view looking down on a winding staircase

3 Elements of Shaker Style to Try at Home

The Shakers were master craftsmen and women. They appreciated simple lines and unfussy interiors. Here are three elements of Shaker style to try at home.

Shaker Style Element #1

Peg rails go beyond the entryway.

Peg rails are synonymous with Shaker style. The entryway and the kitchen are the most common places to see peg rails nowadays. But the Shakers did not stop there. They utilized peg rails throughout their entire dwelling. Along a hallway. Around the fireplace. And in closets.

Like all Shaker items, peg rails served a useful purpose first and foremost. Pegs held chairs to make sweeping easier. They kept rooms looking tidy and household tools in quick reach. And at the bottom of the closet , pegs held shoes.

But, in true Shaker fashion, there was not something hanging on every peg. Shakers were masters of restraint (from celibacy to craftsmanship!). The peg rails were designed so well they could be empty and still be lovely to behold.

Shaker style at home:

  • Hang a peg rail above your kitchen countertop
  • Add a peg rail to your closet – maybe even try one at the bottom for your shoes
  • At the entryway place a peg rail at standard height for adults and one at a lower height for children
  • In lieu of a towel rack in the bathroom, use a peg rail instead

Shaker Style Element #2

Common objects count.

The Shaker style is excellent at melding form and function. Everyday items were useful. But this did not mean they could not also be beautiful.

I don’t think the Shakers were hesitant to put their everyday items on display. Like the peg rails, common objects were well made and lovely to behold. Everything counted – from the flat broom (a Shaker invention) to the oval boxes used for storage.

Shaker style at home:

  • Choose natural materials over plastic
    • Glass jars > plastic food storage
    • Wooden clothes hangers > plastic hangers
    • Woven baskets > plastic bins
    • Large metal & wooden flower pots > plastic trashcans
    • Natural fibers (linen, cotton, hemp, wool) > synthetic fibers (polyester, nylon, rayon)
  • Reduce paper products
    • Cloth napkins > paper napkins
    • Cloth rags (old towels cut into squares) > paper towels
  • Invest in items made by hand or in small batches
  • Vintage linens or 100% cotton or linen sheets
  • Beeswax candles in brass or wooden candle holders
  • Natural cleaning products

Shaker Style Element #3

Invest in craftsmanship.

The Shakers used their hands as tools to honor God. Because of this calling, they made well-designed, high quality furniture and building.

What if we started to think the same way as the Shakers? Fewer items. Higher quality.

Shaker style at home:

  • Hire a local craftsman to do custom work. To find a craftsman, ask for recommendations from your local hardwood shop or lumber mill.
  • Purchase well-made antiques. Go to a local reputable antique store and ask questions!
  • If finances are limited, pick one item or area of the home you would like custom done. Ask for estimates. And start to save!
  • If DIY is your way to go, use YouTube to your advantage. There are so many excellent craftsmen and women on YT.

Where to see Shaker style up close

All photos were taken by me at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill and the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY.

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