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Shaker Cabinets vs Traditional: What’s The Difference?

by Gary Wade • February 06, 2024

While planning your kitchen renovation, one of the key choices to make is the style of cabinets to install. Among the multitude of options, shaker cabinets and traditional cabinets have emerged as popular choices. This article aims to provide a comprehensive comparison of shaker cabinets vs traditional cabinets, helping you decide which style suits your needs better.

Shaker vs Traditional Cabinets

Understanding Shaker Cabinets

Shaker cabinets, named after the Shaker religious sect that originated them, are typified by their uncomplicated design and practical functionality.

Shaker Cabinet Characteristics

Shaker cabinets embody an aesthetic of simplicity, underpinned by the following characteristics:

  • Clean, Unadorned Design: Shaker cabinets are defined by their clean lines and absence of ornate detailing, imparting a sleek and modern look.
  • Durability: Built with high-quality hardwoods like oak, cherry, or maple, these cabinets are robust and long-lasting.
  • Versatility: The minimalist design of shaker cabinets makes them adaptable to various kitchen styles, from contemporary to rustic.
  • Minimal Hardware: Shaker cabinets often come with basic hardware, like simple knobs or pulls, keeping the overall look uncluttered.

Shaker Cabinet Aesthetics

The aesthetic appeal of shaker cabinets lies in their unassuming design, characterized by:

  1. Simple, straight lines and edges.
  2. Recessed center panels within a robust wooden frame.
  3. Natural wood materials, prominently oak, cherry, maple, or birch.
  4. Neutral colors such as white, cream, or gray, accentuating the wood's natural appeal.
  5. Full overlay doors, creating a seamless appearance.
  6. Minimal hardware that complements the clean design.
  7. Geometrical symmetry, promoting a harmonious aesthetic.
Difference Between Shaker and Traditional Cabinets

Delving into Traditional Cabinets

Traditional cabinets take inspiration from classic design elements, exhibiting elegance and ornate detailing.

Traditional Cabinet Characteristics

Despite their style variation, traditional cabinets share unique characteristics:

  • Intricate Design: Traditional cabinets are adorned with intricate woodwork, including raised panel doors, decorative moldings, and ornate accents.
  • High-Quality Materials: They are typically constructed using high-quality hardwoods like cherry, mahogany, oak, or maple.
  • Solid Construction: Traditional cabinets feature a framed construction, where cabinet doors are inset within a robust wood frame, contributing to their refined appearance.
  • Ornate Hardware: Traditional cabinets often come with decorative hardware, such as handles and knobs made from brass or bronze.

Traditional Cabinet Aesthetics

The aesthetic profile of traditional cabinets is defined by their intricate detailing, premium materials, and a sense of sophistication. Here are the key features:

  1. Intricate detailing, including raised panel doors and ornate carvings.
  2. A rich texture, often with decorative moldings and shadow lines.
  3. High-quality hardwood construction, such as cherry, mahogany, oak, or maple.
  4. Ornate hardware, such as handles, knobs, and hinges made from brass or bronze.
  5. Curved or arched elements, adding a touch of softness to the design.
  6. Warm color palettes that emphasize the wood's natural beauty.
Shaker Kitchen Cabinets vs Traditional Kitchen Cabinets

Comparing Advantages and Disadvantages

When evaluating shaker vs traditional cabinets, it's essential to consider their strengths and weaknesses.

Pros and Cons of Shaker Cabinets

Shaker cabinets offer several merits and a few shortcomings, which include:


  • Timeless Design: The minimalist design of shaker cabinets never goes out of style.
  • Durability: These cabinets are robust and long-lasting, thanks to their high-quality wood construction.
  • Versatility: Shaker cabinets can fit into diverse design styles, making them a flexible option.
  • Affordability: The simplistic design and construction of shaker cabinets make them a cost-effective choice.


  • Limited Appeal: The minimalist design may not appeal to everyone.
  • Cleaning Challenges: The recessed paneling can make it difficult to clean crevices.
Shaker Style Cabinets vs Traditional Cabinets

Pros and Cons of Traditional Cabinets

Traditional cabinets have their own set of advantages and disadvantages:


  • Sophisticated Aesthetic: Traditional cabinets exude an aura of elegance and sophistication.
  • Timeless Appeal: The classic design of these cabinets remains in vogue.
  • High-Quality: Traditional cabinets are crafted from premium materials, ensuring durability and longevity.


  • Complex Cleaning: The intricate detailing of traditional cabinets can make cleaning a challenge.
  • Higher Cost: The high-quality materials and craftsmanship involved in manufacturing traditional cabinets often lead to higher costs.
Explore Shaker vs Traditional Cabinets

Cost Considerations: Shaker vs Traditional Cabinets

The cost of shaker vs traditional cabinets can vary significantly based on the specific type of wood, finishes used, and level of craftsmanship.

Shaker cabinets, due to their simple design and construction, often prove to be a cost-effective option. In contrast, traditional cabinets, with their intricate detailing and premium materials, can be a significant investment.

However, it's important to consider the long-term value. Both shaker and traditional cabinets, with their quality materials and timeless design, can add significant value to your home.

Design Considerations: Shaker vs Traditional Cabinets

When deciding between shaker cabinets vs traditional, it's crucial to consider not just the cost, but also the overall style and decor of your kitchen, the amount of natural lighting, and the color palette.

Shaker cabinets, with their clean lines, work well in kitchens with ample natural light, whereas traditional cabinets, with their intricate detailing, can add depth and visual interest to spaces with less natural light.

Making Your Choice: Shaker Cabinets vs Traditional Cabinets

Making a choice between shaker cabinets vs traditional cabinets ultimately depends on your personal preferences and the style of your home. If simplicity, affordability, and versatility are your priorities, shaker cabinets may be the right choice. On the other hand, if you value high-quality materials, classic appeal, and long-term value, traditional cabinets might be a better fit.

Remember, both styles have their unique charm and functionality. Making a well-informed decision based on your specific needs and preferences will ensure your kitchen not only looks great but also serves you well for years to come.

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