Mission style decorating is often referred to as Arts and Crafts. It's a way of decorating your home which is simple and informal, making use of basic furnishings, yet giving a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.

Do you want to get away from modern interior design effects but still keep things simple and comfortable? Make use of natural wood in your home? Use ideas from nature?

Then this style of decor could be just what you're looking for.

A reaction to the fussy Victorians?

This style of decorating obtained it's name from the Spanish missions in the American South-West. Their use of wood furniture was one of the main inspirations for the style.

These ideas were taken up by Gustav Stickley who used them in his chair factory. He produced hand-made products which were well crafted. The Arts and Crafts movement had similar ideas, and the two styles became interlinked.

The style became popular because many people were tired of the overdressed way the Victorians decorated their rooms. It was also a statement of lifestyle - thinking more of nature and our place in it.

mission bed

This bed sums up the ideas behind mission style decorating.

The wood frame is well constructed and simple in design. The hand made quilt uses soft, natural colors. Plain walls and textured floor tiles provide a resful background.


Your color scheme

Here are some guidelines when selecting your colors.

  • Use the colors of nature. This, after all, was one of the guiding principles of the movement. Keep the colors soft - not too bright, and use ones which blend together.
  • Keep the colors simple and harmonious. Use ones which are near each other on the color wheel (click here for more information on the color wheel). Soft or mossy greens, many shades of brown, rust red, muted blues, all these can be used for this style of decorating.
  • Mission style decorating can work well if you use a light cream or off-white color on your walls, with the dark wood of your furniture and fabrics contrasting against them.

The Shortcut to Perfect Paint Colors - Paint Color Cheat Sheets



Because the emphasis in mission style decorating is on natural finishes, it's normal to have your floors finished in natural wood. You can also use slate or terra cotta tiles.

Bare floorboards or tiles are fine to look at, but can be a bit hard on the feet! So use handmade rugs for softness and comfort. These can also be used to bring some color onto the floor area.

Window treatments

The Arts and Crafts movement brought stained glass into this style. If you do use stained glass, then it's best to leave the windows untreated, or with very simple curtains either side.

Because this style favors natural and simple solutions, roller or roman shades are suitable for your window treatments. If you want to use curtains, keep the treatment simple. Plain tracks are ok, and natural wood poles look great.

Plain textured fabrics such as cotton or linen make up well. For patterned fabrics you could use a William Morris print or similar. (William Morris had a significant influence on the Arts and Crafts movement.)


mission chair

Furniture should be of a simple design, and well constructed.

Oak furniture is well suited to mission style decorating, or any of the deeper colored woods such as cherry or walnut. It's best to avoid lighter colored woods such as pine or maple.

For upholstered furniture use natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, or heavy textured fabrics. Leather is another option.

This chair illustrates the style. The wood frame is strong and well crafted, and blends well with the leather upholstery.



When selecting accessories, remember that this style is based on simplicity, natural elements, and first rate craftsmanship. If an item meets these requirements and blends in well with the overall effect, then use it.

Warning: Beware of furniture described as 'Mission style' which fails to meet the first rate craftmanship requirement. There's a lot of it about!

Mission style decorating overlaps with Art Nouveau and Art Deco. If you see any accessories which are classified in these styles, you'd probably be ok to use them as well.

But don't overdo it. This decor style should be simple and straightforward. Don't overcomplicate it with lots of bits and pieces.



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