Sometimes to make an improvement to a room, you don’t have to completely renovate the space. This past year, I’d been feeling very unsatisfied about my living room and dining space. Instead of completely redoing those spaces, my family replaced our cheap TV console with a wood TV cabinet. And, we replaced our maple dining table and chairs with a darker stained wood dining set that better matches the wood paneling in our dining space.
Honest, Utilitarian and Simple all come to mind when thinking of Classic Shaker Furniture.
Guided by religious principles, Shaker style furniture was originally made with the belief that all manufactured goods should be constructed with honesty. Shaker furniture, much like the Shaker lifestyle, is simple in design and free of frivolities. While the religious population that founded Shaker style furniture started to steadily decline after the Civil War (with only three practicing members today) their influence on furniture is unwavering.
Known for its minimalist design, Shaker furniture is free of veneers, inlays and carvings with a focus on the furnitures’ overall form and proportions. One of the most popular facets of Shaker furniture is chairmaking. Shaker chairs are known for their turned posts, slats or ladder backs and often times woven seats.
There have been many modernizations on Shaker style furniture, but one thing has always remained the same: simplicity.
At Vermont Woods Studios you’ll find a variety of Shaker style furniture from traditional designs to a more contemporary take on the style. And while some pieces may stray from the traditional designs, they are still rooted in the belief of honesty and simplicity.
During our Shaker Furniture Sale starting Friday, January 8th and running through Thursday, January 28th you can save 10% off one piece of furniture, 15% off two pieces and 20% off three pieces. You’ll be able to choose from hundreds of pieces for your bedroom, dining room, living room, office and more!
And as the Shakers used the wood from their lands and demanded integrity with each piece of furniture they made, here at Vermont Woods Studios we believe that, too. All of our furniture comes from wood that is sustainably harvested from the Northeast and is handmade in Cherry, Maple, Oak and Walnut woods by local craftsmen.
If you have any questions or would like to order over the phone, our friendly sales team is always here to help at 888-390-5571. Shop conveniently and securely online or stop into our Vernon, Vermont showroom, open seven days a week.
We don’t typically re-share articles from others, but when I read “The First American Modernists” by Lance Esplund, I knew I had to share it with our community of Shaker furniture lovers. Lance provides a thoughtful, interesting look at the Shakers and Shaker furniture, as inspired by an art exhibit at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. The exhibition, titled “The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon to the World,” provided a historical overview of the Shakers and their simplistic, spiritual lifestyle; focusing on the craft of their now world recognized furniture.
While Shaker communities were once vibrant and thriving, there are now only 3 Shakers left. Brother Arnold Hadd and his two elderly sisters practice their faith at Sabbathday Lake’s Shaker Village in New Glouster Maine. It’s the worlds last active Shaker Community. Brother Arnold Spoke at the exhibit & covered topics such as the concept of “Shaker Style” (which he claims does not exist) and the inspiration behind their modest furniture design. According to Esplund, the exhibit was full of Shaker Furniture. He goes on to explain:
“That “classic” Shaker style is well represented here in strong, unassuming cupboards, tables, desks and chests of drawers; delicately crafted oval wooden nesting boxes; inviting, wide-mouthed wooden bowls; tightly woven rugs and baskets; and sprightly, no-nonsense ladder-back chairs. Made of chestnut, walnut, flame birch and bird’s-eye maple, these lightweight, sturdy chairs have rhythmically dynamic woven cane and checkerboard tape seats. They could be easily hung on wall pegs to allow for the ecstatic “shaking” dancing prayers for which the “Believers” became commonly known.”
While I haven’t had the opportunity to see the exhibit first hand, I have a deep appreciation for Shaker Furniture and it’s honest, unassuming design. Rich with history, Shaker Furniture has a legacy and heritage that we are proud to represent here at Vermont Woods Studios. If you’re interested in learning more about this Shaker exhibition, Esplund’s article is full of practical insight on the history and inspiration behind their furniture.
2013, our first year at Stonehurst gave us another reason to study and analyze what our customers’ favorite American made furniture styles are. With limited space in our showroom, we wanted to display the very best selection of Vermont furniture, as defined by customer purchases. After looking through the sales statistics, we found these Top 3 American Furniture styles, which we’ll be featuring often at Stonehurst:
Shaker Style Furniture
This Vermont Shaker bed, nightstand and chest are pretty accurate reproductions of the original Shaker style furniture crafted by communities of the United Society of Believers starting in the late 1700’s. Born here in the Northeast, this American furniture style is a simple, utilitarian design characterized by straight tapered legs and mushroom-shaped wooden knobs. Vermont furniture makers have become today’s authority on Shaker furniture and customers seeking a simple elegant, solid wood design have grown to love their work. It’s our top seller and customers are customizing it in their choice of cherry, walnut, maple and oak woods (preference is in that order). Sometimes customers will choose two contrasting wood colors like cherry and walnut or maple and walnut to trick it out– if there is such a thing for “Shaker furniture”.
Craftsman Style Furniture
This Contemporary Craftsman Bedroom Furniture collection is a modern rendition of the American craftsman and “arts and crafts” furniture that became popular in the late 19th century and remained prevalent through the 1930s. It’s handmade of real solid cherry wood with contrasting drawer pulls in solid walnut wood and reflects the true craftsmanship of this period. The finish on this collection is a traditional hand-rubbed oil and wax. If you like this contemporary craftsman style furniture, learn more about the details and craftsmanship here.
Shaker beds have been a specialty of Vermont furniture makers for over 200 years and they remain popular today. I was helping a customer work through the process of finding the perfect Shaker bed yesterday and realized it’s not so easy. We have almost 20 different shaker beds in our online furniture store. All are top quality, 100% American made (handcrafted right here in Vermont) using responsibly harvested, real solid wood.
After looking at our Top 10 Shaker beds and all the different variations in design, we came up with a few subcategories that might make shopping easier for those looking for a particular style:
Traditional Shaker Beds
Four Poster Shaker Beds
Shaker Panel Beds
Shaker Sleigh Beds
You’ve probably noticed that these beds are all shown in solid cherry wood, which has a rich reddish brown color (once it has “ripened” after exposure to light). Cherry is by far the most popular wood for our customers when ordering Shaker furniture. However all of our Shaker beds are also available in three other woods: maple, walnut and oak. Some customers even like to mix two woods together like the Sarah Shaker beds below (shown in maple and walnut).
Two Tone Shaker Beds
Hopefully this makes shopping for your new Shaker bedroom furniture a little easier. Questions? Come visit us at Stonehurst our new fine furniture and art gallery or contact us through our live chat, email, Facebook or phone.