Shakers style may change from region to region, but there are three things you will always find: pegs, oval boxes and shaker ...
style chairs. And to learn about the Shakers and how to incorporate thier style into a design scheme Meghan Carter of http://www.AsktheDecorator.com traveled to Shaker Village in Kentucky.
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Meghan: When it comes to Shakers style the architecture may change from region to region but there are three things you can always count on pegs, over boxes and Shaker style chairs and if you incorporate those into your home you will be well on your way to capturing the Shakers style.
I am hitting the road searching for answers and finding great design, it is a quest for beauty, function and of course inspiration.
To learn about what is characteristically Shaker I spoke with Susan Hughes the interpretation and education manager at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. During out talk I learned that pegs are a Shaker homework but I did not have to hear her say it, they were in every building.
So the pegs they are a fixture of all Shaker homes?
Meghan: So what were they used for because they are very unique? You do not find this anywhere else and they are all around the museum, I mean every single room you go and you see pegs.
Susan: Well they hang up clothes, they hang up bonnets and hats, they hang chairs you will see them in the hall.
Susan: With the chairs hanging upside down—if you are sweeping the floor do you want to have to move all the chairs back and forth? No you pick them up, you hang them up on the peg sweep the floor and then put them back down.
You will see pegs also used as a visual mark I guess on the wall, these are incredibly high ceilings, these rooms are very tall. That peg line that line of the peg rail breaks up that big white expands of space. It give you eye place to focus along with the chair rail, the peg rail together breaks up that long white line.
Meghan: Other than pegs Shakers are known for their chairs, so much so, that they have almost come to be identified by them.
Susan: Sister Mildred Barker who was a Shaker who lived until the 1990’s said she was afraid she would be remembered as a chair or a table because that is what people know about the Shaker side. I would say the Shaker chair is probably one of the signature items of the Shakers but each community made its chairs a little bit differently.
Because of different hands are making them the pleasant, the little finials, the post on the top of the ladder are very characteristic in each different community. Other communities did have a chair making industry that lasted well into the 20th century.
Meghan: While incorporating the pegs and chairs and chair décor will give a Shaker feel, to really top it off you need to add a few oval boxes.
Susan: When we talk about Shaker icons I think the oval box has to be one of those. The Shakers did not invent this, this were pantry boxes that were used about almost everybody in the 19th century to store things like flour or nails, sewing equipment. But the Shakers brought it to a fine art.
Meghan: Why were they oval? I mean like why weren’t they square or circular?
Susan: It has to do with how they are held together, they are actually built on a form and the fingers over here are the laps held down with little copper tacks. On oval angle is not so great as it would be with a round box and so they do not spring up in that way.
Meghan: Really, so it is just for function why they are oval.
Meghan: And what would they store in there?
Susan: Anything sewing equipment, nails, tacks, flour any kind of dry measure.
Meghan: Really, these were their stored boxes and they just put this in all rooms everywhere?
Susan: You would see them in kitchen, you would see them in bedrooms, wherever they had a function. And there were square boxes but in a square box every wall of the square has to be nailed together. This is one continuous piece of wood lapped around and then nailed to itself. You do not have to over build it, it is very simple it is very functional.
Meghan: So to infuse a little Shaker style into your home all you have to do is install some pegs, get a few new chairs and add a couple oval boxes to your shelves. It is really that simple and when you are finished you will not only have extra storage but also have a home similar to those belonging to th