Shaker Cabinet Doors: A History of Design

Shaker Cabinet Doors: A History of Design

The History of Shaker Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Shaker kitchen cabinet doors still dominate kitchen design 246 years after a subset of the English Quakers emigrated to America seeking freedom of religious expression and worship. Known as the Shaking Quakers for their ecstatic and physical style of worship, the Shakers were a modest people whose core values included humility, simplicity, celibacy, hard work and equality between the sexes. Their values are reflected in the simple, utilitarian design language of their furniture and cabinetry. The basic door construction reflected their practical approach to life and the lack of ornamentation affirms their humble character as they chose instead to focus on the quality of both construction and materials used.  

The Shaker community peaked at around 6000 members in the mid 1800’s along the East Coast of the US and was organized into commune style settlements where the collective worked to ensure the self-sufficiency of the greater group. Along with growing their own food and making tools, furniture was needed. Their religious views and practical nature entered into their work resulting in several simple yet enduring designs that have stood the test of time.  

Do you ever wonder why shaker-style tables and chairs often have tapered, light weight legs?

The Shakers, as their name may indicate, liked to dance, so their furniture was built to be light weight and easily moved aside for spiritual movements and dance. Eventually, these communities made enough furniture for their own needs and having embraced early generations of power tools and the simple construction of their furniture found they could produce enough to serve larger markets. This led to the spread of Shaker products from the tight-knit Shaker communes to the surrounding towns and villages, and beyond.  

What is a shaker style cabinet door?

Shaker cabinet doors are known and loved by homeowners and designers worldwide. A shaker door is comprised of four rails and a flat center panel, which distinguishes it from a raised panel door. High quality replacement cabinet doors in a shaker style can have one of the best impacts in your home to modernize your space and remodel your kitchen.  

An image labelling the parts of a shaker kitchen cabinet door as rail along the horizontal of the door edge, stile as the vertical door edge, and recessed center panel in the middle of the door.
Anatomy of a Shaker Door

Shaker Cabinet Door Design

Originally, Shaker cabinet doors were made from materials found easily in America in the 1800’s such as Cherry, Oak, Birch, Pine and Maple. Shaker furniture was typically stained or painted in colours determined by the sect that made them, common colors include red, green, blue, and yellow. Symmetry of design was important and inlays or decorative mouldings were not used as such devices of design were seen as deceitful or unholy. For the Shakers, a door was beautiful due to its function in the home and because it was well made and served a purpose.  

Mouldings and decorative embellishments served no purpose in a Shaker home and today designers still work in this style when designing a Shaker kitchen for your home. Many different styles of Shaker doors are available to the homeowner looking to bring some of this simple beauty into their home. Although cabinet door rail styles and widths may vary, and profiles add a bit more flair, but the basic foundation of a flat panel surrounded by four rails remains. 

Today, modern shaker doors are made with new materials such as exotic woods, aluminum and glass, and American staples such as maple and oak. Engineered woods wrapped in vinyl and polyester allow for unique treatments and can add texture to a door.  

Nieu Cabinet Doors – 8 Shaker Door Styles

At Nieu Cabinet Doors we have perfected the art of using high quality engineered MDF along with a 2-piece construction process to build custom cabinet doors. Our manufacturing techniques allow for the highest level of detailed finishing to produce the cleanest, most precise lines and profiles that would impress even a master Shaker cabinet maker.  

With a variety of rail widths and styles Shaker doors remain our best-selling door style. Offering 8 versions of Shaker doors, Nieu Cabinet Doors has a Shaker style that is sure to work in your home. A Shaker cabinet door is ideal for a DIY kitchen refacing project as this style of door lends itself to a kitchen without fancy trim or ornate mouldings. It really can be as simple as removing your old cabinet doors and replacing them with new doors and hardware.  

8 shaker style kitchen cabinet door styles in colors of white, beige, cream, grey, blue and green.
Our Shaker Cabinet Door Selection in 8 of Our Designer Curated Colors

Shaker Cabinet Doors in 2020

Today, shaker cabinet are not bound by any single interpretation of the original Shaker design. Shaker doors are available in a wide variety of styles and finishes and yes, some of them even have some degree of flair or ornamentation added to the rail profiles. A shaker door can work in any home and across design styles of traditional, contemporary, and transitional palettes.  

Although white is still the most popular color for a shaker door, bolder colors such as dark blues, teals and a variety of greys are finding their way into homes often as the base for a two-toned kitchen or to highlight an island or pantry wall. The simplicity of shaker means it can show the unique taste of a home without overwhelming the space, and can pair well with a statement countertop or other bold design choices.  

Do shaker cabinet doors improve resale value?

If the motivation for refacing your kitchen cabinets is resale, real estate agents will confirm that a Shaker door in a neutral color offers the broadest appeal for prospective buyers. Stick with handles or pulls that are simple and minimalist in design as they will offer the most cohesive look for your Shaker kitchen.  

An image of a gloomy kitchen with off-white cabinets, broken drawer fronts, and damage to the doors and drawers.
BEFORE: Broken drawer fronts and outdate raised panel doors.

“Nieu was the perfect solution for my clients. Their kitchen was in desperate need of an update to sell their home, but they didn’t want the timeline or price tag of a full kitchen renovation. Nieu Cabinet Doors completely refreshed their kitchen quickly and cost effectively. The order process was simple and the customer service was great, especially being able to call and walk through any questions. Their home sold the first day of showings!”

– Laura Waxter, Realtor for Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh
A bright, crisp kitchen with new shaker cabinet doors in white.
AFTER: Kitchen transformed with our Shaker door in Winter White.

How to use shaker cabinet doors in your kitchen:

DIY kitchen cabinet refacing is a project that homeowners with even minimal carpentry skills can tackle. If your kitchen layout works, your cabinet boxes are in good shape, and you own a few basic tools, you can achieve the Shaker look for your home. The basic steps to your DIY refacing project are:  

  • Take our free online design quiz or work with a designer to determine your shaker style and color  
  • Watch our instructional video on how to measure your kitchen for Nieu Shaker Doors  
  • Use our online order form to estimate and order your Nieu Shaker Doors  
  • Watch our how-to videos that cover all aspects of a DIY kitchen refacing project  
  • Install your Nieu Shaker Doors and speak with our technical expert at any time during the install for support  
  • When complete, raise a toast to the small group of craftspeople whose iconic design language is still relevant centuries later

Shaker cabinet doors are an iconic style that have endured centuries of design changes, and remain one of the most popular cabinetry choices in homes in 2020. Whether looking to update your kitchen to love where you live, or improve your resale value, our variations of shaker cabinet doors are sure to make you dance with joy in your Nieu kitchen.  

The Cost of Cabinet Refacing in an Investment Property

The Cost of Cabinet Refacing in an Investment Property

As a homeowner, your renovation budget is tight. As a landlord, it is much the same story. You need a durable, cost effective solution to attract and retain the best tenants without breaking the bank. At Nieu, we know how to maximize your home renovation dollar with cabinet refacing. We also know how to maximize your investment property upgrade.  

To give a real-life example we asked one of our clients who has over a decade of landlord experience to walk us through their kitchen transformation and cabinet refacing experience. The owners had clear priorities including: durability, boost to potential resale value, elevating the property from the ten-year-old builder’s basic finishes. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, doing so in a low-impact way so as not to disrupt rent paying tenants  

Why landlords choose cabinet refacing:

This project centers around a townhouse in a 10-year old development, that has been a rental since it was built. The current owners acquired the property two years ago, and painted the house from top to bottom, as well as made some other much needed improvements and repairs. With a fresh coat of paint and a general increase in upkeep, the existing kitchen soon became noticeable for its yellow looking cabinets and dysfunctional handle placement. The breakfast bar blocked the view of backyard park and the laminate countertops had begun to peel at the seams. With plans to sell the property within the next two years, the owners wondered what improvements could be made, on a tight budget, to transform this kitchen that is the heart of this open concept home. Their ultimate barometer was how to maximize their renovation ROI (return on investment) in the shortest amount of time.  

They chose cabinet refacing for their investment property because:  

  1. They needed to complete the project in a weekend while tenants were away.  
  2. The cabinet boxes were in solid condition. No need to replace everything, just needed some new doors.  
  3. A white, shaker cabinet door would improve the eventual resale value.  
  4. The kitchen layout is great, and it couldn’t change given the floorplan.  
  5. With new countertops, the cabinets could stay where they were, and saving money on a full kitchen remodel by refacing allowed them to purchase quartz counters.  
A large, u-shaped kitchen with brown wooden cabinet doors, a dark laminate countertops, black appliances, and stainless steel horizontal handles on the cabinet doors.

Visualize your kitchen refaced with Nieu Cabinet Doors

The homeowners wanted to visualize what the space would look like before making any larger financial decisions. They worked with our design team to have the space transformed in photorealistic 3D to show them two options. The first was with the breakfast bar remaining and counters and backsplash staying the same, and just ordering new doors but reusing the existing handles. The second design suggestion was to remove the breakfast bar, upgrade the countertop, make an impactful yet cost effective change to the handles, and install a new backsplash. The removal of the breakfast bar stood out as having the biggest change on modernizing the space, and since the counters needed to be replaced, it made sense to complete this step before ordering new panels and Shaker doors for the cabinet refacing part of the project.  

A computer rendering of an open concept u-shaped kitchen refaced with white shaker style cabinet doors. Pictured in the photo are barstools at a situp breakfast bar, black appliances, pendant lighting, dark hardwood floors, a dark countertop, and items on the counter.
Design 1: Kitchen transformed with Nieu doors only, and other kitchen elements remain the same.
A computer rendering of an open concept u-shaped kitchen refaced with white shaker style cabinet doors. Pictured in the photo are barstools at a situp peninsula, black appliances, pendant lighting, light hardwood floors, a white countertop, and items on the counter.
Design 2: Nieu doors combined with an updated countertop, backsplash, flooring and sink.

Kitchen Remodel Design Elements

To modernize this builder’s beige, slab cabinet door kitchen, the owners wanted a Shaker cabinet door to project a welcoming, bright, and modern-farmhouse style. The black appliances weren’t likely to change, but they wanted the design to still work with stainless if they or a future owner chose to swap them. This was presented in their design renderings which helped them to choose the following elements:  

  • Cabinet doors and drawer fronts: Stepped Shaker painted cabinet door in Winter White (Sherwin Williams Extra White)  
  • Cabinet pulls: Black, squared handles were used, all the same size for doors and drawers  
  • Countertop: White quartz counter with light, neutral speckles  
  • Backsplash: Kept the current dark glass subway tile  

Cabinet Refacing Cost

A pie chart showing the cost difference and items included in a kitchen refacing versus kitchen replacement project.

Our featured homeowners had a budget of $12,000 for the entire kitchen upgrade, and a short installation timeline to minimize disruption to paying tenants. They were quoted over $22,000 to rip everything out and replace the kitchen, with a minimum of one-week of installation, mess, and most importantly, tenants unable to make meals for the duration of a full kitchen replacement. Where did the savings come from by cabinet refacing instead of replacing? 

  1. Cost of new cabinet boxes. The old boxes were in excellent condition, and didn’t need to be removed and disposed of. Savings: approximately $4500. 
  2. Plumber/electrician. Maintaining the current layout of the kitchen meant no need for a plumber or electrician to re-route any of the lines or help with installation. Savings: approximately $2000   
  3. Installation. This DIY friendly project meant substantial savings on cabinet installation, and a faster time to complete the project. Savings: approximately $4500 and 5-7 days. 
  4. Backsplash. Careful removal of the old counter and installation of the new meant the existing backsplash was unscathed. This avoided the purchase and labor costs of replacing the backsplash. Savings: approximately $1200.

Saving more than 50% of the cost of replacing everything in this kitchen meant the homeowners could spend on “nice to haves” they hadn’t originally needed, like a new counter, sink and faucet, and upgraded cabinet pulls. Their project was budget friendly, tenant friendly, and completely transformed the space. 

Installing Cabinet Doors, Drawer Fronts, Panels and Trim for Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet refacing projects begin with removing the existing doors, drawer boxes, and existing panels. Generally, this can be accomplished in 2 hours-time. Next came installing large panels to reface the peninsula, fridge cabinet and the sides or gables of the upper and base cabinets. Cabinet edges can be painted and then toe kick, filler and light valence installed. Once the panels and trim were replaced it was time to get to the heart of a cabinet refacing project – installing new cabinet doors. The first step of hanging new cabinet doors is to mount the new soft close concealed hinges selected for this project. The doors came pre-drilled for hinges so it was quite easy to screw the new hinges onto the back of the doors with the supplied screws. Doors were then installed in the cabinets by fastening the hinge plates to the inside of the cabinets. It’s important to note that the doors weren’t readied for handles before they were mounted. This project proved why – once the cabinet doors were hung, the owners realized they wanted the handles in a different location than they originally planned. The drilling and installation of handles was the last step in bringing this kitchen together!  

A hand holds a measuring tape in front of an opening in a kitchen cabinet. Measuring the space for a new drawer front for refacing the kitchen.

This cabinet refacing project in a nutshell:

  • Eliminated the breakfast bar. Removed panel on the back of the breakfast bar and removed the breakfast bar ledge.  
  • Changed countertop. New countertop was selected – the owners chose quartz for its durability and to boost resale value. Counters were then measured, fabricated, and installed  
  • Updated sink and faucet. The new countertop allowed for a transition to an undermount sink and updated, modern faucet  
  • Measure cabinets for refacing. Doors, panels, trim, filler, and toe kick were measured for refacing.  
  • Order new cabinet doors and panels. The order with Nieu Cabinet Doors was placed.  
  • Receive and reface. The order arrived and was installed in just a few days  
  • Love your new kitchen. The landlords (and tenants) adored the new kitchen!  

Increasing Resale Value of an Investment Property

With the intention of selling this investment property within the next two years, realtors advised these homeowners that cabinet refacing was an effective way to maximize your resale value. In a townhouse complex where there hasn’t been a kitchen renovation to date, this helps to distinguish the property as a premium listing, when the time comes to sell.  

The Bottom Line  

A $20,000+ kitchen gut and renovation wasn’t financially feasible for these homeowners, or possible with tenants, and it wasn’t necessary. The existing cabinet boxes were in good shape and the layout of the kitchen was ideal. With advice from a realtor, refacing the kitchen cabinets was the most economical and impactful change the homeowners could make to increase the value of their investment property. Nieu Cabinet Doors was able to provide painted Shaker doors and drawer fronts that were affordable, stylish, and delivered on time allowing for a hassle-free renovation. Seeing the savings and the potential for the new look of the kitchen prompted the owners to spend the remaining kitchen budget on upgrading the countertop – something they wouldn’t have been able to do if they had to replace the cabinet boxes.  

Nieu took this kitchen from builder’s grade to beautiful, at a price that can’t be beat!