Design Guide to Mission Style Furniture from Amish Artisans

Mission Style Furniture Design Guide

At Countryside Amish Furniture, we believe that solid wood furniture should be elegant, functional, and truly match your style. That is why we offer a full line of Amish-crafted Mission-style furniture for your home.

Solid Wood, Mission Furniture Designed by You

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Simple and practical, mission-style furniture places a heavy emphasis on the artistry of woodworking and the value of well-made pieces. Whether it is for your master suite, dining room, or living room, you can enjoy the simple and elegant charm of Mission furniture.

What is Mission Style Furniture?

Oftentimes considered the ideal example of simplistic style, Mission style furniture is full of function. Simple, quality workmanship is the hallmark of craftsman style. Mission furniture is known for its simple vertical and horizontal lines, flat or inset paneling, and real wood grain character. 

Similar to arts and crafts, Mission-style furniture focuses on natural materials and typically lacks any kind of decoration or ornamentation that isn’t integral to the structure of the piece. It focuses on high-quality handcraftsmanship and is characterized by rectangular shapes. Joinery is exposed, showing the skill and precision required to assemble a piece. Because of the crisp lines and lack of embellishment, Mission-style furniture fits well in homes with a modern sensibility and aesthetic but is equally at home in a cabin or Craftsman setting. The exposed joints and highlighted grain patterns are often complemented with metal drawer pulls, knobs, and hinges.

Traditionally, Mission-style furniture has often been built with Red or White Oak wood (often Quartersawn), although other woods like Cherry, Maple, and Walnut have been used more commonly over the last several decades. Mission style pieces are rarely seen in a painted or matte finish, and the real wood character is the star of the show. Our expert Amish craftsmen do their best to highlight a section of wood that has a particularly interesting grain. This insistence on quality wood means that a piece of Mission furniture can be expected to last a lifetime, and be passed down from generation to generation.

Overall, Mission Craftsman style has become a timeless style and a great choice for heirloom quality furniture. Amish craftsmen and furniture artisans still produce Mission-style furniture with just as much care and craftsmanship as the original Mission designers.

Mission Style vs. Shaker Style

Shaker style and Mission Style are the cornerstones of Amish-built furniture and are often mistakenly used interchangeably.

Mission style is commonly confused with Shaker furniture, though there are several notable differences between the two. Shaker-style furniture was designed in the early 1800s, while mission style was prevalent over 100 years later. While mission style features incredibly sturdy, durable furniture, Shaker-style furniture was designed to have a delicate and elegant appearance. You can identify Shaker furniture by its subtle curves, streamlined tapered legs, and round, wooden knobs.

Some people may consider Mission-style furnishings to have a slightly more masculine appearance in contrast to a slightly more feminine appearance of shaker-style furniture. Both styles feature a simple design. Mission style furniture was designed to maintain practical functionality and features straight lines, rectangular shapes, and high-quality craftsmanship. Mission furniture also utilizes metal adornments for knobs and joints, whereas the Shakers would have seen that as excessive.

With flexibility in both traditional and modern styled homes, the Lydney Shaker Dining Set becomes a lifetime investment with simple, tapered lines.

Key Features

  • Solid hardwood construction
  • Multiple table sizes available
  • 12" optional center leaves
  • Soft close dovetailed drawers
  • Touch tone hutch lighting
  • Wood, fabric or leather seats
  • Custom hardwood & finishes
  • Amish handmade in the USA

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What Does Mission-Style Furniture Look Like?

Distinctive characteristics of Mission-style furniture:

  • Straight horizontal and vertical lines are defining elements. Lines will be simple for the most part, with very few curves and no ornate carvings. 
  • There is very little ornamentation. Mission beauty is reflected in the elegant and spare simplicity of style.
  • Vertical and parallel slats, called stiles, were a common feature of mission furniture which lent the furniture the appearance of strength.
  • Elements are most often chunky and flat or squared. The overall look is heavy, and some see it as quite masculine. 
  • Exposed mortise and tenon joints are commonly used, which add strength and durability to any piece of furniture.
  • Any foot that is present is usually block or modified block in style. 
  • Chair backs usually have a series of vertical boards, sometimes called stiles, across the backrest. Many chairs, including rockers and bar chairs, have leather seats.

While Mission pieces, in general, may have exposed pegs or tenon ends, decorative elements are very much kept to a minimum in the tradition of Arts & Crafts styling. 

Our craftsmen use only the highest quality hardwoods when making mission furniture. This is to ensure the quality and durability of each piece of furniture we produce. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, here are the standard woods that make up our mission style furniture:

Oak, Quartersawn White Oak, Cherry, Hickory, Walnut, Brown Maple, and Hard Maple. 

Stain is an important consideration with your furniture, but each type of wood ages and takes color differently. Cherry wood, for example, darkens with light exposure. A hand-applied stain should be a choice that enhances the natural grains and characteristics of the wood.

Mission-Style Living Room Design Inspiration

When it comes to incorporating the craftsman look, the living room provides plenty of opportunities. Mission style living room furniture values functionality and craftsmanship and is designed with clean lines and flat panels meant to accentuate wood grain. Using time-tested techniques, our handcrafted Mission living room collection is durable and beautiful with details often overlooked in today's rushed world.

Enjoy a comfortable place to sit and relax while adding elegant Mission-inspired charm to your living room. A wood-frame sofa like our Jerome Slatted Sofa would be a beautiful focal point. Choose from a wide variety of hardwood coffee tables that feature traditional slats and corbels, or go with a piece with additional drawers and cabinets to provide more storage. A Mission entertainment center can become the centerpiece of your family room and can be built in several sizes and configurations.

If you love the Mission style and Mission furniture, then think about decorating the family or living room with the following:

  • Real wood statement pieces
  • Hammered metal and stained glass
  • Natural, earthy color palette
  • Mortise and tenon joinery
  • Hand-thrown pottery
  • Full-grain leather upholstery
  • Natural cotton drapes
  • Linen throws and accents
  • Patterned pillows

In general, earth tones can go a long way toward complementing the mission-style appearance, due to their simplicity of design. However, brighter colors can also be implemented to create a sharp contrast between the more reserved hues of the furniture. These warm-hued woods are often complemented by natural tones like dark green, gold, burgundy, or burnt orange. Patterns can be incorporated through rugs, throws, and stained glass windows or lamps, but be sure to use them sparingly because too many patterns can overwhelm the space.

Your furniture will become treasured heirlooms with the quality of our Amish handmade Santa Clara Collection featuring TV stands, seating, and tables.

Key Features

  • Solid hardwood construction
  • Fabric or leather upholstery
  • 1" thick tops with breadboard ends
  • Yellowheart ginkgo leaf & arrow inlays
  • Dovetailed storage drawers
  • Sliding glass cabinet doors
  • Custom hardwood & stain
  • Amish handmade in the USA

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Mission-Style Bedroom Design Inspiration

At Countryside Amish Furniture, our solid wood bedroom furniture is still built with the quality and integrity that Mission style has long represented. 

Mission bedroom furniture is carefully crafted to be sturdy, simple, and striking. Often built in solid Oak or Quartersawn White Oak, our Amish Mission Style Bedroom Furniture features simple lines, open slats, and rich hand-rubbed wood finishes. 

A matching Mission bedroom set provides a timelessly warm look. Mission-style bed frames are available in many designs. If you are looking for something with that traditional slat look, our Percy Mission Slat Bed fits the bill. You can also go the classic inset panel route instead, such as our Felipe Mission Panel Bed, or choose a style that showcases both slats and panels like our Alpena Slatted Panel Bed (which also features Mission-inspired ebony inlays). Finally, add a few modern touches such as a chic rug, lamp, or comforter.

Our Mission Hills Bedroom Furniture Set is handcrafted of responsibly harvested, locally sourced solid hardwood by our experienced Amish artisans.

Key Features

  • Solid wood construction
  • Mortise & tenon joinery
  • Beveled glass dresser mirrors
  • Soft close undermount slides
  • Full extension drawers
  • Hardwood & finish options
  • Made in the United States

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Author, Baileigh Basham

Bailiegh Basham is Lead Sales & Marketing Strategist at Countryside Amish Furniture. She's been a team member since 2014. Bailiegh is deeply passionate about furniture design and home decor.