Call Critellis Call Transitions

Stickley Furniture - On a Mission for Mission Furniture

Stickley Furniture is the ideal selection, when looking for the highest quality of Mission furniture on the market. Stickley Furniture is without comparison, the definitive source for legendary quality and incomparable variety. Since the turn of the century, both Mission and Shaker style furniture have been representing durability and quality, with timeless designs. People often make the mistake of grouping Shaker and Mission furniture into the same category. Perfect care must be taken, when identifying the difference between those two distinctive styles. With a little bit of background, the differences between these two styles become easy to recognize.

Shaker Style Furniture

Shaker style furniture originated from the Shakers, a religious sect/group of radical English Quakers, who became known as the Shakers, came over from England and landed on American soil in 1774. This small religious community lived by strict moral codes and separated themselves from mainstream society by living in self-sufficient communities. The Shaker principles of simplicity, honesty and humility were reflected in the crafts and furnishings they produced. Excessive ornamentation was equal to sinful pride in Shaker philosophy. In addition, faux finishes such as wood veneers and inlays were considered deceitful, making them incompatible with the honest integrity of Shaker furniture. Shaker style furniture is plain, but still incorporates elegance. A distinguishing element of Shaker furniture is that it always has a very basic and simple design. The goal of Shaker furniture is to provide functionality coupled with durability. Aesthetics are unimportant, although there is a real beauty in the simplicity of the Shaker designs, that comes through in all their pieces.

Mission Style Furniture

Mission style furniture dates all the way back to the late 19th Century. Mission style furniture can be characterized by having straight lines with exposed joinery. A great deal of emphasis is placed especially on the inclusion of simple horizontal, vertical lines, and flat panels that are used to accentuate primarily oak wood. Mission style furniture is often considered as having a clean and more modern design than Shaker style furniture. Shaker and Mission-style furniture share several similarities, which sometimes causes confusion as to the differences between the two designs. In addition, both styles are commonly produced by Amish furniture-makers, further blurring the lines of distinction between each style. However similar they may be, Shaker and Mission styles have defining characteristics and a different history that makes them distinctly separate.

A Brief History of Mission Furniture

Mission furniture was produced much later than Shaker furniture, around the end of the 19th century. Following the design principles set forth by the Arts and Crafts movement, the term Mission style was coined by New York furniture-maker Joseph McHugh, who came out with a line of simple, rustic furniture inspired by chairs made for the Swedenborgian Church of the New Jerusalem in San Francisco. The church and its furnishings resembled the ones in the Spanish missions throughout California. Another well-known furniture designer of the era, Gustav Stickley, launched his own line of Mission-style furniture, and so both the name and style became synonymous with quality craftsmanship and simplistic design.


The most prominent fundamental distinction between Shaker and Mission style furniture is the wood of which they are constructed.. Shakers often use local American woods such as pine, maple and cherry to craft their furniture, but for most Shaker furniture, maple was the preferred wood of choice. On the other hand, Mission-style furniture is traditionally made from oak, with an emphasis on straight vertical and horizontal lines and flat planes that help accentuate the natural wood grain. Exposed joinery on Mission furniture brings attention to the craftsmanship, while the minimalist design of Shaker furniture focuses on functionality.

Other Ways to Identify Mission Furniture

When contrasting Shaker and Mission furniture styles, Shaker furniture has a more delicate appearance, with chairs and tables featuring tapered legs. The square legs of Mission-style furniture provide a heavier, more solid look. The abundance of vertical lines and slats common on Mission furniture add a type of ornamental feel, making the furniture look slightly more formal or traditional. The clean lines and durable construction of both styles make them easily compatible for a wide variety of decorating styles.

If you are in the market to acquire Mission Furniture, be sure to check out the one-of-a-kind selections available through Stickley Furniture, the source for Mission style furniture.