What is Mission Style?

Mission Style refers to a design movement emphasizing simple, sturdy construction with minimal ornamentation.


Mission Style is an important design movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in the United States. This style is heavily influenced by the Spanish missions in California, and it's characterized by its use of straight lines, flat panels, and minimal decorative elements. The focus is on the beauty and quality of the materials, such as oak, which is often used for furniture within this style.

The creation of Mission Style can be attributed to the broader Arts and Crafts movement, which sought to promote handcrafted goods as a response to industrialization. Unlike the more ornate styles of the time, Mission Style embraces simplicity and function, with an emphasis on craftsmanship. The style aims to create a sense of warmth and solidity in furniture and architecture, making extensive use of natural materials and earthy tones.

Within interior design, Mission Style is often complemented by other elements that uphold the principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, such as handwoven textiles and pottery. The style is versatile, making it suitable for a range of spaces from traditional to more contemporary settings. By focusing on the intrinsic beauty of the materials and simple forms, Mission Style provides a timeless aesthetic that emphasizes comfort and practicality.


In interior design, Mission Style is often seen in the construction of furniture like tables, chairs, and beds, which showcase heavy, horizontal, and vertical lines with little to no decoration. Architecturally, it influences the design of homes, churches, and other buildings with features such as exposed wood beams, built in cabinetry, and simple wrought iron or copper hardware. Accessories might include pottery, metal works, and textiles that complement the style's earth-toned palette and emphasis on handcraftsmanship.


  • How does Mission Style differ from other design styles?

    Mission Style differs from other design styles primarily in its emphasis on simplicity, sturdiness, and minimal ornamentation. It eschews elaborate decorations in favor of showcasing the natural beauty and quality of materials, particularly wood. This makes it distinct from more ornate styles like Victorian or Rococo, which heavily feature decorative elements and embellishments.

  • Can Mission Style be integrated into modern interiors?

    Absolutely. Mission Style's emphasis on clean lines and practicality makes it easily adaptable to modern interiors. Its focus on craftsmanship and quality materials complements contemporary design principles that value minimalism and functionality. Mixing Mission Style furniture or accents with modern pieces can create a balanced and inviting space.

  • What materials are commonly used in Mission Style?

    Oak is the predominant material used in Mission Style furniture due to its durability and the warm, natural aesthetic it provides. However, other woods like maple and cherry can also be utilized, along with materials like wrought iron, copper, and glass for hardware and decorative accents. Natural fabrics and handwoven textiles often complement the solid furniture pieces.

Practical Application

To incorporate Mission Style into your space, focus on selecting furniture and accents with simple, clean lines and minimal decoration. Opt for solid, sturdy pieces made of natural materials, primarily wood, and complement these with handcrafted textiles or pottery. Keep the color palette warm and earthy to evoke the natural, unassuming elegance of Mission Style. This design approach can add a timeless, cozy feel to any room.