Furniture


The modern Shaker style gets its name from the original Shaker furniture.  “Shaker furniture is a distinctive style of furniture developed by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as Shakers, a religious sect that had guiding principles of simplicity, utility and honesty. Their beliefs were reflected in the well-made furniture of minimalist designs.- Wikipedia  American Shaker furniture originated in the 1700s and has changed little since then. Original Shaker doors typically had natural wood finishes but today white is all the rage.  Fast forward to the twenty-first century where all that white simplicity can get a bit  boring and generic.  With the big movement towards personalization and custom design you can rock that Shaker look and make it your own.  Here are just a few examples:


Los Gatos kitchen
                                                                                                                                                  Photo by Margot Hartford PhotographyDiscover kitchen design ideas -Houzz

Los Gatos kitchen
                                                                                                                                                    Photo by Margot Hartford PhotographyBrowse kitchen ideas – Houzz


21st Century Victorian

The kitchen above is situated in an 1892 Queen Anne Victorian home in California and features a totally different take on white Shaker.  Accents include a luscious blue color for the peninsula and gorgeous Mamounia tile from  the Martyn Lawrence Bullard Collection for Ann Sacks. I love the mixture of natural wood, white, the pattern of the tile and that perfect shade of blue.


Los Gatos kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                        Photo by Margot Hartford PhotographyMore kitchen ideas – Houzz


Since white Shaker cabinets are pretty much a blank canvas, they offer a great opportunity to showcase bold colorful art!  This painting installed in the kitchen/dining area is by Gordon Hopkins.

Mad for Mid-Century Mod

This new white Shaker kitchen is in a 1950’s Mid-Century home in South Florida.  The homeowners wanted to retain certain elements such as this original planter and room divider to retain the fifties feel.  I always love to honor that concept when choosing finishing touches for the kitchen.  These handles complement the room divider perfectly and the Cambria quartz top emulates the original refurbished terrazzo floor in the main part of the home.   You don’t have to retain all the original details but it can be very striking to tie a few elements together like we did here.


white shaker cabinets, chrome cabinet pulls, chrome handles, midcentury modern, south florida kitchen


Cool Contemporary

If you have embraced the clean crisp appeal of contemporary design,  you can also have that with white Shaker cabinets.  The example below from Houzz shows achieves a chic contemporary effect through long sleek bar pulls on the cabinets, the clean look of no upper cabinets and stainless steel accents.  The rich wood floor lends warmth to the space.  


Raleigh Hills Kitchen
                                                                                                                                              Photo by Rockwood CabinetryBrowse transitional kitchen ideas– Houzz


There you have it! I would love to help you “shake things up” with your own white Shaker cabinets. Email me at  If you would like to have Artful Kitchen blog posts conveniently delivered to your inbox, please subscribe by entering your email in the sidebar.


Gloria Graham-Sollecito

Gloria is a kitchen and bath cabinetry designer with AKBD certification from the National Kitchen & Bath Association. She has also served on the Florida Treasure Coast Chapter's Board of Directors as the VP of Communications. Her work has appeared on This Old House as well as in Florida Design Magazine, K+BB Magazine and the Palm Beach Post. She is co-author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Remodeling Your Kitchen, Illustrated, as well as a freelanced writer contributing occasionally to the Sun Sentinel in the area of kitchen design. She is a proud member of the Blanco Design Council and the illustrious Brizo Blogger 19.

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