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Southwest Home Decorating Ideas

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Southwestern blanket on benchContributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman

The American Southwest has long been a popular choice for home decor. The mixture of rustic, Mexican, desert and cowboy elements stands the test of time, while trendy looks come and go. And the designs work as well in a New York apartment as in a traditional New Mexico hacienda.

Whether you’re looking for a few finishes touches for your design, or are just starting your search for Southwest home decorating ideas to use in your house, here are ten great ways to bring this style home.


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10. Start with the floor

Southwestern kitchen

Tile has long been a favorite in the Southwest, so it’s a great place to start your own Southwestern makeover. Choose a natural colored tile with a sealed or unsealed finish. Solid tiles are more traditional, but in kitchens, baths and foyers patterned tile with regional designs are another popular option.

9. Then bring in the rugs

southwestern decor cowhide rug

Hide rugs, especially cowhide rugs are another long-standing favorite for Southwestern floors. These rugs are a wonderful accent for family rooms, dens, living rooms and bedrooms. Make sure the rug you select is large enough to really show up in the room… a tiny hide rug in a large room just won’t give you the look you want.

8. Add lighting

southwest style room

Your Southwestern room is no place for delicate lighting. Go big and go bold for the best look. An antler chandelier, a Spanish style fixture or a wrought iron drop light will bring that regional look to your room even before the first piece of furniture arrives.

7. Choose your colors

southwestern pillows on bench

Quick… what are the “right” colors for a Southwestern home? Brown? Tan? Burnt orange? Yes, and… ? Did you think of turquoise? Pink? Grey? How about bright red? Or orange? The truth is all of these colors are part of the style palate.

Before you start shopping, decide which way you want to go with color. Of course, you can always incorporate accents from the other colors. But having a palate in mind will keep your home looking elegant and well-designed.

6. Play up the fireplace

southwest home decorating fireplace

If you’ve never lived in the Southwestern United States, your first impression is probably of heat. Intense, triple digit heat. And you’d be right… for the daytime, at least. But once night falls, that blazing heat can vanish quickly. And winter in many parts of the area can get downright chilly. So a fireplace has always been an important part of home in this part of the country.

Think natural materials. And forget the fancy surrounds so popular in the East. A big stone hearth, preferable raised, then adobe or stone going up to the ceiling is the order of the day for this decor.

5. Incorporate artifacts

southwestern office decor

Using bits and pieces of what the desert offers… or what people and animals have left behind has always been the norm for the desert area. After all, when raw materials are limited, you use what you can. So it’s only natural to include regional artifacts in your design to give it an authentic feel.

A word of caution here, though. Make sure the materials you use have been collected and sold legally. There’s a big issue with stolen artifacts ending up as a part of someone’s table or chair. When in doubt, opt for a quality reproduction instead. You’ll get the look without the risk of damaging irreplaceable treasures.

4. Find the fabrics

southwestern blankets

It’s amazing how a boldly patterned blanket, tablecloth or bed cover can completely transform a room from nondescript to Southwestern. Follow your chosen palate, and let the designs speak for themselves. It’s an easy and usually inexpensive way to add a desert-style flair to any room.

3. Add to the architecture

southwest home decorating kiva style

We can’t all redesign our houses to match our chosen decor. But most of us can add a few architectural elements to bring in a regional feel.

Consider rounding off some of those square doorways. Or how about incorporating the organic flow of a kiva step, used here as a divider. Just a small addition can make a big difference in your space.

2. Incorporate Southwestern symbols

Southwestern rabbit symbol

The native Americans of the Southwest created distinctive images of things in their surroundings like animals and plants. Using these stylized symbols in accessories, wall decor, fabrics and collections can be one of the simplest Southwest home decorating ideas to get you started or add that final touch.

1. Take it over the top…or into the pokey

home decor style western jail

If you have a finished basement, family room or game room to decorate, why not take it over the top and create a mock old west jail? After all, the Southwest of old included more than just deserts. You can do it simply with wall decor and accessories, or build a cell wall complete with bars.

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No matter where you live, the Southwest can be at home in your home.

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