Decorating your home in the Southwestern style primarily reflects the atmosphere and heritage of Arizona and New Mexico. The natural colors, elements and accents that were inspired by the Native American Indians, Spaniards and Mexicans are distinctive of the design. Some of the amazing characteristics of a Southwestern home are open door plans, flat roofs and extensive gardens and courtyards.
Color is Everything
Homes depicting a Southwestern style use extremely subdued colors that imitate the regions mesas. The earthy tones of brown, tan, cream, terracotta and white lay out a beautiful background for the bright spots of color brought in with Native American Indian plants, textiles and accents. One of the most powerful colors with the Native Americans is azure, and it is known for having amazing powers that ward off the evil spirits. This makes it a favorite color to use on exterior windows and doors. All the Southwestern colors reflect the true beauty of nature, like forest green, lemon yellow, salmon and slate blue.
Simplicity is Important Too.
Simplicity is one of the most distinct characteristics of the Southwestern style in a home. All furniture should be made from the natural elements and should be unpretentious and simple. Natural textile coverings, rough-hewn wood adorned in exquisite carvings and soft leather are all excellent choices to go with for furniture. Large hammocks in the courtyard and big, fluffy pillows on the floor offer great alternatives for seating arrangements. All rooms should have a feeling of space and follow a natural flow. Most of the furniture is pulled away from the walls, and it focuses on creating smaller groups of furniture to get more use out of the space.
Adobe, or Something Like It
Adobe gives a home the “look” of a true traditional Southwestern residence. The walls inside are roughly plastered on top of the adobe. In its place, you can use smooth stone or stucco. Tiles are hand-painted and lend warmth and color to the normally drab walls. The hand-painted tiles are often used to cover the kitchen backsplash area and for other individual accents throughout your home. In many cases, murals representing spiritual stories and rituals are found in Native American homes. Other murals might mirror the Native American environment. To create a colorful focal point in your largest room, try covering an entire wall with one of these murals.
The most common flooring material used in Southwestern decorating is honey-colored terracotta tiles. It’s always fun to add some visual interest by arranging them in square, lozenge or brick layouts. Another flooring choice is parquet or light wood flooring, especially if the flooring has wide, rough planks. To go with something a bit more colorful, you can lightly dye the flooring using a cobalt blue dye. Always make sure you leave the grain on the wood visible. Without sacrificing any style, brick and stone can also be used throughout the house. For additional accent, toss some Native American Indian rugs all over your home in traditional patterns and colors that will be sure to brighten up any room.
Additional accents can decorate your Southwestern style home nicely. Dried flowers, wrought iron, candles, sculptures, hand-painted pottery and animal skins make lovely accents for a Southwestern style home. Basically, you’ll know it when you see it- take a chance or two.
You can find all kinds of decorating ideas for a Southwestern style home by searching retailers on the Internet or by watching home decorating shows. Or of course, you could visit the Southwest! The Southwestern United States is filled with furniture stores that specialize in Southwestern design, and you’ll love the sunny weather too.
Gracie Gardner is an interior designer and writer born in Colorado but currently living in Tucson, Arizona. She has written articles about furniture, healthy living, design, and much more.