Shaker Cabinets - Slab or 5-Piece Drawers?

mommyatlawMay 24, 2012

I am getting ready to pull the trigger. We are down to the details on my white Shaker cabinets. We will be ordering them within a few days. From the beginning I wanted the 5-piece drawers (versus the slab) and love the look. Now I am having second thoughts - will the recessed, Shaker drawers, combined with the recessed, Shaker doors be too busy? If I use the slab drawers, will they clash with the cabinets? Does anyone have an opinion or, better yet, pictures?

Thanks as always for your input!

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There have been lots of post on this site regarding slab and/ or 5 piece drawers. At the bottom of the page there is a search box that should help you find the post and pictures. I decided to put slab fronts on the top drawers and do all the rest in 5 piece just to change it up a little bit. You really can go which ever way you like and they will look great.
Here is a picture of some of my drawers and cabinet doors.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:05PM
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Here's a comparison in white to help in your decision. I wanted 5 piece, however my choice of cabinet style came with slab. So they were originally installed with slab fronts, then we ordered extra "doors" which we turned sideways and installed as 5-piece fronts. Sorry, though, I originally wasn't too interested in taking pictures of the slab fronts, so they are mostly just clips of them in other pictures.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:35PM
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I agree that the 5-pc look for the bigger drawers is nicer and a look that is not at all too busy.

But our kitchen is busy and I'm finding them much more time-consuming to clean. I'm having a new respect for the slabs. ;-)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Small drawers (shallow or narrow or both) look clunky with the added molding because the molding covers most of the drawer front. Unless, of course, the cabinetmaker scales the moldings down to suit the size of the drawer.

The pic above, with the mix of slab for shallow and framed for deeper drawers looks more graceful.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:50PM
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We have both in our house. In our downstairs computer/craft area we have slab, but I wanted 5 piece on the drawers in the kitchen so that's what we did.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 4:55PM
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In the Tansu I'm creating in my MBR, I've got a huge bank of Shaker variation cabinets. They're mostly Norcroft Cottage (with a beaded panel) and Concord, which is the regular, flat faced cabinet.
They're absolutely full overlay.
I think, as with the pics above, these cabinets don't look busy, but that they have more depth than a slab door. OTOH, I really love the beaded inset with these, too, like springoz is doing,
Then, the slabs with beaded inset are gorgeous, too.

Ok. It seems I can't make up my mind, either.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:14PM
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Both look nice.
We built ours with vertical continuous grain flat panel to make that the design feature.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Consider hardware choices when selecting a shaker 5 pc. drawer head.
I used to sell a line that used 5 pc. only below the top-of-the-doors line and slab above that, on all the shallow drawers. Maybe consider a combination?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 7:59PM
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I wanted bin pulls and felt they looked better on clean slabs (more space in the center). In addition, we have more shallow drawers vs deep and the 5 pc. looked a bit busy when I sketched it out.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:08PM
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I don't think I've ever seen white cabs with all slab drawers. They're too traditional for that. Do all 5-piece or leave the just top drawer plain. Wood looks good either way.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:10PM
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I love slab drawers with stained wood, especially if there is a dramatic grain pattern like with Pharaoh's lovely drawer bank. Slab doors and drawers let wood grain shine. With painted white cabinets, since there is no woodgrain to provide drama, I prefer a 5-piece drawer, except maybe for the shallow top drawer.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:22PM
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I did 5 piece in my house last summer and like it. I am doing shaker cabinets again in my new house and am trying to pull the trigger on ordering my cabinets next week. Now these pictures have me questioning whether to try slab this time! From Judy's New Kitchen

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:39PM
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I think both can be nice but it just comes down to personal preference in the end. For me, I like the 5-piece drawers, they are just richer looking overall which is what I like. But I also like appliques and corbels so read into that what you may! :-)

I'll link one of my all-time favorite kitchen below, "Thyne's Finished Kitchen". Have a look at what they did. All 5-piece drawer fronts but they put knobs on the narrow top drawers vs. cup pulls on the larger drawers lower drawers. It looks spectacular.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thynes' Kitchen

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:49PM
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Thanks everyone! That is the feedback that I was looking for!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:58PM
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    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:10PM
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The ones Palimpset posted look good plain because they're inset. What is that English cabinet company that has gorgeous "real" Shaker cabinets? It reminds me of those.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:22PM
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Plain English?

These are Plain and Fancy

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Yes, Plain English! Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:53PM
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I researched this quite a bit when I ordered my white cabinets. I like the look of the 5-piece drawers better, but for my cabinets, the 5-piece part was too wide to look good if the drawer was any less than 8" high. So I mostly have slab-front drawers. I remember reading in one of the threads that slab-front drawers are more authentically Shaker because they are simpler, but it took me a while to get used to the simplicity of my slab drawers when they were installed.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 10:29PM
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I have shaker doors with slab drawers on painted creamy inset cabinetry. I ended up with the slab because of a miscommunication when ordering, however, they also were substantially cheaper. I probably would have picked the 5 piece if I could have, but I am ok with how they turned out and totally ok with saving the money!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:41AM
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Circus Peanut

Pharoah, please convey my deep admiration to your cabinetmaker and his/her craft -- those are stunning, and much harder to do than they look. Yum!

Mine are shaker doors with an inlay detail and all slab drawers to counter the fussiness. I do love how easy they are to clean compared to the panel edges on the frames of the doors.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 12:28PM
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circuspeanut, thanks for complimenting the woodworker who is me :) You are astute in noting the difficulty in making them.

I did make a major blunder and it is glaring. try to find it :)

Love your inset slab drawers.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 12:48PM
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We used shaker style doors and in the drawer stacks, the top drawer is plain, the others five-piece. I think I would go with all plain if I were doing it again. I like the idea of using a continuous pattern down through each drawer stack, and boy, they would be easier to clean.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 1:43PM
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If you look at furniture made by Shakers, it has 5 piece for the doors and slab for the drawers. They liked simplicity and used 5 piece for the doors where it was useful to counter the dimensional changes of wood but not in drawer fronts which were small enough to make from a single board. Since they didn't have modern drawer glides, their furniture usually doesn't have the deep drawers that we have today.

That was the look we wanted so we went for slab on the shorter drawers and 5-piece shaker doors and drawers higher than 8". Since our lowers are mainly drawers, that also makes for easier cleaning when something drips from the counter.

Hi Pharoh, the old fridge died so it is now replaced with a magnetless stainless fridge. :)

Lovely cabinets Circus peanut - like the way the arches in the trim match the range base.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 2:03PM
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cloud_swift, you remember!!! I cant believe you remember my objection to your old fridge,with the museum quality stone you have!

RIP, old fridge, and welcome perfection :)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Co-Co, Can you please please tell me the name of your counters, backsplash tile, and cabinet color? This is the EXACT look I am going for. I love it! Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 7:14PM
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