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Elements of Style

Mission Style Books - Interior Design
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handles & knobs
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Elements of Style
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Lighting plays an important role in Mission style.

 
 
 
 

Mission Style
 

The early part of the twentieth century witnessed a design revolution inspired by the Arts and Crafts philosophy of William Morris, who reacted against dehumanized industrial production to create an aesthetic based on simplicity, honesty, and artisanship.  In Europe and North America, architects and furniture designers took Morris’s ideals to heart.  But while Morris looked to medieval British tradition for inspiration, American designers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley and Elbert Hubbard drew on homegrown materials and motifs.  

One result of this regional focus was the Mission style, which combined Arts and Crafts principles with elements taken from the Spanish mission architecture of the American Southwest.  Mission homes were most popular between about 1890 and 1920, and adorned basic outlines of squared-off white stucco with Mediterranean detail like red tile roofs, parapets, arched entry arcades that recall mission cloisters, black iron balustrades, and decorative windows (round, arched, or quatrefoil). 
 

Mission Style Lighting

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A classic Arts & Crafts lamp.
Wooden base with mica lamp shade.

 

Like other branches of the Arts and Crafts movement, Mission interior design emphasized simplicity and natural materials like wood, brick, and tile -- with Spanish accents.  To keep the rooms light and airy, the wall color is usually white, but pale rose or yellow are also possible.  Where its Anglo-inflected cousins might use more carved wood, Mission style employs an abundance of tile -- on floors, tabletops, and around the fireplace --  primarily in natural earth tones accented by colors like deep blue and ochre.  Window treatments should be plain white or off-white canvas on dark iron rods.  Simple cast-iron wall sconces and Mission-style Tiffany lamps or chandeliers with classic geometric designs are the best lighting choices.

The angular lines, exposed joints, and distinctive slatting of Mission furniture, usually based on Stickley’s Craftsman designs, are easy to recognize and can be used in many different settings.  In a Mission environment, dress up versatile basics like a red oak and leather Morris chair or slatted nesting tables with rustic Spanish and Southwest accents. Hand-crafted Mexican pottery and textiles, area rugs with linear patterns in muted colors, a mirror framed in dark wood, pewter candlesticks, and even religious paintings or icons help transform the unpretentious simplicity of Arts and Crafts into the rich, vibrant, and evocative Mission style.

Elements of Mission Style:
Mission Elements of Style
Mission Style Books - Interior Design Lighting
Fine Art Prints   Mission Chandeliers
Ceiling Medallions   Mission Table Lamps
Furniture   Mission Floor Lamps
Hardware - handles & knobs Stained Glass
Moldings, cornices, niches Step-by-Step Tutorials

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Proportion and scale, along with the interplay between linear movement and the spacious qualities of light play an integral role in creating balance and harmony within the room.

Doors: As the entrance, and welcoming space of the house, doors and porches played an important role in the Mission movement.

Doors were often of plain plank construction, fitted with elaborate hinges and latches, rather than knobs, inspired by medieval forms. Later in the movement, painted motifs became popular--either freehand or stenciled--and were supported visually by the use of stained glass.
 

Windows: The importance placed on light and air is reflected in the large window areas. Sash windows were commonly used, often incorporating leaded glass as a key detail. Elongated window proportions exemplified this style and one would commonly see the pairing of an upper sash bearing small rectangular panes with a tall, single-paned lower sash.
 

Arts & Crafts Stained Glass



Walls: Color played an important role in the decorator's approach, and a 3 part division of the wall into dado, field and frieze was almost always employed. Full paneling on walls was used on occasion, and stenciled friezes were also favored. With the design of fine wallpapers, lead by Morris and Company of London and Warren, Fuller and Co. of NY, wallpaper was also an accepted wall covering. Early papers boasted floral and medieval designs while the later period would take on Japanese influences. Tapestry hangings were widely used in late interiors.

Ceilings: In the early period, remaining true to medieval designs was preeminent. Treatments included chamfered beams, designed plaster ceilings, with occasional painting and gilding. Decoration that incorporated painted stenciling was desirable, but as the cost might be prohibitive, ceiling papers, often embossed, became much more common. In the later periods, intricate, prefabricated plaster work was frequently used.

Floors: Being true to this movement, it was generally considered that only wood or stone was acceptable for floors. Indigenous woods in America were used, oak or maple, most commonly.
Carpets were regularly used, and though authentic Indian, Turkish and Persian carpets were favored, often machine-manufactured carpets were the norm.

 

Furniture: A strong design element of the Craftsman movement was the regular use of built-in furniture. It was practical and minimized the clutter that was common in the Victorian era. A window seat beneath a bay window or a bench and sideboard against a wall in the dining room might be incorporated into the house design, for example.



 
Interior Spaces

 
 

Stenciled mosaic patterns and hand painted scrolls embellish this Arts & Crafts powder room.

 


 

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