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What is the Difference between Craftsman and Mission Style Furniture?

When searching for furniture, you may be wondering what the difference is between some styles of furniture. You may hear the terms “Craftsman” and “Mission” used when referring to Amish furniture styles, but what is the difference between the two? Simply put, the two terms actually refer to similar styles. Craftsman and Mission furniture has classic lines with simple hand-made details like parallel slats. The name for this style changes depending on who you attribute its founding. If you are in the market for a new piece of furniture, it is interesting to know the history behind craftsman and mission-style furniture.

Unlike furniture styles like Queen Anne or Empire, which draw their influences from England and France, respectively, the Mission style is totally American. In fact, Mission-style furniture owes its origin to the Catholic missions which sprung up in the American Southwest. Spanish missionaries built adobe-walled missions in California and elsewhere. And their simplistic building design inspired succeeding generations of artists. Over time, the ‘Mission’ style began to filter into many fields, such as sculpture, architecture, painting, and furniture.

History of Craftsman Furniture

The invention of craftsman furniture is typically attributed to twentieth-century American furniture maker Gustav Stickley. After growing tired of the overly ornate styles of the Victorian era, Stickley sought something simpler to represent better the American ideals of strength, sturdiness, and hard work. On a trip to England during the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1800s, Stickley was inspired by the simplicity of the designs. Upon returning to America in 1900, Stickley began building American Craftsman furniture. In 1903, he officially changed the name of his business to Craftsman furniture.

Characteristics of Craftsman and Mission

Craftsman style and mission style can both be identified by their clean lines and simplicity. As a foil to the Victorian style of the 1800s, both styles lack any non-functional adornment and ornamentation. Both styles are constructed out of solid wood. Oak and its varieties are the most common wood used in craftsman and mission furniture. These pieces are simple with straight, clean lines and are typically very heavy in appearance. As with other styles of Amish furniture, every piece is hand-crafted, which lends to its reliability and elegance. You can identify Mission furniture by its iconic characteristics. They include simple straight-line construction, extreme simplicity, and fine craftsmanship. Also, Mission furniture usually has a distinct lack of unnecessary ornamentation. It’s also heavy and substantial but well-proportioned. In addition, Mission furniture is usually given a medium or dark stain.

How to Identify Craftsman and Mission Style Furniture

When shopping for furniture in stores and online, the piece you are looking at will likely have an identifier, but it is a good idea to know some of the defining characteristics of these furniture styles. One of the critical features of craftsman and mission-style furniture is evenly spaced parallel slats. This is likely the only ornamentation you will see on these furniture pieces. Additionally, these styles can be identified in chairs by their straight legs, arms, and backs. Conversely, other styles of Amish furniture, like the Shaker style, may feature delicately curved details.

Another identifying feature is the use of dowels and tenons in construction. In the Victorian era, most ornamentation covered places where the wood was brought together. With their simplicity, both craftsman and mission-style furniture leave these structural elements exposed. Finally, any pulls or handles on these furniture styles will likely have a hand-hammered appearance.

Mission Perfectly Expressed in Amish Furniture

So where can you find the best Mission furniture today? That would be Weaver Furniture Sales in Shipshewana, Indiana. Amish craftsmen who have settled on the fertile northern Indiana plains build Mission furniture for every room in the house. Also, the Amish men use traditional, ‘old world’ cabinetmaking techniques. Plus, solid Midwestern hardwoods like oak, maple, cherry, and hickory.

Moreover, Weaver Furniture’s lineup of the Mission style comes in various flavors. They include Mission, Bridger Mission, Classic Mission, Deluxe Mission, Granny Mission, Rio Mission, Royal Mission, and Trestle Mission.

Visit Our Store to Buy Locally-Made Amish Furniture!

Weaver Furniture partners with several local Amish woodworkers to sell their beautiful, hand-crafted furniture pieces. At our Shipshewana, Indiana, location, you can browse through our selection of solid wood dining room, bedroom, and office furniture. Come see us today!

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