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Shaker Furniture 101: Everything You Need to Know

Shaker Furniture

Shaker style furniture is characterized by clean lines, tapered legs, and minimalist designs. It’s known for being practical and simple down to the very last detail. Originally designed in the late 1700’s by followers of the religious group the Shaking Quakers, shaker furniture has become a staple in interior design known for being timeless and elegant.

“Simplicity carried to an extreme becomes elegance.”

Who were the Shakers?

The Shaking Quakers were a small, radical group of religious settlers following the teachings of prophet Ann Lee. Officially, the Shakers were followers of the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. The group originated from England and settled in the colonial Northeast. The groups were known for their simple living, intense work-ethic, and original crafts.

Early shaker furniture craftsmen focused on simplicity and integrity in their designs because they believed that excessive ornamentation or decoration was a sin of pride. As such, shaker furniture is as much minimalist as any other style.

Unlike the Amish, the Shakers embraced technology that increased efficiency, believing that they were saving time that belonged to God. They were among the first in America to try mass production.

Today there is only one known community of Shakers. They have inhabited the surrounding area of Sabbathday Lake in Maine.

What is Shaker Style Furniture?

Shaker style furniture is simple & clean, functional & practical, minimalist & elegant. Born here in the Northeast, this American furniture style is a sophisticated, utilitarian design characterized by straight tapered legs and mushroom-shaped wooden knobs.

Shaker Writing Desk
Our Classic Shaker Writing Desk in Natural Cherry

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add,
but when there is nothing more to take away.”

Shaker furniture has become increasingly popular for both traditional and modern homes- perhaps it's the cluttered and busy nature of our daily routines that urge us to seek simplicity in our home decor.

Common Woods Used in Shaker Style Furniture

Back in the 19th century, the original Shakers built their furniture with woods harvested from their own land. This often included pine, maple, ash, birch, cherry, hickory, butternut, beech, walnut, oak, and poplar.

Shaker furniture is our top-selling style and customers are customizing it in their choice of cherry, walnut, maple and oak woods. Sometimes customers will choose two contrasting wood colors like cherry and walnut or maple and walnut to trick it out– if there could be such a thing for shaker style furniture.

Cherry Shaker Furniture

Cherry Shaker Bedroom Furniture

Our American Shaker Panel Bed and matching American Shaker bedroom furniture

Amongst our customers, the most popular wood for shaker furniture is indeed one of those many woods used by the original Shaker furniture craftsmen.

Maple Shaker Furniture

Maple Shaker Bedroom Furniture

David P sent us this picture of his maple American Shaker bedroom set. Notice the contrasting walnut accents on the drawer pulls and top of the hanging wall mirror- very cool!

Maple is the second most common choice amongst our customers when it comes to shaker furniture. Like cherry, maple is light and smooth grained.

Walnut Shaker Furniture

Walnut Shaker Bedroom Furniture

Our Vermont Shaker four poster bed in walnut

Although walnut wood is often included in more modern and mid-century designs, here it’s used to perfection in traditional shaker furniture.

Oak Shaker Furniture

Stained Oak Shaker Dining Table

This customer photo sent in by Jen G shows our classic shaker dining table in oak with a driftwood stain. We love the way she contrasts it with the white dining chairs!

Although oak is more commonly used in mission style furniture, we’ve also had customers use it beautifully in their shaker designs.

Shaker vs. Mission Style Furniture

Shaker and mission style furniture are often associated because both styles have been adopted by traditional furniture craftsmen. The Amish are often cited as the source of both design philosophies, although that’s not true in either case.

Shaker style furniture originated from the Shaking Quakers in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. It wasn’t for another few decades that mission style furniture began to emerge. Both styles originated in New England.

ShakerMission
  • Clean, simple designs

  • Tapered legs

  • Mushroom shaped wood knobs

  • 90 degree angles

  • Vertical and horizontal lines

  • Rectangular spindles

  • Eased edges

  • Traditionally made with oak wood (cherry and maple also common)

When built by master craftsmen like the ones we work with at Vermont Woods Studios, both shaker and mission style furniture are built to last for generations.

Handcrafted & Guaranteed for Life

Vermont furniture makers have become today’s authority on Shaker furniture. Customers seeking solid wood furniture with a simple, elegant design have grown to love their work. All of the wood furniture at Vermont Woods Studios is handcrafted in Vermont and guaranteed for life.

Our craftspeople have several variations on original Shaker style as shown in these beautiful, handmade furniture collections.

Fill up the whole house with shaker furniture designs for every room.

Shop by Room

Shaker Bedroom Furniture

Shaker Bedroom Furniture

Shaker Dining Room Furniture

Shaker Dining Room Furniture

Shaker Living Room Furniture

Shaker Living Room Furniture

Shaker Home Office Furniture

Shaker Home Office Furniture

Shaker Furniture Collections

Vermont Shaker Furniture

Vermont Shaker Furniture

American Shaker Furniture

American Shaker Furniture

Classic Shaker Taper-Leg Furniture

Classic Shaker Taper-Leg Furniture

Classic Shaker Flare-Leg Furniture

Classic Shaker Flare-Leg Furniture

Andover Modern Shaker Furniture

Andover Modern Shaker Furniture

Sarah Shaker Furniture by Copeland

Sarah Shaker Furniture by Copeland

Modern Shaker Furniture

Modern Shaker Furniture

New England Shaker Furniture

New England Shaker Furniture

Roz Renfrew Shaker Furniture

Roz Renfrew Shaker Furniture

What's Different About Vermont Woods Studios?

  • All our furniture and home decor is handcrafted in Vermont. We strive to offer you the highest quality products on the market while supporting the American economy and sustainable business practices
  • We have excellent customer testimonials both here on our site and on third-party review sites like Yelp, Sitejabber, Facebook and Google+
  • We offer a lifetime guarantee on all our furniture, and free, white-glove shipping on orders over $3,000
  • You can easily customize your furniture online or by giving us a call
  • As wood furniture makers, we're passionate about forest conservation. All our hardwoods are locally sourced and sustainably harvested, and we plant 2 trees for every order.
  • Our customers are helping to save forest-dwelling species from extinction. Now how many other furniture companies can say that?

Join us in Furnishing a Greener World.

Learn More About Shaker Style Furniture on Our Blog



Our Wood

Learn more about our wood types on our wood page, or use the links below to read about specific types: