Simple, durable, and functional, mission-style furniture is very popular, especially in traditional decors.
The style first emerged in the 19th century and was popularized between 1900 and 1915. It advocates for sturdy elegance and clear purpose. Essentially, it requires that each piece of furniture have a purpose. The piece must also fulfill that purpose.
But should you hop on the bandwagon? More specifically, should you purchase a mission-style dining room table for your home? The following guide should help you make an informed decision.
What’s Mission-Style Furniture?
Mission-style furniture refers to simple, durable, and functional furniture pieces pioneered by the architect, publisher, and furniture maker Gustav Stickley. Stickley’s inspiration came from the furniture he observed at the turn of the century California Franciscan missions. The name also reflects his mission to build functional furniture with a clear purpose.
Mission-style furniture is also commonly referred to as craftsman-style furniture. It’s well suited for most interior décor styles, though it is most common in traditional-style decors.
Characteristics of Mission-Style Dining Room Tables
Although it’s not easy to pick out mission-style furniture, these furniture pieces share a few characteristics that distinguish them from the rest.
1. Horizontal and vertical lines
Straight horizontal and vertical lines first and foremost characterize Mission-style furniture (including tables). They also feature flat planes and panels that highlight the natural grains of the wood used.
This alone tells you that mission-style furniture is often made from high-quality timber with distinct grain patterns. Genuine mission furniture is produced with precise and expert craftsmanship – much of it handcrafted – usually from solid wood.
2. Vertical and parallel slats
Slats, also known as timber weatherboarding, siding, or simply slats, wood slats are exterior sidings on modern and contemporary furniture. They are thin strips of wood placed either vertically or horizontally with equal placement between each piece.
Mission-style dining tables (and other furniture pieces) are exclusively vertical and parallel slats that highlight the furniture’s appearance and strength. Vertical slats also create the subtle illusion of lightness which helps to balance the masculine and heavy appearance of mission-style furniture.
Mission-style furniture is also very simple. Typically, you’ll find no ornamentation. However, where the designer uses ornaments, two things are important – function and quantity. All ornaments must have a pre-defined purpose, such as highlighting sections of the furniture. More importantly, the ornaments are kept to a minimum.
The furniture only uses tenons to join different parts. Tenons are boards whose ends have been cut for insertion into a mortise, either blindly, keyed, or pinned. This results in clean, simple finishes.
4. Exposed joints
Finally, we’ve mentioned tenon joints. Mission-style furniture is designed such that the tenons are exposed. This is both stylistic and functional. As a stylistic feature, the exposed mortise and tenon joints highlight the subtle complexity of the furniture. They also help to tie the furniture pieces together, assuming that you also have mission-style dining chairs.
Meanwhile, as functional features, the joints add tremendous strength and durability to the table and other mission-style furniture.
Benefits of a Mission-Style Dining Room Table
Now that you know the leading qualities of a mission-style dining room table, should you buy one? If you’re undecided, the following benefits may change your mind.
If you’re interested in a sturdy dining room table that you can depend on for a long time, then mission-style would be an excellent choice. Mission-style furniture is incredibly sturdy. You don’t have to worry about weather-occasioned wear and tear or unexplained peeling. Obviously, you can paint and repaint the unit throughout its life.
Another key benefit of mission-style furniture is that they bring a rare authentic feel. As Stickley intended, mission-style furniture dignifies the surrounding and lend a subtle sense of style to any environment. Remember that the units are also constructed from exotic hardwoods with distinct grain patterns. It makes them stand apart in any space.
Finally, mission-style furniture is also attractive for its high level of sustainability. Locally sourced and manufactured solid hardwood Stickley furniture is renewable and perhaps the most environmental-friendly carbon-neutral furniture. This explains why many people call them “carbon sinks.” The pieces can be refinished, recycled, reused, and even upcycled throughout their lifespans.
Don’t Forget to Decorate
If you’re convinced and decide to purchase a mission-style dining room table, make sure to decorate the room to accentuate the style.
For instance, you emphasize the natural elements in the room by adding wood or stone flooring. Installing other wooden furniture, such as a wooden fireplace mantel, can also help highlight the table. Meanwhile, when selecting colors, earthly tones are the best due to their simplicity and design.