How to choose the right Shaker Kitchen

Shaker kitchens are one of the oldest & most traditional styles of kitchen, dating back to the 18th Century in New England. The shaker design is simple yet effective; and by tweaking finer details such as the finish, colour, beading and hardware (handles) we can create very styles and emotions with the shaker concept.

With all of the different options we thought we would ask the question - "Which type of Shaker Kitchen is right for you?". Hopefully this blog article can educate and inspire a few people who are looking to understand the various options available to them and create something unique; something inspirational.

Below is a simple breakdown the differences between the door styles and the main points to consider when choosing a Shaker style.

  • Size & Style

  • Material & Construction

  • Installation Type

  • Accessories & Finishing

1. Size & Style

A shaker door consists of an outer 'frame' and inner, recessed panel. Although the basic style is the same we can change the size of the rails or styles to create more traditional or more modern look.

Below we have an example of a thin, more modern shaker frame and a larger more traditional shaker but are the same specifications in terms of thickness, material, construction and finish.

thin & thick frame

Within these styles you have some slight differences depending on how much detail & what construction type you want from your door. But don’t forget, colour can play a very important part on how classic or contemporary your kitchen appears.

Below is an example of a thicker frame, more classical style kitchen using Florence by Kitchen Stori. The layout & colour choice here is traditional, with white keeping the space light & airy.


Below is an example of a thin frame, contemporary shaker kitchen using Hunton by Second Nature Kitchens. Again the colour choice of Hartforth Blue with the thin frame adds a very contemporary touch to the space.

Shaker Kitchen with freestanding island.jpg

2. Material & Construction

Within the world of Shaker doors, there are usually 4 main construction types. Most of the shaker doors we offer are solid ash timber frames with a veneered centre panel. Other construction types are HDF painted, MDF painted & MDF wrapped.

Solid Wood (Ash or Oak) with a Veneer

A solid wood shaker door is typically constructed from either Ash, Oak, Beech or Walnut with a veneer overlay to the centre panel. This means over the lifespan of your kitchen you can fix any damages easily & you could repaint it if you got bored of the colour.

MDF (medium density fibreboard) with Foil Wrap or Smooth Painted Finish

Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) is an engineered wood-based sheet material made by bonding together wood fibres with a synthetic resin adhesive. MDF is extremely versatile and can be machined and completed to a high standard with a matt smooth painted finish or foil wrapped.

The alternative is MDF which is then wrapped in a smooth, woodgrain or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) Matt foil. The foil is typically applied with a vacuum press machine provide a tight seal around the MDF. This is a great alternative if you are on a budget.

HDF (high density fibreboard)

High Density Fibreboard (HDF) is a high-quality composite material that is thinner and denser than regular particle board. It is composed of wood fibres which are compressed and bonded together with resin under high pressure and high heat, creating an incredibly strong material.

The construction choice you choose can vary from style to style, but it ultimately comes down to either cost or appearance. All are strong materials and designed to withstand the life-span of your kitchen.

Once you have decided which way on the scale of classic to contemporary you want to go you can fine tune the door details, colour & accessories.

3. Installation Type

There are two main types of installation for kitchen or furniture doors; lay on, were the doors finishes on top of the carcass or in-frame, where the door finishes inside a frame.

  • Lay On Doors - They are cheaper due to the easier nature of installation and the lack of requirement for both a door and frame.

  • In-Frame Doors - they are more expensive as installation is more time consuming and they require a separate frame and door to be made.

traditional in-frame shaker kitchenSmooth Shaker Kitchens

In-frame doors or inframe kitchens generally start at a higher price point (£25,000 and upwards). They are normally more traditional, although we have seen a trend for in-frame slab doors more recently.

4. Accessories & Finishes

Shaker kitchens have come along way from your country house kitchen back in the 1800’s.

From un-treated solid doors with simple hardware to the clean smooth non-grained doors with brass handles. Shaker kitchens have remained timeless & evolved to add drama by using accessories, hardware & bold colours.

traditional kitchensmodern shaker kitchen by Garrett Kitchens

As mentioned earlier in section 2 in the construction information, doors that are MDF wrapped are pre-finished with a foil or PET. Things means there is no choice of finishing.

MDF Painted doors can come painted in a variety of colours or also sanded or primed to be painted on site (either sprayed or hand painted).

The same goes for Timber shaker doors; they can be pre painted or they can be sent primed or sanded ready to be sprayed or hand painted on site.

Finally, if you choose to go for an Solid wood shaker it is often preferred to finish with a clear coat of lacquer or wax in order to protect the door, but still allow the nature colour of the timber to shine through.

Thanks to their timeless design, durability & practicality, Shaker kitchens have lasted the years & are still hugely popular. And due to their versatility, they can be styled to become what we love today.

Examples of 21st Century accessories & finishes are:

Kitchen shaker styles

Examples of Traditional style accessories & finishes:

kitchen shaker accessories

To say you have a wide selection to choose from is true and it may seem daunting, but the choice does mean you will be able to find the look, finish & style you’ve always wanted for your Shaker Kitchen within budget.

So whether you choose to go ultra modern with smooth doors, go back to basic with a classic solid wood door & steel cup handles or something in between the choice is yours!