The difference between our Classic English and Real Shaker Kitchen

1st April 2022

By Holly Bishop

When Paul O’Leary, deVOL’s founder and director, opened his first little shop in Quorn back in 1989, it was Classic English cupboards he began making. They were bespoke pieces originally designed for quite grand country homes around Leicestershire so he took inspiration from classic Georgian furniture where the proportions are impressive and substantial but there’s a quiet beauty to everything.

A little later, in 2008, the Real Shaker Kitchen was designed. It was created as a refined version of our Classic English Kitchen, incorporating every ounce of quality but at a much more economical price point. We wanted to be able to offer a more affordable range of furniture so that more customers all over the world could choose a deVOL kitchen for their home. Very similar in many ways, both ranges are made in our Leicestershire workshop by our highly skilled team. We use similar timbers and traditional joinery methods and paint them in the same way, but there are a few differences too. This blog will talk you through all the little details that make both ranges so special.

The Real Shaker Kitchen at Cotes Mill, this display has sat here happily since we opened the doors of our main showroom in 2013.


The Classic English Kitchen began as a freestanding range. There would be a large freestanding cabinet along one wall containing the sink, bins and an integrated dishwasher, a beautiful pantry on another, a couple of pan drawers either side of the range cooker and a long prep table in the centre. Over the years, things have changed a little and there is a stronger desire for a fitted kitchen and this range works perfectly in this setting too. Whether it’s a collection of single, substantial pieces or a full wall of fitted cabinetry, a Classic English Kitchen can do it all.

One of the first kitchens we ever photographed! Designed back in 2012, this grand Classic English pantry was perfect for this Leicestershire hall.


Each Classic English piece is made entirely bespoke each and every time depending on the sizes and requirements for the space. There is freedom to customise the internals too, perhaps you want a couple of drawers inside your tall cupboard or a wine rack or double-layered cutlery inserts. Everything we design will always remain in keeping with our traditional style but there are certainly a lot of ways to make the kitchen very personal to you.

A huge bank of bespoke fitted Classic English cabinetry housing the ovens, fridge, freezer and pantry storage.


Understated, simple, timeless, our Shaker range is the most popular choice at deVOL and it’s easy to see why. This collection of beautifully understated furniture was inspired by authentic Shaker carpentry, renowned for its functionality, innovative joinery and craftsmanship.

The biggest difference between the two collections is that the Shaker kitchen is modular. This means we have standard sizes that we try to stick to as much as possible and in turn, we are able to offer a more affordable range of cabinetry in comparison to our Classic English range which tends to cost around 60% higher in price than this modular collection.

Our Shaker utility at Cotes Mill, you can just spot the seam between the two standard sized Shaker base cupboards.


But modular doesn’t mean you are limited when it comes to designing the perfect Shaker kitchen. We have lots and lots of sizes and configurations available which are really practical and good looking and our designers are experts at using these in the very best way. You can take a look at our online Shaker catalogue here.

Every single piece of deVOL furniture is handmade by our team so if any tweaks need to be made to our Shaker sizing, that is absolutely possible. It could be the addition of some top boxes on your tall bank of storage or a pan drawer a little wider than our sizes. We are always happy to adjust a few pieces for an additional bespoke cost to ensure the cabinetry fits your space perfectly.

 Top boxes were added to these full height Shaker cupboards to make the most of this little pantry room.


It’s really important to us here at deVOL to design and make cupboards that will last a lifetime. The doors and fascias of both the Classic English and Shaker range are made using ‘rock maple’, an extremely hard and durable timber – as the name suggests – and simply the best possible material available for making painted furniture.

The Shaker cabinet carcasses and internal shelves are made using a very high-grade birch plywood, this meets the strictest environmental standards and is very water-resistant and strong. The shelves are set on a sawtooth rail system, meaning their heights can be adjusted within the cupboard as often as you like.

We use oak for the drawer boxes for both ranges. These drawer boxes replicate exactly the look of a traditionally hand-cut dovetailed drawer whilst incorporating the practicality of a soft close drawer runner. We leave them unpainted and it really is such a treat to open the drawer and see the beautiful grain of the timber.

Pretty oak drawer boxes can be found in both our Shaker and Classic English ranges.


There are a few differences with our Classic English range, including the internal shelves which are fixed at your chosen heights and crafted from maple. The backboards are traditional tongue and groove with panels of tulipwood in variable widths, joined together with a traditional Georgian bead. This is a beautiful detail and pretty handy too. It lets the wood expand and contract, something that happens naturally with the seasons, and prevents any movement from occurring in the rest of the cupboard. You will also find a Georgian bead on the front of our Classic English cupboards, it looks lovely and is another nod to the furniture that inspired this collection so much.

The way the light hits the Georgian bead in this little Notting Hill kitchen is so beautiful.


No matter the range you choose, we can promise the very best quality every single time. We make all our furniture by hand in our Leicestershire workshops in the UK, not something many British kitchen companies can still say. We feel so proud to have the most skilled team of craftspeople making our furniture, they know what they are doing and they know the quality deVOL strives for… so rest assured your kitchen will be perfect.

We feel so proud to say our furniture is handmade to order in our Leicestershire workshops, it has been this way since the beginning of deVOL.


We paint the interiors and exteriors of our cabinets using a water-based acrylic paint for both collections of furniture. The first two coats are spray painted and we then finish with a hand-painted coat. Our process of brush painting not only creates a subtle traditional appearance but enables our furniture to be quickly and easily touched up in the event of the inevitable knocks and scrapes that happen over time. In many respects, we are quite old fashioned with our approach to furniture, but sticking to traditional principles ensures a product that ages gracefully and is a pleasure to live with.

A final hand-painted coat gives the cabinetry a beautiful finish and means it is so easy to look after over its long life span.


We offer a colour matching service with our Classic English Kitchen, meaning you can opt for any shade you like – inside and out. You will be sent samples to approve during the sign off process of our design service to ensure you are completely happy and confident with your choice.

For our Shaker range, the internal shade tends to be ‘Putty’, a soft creamy neutral. The exceptions to this are our open and glazed cupboards, our Larder Cupboards, our Upright Cupboards and our Pantry Cupboards. For these particular designs, we use the same paint colour throughout.

A peek inside one of the cupboards in our Shaker kitchen in the Millhouse to see our internal ‘Putty’ shade and the sawtooth rail system.


We have a carefully curated collection of twelve Real Shaker paints to choose from for the exterior of your cupboards. Light and bright, dark and moody, rich and unexpected, there really is something for everybody in this range. Funnily enough, lots of our Classic English customers who can choose any shade in the world often opt for hues in our collection, they really are that lovely! You can take a look at them all here.

If you want a Shaker kitchen but have your heart set on one particular shade, this is not a problem. The colour-matching service is available with this range of furniture too, there is just a 15% additional cost on top of the cabinetry.

Linen and Scullery Yellow for Pearl Lowe’s beautiful beach house, just two of the many gorgeous shades from our deVOL paint collection.


Our cabinetry comes assembled with doors and drawers already fitted. There will be more pieces with a Shaker kitchen as they will mainly be our modular units, whereas the Classic English range is likely to have larger pieces of cabinetry.

For projects based in the UK, you can choose to have our expert team of fitters install your kitchen cupboards. For those who live outside of the UK, and even if you are in the UK and have somebody local that you trust, all our cabinetry will be sent with full installation instructions for your own chosen fitter to read through and refer to whilst installing your kitchen. Your dedicated deVOL Project Manager will also be on hand to answer any questions or go through any particular aspect, should your fitter require advice.

A Classic English kitchen we designed, crafted, delivered and installed for a wonderful home in Regent’s Park, London.


I hope this has been helpful for anybody wondering what the main differences between our Classic English and Real Shaker kitchens are. You really can’t go wrong with either range and don’t forget, you can also incorporate both into your kitchen if you are in love with elements in each! Your designer will be more than happy to discuss all the options with you during the design phase to ensure we make your absolute dream deVOL kitchen that you will love for years and years to come.


– You can see more Classic English and Real Shaker projects on our website.

– Keep up to date with all our latest kitchens over on our Instagram page.

– Feel free to drop an email over to our team at or (if you are based in North America) if you have any questions about our kitchen furniture or design process.