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Mission Style Furniture: Timeless Craftsmanship and Design

Types of Furniture | 08.26.23 | Derek Brewster

Mission Style Furniture: Timeless Craftsmanship and Design

The Mission style is a timeless embodiment of simplicity, durability, and aesthetic harmony in furniture design. These characteristics and its inherent adaptability to contemporary home decor make it a highly sought-after choice for many homeowners and designers today. However, the charm and appeal of Mission style furniture are steeped in a history that is as intriguing as the furniture itself. In this article, we’ll take you through the journey of Mission style furniture. All the way from its roots to its standing in the modern world.

Origins and Influences

Mission style furniture traces its origins back to the late 19th century, coinciding with America’s Arts and Crafts movement. The movement was a counter-response to the mass-produced, industrialized furnishings of the Victorian era. This place in time seemed to put a priority on fussy design over practicality and craftsmanship.

The name ‘Mission style’ is widely believed to have been coined by Joseph P. McHugh, a New York furniture manufacturer. McHugh was a retailer who used the term to describe his line of furniture inspired by Spanish Missions in California. The style, though not directly derived from these missions, took inspiration from the straightforward, utilitarian design seen in the mission churches.

The Aesthetic of Mission Style Furniture

Mission style furniture is noted for its clean lines, solid construction, and minimal ornamentation. The furniture pieces showcase the natural beauty of their construction materials, usually oak, strongly emphasizing grain visibility. The simplicity of design reflected the ethos of the Arts and Crafts movement that valued handcrafting, functional design, and a return to traditional production methods.

Key features that define Mission style furniture include rectilinear form, slats or spindles, and exposed joinery, often displaying traditional techniques like mortise and tenon joints. Unlike the flashy furniture of the Victorian era, Mission style furniture was designed to be functional, sturdy, and harmoniously integrated into the living spaces.

The Influence of Gustav Stickley

A key figure in the history of Mission style furniture is Gustav Stickley. Known as the “father of the American Arts and Crafts movement,” Stickley was deeply inspired by the Mission style’s basic, simple build and craftsmanship. He played a pivotal role in popularizing the style through the Stickley Company. As well as The Gustav Stickley Craftsman Workshops, and his magazine, “The Craftsman.” The magazine is where he showcased his furniture designs and shared his vision for a new American style of living.

Stickley’s Mission style furniture is characterized by its superb craftsmanship, simplicity, and functionality. He saw the beauty in honest construction and believed that well-made, simple furniture could bring a sense of calm and order to the home.

Mission Style Furniture Today

In the 21st century, Mission style furniture has found renewed life. It’s beloved for its simple design, ability to blend simply with different decor styles, and the ethos of craftsmanship it embodies. Modern interpretations have adapted the traditional mission designs to incorporate conveniences suited to modern living.

Whether it’s a classic Stickley piece or a modern interpretation, Mission style furniture, with its history rich in craft and tradition, continues to be a beloved choice for those seeking quality furniture. Its influence remains pervasive in modern furniture design, making it a significant chapter in the annals of furniture history.


From its humble beginnings as a counter-response to the mass-produced furniture of the industrial age, Mission style furniture has stood the test of time, keeping its charm, appeal, and relevance. Its rich history underscores a story of craftsmanship and basic design. These are values that continue to resonate in furniture design today.

In the end, understanding the history of this aesthetic furniture deepens our appreciation for it. Every piece is not merely a usable item but also a testament to a design philosophy that values quality, simplicity, and the beauty of natural materials.

A Guide to Harmonious Design

Mission style furniture has a basic design and elegant simplicity. These features can serve as a centerpiece in various rooms of your home. Its versatility allows it to blend with different decor styles without any trouble. This makes it a popular choice for many homeowners. Whether you prefer a traditional or more contemporary design, here are some ways to incorporate Mission style furniture into your home.

Living Room

The living room is an excellent place to display Mission style furniture. A classic Mission style sofa with sturdy construction, high-quality materials, and minimal adornment can add a warm, welcoming atmosphere to your living area. Pair it with a Mission style coffee table. Even a side table that displays the natural beauty of oak with visible, heavy-grained textures. The clean lines of these pieces pair well with earthy color palettes, enhancing the cozy feel of the living room.

Dining Room

In the dining room, a large Mission style dining table serves as a focal point, offering design appeal and functionality. Complement it with Mission style dining chairs, typically with wooden slat backs and upholstered seats for comfort. Their sturdy construction makes them an excellent choice for regular use. Their simple design ensures they’ll stay in style for years to come.


Mission style furniture’s minimalist aesthetic can create a calming, serene bedroom environment. For the bedroom, a Mission style bed frame can be the centerpiece. This displays the beauty of its solid construction and the wood’s natural grain. You could pair it with a nightstand. Even a dresser, all featuring the classic elements of Mission style – simplicity and durability.

Home Office

This aesthetic can also be an excellent fit for a home office. This creates an environment that’s both comfortable and conducive to productivity. This furniture style’s simple, solid construction tends to promote a sense of tranquility and focus, perfect for a home office setting. A Mission style desk emphasizing functionality offers plenty of work surface. All while a Mission style bookcase or filing cabinet can help keep your office organized.


Mission style furniture can be a valuable addition to your home, regardless of the room. Its simple design, quality craftsmanship, and emphasis on functionality make it a versatile choice that can adapt to evolving trends and personal tastes. It embodies a perfect blend of aesthetic appeal and practical use, making it an investment in your home’s beauty and functionality.

Remember, while consistency in design can be nice to look at, don’t be afraid to blend the simple features of these pieces with other styles. For instance, it can pair well with modern design elements by adding a touch of warmth and organic appeal, creating a unique and balanced decor. As you embrace this design, you’ll add furniture pieces to your home. You’ll also incorporate a rich history of design value rooted in simple and honest harmony.

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