Craftsman and Mission-Style Kitchen Design
Craftsman and mission-style kitchen designs are closely related, and each can provide homeowners with a classic and authentic approach that can work in almost any traditional or contemporary home design.
Take a Closer Look
At first glance, Kristy Socarras Bigelow and Brian Bigelow’s Denver kitchen looks pretty classic—subway tiles, open shelves, oak floors. But a closer inspection reveals this room is far from ordinary. When the Bigelows started designing their kitchen, they contemplated a neutral palette. “I loved the idea of a clean and simple room, but I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless it had some spunk,” says Kristy.
There’s a breakfast nook with seat-to-ceiling tiles in graphic patterns, a nod to Kristy’s Cuban heritage. There’s an armoire painted aqua and bright yellow chairs. “What can I say? I’m from Miami—I can’t live without color!” says Kristy, who owns three trendy Cuban restaurants in Colorado.
Sleek Peninsula and Multipurpose Art
“On most Sundays, we invite friends over for a casual dinner,” says Kristy. Guests sit at the granite-top peninsula on metal stools—leftovers from one of Kristy’s restaurants—while she plates food. The wood panel on the wall is actually one of the dining table’s two extra leaves. Kristy painted it yellow, and when it’s not being used to expand the table, she hangs it displays the kids’ art.
While these design styles are distinct in certain ways, both often feature natural materials, expert craftsmanship and well-proportioned, sturdily constructed elements like furniture, cabinets and countertops.
Craftsman and mission-style kitchens became popular in the early 20th century, as a response to the increasingly mechanized methods of production that sprang up during the industrial revolution. As a part of the Arts and Crafts movement in design and architecture—which emphasized the use of natural materials crafted by individual artisans, carpenters and designers—Craftsman and mission-style kitchens often featured intricate woodworking, detailed stonework and other design touches that reflected the skill and personality of the artists and craftsmen who created them.
Because Craftsman and mission-style kitchens feature natural wood so prominently, the choice of wood type for cabinets and furniture will be a key decision for any homeowner considering these design styles. Sturdy, durable woods are often favored, with oak, cherry and maple among the more popular choices. The wood can be left in its natural state, or it can be stained to deepen or enhance the color and bring out natural features like knots, striations and veining. Cabinets in Craftsman and mission-style kitchens often feature intricately carved doors with raised molding or cutouts. These can be paired with substantial, sturdy hardware in iron or other durable metals. Furniture in Craftsman and mission-style kitchens often follows a similar style, with high-quality woods often featured, sometimes sporting cushions, tablecloths and other linens in classic plaid or gingham designs to add color and visual interest.
The similarities between mission and Craftsman-style kitchens are greater than their differences, but there are distinctions. Mission-style kitchens tend to have more Spanish or southwestern influences, since they take their inspiration from the Spanish missions that proliferated in California in the early 20th century. But both styles feature simple, unadorned hardwoods, often with expertly carved paneling or cutouts. Rich, natural colors are common in both styles, as is the use of sturdy, high-quality woods like oak and cherry.
The two styles can sometimes be considered interchangeable because of their similar origins and appearance. In fact, the furniture maker who popularized the mission style, Gustav Stickley, often suggested that the term was misleading.
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