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Slim Shaker Cabinets vs Classic Shaker: Key Differences

In this day and age, when home decorating has become more than just a basic need, choosing the right style of kitchen cabinets can significantly affect the overall look and functionality of your kitchen. There are so many cabinet doors and styles to choose from, but shaker cabinets have been trending for ages and will remain popular for at least another decade. But even with shaker cabinets there are different styles to choose from.


Among those various styles, slim shaker cabinets and classic shaker cabinets stand out as two popular options that attract the attention of many homeowners. But what’s the difference? How to choose between slim shaker cabinets and classic shaker cabinets for your kitchen? Let’s consider the key factors that could influence your decision!

What are Slim Shaker Cabinets?

Slim shaker cabinets (often called skinny shaker kitchen cabinets) represent a subtle but modern twist on traditional shaker cabinets that have been around for decades. Unlike traditional shaker cabinets that have thicker door frames, slim shaker cabinets feature a thinner frame for a more minimalist look.  This design perfectly blends traditional elements with modern minimalism, making it ideal for contemporary kitchens that strive for a look that is both classic and f0llows current trends.


Nelson Cabinetry White Slim Shaker Cabinets
Nelson Cabinetry White Slim Shaker Cabinets


To get more technical, slim shaker cabinet construction typically includes membrane pressed fronts and sides with slightly rounded edges, while the standard back material can be white TFL (Thermally Fused Laminate) or other options to meet specific user needs and preferences. Here is an example of Nelson Cabinetry slim shaker cabinet construciton:


Slim Shaker Cabinet Construction
Slim Shaker Cabinet Construction


If you look closely, you’ll notice the attention to detail with our slim shaker cabinets. The box’s 1/2″ birch plywood construction ensures durability and stability, while the natural birch interior adds warmth and authenticity to the look. The exterior of the cabinet is color-coordinated with the sides. Box face frame of 3 /4″ x 1-3/4″ solid birch further enhances the robustness of these cabinets, and the doors made of HDF frame and HDF panels which are an industry standard.

What are Classic Shaker Cabinets?

You’ve seen them everywhere! Shaker cabinets are probably the most popular cabinet door styles and for a good reason. They feature a distinctive door panel design with a raised trim that frames the center panel, providing depth and dimension while maintaining a minimalist look.


Nelson Cabinetry white shaker cabinets
Nelson Cabinetry white shaker cabinets


White is a classic choice for these kitchen cabinets, creating a bright, airy atmosphere that visually expands the space. However, gray shaker cabinets are also becoming increasingly popular with their modern twist that can easily blend into all decors. Regardless of color, classic shaker cabinets have proven to be timeless. Here is an example of Nelson Cabinetry classic shaker cabinet construciton:


Classic Shaker Cabinet Construction
Classic Shaker Cabinet Construction


Our classic shaker cabinets are built from A-grade 1/2-inch plywood and maple wood is used for cabinet doors. The interior and exterior of the cabinet are painted and can easily be refinished if you prefer another color.

Is There a Price Difference Between Slim Shaker and Classic Shaker Cabinets?

The price difference between slim shaker and classic shaker cabinets is often minimal or non-existent. Slim shaker cabinets can use less material due to their narrower styles and rails, potentially reducing manufacturing costs. However, this material savings is usually not significant enough to affect the final price for consumers.


While there may be some slight variation in the amount of material used for these two door styles, the labor and craftsmanship for both styles remain constant. This makes production cost more or less the same.


Cabinet Type Slim Shaker ($) White/Gray Classic Shaker ($) Premium Blue Classic Shaker ($)
BASE 09″ 189.11 165.32 206.65
WALL 09″ 139.59 114.24 142.80
DRAWER BASE 12″ 374.53 327.09 408.86
SINK BASE 32″ 341.26 297.99 327.49
VANITY 30″ 303.07 326.29 407.86
PANTRY 30″X84″ 924.00 671.19 838.99
LAZY SUSAN 33″ 420.11 437.54 546.93
FARM SINK BASE 36″ 394.86 344.11 430.14

Table that compares various types of kitchen cabinetry and their prices

However, you may notice that slim shaker cabinets are slightly more expensive in most cabinet stores. This includes Nelson Cabinetry, but why is that? The reason is simple. Classic shaker cabinets are a more popular choice and often more readily available, which can sometimes make them less expensive due to economies of scale. The price is also determined by the cabinet finish, where cabinets with a basic white finish are usually less expensive.


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Visual Differences Between Slim and Classic Shaker Cabinets

The visual differences between Slim and classic Shaker cabinets are subtle but significant, and can have a big impact on the overall look of your kitchen. As we already said, slim shaker cabinets are characterized by thinner door frames and rails, giving a more modern and minimalist look, while classic shaker cabinets have thicker and more robust styles and rails, resulting in a more traditional and rustic feel.


Slim shaker cabinets typically have stiles and rails about 1-2 inches wide, while classic shaker cabinets have stiles and rails that can be 2-3 inches wider.


Classic shaker vs slim shaker cabinets


Both door styles are offered in wide range of colors and finishes. However, slim cabinets are often chosen in lighter or more natural tones like oak slim shaker cabinets. On the other hand, classic shaker cabinets are often preferred in warmer tones that add a sense of comfort and hospitality to the space.

How Each Style Influences Your Kitchen’s Aesthetics

You probably already have in mind what kind of kitchen you want. Modern, traditional, minimalist…


While the difference between classic shaker and slim shaker cabinets may be subtle, they have a very different impact on your overall kitchen’s aesthetics.


Nelson Cabinetry White Shaker Kitchen Collection Straight Wall with Plate Rack
Nelson Cabinetry White Shaker Kitchen Collection Straight Wall with Plate Rack


Classic shaker cabinets, with their thicker styles and rails (and the typical five-panel construction), provide a sense of elegance and classicity. This style supports a variety of decorative choices, from classic to rustic kitchens, offering a rich base for creating the atmosphere you want to achieve. Classic shaker cabinets are time-tested and will stay trending for decades at least.


Source: Kitchen & Bath Design News


Slim shakers, on the other hand, have narrower frames that give a more subtle and modern look. This design puts focus on clean lines and spatial efficiency, making the Slim Shaker an ideal choice for contemporary and minimalist kitchen spaces. Slimmer bezels also allow more focus on the center door panels, opening up room to play with colors and finishes.


If you still haven’t decided on the style you want, you can read our blog for more kitchen design inspiration.

Hardware and Customization Options

What kind of cabinet hardware do you want? And does it go well with the style of shaker cabinets you’re interested in?


Source: Industry Hardware


For the Classic Shaker, the hardware often includes more traditional handles and knobs that complement their rugged and weathered appearance. Bronze, iron or steel finishes are popular choices, but they can be customized with a variety of finishes, such as full color lacquer or patina, to achieve the desired look.


Source: Handle & Home


Slim Shakers more often go well with clean lines and a minimalist hardware. That’s why brushed nickel handles or chrome handles are ideal for maintaining the contemporary look and feel that this cabinet door style brings. Another popular choice are hidden hinges and soft-close mechanisms, which contribute to the overall minimalist feel.


Interior adjustments, such as pull-out drawers or custom organizers, further increase functionality of both cabinet door styles.

Pros and Cons from a Designer’s Perspective

From a designer’s perspective, choosing between traditional shaker and slim shaker cabinets involves considering a number of pros and cons of each style. We’ve put together a table with the help of our in-house expert designers so here’s a detailed overview:


Pros Cons
Classic Shaker – Timeless aesthetics

– Flexible design options

– Potentially lower initial costs

– May feel too traditional for modern spaces

– Comes with less color options

Slim Shaker – Modern and sleek look

– Integrates well into urban and contemporary designs

– Durable and easy to maintain

– Less warmth compared to traditional styles

– Trend-sensitive, may fall out of favor quicker


Classic shaker cabinets are classic for a reason. They are timeless. They have been and will be around for a while and that is their biggest advantage. On the other hand, slim shaker cabinets are something that appeard more recently. They offer a modern and minimalist twist on classic shakers, which makes them ideal for contemporary and urban kitchens.


When considering maintenance, both styles are relatively easy to clean, but the slim shaker cabinet’s thinner frames can make access to tighter corners easier. In terms of cost, traditional shaker cabinets can be cheaper because they’re more available.


Choosing between these two styles should be based on individual needs, spatial limitations, and personal taste. These pros and cons are here as a general guidance.

Slim Shaker vs Classic Shaker Cabinets as a Long-Term Investment

Our return on investment (ROI) analysis of Shaker and Slim Shaker cabinets over a five-year period shows interesting trends in the perceived market value of these styles. While traditional Shaker cabinets start with an ROI of 70% already in the first year, gradually increasing to 85% by the fourth year, Slim Shaker cabinets start with a slightly lower initial ROI of 68%, but see a more pronounced increase, reaching 82% by fifth year.


ROI of classic vs slim shaker cabinets over 5 years


The data presented in the graph was estimated based on general trends observed in the market for kitchen cabinets. As you can see, bot cabinet door styles are a safe investment for homeowners, flippers and contractors.

Slim Shaker vs Classic Shaker: Making the Final Decision

Your choice of kitchen cabinets reflects a blend of personal taste and design trends. Both of these styles offer durability, functionality, and the potential to elevate the overall aesthetic of your kitchen. Importantly, with the price difference being minimal or non-existent, your decision can solely focus on the aesthetic and practical preferences. But what if you’re still not sure what is right for you?

Don’t worry!

Here is a simple yes/no questionnare that will help you make the final decision between slim shaker vs classic shaker cabinets. If you answer “YES” to more than five questions, then Slim Shaker cabinets might be more suited for your style.


  1. Do you prefer a modern and minimalist kitchen design?
    • Yes / No
  2. Is your kitchen relatively small or compact?
    • Yes / No
  3. Do you like the appearance of sleek, streamlined cabinetry without bulky features?
    • Yes / No
  4. Are you looking for cabinets that can make your kitchen feel more spacious?
    • Yes / No
  5. Do you appreciate simple and clean lines in furniture and decor?
    • Yes / No
  6. Is it important for your kitchen to have a contemporary aesthetic?
    • Yes / No
  7. Do you prefer cabinets that are easy to maintain and clean?
    • Yes / No
  8. Would you like your kitchen hardware to be subtle and not overpower the cabinetry design?
    • Yes / No
  9. Are you planning a kitchen design that complements a modern or transitional home interior?
    • Yes / No
  10. Do you favor a design that emphasizes visual simplicity and efficiency?
    • Yes / No


Congrats! You’ve made your decision. The next step is to reach out to us and order a free 3D kitchen design with no hidden charges. We will dedicate an expert designer that will work closely with you to bring your vision to life. Contact us today to start the journey toward your dream kitchen.

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Nelson Cabinetry

Nelson Cabinetry is an online distributor of high quality kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. We pride ourselves in delivering a high quality product via an easy to use, convenient website. Placing your cabinet order has never been easier and you can do so from the comfort of your home, office or job site.


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Evan Nelson

Evan Nelson is a skilled content writer with over 5 years of experience specializing in kitchen and bath design. His expertise in the field and ability to convey complex ideas in an accessible way have made his articles a valuable resource for homeowners and design enthusiasts alike. Evan's insights have been featured in top publications like Homes & Gardens, Family Handyman, and Real Homes. He focuses on providing practical advice, innovative ideas, and detailed guides to help readers make informed decisions about their kitchen spaces. With a passion for creating content that educates and inspires, Evan's writing helps transform kitchen dreams into reality.