Want a new kitchen, but one that’s full of old-fashioned character? Here’s why this could be your answer
Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More
If you hanker after a fresh, pale kitchen, but don’t want a design that’s too sleek and contemporary, a white Shaker-style kitchen could be your characterful friend. Shaker kitchens, if you’re being a purist, would eschew many of the ideas you’ll see below (traditionally, all handles would have been wooden, chairs would have been ladderbacks – and the Shaker palette was red, blue, green and yellow). But let’s put that to one side and, taking the basics – a wooden design and the instantly recognisable five-piece cabinet doors – see how many beautiful ways this classic and versatile style can work in white.
Style with terracotta
Shaker style is not the only classic design in this welcoming, rustic kitchen. The terracotta tile is an oldie but a goodie that’s recently begun finding favour again as a material, and it works beautifully with the relaxed feel of a Shaker-style kitchen.
Another Shaker staple on show here is the freestanding cupboard on the left, which is painted to match the fitted units. And rather than a modern island, a slim, vintage table provides an extra work surface as well as warmth and character.
Tongue-and-groove panelling is also a Shaker favourite – see here how it’s used horizontally on the walls, and then continues up and across the ceiling, giving the space a laid-back, coastal look. For a more traditional take on this kind of panelling, you could fix it vertically to the walls – perhaps topped with a Shaker-esque peg rail.
Be inspired by these examples of peg rails looking lovely
Show and tell
Open shelving is very much a Shaker kitchen staple, but it’s not for everyone – especially if you hate dusting. A sleeker option, and one that keeps items protected from cooking grease and dust, is glass-fronted cupboards. Unlike with solid-door wall cabinets, you get a similar feel from glazing as you would from open shelves.
To best ape the airy feel of open shelving, you might find that shorter – say, two-shelf – cupboards work well, as you’ll still have lots of visible wall space around them.
See more white kitchens with Shaker cabinets in the Houzz photo stream
The Shakers were very good at designing just the right type of storage for just the right type of item. This kitchen taps into that tradition, firstly in the simple painted plate rack. Much like displaying books with the covers facing forwards, this type of storage gives you the chance to show off your favourite designs.
Ensure the plates you store are favourite ones, though, or you’ll come to hate having such open storage, as it will always look messy. The trick is to use your ‘best’ china daily. When it’s stored so accessibly, it’d be mad not to.
Note in this kitchen also the very little drawers under the corner wall cabinet. ‘Little’ storage can really help you to keep things in order, as you won’t fill spaces with junk for the sake of it, but rather edit your things with care. Teaspoons, teabags, bag clips and daily pocket contents are all potential contenders for such a wee spot (a big ‘junk’ drawer can just attract more junk – this way you are forced to clear it out frequently).
How to tame your junk drawer
Go full-on cottage cute
The Shaker style – all solid wood and chunky lines – leans naturally towards a rustic look, making it a happy choice for a rural kitchen (or an urban one to which you want to give a country feel).
Although this isn’t a freestanding design (typically the traditional Shaker way), the chunky feet and lack of visible plinth to hide the floor give the impression of standalone pieces on feet.
If you like this look, but don’t fancy trying to get a mop or vacuum under your units, painting your plinth a dark colour – especially where that matches your floor – will go a long way towards creating that effect.
Welcome a white-out
Once again, this is a kitchen with a laid-back coastal look about it. Here, it’s not only emphasised by the horizontal timber cladding (see photo no 1), but also by the sheer expanse of pale paint. The ceiling, beams and (authentically open) shelves are all white, but what really stand out are the table and chair double-act and the floor.
The airy effect of a pale floor with pale walls is magic. Check out the many online tutorials about how to DIY this look for your wooden boards, and research the several different types of product available to see which is right for your style and the amount of work you’re comfortable putting in.
Upping the effect further are the inset panels in the Shaker-esque cabinet doors – these have a tongue-and-groove appearance, which easily conjures up nautical connotations. Natural textiles – the window blind and table ropes – lend a hand.
Improve your coordination
In a small kitchen, the more aesthetic streamlining you can manage, the less cluttered your space will look. As such, integrated or built-in appliances will often work really well on that front.
But a Shaker style kitchen – even one with a neat, modern spin like this one – lends itself so well to a freestanding range cooker. How not to make it look bulky?
For starters, lots of brands now do single range-style cookers – great if you don’t have the space for something with the generous proportions of this design. They also come in all sorts of colours – including white. Here, the owners have gone for a country kitchen off-white, but gleaming brilliant white is also widely available.
For colour-coordination perfection, you can get paint mixed to match exactly the shade of your cooker; not all DIY and paint shops provide this service, so look out for one that offers digital matching.
Give your island some character
This kitchen pushes the contemporary Shaker-style envelope further still, with its sleek, clean lines, colour-matched, slimline worktop and brushed-steel handles.
But the traditional five-panel doors are a big part of what keeps the space feeling homely and warm, and adding these to an island is a nice (and modern) touch to consider. To keep the ends of the unit characterful, too, they’ve been clad in tongue-and-groove-style panels.
What style and colour of kitchen would you have for your dream house (or do you already have it…)? Share photos and wish lists in the Comments section.