“Chic Shaker” Is Our Vote for the Next Modern Farmhouse Look
If the meteoric rise of “Fixer Upper” couple Chip and Joanna Gaines has taught us anything, it’s that our collective appetite for modern farmhouse interiors isn’t waning. The style and its hallmarks—anything from ceramic apron sinks and finishes with patina to shiplap walls and reclaimed barnwood floors—is huge in home decor right now. But if you want to be ahead of the design game, our gut’s telling us that “Chic Shaker” is what’s coming down the pipeline.
It’s similar to a term Los Angeles-based designer Liza Reyes, who first cut her decorating chops at renowned design firm Commune, used to describe the mix of clean, minimal furnishings and handcrafted utilitarian pieces in her own work in an article for Domino (technically, she called it “Cozy Quaker” but we’re taking a little creative license here). And we think it’s going to catch on big time.
Really though, “Chic Shaker” is a close cousin of modern farmhouse style. The simplicity of the farmhouse look is all there, but the interiors are a bit warmer yet curiously sparse, kinda California-cool meets East Coast Colonial (with a dash of refined rustic thrown in for good measure). Utterly confused by that description? Well, let’s take a tour of some interiors giving off serious “Chic Shaker” vibes.
First of all, you can’t go “Chic Shaker” in a McMansion or sprawling estate. Well, you probably can if you really want to, because Ellen DeGeneres certainly did, as evidenced by the kitchen area of her California ranch featured in Elle Decor. But this look seems to work best in cottages, older homes and smaller spaces—houses with plain but pretty millwork and period details. I’m not saying you have to have rough-hewn exposed beams (as in this kitchen) or a cedar clad ceiling, but those features certainly don’t hurt.
This decorating style isn’t about bold colors or statement furniture. Sure, you may have a hit or two of hue or a striking chair. But by and large, whites, warm wood tones and blacks make up the “Chic Shaker” palette. Jessica Helgerson‘s former family kitchen is a perfect example of the look. First off, that throwback stove! It’s a pretty—but also pragmatic—focal point in the room. Then you have the mix of light and dark wood tones plus the white wood paneling. The chairs and table look handcrafted but sturdy, and the silhouettes are no frills in a good way. This project was completed a few years ago, so props to Jessica for anticipating the movement towards paring down everything and keeping shapes simple. (And for anyone thinking they’re abode is too small to replicate Jessica’s design above, this is actually a home that is only 540 square feet.)
Honestly, there’s something a little bit folksy and traditional about this style, which is a good thing because classic pieces with good bones never really go out of vogue. But “Chic Shaker” is not over-the-top Americana with quilts and hooked rugs. Check out this living room by JenniferBunsa Design Studio. Rustic wood sofa console, herringbone brick fireplace liner, leather chairs—it’s boho but a bit more grounded. Same is true of the kitchen. Get a load of those long bench bar stools, which look pretty Shaker, and copper hood. Yes, it’s a totally eclectic space, but there’s something straightforward, intimate and inviting about it—”Chic Shaker” strikes again.
I’ve been a fan of Lauren Liess’ nature-inspired, unfussy style for a while, and I think she’s got this kind of thing going on in her spaces, too, especially the ones she’s designed for her own family. She’s into salvaged woods and sheepskins, the latter of which bring that layer of expected coziness to “Chic Shaker.” In her former dining room, she used an animal hide to add warmth and softness underfoot. The slip covered chairs also play into this style’s free form, relaxed use of simple but high-quality textiles. Linen, linen and more linen, people! This is yet another key to the style.
This bedroom Lauren designed is also pretty “Chic Shaker.” Can’t get any more old-fashioned than a four poster bed, but the streamlined linens and minimal furnishings really reflect the relaxed, quiet nature of these types of interiors.
And finally, bookending this look: plain woods. I’ve talked about the characteristic simple shaped furniture above, but Liza Reyes hit the nail on the head when she said to find a great builder to create pieces for you or to DIY some yourself. Because basic plywood can cut it in “Cozy Shaker.” You don’t even have to stain it! It’s a builder grade material but somehow feels substantial and even chic. This headboard situation from Apartment 34 is making me think I should be heading to The Home Depot right now to make my own version, which probably wouldn’t cost much more than $20 bucks.
So what do you think? Are you digging this style, or do you prefer straight up modern farmhouse instead?