Chapter 4: Types of Amish Furniture
To envision the Amish furniture style, you might think of Amish values first. The Amish value humility, community and working in harmony with nature. As you might imagine, the style of Amish furniture reflects these beliefs. In other words, you will not find anything flashy or trendy in an Amish furniture workshop.
In general, Amish furniture is about functionality, simplicity, durability and natural beauty. Because Amish furniture is made of natural, neutral-toned woods, these pieces look great in any home and with any decor. Amish furniture never goes out of style and makes any house feel like home no matter what the current fashion is.
Nevertheless, that does not mean that every piece of Amish-made furniture looks exactly the same. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Amish furniture is made to order. If you wish to use a specific wood or stain, an Amish craftsman can customize a piece to suit your needs. In this chapter, we’ll look at the main styles of Amish furniture and how you can mix traditional style with non-traditional style in your home.
What Is Amish Style Furniture?
Amish furniture has a traditional style, meaning the furniture is uncomplicated, easy on the eyes, cozy, functional and timeless. Amish furniture in the 18th and 19th centuries had a folk style and reflected sturdy basic design made from locally available materials. By the early 20th century, a lot of Amish furniture was built in Shaker and Mission styles. The Arts and Crafts movement increased the popularity of Amish furniture.
Although Amish furniture suits a country cottage or log cabin perfectly, it is not limited to these types of homes. Amish furniture can add contrast and balance to modern or contemporary styles as well as bring a hint of the outdoors inside. When mixed with modern interiors, a homeowner can create a visually interesting and comfortable space.
What Does Mission Style Furniture Mean?
Mission style furniture was popular in the United States as a result of the Arts and Crafts movement. The Arts and Crafts movement began in England during the 19th century. The Arts and Crafts style was also known as Mission style in the United States. The movement was the response to the Victorian era and industrialization.
During the Arts and Crafts movement, many designers wanted their furniture to reflect societal ideals. They did not want the furniture to be the product of harsh factory conditions where indistinct pieces were mass-produced. Furniture designers also wanted to focus on craftsmanship and skill. Reformers saw the Arts and Crafts movement as a way to revive craftsmanship when many manufactured goods were poorly designed and of low quality. Ultimately, the goal of the movement was to allow craftsmen to create beautiful, functional pieces to benefit the lives of ordinary people while supporting decent employment for skilled artisans.
In England, the Arts and Crafts style pulled inspiration from medieval European, Islamic and Japanese designs. Much of the objects created during the movement were rectilinear and angular with stylized motifs.
In the United States, designers wanted to serve consumers who wanted affordable yet attractive furniture. Designers created sturdy, functional, simpler designs which became popular furnishings during the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Mission style furniture was a term used to describe American Arts and Crafts style furniture, specifically furniture which reflected the influence of the American Southwest. Mission style blended elements of Spanish architecture and Native American design. Mission style furniture was typically made out of oak with a stained finish and visible carpentry. This style of furniture involved little use of decorative details and instead focused on showcasing expert craftsmanship. Much of our Amish-made furniture captures the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement, celebrating fine craftsmanship and quality over mass production.
What Is Shaker Style Furniture?
The Shakers, also known as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, came to America from England in 1774. The Shakers were mostly self-sufficient and constructed their own furniture. Similar to the Amish, they valued honesty, utility, simplicity and hard work, and expressed these values in furniture and crafts.
The Shakers rejected excessive ornamentation because it promoted the sin of pride. Therefore, their furniture features minimalist design and may include asymmetrical drawers to add interest without too much decoration. Also, most pieces were painted or stained to protect the wood and add an aesthetic element. Popular colors were blues, greens, reds and yellows. They used local American woods like pine, maple and cherry, and wooden knobs instead of imported brass pulls. The result is beautifully organic, uncomplicated furniture that blends in with any style. You could just as easily place an abstract sculpture atop a Shaker style end table as a piece of folk art.
Can You Mix Traditional Wood Furniture With Nontraditional Furniture?
Mixing traditional style furniture with modern or nontraditional furniture is a great way to develop your unique personal style. It’s also a way to make a room more interesting, soothing and comfortable. The key is to create a balance by choosing one dominating style. So, for example, if you have a room with mostly traditional furniture, you might add a piece or two of nontraditional furniture, or vice versa. Imagine a dining room with a traditional table and a modern light fixture.
You might aim to create harmony for a relaxing, easy-on-the-eyes environment, or contrast for an interesting, stimulating environment. If you want to create harmony, choose pieces that share common elements, like colors or wood types. To create contrast, place different colors and textures side by side. Don’t be afraid to mix wood tones by uniting pieces with accessories or rugs.
Sometimes it helps to look at images for inspiration and to envision how a room will look with a specific piece of furniture. Browse our selection of Amish furniture to find the perfect piece for a nontraditional or traditional room.