Mission Style Defined

Find out how to add Mission-style design to your home.

By Lisa Frederick

Mission style, sometimes labeled Arts and Crafts, represents an ideal as much as a design approach. It blossomed at the dawn of the 20th century, an about-face from the lavish materials and ornate motifs in vogue during the Victorian era and from the rise of mass-produced decor during the Industrial Revolution. An influential group of architects, artisans and design trailblazers, including Gustav Stickley, William Morris, and Frank Lloyd Wright, deemed factory-made furnishings and accent pieces soulless and hollow, and instead promoted a return to the integrity of simple craftsmanship and the appeal of the natural world.

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The Basics

Casual Country/Rustic Kitchen
Susan Brown

In architecture as well as interiors, Mission style is as much about function as it is about form. It feels pure and earthy, its components crafted with care and chosen with an eye toward creating an organic whole. It eschews ornamentation and unnecessary flourishes in favor of practicality and simple beauty.

These designer rooms exhibit Mission Style:

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Incorporate these essentials to give your space Mission flavor:

Artisanship. In Mission style, handcrafting is revered above all else. Furnishings and fixtures generally are plain and unfussy, bearing clear evidence of the work that went into them. Although this style tends to go easy on the accessories, a few hand-spun pottery bowls, a braided rug, or a one-of-a-kind piece of stained glass would look apt.

Earth-inspired colors. Take your palette from your natural surroundings. Think woodsy browns, tans, and khakis; stony grays and blues; muted yellows and greens; and rusty reds. Colors should be sure and saturated—strong enough to stand up to the chunky lines and simple geometric forms that mark Mission interiors.

Diana Chair
Richard Bubnowski Design

Natural woods. From furnishings to flooring to millwork, Mission style depends on wood for its signature warmth. Layer indigenous American species such as oak, maple and walnut. Don't mask their grain with paint; instead, finish them with stain, varnish, wax, or oil to showcase their inherent beauty.

Natural materials.
Upholstery and other fabrics should be plain and made from natural substances: cotton, linen, burlap, and leather. Mica lampshades and sconces lend a rich gleam, and slate or other stone on the floors adds the organic feel that's so important.

Brass, bronze, and copper.
Metalwork should reflect the same warmth as the wood. Choose oil-rubbed or hammered styles for lighting, hardware, faucets, and other metal fixtures throughout the home.

If you like Mission style, you may like Craftsman Style. Click to explore!

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