Certain designs defy the relentless cycle of interior design trends, enduring time and impressing homeowners no matter the season. And Shaker kitchens might just be the most prominent example.
Defined by a transitional style that takes the best of classic and contemporary, Shaker kitchens are difficult not to love. With a touch of rustic charm paired with clean, defined features, the kitchen style has proven to be a standby.
deVOL’s signature line of designs, ‘The Real Shaker Kitchen,’ epitomizes the mainstay style, showcasing a wide range of Shaker-style spaces that are sure to stand the test of time. From deep-colored kitchens to pared-back, neutral havens, there’s a kitchen in the collection for everyone.
We spoke with Helen Parker, deVOL’s creative director, to get her take on the brand’s beloved kitchens. She also shares why Shaker kitchens remain so popular, and why she believes they’ll never go out of style – here’s what she had to say.
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.
What is a Shaker kitchen?
Dating back to 18th-century England, traditional Shaker craftsmanship is made to last. Function is put first, so design is simple and streamlined, without excessive decoration – and modern-day Shaker kitchens follow suit. ‘Shaker is simple, unadorned furniture that focuses on practicality rather than decoration,’ says Helen.
Often, describing a kitchen as Shaker refers primarily to its cabinetry, which is crafted the Shaker way, with durability front of mind.
‘The most important part of these cupboards is that they are exceptionally well-made and built to last. There are no fussy elements to break or wear out, so the cupboards will look their best at all times and however much use they get,’ Helen adds.
Beyond construction, Shaker kitchens carry a hallmark aesthetic style that’s customizable to every home. Though they may be colorful – as are deVOL’s Pink & Blue Room and Oxfordshire Farmstead projects – these kitchens aren’t bright or overpowering.
‘The color of Shaker kitchens and cupboards is very important – they should be subdued, with subtle colors. The hardware and worktops should be natural, with a gentle contrast that gives a feeling of calmness. The design of the cupboards is plain and well-proportioned, they have simple interiors, and everything is beautifully naïve and traditional,’ says Helen.
What makes Shaker kitchens so timeless?
Because Shaker style relies on unembellished fixtures and streamlined design, it doesn’t need to adapt to the times or current kitchen trends – it’s already suited to the present day. Helen suggests you opt for a Shaker kitchen if you don’t want a redesign when the latest trend inevitably washes away.
‘The lack of decorative features means there is nothing to date or go off with a Shaker kitchen, its pure simplicity, clean lines, and plain look makes it a perfect choice for someone who is looking for a lasting product and is not driven by fashion or trends,’ she says.
Helen loves the ‘style and simplicity’ of deVOL’s kitchen designs, but also their variety. They’re all ‘classic and unfussy,’ she adds, but each one plays off the personality of its homeowner.
‘Some people add more decoration to their rooms, and some people keep their kitchen color palette subdued and low-key. That’s the beauty of Shaker, it allows you to start with a really good quality product and embellish as you wish,’ says Helen.
Pictured above, deVOL’s Stepney Townhouse project, is one of Helen’s favorites for its ‘gentle atmosphere’ despite its location: a basement level on a busy street.
‘The contrast is remarkable and shows the way you design your kitchen can change your mood,’ she says of the kitchen.
The Pink & Blue Room, located in deVOL’s Bath showroom and pictured above, is another of Helen’s preferred renditions of the Shaker style.
‘It embraces the Georgian proportions of the room, and fits so beautifully into that style of property, feeling quite grand and authentic due to its colors and the original features of the room,’ she says.
Why are Shaker kitchens popular now?
Though Helen says Shaker kitchens have never truly been out of style – and for good reason – she believes their current popularity comes from homeowners’ desires to make their space their own and transcend the interior design trends. A Shaker kitchen allows you to ‘create your own look’ within a fairly simple formula, a recipe for design scheme success.
‘I love the way it has the ability to change its look depending on its environment, making it the easy and perfect choice for pretty much any type of property or location. I think a Shaker cupboard is the perfect starting point for creating your own personal look, as there are no strong design features, just a very reliable and classic base from which to add your own personality,’ says Helen.
How to bring Shaker updates to your kitchen
If you love the Shaker look but aren’t ready for a full renovation, Helen suggests picking out some Shaker peg rails for kitchen storage, ‘an easy and ubiquitous Shaker detail that always feels authentic,’ she says.
‘Repainting wooden cupboards in a soft shaker color will also instantly update a kitchen, as will fitting some subtle and simple hardware,’ she says.
And the Shaker mindset extends beyond the furniture, Helen adds. She suggests keeping the accessories and kitchenware ‘practical and subtle,’ and using vintage wooden chopping boards and large serving plates to up the Shaker atmosphere.
‘Losing gadgets and getting rid of clutter is a simple but very refreshing update for a kitchen. Shaker people were frugal and only had what they needed. This philosophy is vital to a seriously good Shaker look, and also for your well-being,’ says Helen.
It’s hardly surprising the popularity of Shaker kitchens hasn’t wavered for decades. The simplicity of the design makes it the perfect choice for this hard-working, long-lasting space. It’s the perfect backdrop for bringing in different styles and switching up decor as tastes change without ever having to touch the timeless cabinetry.