It's not unusual to see a particular home decor item marked as "mission / arts and crafts." This leads to the misconception that these two styles are one and the same, though this is not true. Home accessories in the mission style will not need to match those in the arts and crafts style, though the styles do feature some similarities. Knowing the difference between the two can help you differentiate between them in the stores, especially when you're shopping for home accessories and decor and you'd like to create a more authentic space.
Identification: Mission Styling
Surprisingly enough, the terms "mission" and "craftsman" are interchangeable. These two styles refer to the exact same style of architecture and home decor. This happened like many things today: through the media. To make a long story short, a traveling salesman for Stickley Craftsman Furniture was speaking to a newspaper reporter, who turned around and used the term "mission" for the furniture in the catalog displayed "in a Spanish Mission," rather than using the term craftsman. Ever since, the term has stuck and is now easily used interchangeably with the term 'craftsman.'
That being said, knowing where the style came from does not help differentiate what it looks like. Craftsman is actually a variation of the Arts and Crafts style. It came about in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century. It features larger, thicker lines than those seen on arts and crafts styled furniture and home decor pieces. These lines were clean and unadorned, no excessive ornate detailing, but rather, straight lines and angles with very little additional, unnecessary adornments.
Identification: Arts and Crafts Styling
As noted earlier, mission styled furniture and home decor products feature thicker, larger lines. Arts and crafts refer to the style from which mission (craftsman) evolved from. The Arts and Crafts home decor style began during the late 1800s, just slightly before mission / craftsman styling began to arise.
Arts and crafts styled furniture is simple but elegant. It features thinner lines but simple and beautiful forms. Unlike mission styling, however, arts and crafts furniture and other home decor items featured a bit of ornamentation: hand carving, inlays in the wood, subtle curvature and so forth. These seemingly minor differences can actually help make it easier to spot the difference between arts and crafts home decor and mission home decor.
Once you know these seemingly subtle differences, you can quickly begin to differentiate between furniture, home accessories and decor that is craftsman or mission and those pieces that are arts and crafts. Many people are under the impression that these styles are all the one and the same, but knowing the basics, including the difference in thickness of the lines and the use of inlays, demonstrates how really different these styles are.