The History of Mission Style Furniture

Mission style furniture has been popular for many decades, but there is some confusion about what it is and how it relates to other popular styles. How does your mission style bedroom set really differ from Amish or Shaker furniture, for example? Understanding the history will help you appreciate what sets your pieces apart as well as how you can best decorate to take advantage of the unique features of this popular decor style.

Arts and Crafts

The Arts and Crafts movement was a British furniture style that came into popularity during the late 1800s. During the Victorian Era, furniture for living rooms, bed frames, and tables were highly elaborate, ornate, and heavy. They also tended to be dark and difficult to move or clean. The Arts and Crafts movement was a rebellion against this style and its mass production.

The Arts and Crafts movement wanted quality materials, simple designs, and highly-skilled craftsmanship. This movement spread to the United States around 1900 and flourished in New York.

Forbes and McHugh

Meanwhile, on the West Coast of America, a craftsman named A.J. Forbes made a beautiful chair for church in San Francisco. He molded the chair after the simple designs of Spanish mission churches and in the Arts and Crafts movement vein. The chair was perfect.

In New York, a businessman named McHugh copied the design and released an entire line of the first true mission furniture: at his store you could get a mission style bedroom set or mission dresser or chairs that were simple, comfortable, and durable.

Spread of a Design

In the United States, the Arts and Crafts movement promoted practicality in furniture design, simplicity, quality, and durability. The movement was comprised of the mission style, the Amish style, the Shaker style, and later copycat styles. All these styles persist today, and in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in mission style as a reaction to mass-produced and cheap quality furniture production.

Unique Mission Features

What makes a mission style bedroom set different? There are several important features that make mission furniture stand apart:

  • Absence of ornamentation
  • Weight and substance, but in proportion
  • Simple construction in straight lines
  • Made from oak or white oak
  • Frequently uses medium or dark stains
  • Grain of the wood is prominent in simple lines

Your mission style bedroom set is designed to last a lifetime and be passed down to another generation. It is part of a movement that emphasizes quality and recognizes the value of personal, handmade craftsmanship. If you’re looking for a new bedroom set or living room pieces, mission style furniture could be just the right choice.

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