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.


Arts and Crafts style seeks to return to fine craftsmanship and create a balanced environment. Design by Thomas Conway.

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.

A Kitchen With Personality

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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.

Photo By: David A. Land

Unexpected Elements

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.

Photo By: David A. Land

Family Meals in Style

Now the space has just the right ratio of splashy to subdued. Brian and Kristy with kids (from left) Leelé, 6, Mitchell, 10, and Giana, 4, love sitting around the breakfast table.

Photo By: David A. Land

Tiled Wall

A 32-inch-by-46-inch window is surrounded by a patchwork of 8-inch-square cement tiles from “I wanted it to look a little crazy but also have cohesive parts,” says Kristy. She figured out the design by laying the tiles on the floor first.

Photo By: David A. Land


Nothing can compete with those tiles, so the rest of the breakfast nook is neutral: a dark stained table from West Elm, a white banquette with silver vinyl seat cushions (try for a similar fabric), and a hammered metal pendant.

Photo By: David A. Land

Dark Cabinets

Kristy’s contractor built the oak cabinets and deep drawers that run around the room’s perimeter and serve as the base for the 4-foot-long island. They’re stained black with a distressed finish. The brushed nickel pulls are from Rocky Mountain Hardware.

Photo By: David A. Land

Floating Shelves

To keep the room feeling airy, Kristy hung 2-inch-thick shelves, stained black to match the cabinets, over glossy white subway tile. “I love how the open storage lets me put the stuff I collect on display,” she says. The shelves hold pottery, vintage glasses, and serving pieces.

Photo By: David A. Land

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.

Photo By: David A. Land

Clock and Lights

Kristy found the graphic wall clock for about $100 at a local Denver store. “I bought it nearly 10 years ago, but people still ask me where it’s from,” she says. The understated lights are a pair of nautical-style fixtures—about $30 each from The Home Depot.

Photo By: David A. Land

Table and Chairs

The family eats dinner at the big oak table, which is from a local furniture shop. In the afternoon it doubles as a homework station. For an unexpected twist, Kristy mixed yellow metal chairs from Frontgate with traditional black cross-back ones.

Photo By: David A. Land


The gold-tone wire birdcage pendant—which has birds crafted with real feathers roosting in it!—is by Graham and Green. Kristy found it at a lighting shop in Paris. “It’s the cutest thing,” she says. “I smile every time I look at it.”

Photo By: David A. Land


Instead of adding more stained wood to the dining area, Kristy went with a cabinet done in weathered aqua paint that she uses for storage. Set in the corner, it holds dishes, wine glasses, the kids’ games, and a few extra wall tiles.

Photo By: David A. Land

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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