Mission Style Interiors
A Historical Perspective
"We're on a mission from God." That's what the Blues Brothers said and that's actually why we have the style here in America. The Spaniards were on a mission to bring Catholicism to the new world. To spread the word they built churches in every town square they colonized.
Not all of the locals were totally into the idea which is why the missions were built with overly-thick masonry wall, bell towers and ramparts. In case of attack the missions quickly became forts. The images below were culled from an architectural journal from the 1930's, "Spanish Colonial Architecture of the United States," by Rexford Newcomb. Below are plans for a mission-style door within a door. One size for people, another for horses and wagons.
Inside real-deal missions roof trusses and rafters were left exposed and became part of the decor. This one holds the roof up and also serves as a mount for what appears to be a decorative center cap lashed into place. Although the architecture looks authentic with the heavy timber framing, the furniture looks a bit more contemporary.
Below is a rudimentary set of plans for a mission-style chair. The wingback in the picture above looks a bit more comfortable. Obviously timber was at a premium in the American Southwest and clay-based stucco was the natural choice for wall sheathing.
Another mission interior shows something we might associate with a more modern interior design scheme - a tray ceiling. Once again the chairs look like they're from a different period. The heavy door at the back of the image looks real enough.
The sideboard seen above also seems to conflict with plans of a "Painted Trastero" seen below. These are still popular today and are often painted in bright colors. They can be used indoors or out (with proper weatherproofing). Bottom sections may feature hand painted senoritas, cacti, roosters, etc. and prices can approach $3000.
If you're trying to define a style point of view, remember the basics of
styles. White stone, stucco or plaster walls. Heavy, chunky furniture, colorful fabrics in the drapes and floor coverings are fine. Wrought iron lamps, hardware, finials are all good. Even religious icons will work as decorative items since the mission of the mission was all about spreading the word.