40 Southwestern Style Ideas for the Home

Trista - June 15, 2019
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Southwestern home decor has a staggering abundance of natural beauty and Indigenous culture to pull from when creating an inviting home space. The majestic desert vistas of the region, with their rich, vivid sunsets, windswept rock, and shapely cacti provide a great deal of inspiration.

The Indigenous cultures of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico have also contributed a wide variety of patterns and motifs that compliment the style. This natural and cultural beauty is reflected in the vibrant, warm hues of walls and textiles, the distinctive patterns on tile and cloth from Indigenous cultures, and even with quirky, unique accents like taxidermy from the desert itself.

 

Sherwin-Williams

1. Desert Tones

Naturally, given the gorgeous desert surroundings of the American Southwest, desert tones are incredibly popular for walls, draperies, bedding, and more. Think bleached bone, warm sand, sandstorms, and more. Any warm, rich tone that evokes the natural majesty of the desert landscape.

Pops of turquoise, cactus green, and mirage blue can add to the desert theme while still incorporating bolder pops of color. For the truly bold decorator, turn to the terra cotta reds of the desert or even the vivid sunset blues, golds, and purples to create a dramatic look.

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2. Tile Floors

Like many other hot climates, homes in the desert Southwest often turn to tile floors to help beat the scorching heat of summer, while also capturing and retaining a bit of the sun’s warmth for the cold desert nights. Spanish Colonial style brick floors are a popular choice and pair beautifully with other Colonial accents like wrought-iron railings.

Mosaic tile floors are also quite popular, especially in terra cotta red and orange hues with pops of turquoise blue accent tiles. Not only will these tiles help keep your feet cool, but they shout Southwest style.

TribLIVE

3. Warm Lighting

The sun is an ever-present feature of desert landscapes, beating down on the warm sand day after day. It is no surprise that this theme is brought to life indoors through the use of warm lighting. Look for warm-toned bulbs in recessed lighting that echoes the appearance and feel of the sun.

Exposed lighting, while harsh in my types of decor, can also fit perfectly in this style as the harsh lighting and shadows it creates can beautifully mimic the unforgiving desert sun.

Roccommunity

4. Painted Wood

Thanks to Indigenous influence, beautifully and intricately painted pieces of wood furniture are a stylish accent in many Southwestern style homes. A side table or bookcase painted in a beautiful turquoise or moss green and accented with elaborate patterns in red or orange, especially if done in an Aztec or diamond pattern, can really make a room pop.

This Southwestern style idea is a great decor trick for a piece of wood furniture that has seen better days and is showing its wear. Paint is an easy way to touch them up, and any inconsistencies just give the finished piece a weathered, unique look.

Home Lighting Insight

5. Recessed Ceilings

The vast, limitless sky is another beautiful feature of desert scenes. This motif is echoed in interior design through the use of high, recessed ceilings. Spanish Colonial influence has made this a doubly popular trend in many Southwestern homes.

Even if you cannot commit to large-scale high ceilings, it’s okay; not everyone has a home remodeled with this luxury. Instead, try a small recessed area in a heavily used room, especially if complemented with recessed lighting or even tilework. It can create a warm, exotic desert feel instantly.

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6. Adobe Fireplace

No feature makes one feel instantly at home in a desert house like a beautiful, rounded white adobe fireplace. A common feature in many regular Southwest homes, these useful and gorgeous features make any kitchen, dining, or living room a wondrous sight to behold.

Retrofitting a traditional fireplace to an Adobe surround is a large project, but it will truly make any home instantly feel like a Southwestern oasis. For homes that cannot fully commit to the Southwestern design, there are even sleek, modern Adobe designs to fit any decor.

Zillow Digs

7. Warm Wood Tones

Much like with every other element of the desert and its design, think warm. For wood tones, think vibrant orange and red-toned finishes and base woods. While grey and white woods are trendy right now, they would feel stark and out of place in a desert abode.

Look to cherry wood, red oak, and other mid-tone finishes with warm undertones. For kitchen cabinets, the same general rule holds true. Avoid deep warm tones, as you want your kitchen to feel airy, but keep in the red and orange color family.

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8. Leather Upholstery

Leather is an iconic part of the Southwest. No horse would be complete without its leather saddle and tack. Likewise, no Southwestern home is complete without some beautifully upholstered leather furniture. Much like with the wood decor, look to warm, rich tones of leather like red-based medium browns.

Avoid blacks and greys that will bring a cold, austere feel that doesn’t vibe with the rest of the decor. Consider indulging in a bit of naturally-decorated upholstery that looks like cowhide for a genuinely iconic bit of the Southwest.

Rainbow Native Traders

9. Taxidermy

Yes, it sounds dramatic but stay with me on this one. Taxidermy has long been practiced in the Southwest and is commonly featured on Western movie sets, in Southwestern decorating magazines, and more.If you aren’t into this look, that’s okay, too, but it’s definitely gives a hint to the wild, wild west.

The bleached and preserved cow skull is one of the most immediately recognizable symbols of the American Southwest, and will absolutely complement any Southwestern decor. Look for a local taxidermist who specializes in animals that were found dead if you don’t wish to participate in livestock trade.

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10. Skylights

While recessed lights mimic the feel and angle of the sun, skylights do it even better by letting the actual sun in itself. Use skylights, if possible, to illuminate dark hallways or corners of rooms. Combine skylights with recessed artificial lights to keep the overhead lighting present throughout the day.

In Southwestern homes, make sure you work with a specialist to prevent unnecessarily heating your home through the introduction of skylights to conserve energy. You should be able to reduce your electric or gas bill, depending on your home’s needs, based on your use of natural resources.

Home Lighting Insights

11. Recessed Lights

If you cannot commit to skylights, recessed lighting alone is a welcoming upgrade. While recessed lights may seem like a late 90s or early 2000s trend, they are still incredibly popular for Southwestern homes. Any high, bright lighting that mimics the sun is a natural match for the warm, arid vibe of a Southwestern decorated home.

This type of illumination allows for brilliant light while keeping the upper part of the house clean and uncluttered, just like the desert skyline. When doing recessed lighting, look for bulbs that give off very warm-toned light.

The Week

12. Curved Lines

Think sand dunes, saguaro cacti, adobe fireplaces, and soft, fluffy clouds. Many of the characteristic lines of the desert scenery are gently curved or arced, giving a surprisingly smooth appearance to the reasonably harsh surroundings.

For a Southwestern-inspired interior, try arched doorways. However, if this decor is not within the design of your home, there are other ways to create curved lines. Search for curved bookcases, a rounded fireplace surrounding, or oval chandeliers to bring some of the naturally curved looks into your house.

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13. Hide Rugs

Hides were once a vital part of the Southwestern economy. Cattle ranches produced many skins and employed the infamous cowboys and cowhands. Furs and leather were critical to creating everything from tends to horse tack.

This material still has a rustic, beautiful look that perfectly complements a Southwestern-inspired home, while also reflecting the history of the region. There are many faux hide options available for vegans and others who don’t wish to support livestock trade.

Houzz

14. Fringe Accents

Don’t worry; you don’t need to get leather chaps or a cowboy style vest to incorporate fringed accents into your Southwestern decorated home! Blankets with fringed edges, especially in sandy colors or with diamond patterned prints are a beautiful way to introduce a hint of fringe.

Leather ottomans with a fringe trim are another great way to add in both the leather trend and a hint of fringe. For a bit more drama, consider fringed tie-backs for draperies or a fringed table runner. Anywhere you can have that element, especially as a brown hide, will embrace the Southwestern style.

Discount Designer Fabrics

15. Woven Fabrics

The indigenous cultures of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico created beautiful woven fabric often featuring bold, bright hues and unique repeating patterns in diamond shapes or what is now known as the Aztec pattern.

Try a blanket or bedspread crafted from a rich woven fabric to bring some traditional comfort into your Southwest room. If you adore this style, go for curtains and table cloths, too. Whenever possible, buy such material from fair-trade and Indigenous artists to support artistic communities.

Houzz

16. Jewel Tones

It’s always wonderful when an on-trend concept is also applicable to a niche style, and Southwestern decor fits the bill with its pops of jewel-toned colors, a significant 2019 trend. Vibrant ruby and garnet hues, in particular, are excellent choices for overstuffed, comfortable chairs, or a woven rug.

Turquoise is also a fantastic accent color and is solidly connected to Southwestern decor and jewelry. Emerald greens are another solid choice and will pair beautifully with warm sand-toned neutrals. If you can, mix these colors within diamond patterns like the rug in the picture.

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17. Cacti and Succulents

A road trip through the Southwest will reveal many cacti. From the adorable rotund barrel cactus to the towering, many-armed saguaro, cacti are an iconic, unique, and gorgeous part of the landscape. If you don’t live in the Southwest or another climate where you can grow these plants outside, try bringing them inside.

Varying heights, shapes, and colors of cacti in a terra cotta pot display will bring a bit of the desert inside. Also, some varieties, like the hardy prickly pear, can overwinter as far north as Iowa! After you get pretty good with a plant or two, try an entire garden of succulents!

Lone Star Western Decor

18. Turquoise

No piece of Southwestern jewelry would be complete with the gorgeous, opaque bluish green and black veined majesty of turquoise. The Southwest United States is one of the major sources of natural turquoise in the world, making it a popular ore for jewelry and decor throughout the region.

Turquoise is a rather spendy mineral, so try incorporating beautiful turquoise-hued rugs, drapes or glassware to enjoy the unique color. Basically this color combined with this pattern is a win-win if you desire to reflect a Southwestern home decor.

Discount Designer Fabrics

19. Aztec Patterns

There are a variety of unique geometric patterns commonly referred to as Aztec patterns. Whether these patterns are genuinely Aztec or not is up for debate, but what isn’t debatable is their unique beauty, often depicted with sharply geometric recurring patterns in bold colors.

An Aztec pattern blanket or throw pillow is the perfect accent for a warm, sand-toned neutral couch. Try an Aztec patterned quilt or bedspread to bring a bit of the Southwest into your bedroom.

Amazon

20. Metallic Accents

Like most decor styles, metallic accents are a must for Southwestern decor. Wrought iron is a great choice, and it echoes the Spanish Colonial style that is popular throughout much of the region.

Brass is another fantastic choice, with its rustic utility meshing nicely with the ranch elements of the Southwestern style. Silver is also a beautiful complement to the decor, primarily when used to highlight turquoise blue pops of color in furniture, draperies, or art.

Walmart

21. Diamond Shapes

Here it is again! That now-obvious Southwestern shape. The geometric diamond picked out by square shapes is an immediately recognizable staple of Southwestern decor. It’s often found on fabrics and rugs, but also appears as mirrors and more.

This beautiful pattern is especially stunning when the diamond is picked out in red, orange, turquoise, or emerald green, all of which is also on-trend for 2019. If you don’t want to commit to a Southwestern style right away fully, a diamond shape rug or wall hanging is the perfect introductory decor step.

CustomMade

22. Stained Glass

If the rigid diamond patterns and vibrant colors aren’t your thing, you can still pull of the Southwestern style using stained glass. While stained glass is often associated with more elaborate style eras, such as Art Nouveau, stained glass is also an essential part of Southwest design.

Often feature a more linear Art Deco aesthetic and earthier shades, Southwestern stained glass is uniquely beautiful. Even if a full window is out of reach, due to cost or space limitations, glass covering decals and even small hangable portions of stained glass are widely available.

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23. Horse Motifs

The Wild West could not have existed without horses. It was an era in which being a horse thief was more reviled and carried a more substantial sentence than murdering a human being. Horses were a vital part of the economy and the only reliable means of travel through the rugged and unforgiving landscape.

Any piece of art, be it a photograph, statue, or tapestry, that features horses will fit in perfectly with any amount of Southwestern decor. In fact, having more than one is ideal to emphasize the overall theme.

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24. Chevron

Chevron, particularly in white with turquoise or yellow accents, really had its Pinterest moment earlier in the decade. However, in Southwestern decor, it is a much less fleeting style. Chevron has long been a celebrated pattern in the blankets and bedding of Southwestern decor, especially when in more muted colors such as a neutral, sandy tone accented with red or orange.

Southwestern chevron can be tougher to find than the more modern Pinterest version, but it’s well worth the search given its earthy beauty. Do some research along with trial and error before settling on the first one you see.

Etsy

25. Terra Cotta

Sometimes it feels like every decor style high values terra cotta, but honestly, it’s for good reason! The rich, warm reddish-orange of the clay is a perfect fit for an accent piece in a mostly neutral-toned Southwestern room, and it also matches stunningly with the favorite Southwestern accent of turquoise.

Terra cotta is also invaluable for growing cacti and succulents indoors, which is a must for anyone doing a Southwestern decor theme in a northern climate. Not only will you see this material referenced throughout this list, but many others referring to gardening. Let’s face it; terra cotta is just plain awesome.

Touch of Class

26. Spanish Accents

Spanish Colonial style has played a large role in shaping the more modern decor of the Southwest through Spain’s role in colonizing Mexico. Many elements of Spanish Colonial design are popular throughout the region, including tile mosaics, brick floors, wrought iron accents, and more.

Spanish Colonial style, thanks to its common materials and color palette, is a natural match for traditional Southwestern decor and the two designs can happily be mixed and matched. Feel free to go bold because you are already at home!

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27. Tile Mosaics

This design might be a little too busy for some, but thanks to the influence of Spanish Colonial design, tile mosaics are quite famous throughout the desert Southwest. Tile is a natural fit for any hot, dry area which makes it a perfect style for the region. Brick is a beautiful choice for flooring, as are terra cotta tiles.

Accent tiles with turquoise coloring are not only stunning but also honor the region’s history as a significant source of natural turquoise. White tiling is less common in the Southwestern style but can be combined with red or orange elements to match the style.

Amazon

28. Sun Motifs

We have already covered a few different Southwestern style motifs, but there are still a couple more to discuss! The sun is a truly inescapable part of life in the desert Southwest. With so few days of rain or cloud cover, any resident gets used to the constant scorching presence of the desert sun.

It is unsurprising, then, that the sun, especially when stylized, is a common motif in Southwestern decor. To bring several on-trend styles into your home, look for a metallic, stylized sun that features the curved lines popular in Southwestern decor as well as the prized metallic finish.

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29. Indigenous Art

The Indigenous tribes of the Southwestern US and northern Mexico have left an indelible mark on the culture and art of the Southwest. From the beautiful beadwork of the Navajo people to the fantastic patterned woven fabrics of the Aztec, Indigenous art has shaped Southwestern style for centuries.

Many tribes continue to sell works of art created by their community members, which is a unique way to incorporate authentic Southwestern art into your home while also supporting those whose culture defined the art. Try supporting the local areas by purchasing authentic artwork.

Fine Art America

30. Coyote Motifs

We told you there were more motifs to come! An iconic scavenger of the desert, often depicted howling to the moon alone, the coyote is genuinely inseparable from the desert (despite them living almost everywhere.)

The coyote is not only a common sight, but it also plays a role in the mythology of many Indigenous cultures of the Southwest. Art depicting the coyote is widely available in many styles, from surreal to beautiful nature photos, so you should be able to incorporate a bit of coyote energy into any pre-existing design.

Amazon

31. Quilts

Despite the conventional notion of deserts as incredibly hot places (which, to be fair, they are,) many forget that with the lack of moisture in the air and lack of cloud cover, deserts also get incredibly chilly at night since there is nothing available to trap and retain the heat.

Thanks to this meteorological quirk, quilts are incredibly common in Southwestern homes, particularly those that feature the diamond or Aztec pattern and pops of bright colors on a neutral background fabric. Yes, it is that easy to incorporate this style into your home decor.

Ruby Lane

32. Beadwork

The Navajo people, an Indigenous people of the American Southwest, are famous for their history of stunning beadwork. Clothing, jewelry, headbands, and more all featured beautifully bright colored beads arranged in elaborate, astonishing patterns.

Beadwork is a beautiful accent for a Southwestern home, but make sure you are buying from ethical sources if you specifically seek out Navajo beadwork. Also, avoid items that have a profound religious or cultural significance that should not be used merely as decor.

Fine Art America

33. Roadrunner Themes

While many of us may only know of Roadrunners from the cartoons, in reality, they’re an adorable bird that is a common sight throughout much of the Southwest, as recognizable to residents as the American Robin or Goldfinch to many of us in other regions of the US.

As iconic desert dwellers, art featuring Roadrunners are an excellent way to bring a unique element of the desert biome into your home. Plus, they’re incredibly cute; just don’t put the coyote picture next to this one, unless you are ready for a showdown!

Poshmark

34. Feathers

Tread carefully with this one, folks. Feathers are one of nature’s great beauties, and indigenous Southwestern cultures have used them either physically or represented artistically in their creations for centuries.

As such, feathers are a beautiful addition to Southwestern design. That being said, collecting feathers yourself is a huge no-no, as federal treaties protect most birds. Also, purchase artwork bearing feathers responsibly from Indigenous artists.

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35. Wood-Burning Accents

Wood-burning is a unique, beautiful, and all too often forgotten art. Using a heated metal tip pen, artists burn beautiful designs based on the contrast of dark and light into the wood, not unlike the inverse of carving a pumpkin.

This art has long been practiced throughout the US, including the Southwest, although its popularity has dramatically fallen. Look for pieces on warm toned woods. Themes of horses, cattle, roadrunners, or another Southwestern animal or plant is a huge plus!

1st Dibs

36. Pottery

Thanks to the rich red clays of the Southwest, many indigenous cultures made absolutely beautiful earthenware pieces to store water, food, and other daily items. These pottery pieces were often left unglazed to showcase the beautiful red clay but intricately carved with geometric patterns.

Much of this style of pottery is commercially available today. Look for vases and urns to best highlight the design. Also, consider a planter to house a cactus or succulent to really tie the colors of the desert together.

Etsy

37. Gun Motifs

It is undeniable that firearms were at the heart of Western civilization, from shootouts at the okay Corral to every single Western film ever made. To incorporate a bit of this nostalgic era into your home, look for a gun-shaped coat rack or shelf with hooks. It should go without saying, but never use a loaded or working gun as decor!

If you find an old gun that has been upcycled into a decor item, check with a gunsmith to make sure it has been safely deactivated. It is always better to be safe!

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38. Belt Buckle Accents

Belt buckles may have fallen out of style for many of us, but go into any Western wear store, and they are still everyday items that are prized for many looks, especially dress attire for rodeos or other events.

To honor this part of Western culture, try incorporating belt buckle themes into your decor. Vintage belt buckles can be used as drawer pulls or other hardware. There are metal serving platters that look like belt buckles that could add a fun energy to your dining room.

Etsy

39. Reclaimed Wood

Wood tends to be a scarcer commodity in the Southwest, with its lack of forests, so reclaimed wood is not only a valuable resource but a beautiful way to incorporate wood art into your home. Reclaimed wood furniture can be painted, as discussed above, in bright colors and patterns to give a piece new life.

Recycled wood scraps can be turned into countless art pieces from signs to clocks, and more. Pinterest has many tutorials to create beautiful scrap wood art. All you have to do is get started and before you know it, you will have a DIY project you are proud to show people.

Instructables

40. Rope Rugs

A simple do-it-yourself staple, rope rugs made of rope, jute, twisted scrap cloth, or another material are a charming rustic touch that can add a bit of warmth to any stone or tile floor. A traditional rope rug is rougher on the feet but brings a ranch vibe that is hard to beat, especially if there are other horse or cow motifs in your home.

For a softer touch, try making a rope rug from twisted scrap fabric in sand tone, red, orange, or turquoise blue colors. Either way, it will be durable enough to withstand a little foot traffic while conforming to the theme of the decor.

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