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Raised Panel Cabinets vs Shaker: The Great Debate

by Gary Wade • March 19, 2024

When it comes to kitchen design, the area that commands the most attention is undoubtedly the cabinets. They not only serve a utilitarian purpose but also dictate the aesthetic appeal of the space. Two popular styles that homeowners often find themselves torn between are raised panel cabinets and shaker cabinets. This article aims to bring clarity to the raised panel cabinets vs shaker debate, helping you make an informed decision for your next kitchen redesign project.

A Brief Overview of Shaker Cabinets

Shaker style cabinets first came into existence in the late 18th century, thanks to the simplicity-seeking Shaker community. The hallmark of these cabinets is their neat, unadorned design, characterized by a flat, recessed center panel surrounded by a raised frame. This minimalist yet appealing design is often constructed from high-quality hardwoods like pine, oak, ash, and maple, lending it a timeless appeal.

Raised panel cabinets vs shaker cabinets

The Charm of Shaker Cabinets

Shaker style cabinets are known for their understated elegance. The lack of ornate detailing or carvings means that the focus is on the quality of the materials and the craftsmanship. The clean lines and the moderate proportions of shaker cabinets make them a perfect fit for a wide range of kitchen styles, from modern minimalist to transitional and even some traditional designs.

Pros of Shaker Cabinets

Shaker cabinets introduce a sense of calm and order to any kitchen space. Their streamlined design makes them easy to clean and maintain. Moreover, their simplicity provides a perfect canvas for homeowners to express their personal style through hardware and finishes. The timelessness of shaker cabinets ensures their continued demand in the market.

Cons of Shaker Cabinets

Despite their many advantages, shaker cabinets do come with a few drawbacks. For instance, the recessed panel, corners, and crevices can accumulate dust and food particles over time, making them slightly harder to clean than flat door cabinets.

Raised panel cabinets vs shaker kitchen cabinets

Understanding Raised Panel Cabinets

Raised panel cabinets, on the other hand, date back to the 1920s. They are characterized by a center panel that is raised above the rest of the door, with the panel sloping towards the edges, creating a sense of depth and dimension. This style often features ornate carving and intricate detailing, making it a popular choice for traditional or formal kitchen designs.

The Elegance of Raised Panel Cabinets

Raised panel cabinets are known for their rich, ornate aesthetics. The elaborate carvings and grooved edges around the raised center panel lend a touch of sophistication to the space. These cabinets are often constructed with high-quality wood and finished in a variety of styles, enhancing their visual appeal.

Pros of Raised Panel Cabinets

Raised panel cabinets come with a host of advantages. Their detailed design is visually appealing and can add a sense of formality and elegance to any kitchen. Additionally, the raised design and ornamental detailing can help to mask dirt and grime, reducing the need for frequent cleaning.

Cons of Raised Panel Cabinets

As with any design choice, raised panel cabinets come with their own set of cons. They tend to be more expensive due to their intricate design and detailing. Also, their traditional look might seem outdated when compared to the more contemporary shaker style cabinets.

Raised panel kitchen cabinets vs shaker cabinets

Raised Panel Cabinets vs Shaker: The Key Differences

While both shaker and raised panel cabinets are popular choices for both modern and traditional kitchens, they do have distinct characteristics that set them apart.

Design and Aesthetics

The primary difference between the two styles lies in their design. Shaker cabinets boast a simple, flat recessed center panel with no additional embellishments. Raised panel cabinets, on the other hand, feature a raised center panel that slopes towards the edges, with intricate carvings and detailing.

Installation and Construction

Both shaker and raised panel cabinets can be made with framed or frameless construction. However, shaker cabinets often lean towards frameless construction to maintain their minimalist appeal, while raised panel cabinets generally feature framed construction to preserve their traditional aesthetic.

Cost Implications

In terms of cost, shaker cabinets tend to be cheaper than raised panel cabinets, mainly owing to their simpler design that requires less labor. However, the final cost will depend on factors such as the type of wood used, the finish, the cabinet box construction, and the specific style.

Raised panel cabinets vs shaker style cabinets


Despite the style differences, both shaker and raised panel cabinets require similar maintenance levels. Both styles can accumulate dust and grime on the edges, necessitating regular cleaning.

The Verdict: Raised Panel Cabinets or Shaker?

The choice between raised panel cabinets vs shaker ultimately depends on your personal preference and the overall aesthetic you wish to achieve in your kitchen. Both styles have their unique appeal and advantages. While shaker cabinets offer a minimalist, contemporary look, raised panel cabinets bring a touch of traditional elegance.

Regardless of your choice, ensure that you invest in good quality cabinets. The right cabinets will not only enhance your kitchen's visual appeal but will also serve you well over the years.

Remember, whether you decide on shaker style cabinets or raised panel, the most important thing is to choose a design that you love and that fits with the overall style of your kitchen. After all, your kitchen is the heart of your home, and you should feel comfortable and happy in it.

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