What Is Southwestern Interior Design?

While Southwestern style decor has made a big splash in the past few years, it’s timeless with roots in the Southwestern United States.

Southwestern interior design pays homage to the desert-like climates with its abundant use of natural materials, plant life, and bold patterns. Here’s a look at the history of Southwestern interior design and how to incorporate it into your home.

The History of Southwestern Interior Design

Southwestern Interior Design

Southwestern interior design originated as early as the 1500s when Spanish and Mexican immigrants began to settle in the southwestern United States. They used materials indigenous to the area to build their houses but also brought design influences from their homelands. Aside from the Mexican and Spanish design contributions, native American textiles also play a big part in this style.

Because southwestern interior design originates from early settlers of the region, earthy elements like adobe, clay, wood, leather, and cacti play a big part. After all, early settlers had no choice but to build and decorate with local materials. 

Some of the early southwestern-style homes were Haciendas, Adobe, and Mediterranean. Later styles included Spanish Revival, all of which influenced southwestern design.

Over the past few decades, Southwestern interior design has come into the spotlight as a trending decor style. While you can find these same natural elements in modern design, sleeker furniture, and minimal accessories are also prominent.

How to Achieve Southwestern Interior Design Style

Southwestern style borders between rustic and boho. If you enjoy a natural style that’s anything but dull, here’s how to work southwestern decor into your home.

Create a Warm, Neutral Backdrop

The backdrop of the southwestern style is warm and neutral. Consider white, tan, or cream paint for the walls and a warm wood or stone floor. 

Incorporate Natural Wood

Wood ceiling beams, wood floors, tables, and accents comprise the southwestern style. The wood adds natural texture and warmth to a space without making it look busy.

Opt for Simple Furniture

In southwestern interior design, the furniture is simple and neutral, while patterned accessories like throw pillows add interest. Consider brown leather, cream, or white sofas, wood or wrought iron beds, and wooden tables. Choose modern or modern-rustic furniture with clean lines.

Use Bold Colored and Patterned Accessories

While the backdrop of southwestern style is neutral, the accessories make this design style stand out. Consider bright but warm pops of color like red, orange, and yellow. 

Look for rugs, throw pillows, and blankets with Aztec or indigenous American-inspired patterns. 

Look for Natural Southwestern Decor

Some of the most common southwestern decor ideas include skulls, any piece with a Native American-inspired pattern, cacti, clay pots, and weaved wall decor.

How to Achieve Modern Southwestern Style

It’s easy to make southwestern style look more modern or more rustic, depending on the furniture and decor you use. For a modern look, use furniture with straight lines. You can still use organic materials like leather, but by choosing a squared-off shape, you’ll achieve a modern southwestern look. Also, go minimal on decor and wall hangings to add to the contemporary feel.

If you want your southwestern style to feel more rustic, choose rounded oversized furniture and layer in your accessories.

What is the Color Palette for Southwestern Style?

The southwestern style color palette is full of warm and earth-inspired hues. For walls, go with white, warm cream, or tan. Then use these colors as accents or for southwestern furniture:

  • Terracotta
  • Sand
  • Rust
  • Cacti Green
  • Warm Red
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Turquoise
  • Deep Brown
  • Black

Examples of Southwestern Interior Design

Take a look at these southwestern interior design pictures to get inspiration for your space.

Southwestern Bedroom

Southwestern Bedroom

While a southwestern-style bedroom is simple, it’s anything but boring. The wood frame in this bedroom works well with the bolder printed comforter. The skull hanging over the bed is the perfect piece of southwestern decor.

Southwestern Style Living Room

Southwestern Style Living Room
@Urban Design Associates

The designer captures the southwestern style in this living room with the warm stucco walls, a round fireplace, and wooden ceiling beams. The room is comfortable but full of organic textures.

Southwestern Style Kitchen

Southwestern Interior Design

Rather than sticking with only neutrals, this southwestern-style kitchen packs a punch with bold blue cabinets. The wooden ceiling, tile floor, and tan walls provide a warm feel, while the table runner and rug add interest.