Mission Style furniture is often considered the quintessential example of simplistic style. Think of our Camden Mission Coffee Table or our Mission Antique Armoire. It’s traditional look, sturdy functionality and wide appeal have kept it in the forefront of master craftsmen for over 125 years. But what led to that popularity? How did it become such an iconic style? And most importantly, what is the best way to showcase it in your home? Today it is our mission to answer these questions for you and more.
The History of Mission Style Furniture
Mission style furniture soared to popularity in the early 1900’s. It was a style developed during what is known as the Arts and Crafts movement, which reached the United States during the turn of the 20th century. This movement began in contrast to the overly ornate Victorian style that had dominated interior design during most of the 1800’s. People also grew tired of the factory-made products that found their way into homes during the industrial age. Folks began to crave the fine workmanship that was lacking in these newer mass-produced items, and it sparked renewed interest in high-quality craftsmanship. The style that would become known as Mission style was promoted by a man named Gustav Stickley as being practical and organic. He maintained that it was up to master craftsmen to bring integrity back to the world of furniture making focusing on “honesty in construction and truth to materials”.
Characteristics of Mission Style
Mission style is easily discernible by its clean, straight lines and blocky 90-degree angles. It is considered a sturdy style, full of function but beautiful in its simplicity. The wood is the star of the show when it comes to furniture created in the mission style. Solid red and white oak are the most common wood used in this style; however, cherry and walnut are other popular options. Mission style pieces are rarely seen in a painted or matte finish. Items are usually stained in a darker color with careful attention paid to the grain of the wood. Many craftsmen will do their best to highlight a section of wood that has a particularly interesting grain. They only use ornamentation if it serves the function of the piece, and they stick basics like iron or coppoer for drawer pulls or other decorations. Aesthetically speaking, you can usually spot mission furniture at a glance with the telltale slats and panels that dominate chairs and tables. Overall, it has become a timeless style and a great choice for heirloom quality furniture.
Shaker or Mission Style?
Shaker style and Mission Style are the cornerstones of Amish built furniture and are often mistakenly used interchangeably. However, they are very different from one another. For one thing, Shaker furniture has been around much longer with the first pieces being built in the late 1700’s. The Shakers were a group of people that arrived in America around 1770, and they held strict, simple beliefs that set them apart from others. They were very careful to live simply for fear of falling victim to pride, and their furniture mirrored that belief.
You can identify shaker furniture by its gentle curves, tapered legs and round, wooden knobs. It’s much more delicate than Mission style furniture, with it’s sharp angles and bulky, rectangular shape. Mission furniture also utilizes metal adornments for knobs and joints, whereas the Shakers would have seen that as excessive. So while both styles are equally popular and favorites of Amish craftsmen, the styles are radically different if you know what to look for.
Mission Style Furniture for Your Home
Outfitting your home in Mission Style décor goes beyond simply buying a few pieces of oak furniture. It should promote a feeling of beauty, calm and simplicity. After all, the driving forces behind the beginning of this movement were artisan integrity and a human yearning to get back to the fundamentals of nature. While you can incorporate this style into almost any room, the most popular are usually the living room, dining room and bedroom. Let’s examine each room in detail so you can achieve that perfect mission style look!
If you are looking for a comfortable, homey feel to your living room, Mission Style is where it’s at. The robust nature of this style lends itself well to frequent use. It eliminates the “museum feel” that often comes from a more ornate decorating style. A wood-frame sofa like our McKinley Sofa would be a beautiful focal point. Choose from a basic mission coffee table that features traditional slats, flat panel top and a bottom shelf, or go with a piece with additional drawers and cabinets to provide more storage. Add a matching end table and a bookshelf to the mix and you’re good to go. You can even expand your collection to include an entertainment center or a stereo cabinet! With such a wide range of choices you’ll create a living room the whole family will love to spend time in.
Here is where Mission Style furniture really shines. Beautiful dining room tables and chairs that burst with old-school charm will give you warm memories of family gatherings for generations to come. Our mission dining tables come in many different variations, including pedestal, double pedestal, traditional legs or even a trestle bottom. Drop leaves will give you added seating space when entertaining. Adding a hutch like our Open Mission Hutch offers a place to display and store your dishes while also providing an area to use as a serving buffet. Each and every piece you choose will move you one step closer to the perfect dining room.
Your bedroom should be a safe haven. It’s the place you rest your head, leave the toil of the day behind and rejuvenate yourself for the next day’s adventure. You have tons of options when choosing the perfect Mission Style bed. If you are looking for something with that traditional slat look, our Brooks Mission Bed fits the bill. You can also go the flat panel route instead, such as our Classic Mission Bed, or choose a style that showcases both slats and panels like our Bridgeport Mission Bed. Since the bed is almost always the centerpiece of the room, you can build from there. You’ll need some night tables and a dresser or two. You may even consider a blanket chest to store extra sheets and blankets for cold nights. Before you know it, you’ll be surrounded by the peace and quiet of your dream bedroom.
Buying some pieces of solid wood furniture is always a good investment. And if your interest leans toward Mission Style décor, the Amish Outlet Store has plenty for you to choose from. Just remember that when decorating in Mission Style, the key is to keep it simple. Straight, clean lines, with either open slats or flat panels will give you the ideal Mission Style you’re after. As for wood choices, American oak is a classic option, but we do offer other hardwood options if you prefer. We gave you some detailed options for three main rooms of your house, but you can also expand this style into other rooms like the office or bathroom. Sky’s the limit! Take your time and mix and match to your heart’s content. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself wrapped in a space that speaks directly to your soul.