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Craftsman Shaker Kitchens: Blending Rustic Warmth


Bring rugged warmth to your kitchen with Craftsman inspired shaker cabinets. This style artfully combines the prairie inspired charm of Arts & Crafts with the clean, enduring look of traditional flat panel Shakers to design an artistic, livable dream kitchen.

Key Features of Craftsman Style

The Craftsman style emerged from the late 19th century Arts & Crafts movement which valued simple, handcrafted design and natural materials. Craftsman style kitchen cabinets reflect these ideals in their aesthetic and construction.


Rugged Materials

Craftsman kitchen cabinets showcase natural materials like solid wood rather than veneers or engineered wood. Oak, maple, and hickory are typical choices, left unfinished or stained to accentuate the wood grain. Darker stains are often used to emulate an aged, rustic look. The visible sturdiness of wooden cabinet frames and inset doors gives Craftsman kitchens a feeling of longevity and stability.

Hardware and accents made from wrought iron, oil-rubbed bronze, pewter, and woven textures reinforce the homespun Craftsman vibe. Glass panel doors feature beveled or textured glass rather than flat panels. These materials develop a handsome patina over time, aging gracefully like a hardworking craftsman’s tools.

Exposed Joinery

Craftsman cabinets employ exposed joinery to highlight the craftsmanship of their construction. Craftsman woodworking skills, such as mortise and tenon and dovetail joints, are on display in the peg detailing, exposed corner blocks, visible nail heads, and open shelves.

This visible framework provides lovely textural contrast on Shaker style cabinets, which otherwise have flat, uniform surfaces. Exposed joinery introduces decorative shadow lines and reveals the artisanal origins of the hand-built cabinets.

Arts & Crafts Inspired Design

The clean lines of Shaker style meet the earthy warmth of Arts & Crafts in Craftsman cabinet design. Simplicity and functionality carry over from Shaker style, without ornamentation for its own sake.

At the same time, small custom accents introduce Craftsman flair. Hand-carved corbels supporting open shelving and custom wood hoods over the range make the kitchen feel like an artist’s workshop. Decorative reliefs depicting natural themes like vines, leaves or birds can embellish cabinet frames and door panels. Hammered copper sink basins and handmade ceramic tile backsplashes are other signature Craftsman kitchen touches.

Benefits of Shaker Style Cabinets

Shaker cabinetry has maintained popularity since its origins in 19th century New England Quaker communities because of its enduring, minimalist aesthetic. The simple style also allows tremendous versatility in kitchen design.

Simple and Versatile

The flat center panels and trim of Shaker cabinets lend themselves well to customization with inserts, overlays or contrasting finishes while retaining their clean visual lines. Glass fronts, beadboard panels, or distressed finishes can introduce cottage or farmhouse elements while plain two-toned finishes offer a more contemporary look.

Recessed Shaker door fronts and faces keep the focus on whatever contents or materials you place inside the cabinets rather than the cabinet framing itself. This central spareness makes the style flexible enough to seamlessly blend with current trends.

Shaker cabinets also coordinate beautifully with transitional design styles when you want a kitchen with broad, enduring appeal. Their fuss-free aesthetic complements both older and more contemporary homes.

Clean Lines

Unembellished Shaker doors beautifully showcase countertops and backsplashes rather than competing with them visually. Their flat recessed panels lined with thin trim offer a crisp, framed backdrop that puts the focus on gorgeous granite, marble, or quartz countertops rather than busy cabinet doors.

Likewise, Shaker cabinet fronts allow backsplashes to shine whether created from handmade tile, porcelain, or natural stone. The simplicity of Shaker cabinetry prevents the kitchen’s accent materials from appearing too busy or mismatching.

Enduring Aesthetic

The Elementary, functional look of these cabinets adapts well to changing aesthetics over time. Crisp white Shaker cabinets suit contemporary styles with their brightness and snowy surfaces. Stained woodgrain Shake cabinets develop a richer patina over years of use for a cozier appeal.

Unadorned cabinetry framed by simple lines makes small kitchens appear more spacious and less cluttered. For larger kitchens, Shaker cabinets lend an intimate human scale and accessibility. Their timeless appeal suits nearly all tastes.

Design Considerations

Successfully blending Craftsman and Shaker elements requires careful planning of layout, finishes, and fixtures to create a cohesive look. Keep these considerations in mind:


Layout and Workflow

Craftsman kitchens thrive on efficient yet attractive functionality. Plan drawer base cabinets for most storage needs while larger pantry cabinets can consolidate appliances or cooking items.

Appliances like ranges or refrigerator units can be set into the cabinetry or concealed altogether with integrated panel faces to maintain streamlined Craftsman lines. Doing a full build out creates an immersive, architectural feel.

Include an oversized island for food prep tasks and casual dining. Outfit islands with convenient storage for cooking tools plus electrical outlets for kitchen gadgets. Open shelving anywhere from a full wall to just a few staggered floating shelves keeps oft-used items easily accessible.

Materials and Finishes

Select cabinet materials and finishes suited to heavy activity. Durable woods like hickory or quartersawn oak suit Craftsman style while also resisting moisture, impacts, and wear. Use extra thicknesses for frequently opened doors or drawers in work zones. Consider environmentally friendly formaldehyde-free cabinet materials as well to avoid off-gassing.

Use unifying finishes throughout the kitchen cabinetry to achieve a harmonious look. Match existing trim and wood floors or consider staining/painting everything to coordinate. Contrasting finishes for island cabinets or open shelving introduces character without looking disjointed.

Most Craftsman kitchens use a darker wood stain, but you can also paint cabinets in deep green, brown, taupe, brick or charcoal shades. Painted cabinets might feature two colors to differentiate door/drawer fronts from cabinet box frames. Choose satin, high quality cabinet paints that can withstand cleaning and moisture rather than standard wall paints.

Hardware and Fixtures

Choose durable hardware and fixtures crafted from solid metals like wrought iron that develop a pleasing patina over time, showing their age and origins. Pewter, oil-rubbed bronze and hammered copper offer affordable alternatives to solid metals with rustic, antique appeal.

Exposed shelf brackets, decorative butt hinges and large bin pulls reinforce structural connections. For people who have trouble moving about or who are weak or dexterous, knobs or cup pulls can serve as useful grip places. Choose hardware with angular levers and large pulls (8-10 inches).

Incorporate lighting elements directly into cabinets or displays rather than relying solely on recessed ceiling lights. Attractive glass front cabinets lined with internal LED strips beautifully illuminate their contents. Under cabinet lights or accent lighting above open shelves provide essential task lighting.

Bringing It All Together

Kitchens can embody Craftsman style through and through or simply use selective elements as accents. Here’s how to marry essential Craftsman and Shaker aspects while creating kitchen harmony:

Blending Craftsman and Shaker Elements

Flat or recessed Shaker cabinet fronts create blank canvases to layer on Craftsman inspired materials and hardware. Solid wood frames, thicker horizontal lines, and visible joinery bring in signature Craftsman structural accents. Integrate materials like metal, glass or ceramic for backsplashes and architectural hoods.

The L-shaped layout common in Shaker kitchens adapts well to Craftsman design requirements. An oversized L shape provides a natural differentiation between food prep and clean up work triangles while defining the cooking zone. Opening part of the L as a bar height counter welcomes casual dining and entertaining possibilities.

Creating a Cohesive Look


Painting or staining all cabinets, frames, hoods and exposed shelves in the same hue pulls the look together visually. Layer in secondary finishes like oil-rubbed bronze hardware or decorative open shelving showcasing beautiful wood grains or colors. Contrast only complements when used judiciously.

Echo kitchen finishes elsewhere in home spaces for a harmonious lived-in flair. Refinish existing floors and woodwork to match new cabinetry. Use common design motifs like visible pegs, thick framing and overlapped wood details on built-ins, ceiling beams and other architectural elements.

The enduring charm of Craftsman style meets the versatility of Shaker cabinets for kitchens with artistic spirit and everyday function. This guide covered how to thoughtfully blend coveted Craftsman and Shaker features like sturdy visible joinery, warm materials and efficient storage solutions.

The result both aesthetically and practically is a kitchen equally at home tackling busy meal times as it is hosting relaxed gatherings of family and friends. Beautiful, brawny and built to last, Craftsman Shaker kitchens become the heartbeat of households for decades to come.


What wood is best for Craftsman style kitchen cabinets?

Oak is the quintessential wood for Arts & Crafts style cabinetry. Its attractive grain and durability suit heavy use kitchens. Maple or hickory offer lighter finish options. Knotty alder provides a budget-friendly but attractive handcrafted look.

What color cabinets go well with Craftsman kitchens?

Deep wood stains in espresso, chestnut or walnut suit Craftsman aesthetics best. If painting, opt for earthy tones like sage green, deep red, charcoal gray, or ebony for dramatic contrast. Soft cream or oatmeal cabinet colors lighten the look.

What hardware finishes work with a Craftsman kitchen?

Unfinished metals like iron and steel that develop patinas complement Craftsman style best. Budget-friendly oil-rubbed bronze and hammered copper finishes offer comparable wear and vintage appeal. Pewter also introduces an artisanal look.

How much do custom Craftsman cabinets cost?

As a premium custom cabinet style requiring thick, high-grade woods, expect to invest $150-$300 per linear foot installed. The final cost depends on materials, intricacy of details, and local labor rates. Expect a total remodel investment between $30,000-60,000+.

Are Craftsman cabinets hard to clean?

Not at all. Unlike ornate carved styles, the flat center panels of Shaker style make cleaning easy. Craftsman style durability also helps cabinets withstand frequent washing. Use a wood cleaner and microfiber cloth to gently wipe sanded or oiled finishes. Clean painted finishes as you would kitchen walls.

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