Shaker Furniture 101: Everything You Need to Know

Shaker 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.

  • A wooden desk with a chair.

    Our Classic Shaker Writing Desk in Natural Cherry

  • 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

  • Shaker Style Furniture

    • Clean, simple designs
    • Tapered legs
    • Mushroom shaped wood knobs
  • Mission Style Furniture

    • 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 and 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.

  • Shaker vs Mission Style Furniture

    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.

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  • 5 of Our Best Selling Shaker Bedroom Sets

    Revamp your sleep space with one of our best selling shaker bedroom set collections. Handcrafted in Vermont and guaranteed to last a lifetime.

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