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Amish Furniture Styles: What's the Difference Between Mission and Shaker Styles?

by Product Specialist

Amish Furniture Styles: What's the Difference Between Mission and Shaker Styles?

The first Amish families arrived in North America in 1737, and they quickly made a name for themselves as master furniture builders. Their wooden tables and chairs were built to be sturdy and long-lasting, and they were often simple enough to fit in practically any decor. Amish furniture can still be purchased today, with dining room collections and bedroom furniture sets bearing their distinctive touch.

What some people might not know as they search for Amish pieces in local furniture stores is that Amish furniture often refers to two different furniture styles. There is the Shaker style that favors a simpler and more unadorned look, and the mission style that gives furniture a darker, heavier look. Let's take a closer look at both of these furniture styles to find out which one would look best in your home.

Shaker Style

Shaker-style furniture dates back to 1774 when the Shakers arrived from England and began to influence Amish culture. Shaker furniture is generally unadorned, with unstained wood and a simple taper to the legs of tables and chairs. Furniture has wooden drawer pulls and knobs, hidden joinery, and graduated drawers. The Shaker style is usually what comes to mind when people imagine Amish furniture. It has plain look that has a certain elegance and beauty in its simplicity, and it goes well with practically any decor.

Mission Style

Mission-style Amish furniture is still fairly simple, but it does look a little more elaborate than Shaker furniture. It is often made of oak or something similar, and it is usually stained very dark. This makes it look heavier and thicker than Shaker-style furniture. Mission-style furniture also tends to have exposed joinery that is beautiful to look at. Some makers of mission-style furniture incorporate leather into their furniture as an imitation of what you might see in a Spanish mission. Mission-style Amish furniture looks bolder than Shaker-style furniture, and it is often used as the centerpiece of a dining room or bedroom. It's ideal if you are going for a more traditional decor with a slight rustic look.