Craftsman and Mission-Style Kitchen Design

Get ideas and information on Craftsman and mission-style kitchen design, and prepare to add a classic and attractive design to your kitchen space.
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Arts and Crafts style seeks to return to fine craftsmanship and create a balanced environment. Design by Thomas Conway.

By: Sean McEvoy

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.

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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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