Shaker furniture is a furniture style developed by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, called the Shakers due to their enthusiastic style of warship. While the look to many in the United States is very Americana, the style was also widely produced in England where the Shakers originated before setting sail to the Americas in 1774. The furniture was produced for personal use and for sale.
The Shakers believed that making something well was “an act of prayer” but eschewed ornamentation in favor of strictly following the function of the object. For instance, most of their furniture was made out of pine because it was inexpensive. This resulted in Shaker furniture that was typically light colored and lightweight. The Shakers would make varying sizes of chairs and other items in order to fit the intended user comfortably. While Shaker furniture was largely handcrafted, it was done in furniture factories to ensure a standard high quality. The ladderback chair is a common design as was the peg rail, which was able to hold clothes, hats and even the light ladderback chairs when not in use.
The clean lines, along with the focus on functional and human-centered design, greatly inspired later modern furniture. To bring the traditional look into your home, there are two options. Many companies continue to manufacture original Shaker designs, including Vermont Woods Studios and Shaker Workshops. There are also updated renditions such as those by Sawkille, Another Country, and Rich Brilliant Willing (The last, sadly, is no longer on the market but RBW has other modern wood furnishings.)
No matter which way you go, just mix the Shaker pieces in with more contemporary pieces. Add color to warm up the room or keep it neutral for a minimalist look. Either way, you’ll have a comfortable piece that doesn’t scream for attention while bringing a classic Americana look to your home.