The Shaker style of architecture and craftsmanship was developed by the Shakers, who arrived in North America in the late 1700s. They followed a set of rules called The Millennial Laws, which dictated how they should build and decorate their homes. Shakers valued simplicity and practicality above all and relied on natural, durable materials like wood, granite, and marble to create functional homes. Wood peg rails were one distinct feature of Shaker homes used to hang furniture, baskets, and clothing, according to the National Park Service.
While the pegboard is arguably one of the most iconic elements of Shaker design, their cabinetry remains unmatched. Retailer Blue Ridge Cabinet Connection explains that homeowners today adore Shaker cabinets because they are well-built and easy to take care of. Of course, Shaker design is commonly seen in kitchens, but its timelessness, simplicity, and functionality make it a perfect decorating trend for bathrooms as well. Here's how you can incorporate this understated decor style to create your inspired bathroom remodel. Bathroom Furniture
The interior of Shaker homes was generally kept very neat, tidy, and neutral. When items weren't in use, they were put away or hung on pegboards to free up space, but visual distraction can come from more than just clutter; a clean, minimalist color scheme is also essential to the Shaker aesthetic. According to Old House Web, Shakers did use reds, blues, and warm yellows in their home design, but neutrals are the more classic option for bathroom walls. Even if you have a cluttered bathroom counter, you can still create a sense of spaciousness by painting the walls in a matte, neutral color, such as beige, cream, or light gray.
Walls in a light shade like white help to create a sense of cleanliness, openness, and calm, according to Color Psychology. However, all-white rooms can unintentionally lean towards a modern or sterile vibe, so be sure to incorporate plenty of textural elements in your decorative pieces, such as basket weaves, matte metals, and braided rugs. If you elect to have wood furniture or accent pieces, opt for a dark stain to provide contrast.
A freestanding vanity adds interest and dimension to the classic Shaker style, harkening back to a time before indoor plumbing when most people kept a pitcher and bowl for washing. A single vanity tends to look more reserved, while double vanities are a modern luxury, especially for cohabitating couples. You can turn either size into the perfect bathroom vanity by opting for simple Shaker cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware. One crucial factor to consider is the quality of your wood; you'll want to avoid MDF and plywood at all costs. Historically, Shakers used hardwoods like chestnut, cherry, and maple to build their furniture and cabinets. Cabinet retailer Evie Willow explains that, while you can find cheaper types of wood, it's worth investing in high-quality cabinets that will last through many years of use.
Most Shaker cabinets were painted to preserve the integrity of the wood and avoid cracking, notes Evie Willow, so your vanity presents a good opportunity to play with color. Bring your Shaker cabinets into the modern era with a bold jewel-tone look, sleek black, or dark navy. If you prefer to keep the wood unpainted, use a medium, warm-toned stain to compliment your neutral bathroom interior.
People have used mirrors for thousands of years, but prior to the 19th century, mirrors were very expensive and hard to create. Typically, only the wealthy upper class owned them until Justus von Liebig invented more affordable glass mirrors in 1835 (via Mirror History). For the Shakers in America, a mirror would be considered a luxury item, and large wall mirrors often came at a hefty price. Instead, smaller mirrors were usually built into durable, heavy wood frames before being hung on the wall. If you want to embrace this aesthetic in your bathroom, consider replacing your dated wall-to-wall mirror with floating mirrors above the vanity.
Although chunky wood frames were the common style for Shaker mirrors, you can hang any type you desire. Thin metal frames, borderless mirrors, and rustic wood frames can all look great when hung above the vanity, especially between wall sconce lighting. If you're looking to inject some current trends, interior designer Candie Anderson suggests using modern round mirrors in the bathroom. This would be a great way to complement a sleek, black Shaker vanity.
Traditionally, unfinished hardwood floors would have been commonplace in Shaker homes, but they aren't the most practical flooring for damp and humid bathrooms. When designing your perfect Shaker bathroom, feel free to modernize with unique porcelain flooring options and interesting tile layouts. Wood-like laminate and natural stone are perfect flooring solutions because they are practical, durable, and beautiful, just like Shaker furniture. Because Shaker cabinets are so versatile, they also look great paired with playful flooring designs. Penny tiles, hexagons, and herringbone can make your bathroom feel unique while remaining grounded with classic cabinets.
If you're fully committed to the historical Shaker aesthetic, consider investing in marble floors for your bathroom. According to the National Park Service, granite and marble became popular building materials as the Shaker population grew. Whichever flooring material and texture you choose, it's best to opt for a color that will complement the laid-back Shaker elements. Warm, neutral shades of smooth travertine and natural woodgrain tile are some affordable options for matching any decor, but you can also go with plain, black tile for a modern look.
Shakers generally preferred a clutter-free home, allowing residents to appreciate the natural beauty of their home and feel relaxed (via Old House Web). Although Shaker-inspired bathrooms are rather minimalist by nature, their finishes and decorative touches are always high quality. Your bathroom should feel like a relaxing haven with homey textures, bright natural lighting, and timeless elements. Instead of filling your bathroom with decor, focus on those high end, long-lasting finishes when it comes to storage and fixtures.
Mirror Cabinet If you're lucky enough to have a large bathroom, don't be afraid to spruce it up with additional furniture pieces and decor. Shakers are known for their durable wood furniture, so be sure to include real wood elements like a side table near the bathtub or a ladder-back chair by the door. According to the National Park Service, basket weaving was another essential part of Shaker culture, so placing variously-sized baskets on your counters and inside the cabinets will undoubtedly add to the aesthetic. Lastly, don't forget to install some classic Shaker peg rails to hang towels, clothing, robes, plants, or baskets of soap.