Mission-style furniture grew out the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement, which like Art Nouveau was a response to industrialization. During the Victorian Era, elaborate Rococo and Neoclassical furniture was churned out by factories. Artists, designers, scholars, and other thinkers of the day began to express disdain for both the frilly, ornate aesthetic of Victorian decor, as well as the low quality of machine-made items.

The lead thinkers of the Arts and Crafts movement, such as art critic John Ruskin and designer William Morris, both from England, called for a return to high-quality, hand-made furniture, crafted by artisans. They promoted a simpler, more natural, and more functional look, with clean lines and solid, heavy frames made of wood. They believed that furniture design should lack clutter and highlight the craftsmanship of the construction and the natural beauty of the materials.

In 1900, furniture designer Gustav Stickley, publisher of the influential magazine, “The Craftsman,” popularized this movement in the United States, launching his own Mission or Craftsman-style of furniture. Said to be based on the spartan furnishings of California’s Franciscan missions, the earthy, rectilinear style was characterized by thick lines of oak, with exposed mortise-and-tenon joints and little in the way of decorative carving.

The best examples of antique Mission-style furnishings, from chairs to tables to cabinets, often feature rows of narrow wooden spindles that create eye-pleasing parallel lines. The wood is varnished but never painted, and the upholstery is always of a natural, unembellished material such as dyed leather or canvas.

The great irony of Mission-style furniture is that even though the Arts and Crafts movement supposedly rejected mechanization, Stickley would used steam-powered or electric woodworking machines to get the wood ready for his pieces, which would then be hand-finished by his artisans. Eventually, the Mission style was mass-produced just like its predecessors had been, and low-quality, slipshod items were soon found everywhere.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Buffalo Architecture and History

Buffalo Architecture and History

Chuck LaChiusa's wonderful guide to the architecture and history of Buffalo, NY, also happens to host an impressive… [read review or visit site]



This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]



This beautiful site showcases the collection of Stanley and Polly Stone of Fox Point, Wisconsin, consisting of earl… [read review or visit site]

Chicago Silver

Chicago Silver

Paul Somerson's incredible reference on handwrought metalwork from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the ear… [read review or visit site]

Kentucky Online Arts Resource

Kentucky Online Arts Resource

This huge online database from the Speed Art Museum is a rich trove of beautiful photos and reference information o… [read review or visit site]

1910 Metal

1910 Metal

A detailed tribute to the lesser-known artistic metalwork craftsmen of the Arts and Crafts movement. In addition t… [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Recent News: Mission Style Furniture

Source: Google News

Sarah Cyrus Home features an eclectic mix of top-quality furniture
Atlanta Magazine, July 1st

If a custom sofa just isn't what the homeowner expected, it's the designer who gets stuck with the bill—and the sofa. That's just one way design pros end up with excess inventory, much of it top-quality goods. To help take it off their hands, Sarah...Read more

48th annual Tulare-Kings All-Star Football Game set for Saturday
Visalia Times-Delta, June 24th

9 Casey Bernardo (Tulare Western). 10 Kobe Portillo (Tulare Western). 11 Brock Dias (Mission Oak). 12 Nico Portillo (Corcoran). 13 Trent Plemons ( Kingsburg ). 15 Ricky Ibarra (Corcoran). 16 Christan Love (Tulare Union). 17 Karson Overmyer (Lemoore)...Read more

Creating a brighter, more inviting living room
Washington Post, June 3rd

Furniture: Soft modern end table ($67), Bang Bang sleeper sofa in cotton with memory foam mattress ($1,000), Albury end table in mission oak ($119), Collins end table ($71) and Metro collection ottoman and chair in crimson red ($330), all from ...Read more

Oak Valley to dedicate sports field complex
Visalia Times-Delta, April 7th

Oak Valley is a feeder school for Tulare Western, but grads also attend Mission Oak and Union high schools in Tulare and schools in Visalia and Hanford. On average, the school graduates between 50 and 60 students. This year's graduating class is 55 ...Read more

Sleep 4 Less coming to Porterville
Porterville Recorder, March 20th

Hemphill is no stranger to the furniture business. His parents, Gary and Vickie Hemphill, opened Hemphill's Furniture Store on D Street in 1971 and continued to manage it until 2007. “Our family has a long history in home furniture,” he said. The Sleep...Read more

To repair or not to repair rare furniture
Arizona Daily Star, March 14th

The Toomey Gallery specializes in A&C furniture (Mission is a style under that umbrella), and also holds regular auctions. In a December 2014 sale, an unsigned Gustav Stickley bungalow library table brought $6,000. In September of the same year another...Read more

Asheville takes spotlight as Arts & Crafts capital
Asheville Citizen-Times, February 15th

At that first conference in 1988, there were 40 exhibitors of Art & Craft pottery, tiles and the signature Mission Oak furniture made by Stickley and other masters that provided the Grove Park Inn with its furnishings. There was only one contemporary...Read more

A Passion for Design: Keeping up with Interior Design Color Trends
PenBayPilot.com, January 15th

Las Cruces represents today's interpretation of authentic craftsman furniture with mortise and tenon joinery and vintage mission oak, hearkening back to the days of Gustav Stickley. Las Cruces is comprised of ash solids with mission oak veneers in a...Read more