The History of Shaker Furniture
Shaker furniture is named for the religious Christian "Shaker" community that originated in the early 18th century as a branch of the Quaker movement. The Shakers’ commitment to simplicity in life and self-reliance led them to design their own furniture, which was simple and absent of flair. The Shakers’ lifestyle and self-production was evident in their architecture and furnishings.
The minimum amount of material was used to construct an object so that it performed its intended role with utility and nothing more. Another feature was the strength; Shaker furniture became known for its quality as it was made with the best wood available; commonly birch, maple, pine, and chestnut.
The Modern Shaker Appeal
Shaker furniture and its clean, straightforward lines are back in style. The rise in the popularity of the Shaker look stems from the minimalism trend in today's home remodeling designs. The style goes well with a broad spectrum of home design approaches, including traditional, country, minimalist and modern.
Many homeowner’s are discovering that the Shaker concept is particularly appealing in what can be one of the most cluttered spaces in a home – the kitchen. Shaker kitchen cabinets offer a crisp, fresh look that transcends transient fads which date in appearance very quickly with shifts in trend over time.
Shaker Style in the Today's Kitchen
When the Shakers developed their furniture concept, they used that concept alone. This has resulted in repetition being a key characteristic of Shaker furniture; a Shaker chest of drawers, regardless of the number of discrete drawers, follows the exact same design and dimensions from top to bottom. Kitchens today usually sport multiple vertical sets of drawers and this is where Shaker design really makes its mark. The straight-edged and uninterrupted rail, stile and central panel may be flat or recessed, and individual cabinet doors or drawers may feature a knob or handle of equally uncomplicated design.
Shaker simplicity rejects the use of embellishments of any type and furniture that bears their name most often features square edges. In modern Shaker furniture however, there has been a small drift towards minor flourishes through the use of beveled edges.