top of page

About Mission Style

“I am familiar with the Mission Style but is it the same as Craftsman, Prairie, etc. styles? 

What is the difference between them?”


The term Mission Style is often interchanged with Prairie, Arts & Crafts, Craftsman, Bungalow, Southwest and Shaker.  They are styles contemporary to each other and similar in concept but vary slightly in detail depending on their place of origin.  It all started in Industrialized Victorian England as an artistic movement (Arts & Crafts, 1850s), that rebelled against crass, overly carved, mass production of goods that eliminated the need for artists and their skills. The movement emphasized quality of materials, beauty in simplicity, and sophistication of hand craftsmanship. (Bungalow homes). These artists were greatly influenced by Japanese art and architecture which was all the rage at that time in Europe and The U.S.


In The United States, the artistic style was called Prairie and Southwest which were more decorative than their European counterparts as they applied design elements taken from that area’s Native American motifs such as zig-zags, chevrons, squiggles, etc.  And reminiscent of the old California missions, plain heavy furniture were Mission style.  The utilitarian simplicity of the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition was called Shaker style and the handsome, polished New England style was called Craftsman.



The label Mission/Craftsman, etc. refers to an era (1850s) of hand crafted furniture typically with minimal ornamentation except for hammered metal details: hinges, drawer pulls, corner covers, etc.  It describes an art style that is handsome, massive, and linear. It harkens back to an idealistic time of a quieter life when people worked the land and built their own bungalows. Its characteristics are rustic, homey, somber, dark, accented with primitive motifs.  It is the forerunner of today’s modern style.



For those who want classic simplicity, decorating in the Mission style requires large furniture stained in deep brown tones featuring the wood’s grains with a look of handmade. Upholster in leather. (Or leatherette). Add big cushions covered in homespun fabrics. Choose colors found in nature such as forest green, dusty orange, antique rose and neutral tones.  Accent with painted tiles, plant motifs such as pine cones, thistle, sunflowers.  Decorate with stone, slate, hammered copper bowls, ceramics, woven baskets, stained glass lamps and windows with geometric patterns, throw rugs with strong angular motifs. The end look is comfortable, earthy, warm and inviting. Its ambiance is a Zen homage to mother earth. Refer to pictorial history books and Craftsman magazines on the newsstand.


bottom of page