Design Ideas > Decorating > Southwest Style

Southwest Style

Southwestern Styled 4 Drawer Sideboard with Cabinet

Desert Decor || 5 Ways to add Southwest style to your space

When you think of the American Southwest, you often picture wide open spaces with desert mountain vistas and vibrant blue skies. Earthy colors like sand, terra cotta, and red clay are contrasted with green cacti and turquoise gemstones. Southwestern colors beautifully contrast and play off hues of earth and sky. Southwest interior design uses these colors freely and draws from local history, but also includes elements from travels around the globe for inspiration.

Architecturally, Southwest style is characterized by rounded arched doors and windows, terra cotta tile roofs, white walls contrasted with exposed wood, and soft angles. Depending on the structure, wrought iron railings, hardware and lighting fixtures will also be used.

Create a Southwest oasis by mixing bold patterns, earthy colors, and natural materials and plants.

Local Native American crafts have a strong influence on this design style, especially with the use of textiles, pottery, rugs, and jewelry. Even if you don’t live in an adobe home with stucco walls or a sprawling hacienda featuring modern artwork and sculptures, there are plenty of ways you can give your space a relaxed Southwest vibe. Here are five to consider…

1. Bold Patterns || Southwest geometric patterns make the boldest statement in a space. Aztec-inspired prints, tribal motifs and simple geometric lines and triangles appear on rugs, wall hangings, throw blankets, toss pillows, even wallpaper.

2. Earthy Colors || Earth tones dominate, including sand, brown, red, terra cotta, orange, and green. White backgrounds in interiors provide the perfect backdrop for these warm hues. Colors with a more pastel intensity like dusty rose, mint green, peach, and blush pink will create a softer look.

3. Natural Materials || In general, Southwest materials include lots of natural wood and metal. They’re both beautiful and utilitarian so they’ll help give your space an authentic handcrafted look. Exposed wood ceiling beams, colorful terra cotta tiles, and clay pots are popular hard surface materials. Depending on location or desired design influence, Mexican silver or Spanish wrought iron pieces can be part of the mix. Soft textiles include woven wool blankets, cowhide rugs, faux fur throw pillows, and leather upholstery.

4. Leather Upholstery || A classic component of Southwest style, leather upholstered sofas and chairs will add luxurious comfort to your space. Warm colors like cognac, chestnut, garnet, walnut, and chocolate brown provide an inviting focal point. Leather furniture looks especially great when placed on a bold patterned rug and accented with coordinating toss pillows and a blanket throw.

5. Live Plants || Few elements add more beauty and color to a space than live plants. In addition to improving indoor air quality, natural greenery is easy to weave into any style of décor. The cactus in all its variations is the Southwest’s most iconic plant, along with agave, aloe vera and other succulents. In addition to looking beautiful, they’re generally low maintenance. Other easy options include jade, snake, and spider plants.

You can display them in colorful clay pots, in glass terrariums, or mixed on a shelf with dried foliage like tall stalks of pampas grass. This neutral-hued naturally fluffy grass is great for achieving a serene tone-on-tone look and adds soft texture to the mix.

Shop these barstools at Jordan's Furniture

Shop these Barstools

In addition to these five elements, you can add or change details to make your Southwest space uniquely yours. For example, you can channel your inner cowboy with “wild west” details like cowhide rugs, saddles, wagon wheels, cowboy hats displayed on a wall, or even textiles that have a cowboy motif. Just keep cowboy elements to a minimum so they don’t veer into kitsch territory (unless that is your goal).

One popular wall décor item is to hang a deer head or cow skull on the wall, and if you aren’t keen on using a real one, there are plenty of faux versions that offer an authentic look. Using rustic wood furniture pieces will add to the country charm, especially items that have a well-worn patina.

Southwest-style interiors can go from being very neutral to bright and multi-hued, depending on your personal design tastes. If you prefer a look that’s more colorful, add colors and motifs inspired by Mexico or Spain, including deep reds, magenta pinks, vivid cobalt blues, and sunny yellow and orange. These bolder colors are easy to add through patterned tiles and woven textiles.

Shop this rug at Jordan's Furniture

Shop this Rug

Mixing With Other Styles || This casual decorating style mixes easily with other design styles, including boho, farmhouse, Scandinavian, and mid-century modern. Though Southwest style primarily uses neutrals and soft colors, you can make the look more eclectic by adding saturated hues like orange, yellow, turquoise, or even cobalt blue.

For a more modern look, try mixing in black and white photos, wall art or furniture pieces. To add boho touches, mix in a few plants housed in macrame hangers, add soft pampas grass stalks to pottery vases, or mix in vintage furniture pieces with distressed white or cream finishes. Southwest décor blends especially well with low profile mid-century wood furniture, and popular mid-century colors like green, orange, and turquoise blue. As with any decorating style, the Southwest look is more intriguing when you use a unique mix of elements that express your own personal passions.

White Twilled Rug Placemat and southwestern plant in white pot

Categories: Decorating
Tagged: designideas
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