Simplicity, Efficiency, and Versatility: Custom Shaker Style Furniture
Pedro in Concepts & Buyer Guides
, For Customers on July 13, 2012
For over two hundred years, Shaker style furniture has been prized for its elegant simplicity and exceptional craftsmanship. Designed to manifest the values of the Shaker religious community, traditional Shaker furniture design is characterized by minimal decoration and efficient construction. Beauty in Shaker furniture can be found in its clean lines and proportions, which create a graceful sense of order, and in the natural qualities of wood.
The symmetry of the straight lines and handsome hand-turned knobs of the cherry case complement the highly figured tiger maple drawer fronts in this Shaker style eight-drawer low chest by Stephen Adams Fine Furniture. CustomMade.com
Artisans who continue to create handmade custom Shaker style furniture use wood only in quantities sufficient to create functional items and traditional woodworking techniques to ensure the furniture’s durability, just like the Shaker furniture makers of centuries past.
With full dovetail joinery for the steps for extra strength and half-circles cut into the bottom case to remove “unnecessary material” and make the steps lighter, this custom step stool by The Frugal Woodworker demonstrates some of the classic qualities of Shaker style furniture. CustomMade.com
If you’re an aficionado of traditional Shaker style furniture, you can find artisans at CustomMade who can create reproductions of classic works as well as new custom interpretations.
This blanket chest by Art Furniture by Design is a reproduction of an 1840 Shaker chest. The chest is made from hackberry and purpleheart woods, and the drawers are made from cedar. CustomMade.com
Isaac Newton Youngs (1793-1865) was a Shaker writer, inventor, and clockmaker. This beautiful Shaker tall clock by T Kelly Furniture is based on a clock by Youngs now at the Watervliet Shaker Historic District in Colonie, NY. C. Terrance Kelly writes: “This is an understated classic, the perfect piece for a living room. Made of curly hard maple that I dye and then lightly sand to enhance the curly wood, it is then oiled to deepen the wood and let the curl really pop.” CustomMade.com
Distinctive, smart, and functional Shaker style baskets and boxes have been popular items since the 19th century. Inspired by visits to a Shaker village in Pleasant Hill, KY, artisans Mary and Dale Barnard of The Cabinetmaker, Inc., now make hand-crafted sets of Shaker style boxes. CustomMade.com
Shaker artisans took the traditional New England ladder-back chair and created a lighter, more comfortable version that also proved quite popular. The Shaker style ladder-back in turn receives a contemporary edge in this steam-bent and hand-shaped ladder-back chair by SilverTree Woodworking. CustomMade.com
Shaker artisans created traditional Shaker style furniture with an awareness of the impact the furniture would have on the physical and spiritual life of their communities. The simplicity of Shaker style furniture and design also makes it possible to incorporate Shaker-inspired works in contemporary homes and modern décor schemes, anywhere you could use an oasis of “serenity and grace.”
A customer approached Foster Custom Furniture looking for a simple, well-built writing desk. This custom Shaker style desk fit the bill perfectly. CustomMade.com
How can you bring together Shaker style furniture and today’s technological necessities? This Shaker computer desk by Hass Distinctive Woodworks LLC was “built with simplicity in mind,” writes Thomas Haas. “A desktop organizer drawer unit and a keyboard pullout create a functional workstation while not detracting from the simple elegance of the piece.” CustomMade.com
Does your refuge from the modern world contain lots of things from the modern world? Shaker style furniture and design might still help you find a little peace. Steve Holman of Holman Studios shares the story behind his customer Cathy’s Butternut Shaker Study: “When Cathy is seeking refuge from life’s exigencies, she enters the tranquility of her study. These cabinets are based on Shaker examples in Enfield, NH; the design and construction are entirely traditional, although they store, among other things, a quite un-Shaker television and a wet bar. The ceiling height drops eight inches from one end of the room to the other, so fitting the cabinets did involve some blaspheming.” CustomMade.com
The dream of the perfectible place, an ordered and harmonious community, is still a powerful ideal for many, even if for many all that remains of that perfectible place are dreams for their homes. Does Shaker style furniture fit your vision for your home? Post your Shaker style furniture ideas and inspirations on our CustomMade “Get it Made” project board and have interested artisans get in touch with you.