Simply Beautiful: A Brief Style Guide for Mission Furniture

Simply Beautiful: A Brief Style Guide for Mission Furniture

For some collectors, owning Mission furniture inspires them to recreate an authentic Arts and Crafts home down to the smallest beautiful detail. Keep in mind, though, that it’s also possible—exciting, even!—to surround Mission with a look that departs from tradition while still making the most of this iconic furniture. As Bonnie Smith, Visual Merchandiser for Stickley showrooms, points out, “Mission is really whatever you want it to be.” 

Here are some suggestions we hope will inspire you, not constrain you, as you decorate a Mission room!

Keep it simple! Whether your tastes are traditional or modern, don’t overload or crowd the room in a way that will overshadow the furniture: the craft and materials of your pieces should still draw the focus. The room shown at the top of the page is a lovely example of traditional Mission styling done with a lighter touch. From the tapestry-style upholstery fabrics and Arts and Crafts rug to the tile-top tables and nature-inspired prints, it tastefully honors the movement’s motifs.

Nothing could be simpler and more classic than this nook with its uncluttered styling and thoroughly natural color palette—right down to the outdoor view.

Consider your colors.
Color has the power to elevate the feeling of luxury in Mission by softening its wood tones. Traditionally, Mission is associated with deep earth tones throughout the room, and it’s true that warm neutrals and earth tones tend to be more compatible with its finishes. But this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Soft whites, warm grays, and other quiet tones can also show your furniture in a flattering light.

The elements are traditional, but restraint ensures that this space is anything but stuffy. Note the simple, elegant color palette across furniture, art, and a few carefully chosen decorative pieces.

Explore new finishes.
If you have trouble imagining Mission in a more modern setting, changing up the finish may be the answer. A lighter finish can completely alter the feel of a piece and of the whole room, and it in no way lessens the impact of the furniture. “Mission pieces can still speak to the Mission style through the furniture’s silhouette and construction details,” says Stickley’s National Trade Representative, Kendra Perley.

Contrasting finishes transform the Prairie Settle and Mission Tile Top Cocktail Table into something fully modern, right down to their clean geometric lines. Subtle pops of pattern and color are reserved for the throw pillows and artwork.

Mix in textiles.
Floral and botanical patterns inspired by William Morris, a father of the English Arts and Crafts movement that influenced Gustav Stickley, have been a traditional go-to for Mission décor, and today you can even find beautiful examples in updated colors. Another approach is to choose very neutral, natural fabrics while using color and pattern in smaller doses, as on throw pillows; layering in textures in a focused color palette allows the wood to stand out while also softening it. For rugs, Arts and Crafts patterns in hand-knotted wool are ideal for traditional rooms, but more modern styles with an abstract or organic look can be magical in eclectic settings.

We love this composition of neutral bedding with patterned pillows, Mission lamps, and a tranquil green wall color. Notice that the Harvey Ellis Bed is still the star!

Add tasteful jewelry.
With simplicity in mind, keep art and accessories to a minimum, but create personality by choosing items you love, whatever their style. Traditional décor, including Tiffany-style art-glass lamps and ceramic tiles, can be combined with handcrafted pottery, simple vases, and woven baskets, while more modern shapes in metal and stone still connect with the Arts and Crafts aesthetic yet keep the space feeling light and contemporary.

These decorative accents don’t feel at all dated, but their materials of stone and metal—combined with abundant greenery—could come right out of an Arts and Crafts playbook.

Here, a mid-tone finish helps Highlands fit comfortably in a fresh, modern setting. Warm white walls keep the room bright, while the earthy reds in the textiles and accents are a link to traditional Mission style.

Additional sources:

Bonnie Smith, Regional Visual Merchandiser

Kendra Perley, National Trade Representative


Products shown:

Image 1 (banner): Loose-Cushion Settle, Tile Top Cocktail Table, Tile Top Side Table, Tile Top End Table, Loose-Cushion Bow Arm Morris Chair, Footstool, Monterey Grove Rug

Image 2: Round Pedestal Dining Table, Arm Chair, Side Chair, Highland Park Rug

Image 3: Meadowflower Four-Door Sideboard, Round Pedestal Dining Table, Cottage Arm Chair

Image 4: Prairie Settle, Tile Top Cocktail Table

Image 5: Harvey Ellis Bed with Low Footboard, Corbel Base Table Lamp with Mica Shade, Footstool, Windyhill Rug

Image 6: Little Treasures Gustav Plant Stand, Wharton Tufted  Swivel Chair, Chenango Side Table, Sidney Sofa, Garden Window Rug

Image 7: Highlands Sofa, Highlands Chair, Highlands Gathering Island, Highlands Square Cocktail Table, Mission Stool