The simple and casual Spanish Mission style of furniture and home decor is an easy and comfortable style to live with. The first pieces of furniture to be attributed to this style were probably made in New York in the 1890s, as part of the Mission Revival movement in architecture that began in the late 19th century inspired by the Spanish missions in California. Although Spanish colonial churches were the inspiration point, the style was closely linked to the British Arts and Crafts movement and it became the American interpretation of this movement. It was a reaction against the industrial age, returning to more human values, and also a reaction against the highly ornate designs of the Victorian era. Instead, we can enjoy the utilitarian simplicity of well-crafted furniture with simple lines using sturdy quality materials such as wood, iron and copper and leather upholstery.
Gustav Stickley of the American Craftsman Furniture Company was a preeminent maker of this style of furniture, and his designs evoked the feel of Spanish colonial churches. Typical details of Spanish Mission style furniture and Craftsman style decor include straight-lined, geometric and block shapes without any fussy or unnecessary carved details or ornamentation. The emphasis is on vertical and horizontal lines and flat panels. Exposed joinery adds to the simple feel but also serves to show off the fine craftsmanship. These pieces, from furniture to lighting or candlesticks, are often quite substantial and heavy looking, and the chunky appearance adds to the traditional and high-quality feel. Woods are also of high quality and oak is most typically featured, showing the wood grain to perfection. Sometimes the wood is enhanced with a stain finish. Color palettes are earthy and not at all ostentatious, with a focus on neutrals.
Mission style lighting is often crafted in black iron, again with a substantial feel. The lamps, chandeliers and sconces look as if they came from a Spanish colonial church!