Lighting for Shaker Style Kitchens

Steve Sheinkopf  |  April 26, 2016  |  3 Min. Read

Lighting  |  Kitchen Lighting  |  Shaker Style

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The Shakers were a religious sect that emigrated from England to America after their founding in the late 1700’s. Their religious services would cause “Shaking” due to their intensity. We had some of the last Shaker settlements in New England.

They believed in a design philosophy of necessity and usefulness, and focused heavily on function. Many kitchens, especially German cabinets, emulate the Shaker style of old Germany.

The style was often open planned, simple and uncluttered, without any sort of over decoration or ostentation. They also prided themselves on their craftsmanship, and dedication to perfection.

So, in this article we will look at the key differences between the similar Mission and Shaker styles, then look at some lights for your Shaker kitchen. 

Shaker Style Designs 

You’ll find a lot of wood in shaker interiors, but you’ll also often find rich colors, like ruby reds and deep greens. When talking about furnishings, you’ll often see a lot of turned legs on furniture pieces, ladder back chairs, and a lot of peg rails to keep things up and off of the floor, minimizing clutter.

Design Craft

In kitchens, Shaker cabinetry is characterized by a recessed panel, simple round knobs, sometimes with or without rail frames.

Shaker vs. Mission Style

There seems to be some overlapping when it comes to Shaker and Mission style. They are similar, but have their differences. 

Shaker Style Kitchens 

Esher Grey Shaker Kitchen

The Shakers used American woods, like Pine, Maple, and Cherry, and considered faux finishes, veneers and inlays to be dishonest in their craftsmanship.

Shaker style is much simpler. Also keep in mind, there are shaker style cabinets available, that people use in a lot of different style kitchens.

Mission Style Kitchens 

Custom Kitchen - GCH

Mission uses a lot of oak, with heavy emphasis on the grain, and will often have exposed joinery to emphasize craftsmanship. 

So, Shaker cabinet doors don’t always equal a Shaker style kitchen. With this said however, I think it’s hard to find a lot of true Shaker style kitchens today, just because of the way that we live now compared to then.

Shaker is similar to Mission style but less compromising. The lines are always straighter with accessories.

I will give you some ideas of Shaker kitchens as they would be designed today, and offer examples of lighting that would compliment this style. In fact, lighting is the only element not bound by the Shaker style, so I will show some different ways to light.

Shaker Style Kitchens

Lighting for Shaker Style Kitchens

This is a great example of an updated Shaker kitchen. Classic recessed Shaker cabinets, very simple and unadorned, with natural wood counter tops and pine floors.

The Warwickshire Barn Shaker Kitchen by deVOL

This is an even simpler Shaker look, with very few upper cabinets and things on the wall. The color pallet is pretty neutral, and everything is about function in this kitchen. Like the others above, you have the recessed panel cabinet doors, round pulls, and natural wood island top and floors.

Here are some of my favorite examples of pendants, chandeliers, and even a couple of sconces that would work beautifully in a shaker kitchen.

Best Shaker Style Lighting

Hudson Valley 'Vintage' Pendant in Old Bronze - $290

Kitchen and Dining Room Remodel

Hudson Valley 'Vintage' Pendant in Old Bronze

This is a very simple, pretty unadorned Shaker style kitchen with functional schoolhouse type lighting.

Hubbardton Forge 'Trumpet' Pendant - $298 

Something Blue

Hubbardton Forge 'Trumpet' Pendant

I love the simple iron pendants over the peninsula with the mini chandelier over the table.

Tech Lighting 'Firebird' Pendant - $300 

Kitchen View

Tech Lighting 'Firebird' Pendant

This is a great “Shaker meets fun” kitchen. They have a lot of the classic Shaker elements, but added some great pops of color with the lighting, in a very simple shape. This modern touch will certainly distinguish your kitchen from the other Shaker kitchens.

Troy Customizable 'Heavy Duty' Warehouse Pendant 

Troy Customizable 'Heavy Duty' Warehouse Pendant

Troy Customizable 'Heavy Duty' Warehouse Pendant

This Shaker kitchen incorporates all of the main principles. The warehouse shade pendant lights over the island are simple and highly function for task lighting.

Arteriors 'Savannah' Pendant - $838

Arteriors 'Savannah' Pendant

Arteriors 'Savannah' Pendant

This to me is very much “today” Shaker. Simple, clean, and very functional. They have the shaker cabinetry in a deep blue toned gray, simple round knobs, and very simple lights.


Troy 'Alexander' Chandelier in English Iron - $648

Troy 'Alexander' Chandelier in English Iron

Hubbardton Forge 'Sweeping Taper' Chandelier - $1,331

Hubbardton Forge 'Sweeping Taper' Chandelier

Available with multiple glass and finish options.

Flush Mounts 

Visual Comfort 'Sienna' in Bronze - $285

Visual Comfort 'Sienna' in Bronze

Hudson Valley 'Edison Collection' in Satin Nickel - $342

Hudson Valley 'Edison Collection' in satin nickel

Final Thoughts

So, even though we don’t live like Shakers today, and often times our kitchens are much more complex and sophisticated, you can still apply the Shaker principles in your design. Keep it simple, functional, and uncluttered.

You can also still add pops of color and not have it feel out of place as well. Trust me, you have a lot of great options available to you when designing in a Shaker style!

Additional Resources

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

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