Southwest Style Interior Decorating

Published: 04th March 2009
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If you enjoy vibrant colors and a warm, welcoming environment, the Southwest style of decorating may be for you. The colors tend to be brilliant reds, oranges, greens, and blues, along with versatile earth tones that make guests and inhabitants feel at ease and comfortable. Homes decorated in this style are conducive for family life, playing games, or just sitting, relaxing, and visiting with friends, neighbors, and family.

Authentic Native American works of art, desert or mountain landscapes, and brightly colored rugs, throw pillows, or painted walls are all ideal for decorating in the Southwest style. You can use your personal creativity when it comes to wall art with metal wall décor or laser cut metal in combination with modern style themes. This will transform a drab and basic room into an invigorating room you will enjoy spending time in.

Typically, people assume that a Southwestern style of decorating only belongs in the Southwest homes of New Mexico, Arizona, and maybe California, with the typical home having a terra-cotta rooftop and adobe walls. However, this popular style of home furnishings can be adapted to any home! This theme of interior design works anywhere because it brings the outside beauty and charm of nature indoors through the use of natural decorating elements.

The following list can serve as a guide to the various elements of Southwestern styling and will help you gather ideas about what Southwest style elements you want to bring to your own home.


Use the colors of the desert as an inspiration. The various shades of green and earth tones of cacti, tumbleweeds, and multi-colored sand dunes as well as the pinks, purples, and reds of cactus flowers are excellent muses. Or imagine a sunrise and sunset happening in a southwestern town; the blues, purples, and oranges could be beautiful accent colors for fabric, accessories, wall paint, or on laser cut metal for wall art.


Typically, Southwestern textiles feature designs inspired by Native American customs and traditions indigenous to the particular region. The beautiful rugs and blankets can serve as floor rugs, throws for couches or chairs, or even used as wall hangings. They are usually striped with several different colors of wool, so they are versatile and can be used in a room with many colors. These rugs tend to be rather prominent, so it may be necessary to scale down other accessories in the room to keep it from looking too busy.


Furnishings constructed in the Southwest style are almost always made from wood that is either atypical looking or polished to a rugged finish. Detailing is kept simple, without a lot of ornamental fuss, and the pieces are made on a rather large scale. It is recommended to keep this furniture natural looking. If you choose to paint it, keep the colors basic and use a color such as beige, ivory, tan, or mahogany.

Consider running sandpaper over the finish of the surfaces to give them a worn, rustic appeal. Other materials commonly used in Southwest decorative themes include leather, suede, multi-colored wool and cotton, and laser cut metal for cold rolled steel wall art. These various materials can be used for rugs, upholstery, wall hangings, and other home accessories. Southwest styling can even be incorporated into the front or backyard, with slate and terra cotta stepping stones and walkways.


The appropriate accessories are the bread and butter of any interior design scheme. Southwest style accessories can truly enhance a room and bring out aspects that would otherwise remain hidden or unnoticed. As mentioned previously, brilliantly colored Navajo rugs used as wall hangings make incredible accent pieces as do hand-painted tiled accessories and clay pottery.

Original art can be very expensive, but there are plenty of knock-off and do-it-yourself options available. Purchasing plain pottery and painting it yourself can be a fun and soothing activity as is metal wall art. You can display your artwork proudly in various rooms of the home or even give pieces of it away as pottery or laser cut gifts for friends and family to use as wall art or accessories around the home.

Tips and Suggestions:

- Succulents, cacti, and other water retaining plants used as decorative pieces will not only bring nature indoors but can aid in the color scheme, particularly if flowering plants are used. They also require very little water and upkeep

- Consider using nature's natural resources as ways to add to a room; such as polished rocks placed in a glass bowl, vase, or ashtray or a bundle of sticks tied with leather strings to simulate a tumbleweed

- Do not hesitate to incorporate your own creativity into a Southwest styled room. Originality is what will make the room truly pleasing to spend time in

Allison Ryan is a freelance marketing writer from San Diego, CA. She specializes in interior design, home accessories, and loves to make cold rolled steel wall art as gifts and home décor. For a great selection of laser cut gifts and metal wall décor, please visit

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