A Southwestern style interior designed room or house is becoming more and more popular particularly in North American homes. This style is inspired by homes in Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico and California. It incorporates styles like Rustic Western, Native American, Spanish, Mexican and Ranch. It is a style that is vibrant and warm, suitable for family homes especially but also great in any house or apartment. In this article we have outlined some of the main things to think about when decorating in the style. We then have a breakdown of each room of the house and how you might incorporate those Southwestern ideas into each one.
Southwestern Style Interior Design General Guide
Exterior of a southwestern home design
Here are a few general tips on this style:
Colors – Think oranges, brilliant reds, blues, greens, and earth/desert tones. Color can be found not just on the walls but also in rugs, art work, pillows and so on.
Textiles – Native American rugs, throws, fringed blankets and wall hangings. Wool, cotton and other natural materials are prominent. Leather is another material that can be found in a Southwestern style room.
Furniture – Wood is the main material in its natural finish, simple in detail, no fussiness.
Accessories – Wrought iron, cacti, desert flowers, terracotta pots, baskets made from reeds, clay pottery, rocks, desert landscapes, painted lampshades, candles.
Fireplaces – In traditional Southwestern homes a common type of fireplace found is a Kiva. It is a rounded fireplace that can be found in the corner of any room creating a cozy place to gather around and retreat to.
Floors – Tiling is the most common type of flooring found in traditional homes because they help keep the place cool, they are sturdy and do not cost a lot to have.
Nichos – These are like cubbyholes or niches in the walls originally for religious artifacts, but can also be a great place for knickknacks and to display other accessories.
For many homes the kitchen is thought of as the heart of the home. It is a place where people prepare meals to eat together, chat over coffee, bake and have some family time. A Southwestern style kitchen is all about rustic warmth and charm and is perfect for this ideal. Here is a look at what you might do with southwestern style interior design in the kitchen.
What a Southwestern kitchen looks like
Color and walls – Rust red, turquoise, light brown, yellow are colors you can use for this theme. Choose one for the walls and then one or two more to accent and contrast with. Have a piece of suitable wall art up.
Flooring – Ceramic tiles or terracotta tiles would be suitable for the flooring or stone. Have a bright rug or two somewhere safe on the floor.
Accessories – Typical types of decorations and accessories found in this kitchen would be earthenware pottery, hand woven baskets, Native Indian artifacts like hand drums, dough bowls, and prayer fans. Chili peppers are a popular theme too as is the use of wrought iron. Use texture as well as color to add interest to the room. Plants in the room as also popular, while a blooming cactus would be appropriate, any plant is good. Add some Indian blankets thrown over the back of chairs.
Cabinets and furniture – Furniture in this kitchen is rustic, sturdy and well used. The table can be wooden and left natural looking or painted in one of the bright colors in the scheme you have chosen. Native Indians believe that bright colors ward away evil spirits so they are not afraid to use bright and bold color schemes. If you have a breakfast bar have the stools made from wood and covered in hide.
Windows – Geometric shapes and patterns can add to the room without overcrowding it. Think triangles, concentric circles, wavy patterns, you could bring this in to the room with the drapes. Use a natural material for these like cotton.
Sometimes the bathroom gets left behind in the home decorating as it is a place that is seen as more functional and less time tends to be spent there than in any of the other rooms. But getting your bathroom done to your taste and needs makes it a place you can relax in after a stressful day. Your bathroom is usually the first place you walk into when you wake up so with that why shouldn’t you have the perfect bathroom too? Here are some ideas on getting southwestern style interior design in your bathroom.
How to design the bathroom with this style
Color and walls – The cheerful colors should be used here too. You could choose to have a softer tone of color on the walls and then have hits of color elsewhere. Turquoise on the walls would be great, a blue color to suit the water theme of the bathroom and also a color used a lot in this style of design. Then add bright towels, a bold shower curtain, a colorful bathroom mat, for example.
Furniture – Use an old Mexican styled dresser to convert into a vanity by cutting a hole in the middle and putting in an appropriate sink. A good sink choice would be a pottery sink in sunflower yellow, red, or cobalt blue. On top of the vanity have tiles in a bold pattern or make sure you waterproof the wood. Have an old chair in the corner painted in a bright color that holds a stack of towels.
Flooring – More tiling is the best choice here, though laminate is a more affordable option. Just make sure you have something that is easy to clean up when water gets on it. Saltillo or terracotta tiling comes in a range of shapes and sizes so you can get creative if you want to or keep it simple. No carpeting, this is not a feature of this style.
Beautiful – cowboy style!
Fixtures and accessories – Put a cover on the toilet lid that is southwestern in theme or change the lid for something painted and unique. Have Indian baskets in the room as a way to store rolled towels, soaps, shampoos, and so on. A Mexican basket would make great clothes hamper. Have soap sitting on Talavera pottery and add an old tin mirror or something framed in iron or copper. Have some native artwork on the walls or some kind of desert landscape scene. Use dark and rustic styled fixtures, avoid shiny silver or brass. You need to have lighting over the mirror as well as overhead. You could have a rustic wrought iron chandelier and then sconces on each side of the mirror for example. Have a small Mexican flower pot as your toothpaste and toothbrush holder.
Your bedroom is a very personal space that you re-charge in. If you have held back in other rooms because of the rest of the family or guests, this is the room you can get creative and let go. If the idea of a rustic southwestern bedroom sounds like something you would love here are some ideas for you.
Bedroom – Southwestern design
Color and walls – Since this is your personal space you can go really bold with some of the amazing colors. Just keep in mind if you opt for darker shades it can make a room feel smaller. You could always create an accent wall, behind the bed for example. Use something less bold on the rest of the walls and then a bright red, green, orange or cobalt blue on the accent wall. Or you can bring in patterns using southwestern themed wall paper.
Bed and bedding – Your bed can be made from wrought iron or be wooden, something like a pine frame for example that can be stained or left natural. Use fake hides on the bed and have a dream catcher over it. There are many styles of duvets that would suit this bedroom, or you could create layers of traditional blankets.
Flooring – Rugs are a big thing in this style, textiles are an important part of it. Therefore having a hardwood floor and then using Mexican blankets or rugs would look good. There are several southwestern styles of rug to think about, Handmade area rugs that use desert tones, Spirit rugs made from Indian wool with spiritual patterning, Modern rugs in earth tones with vibrant accents, Mexican Guadalupe rugs with designs from the history of the people, Mayan rugs, Navajo rugs and Mohair rugs.
Accessories – Have some authentic pottery, hides, throw pillows, baskets, art work on the walls, a small water feature on the bedside table to help relax you.
Furniture – A kiva ladder is popular in Southwestern styled rooms, use it as a place to hang things from. Rustic pine or wood pieces like a nightstand, a chest at the end of the bed, an armoire.
Lighting – Lighting is especially important in the bedroom because of the various needs you will have, good reading lighting, getting ready for work lighting, romantic lighting. One overhead light is not really enough so a good idea would be to have several lamps around the room too. You can change the wattage of the bulbs depending on what the lamp is for and have the overhead lighting on a dimmer. A nice decorative touch for your lamps are rawhide lamp shades. Have one or two next to the bed, a couple of floor lamps and so on. Handcrafted rawhide lamp shades come in a variety of types and capture the southwestern style and add a rustic feel to the room.
Bedding suitable for this theme
Windows – If you need to completely block out light use some colorful hand woven drapes that have been backed with blackout material. You can also add some colorful sheers and use mini blinds.
The Living Room
The living room is a place your family sees and uses a lot, where you get together in the evening perhaps, and a place where you want to be able to invite in guests or friends for coffee and a chat. You therefore want to create a place people can relax in and feel welcomed. A southwestern style living room might have the following touches.
Color and walls – You could either opt for neutral colored walls and then bring in the brighter tones of color in the furnishings and accessories, or you could have brighter colors for the wall and then go for more muted colors in the rest of the room. Either way think about different shades of yellows, oranges reds, blues even green. In a Mexican themed room you would have plastered walls that have texture to them. In a more Native American themed room you would have colors in rusty red, browns and turquoise. Avoid over cluttering the walls with too much art or photos.
Mexican style living room
Furniture – Rough hewn wooden pieces are suitable for the living room in this style. Make sure they have the appearance of durability. They could be covered in either leather or textiles and then add some cushions that are compliment your color scheme. A leather couch for example would enhance the look and you can get them in many different shades of a warm or rich brown. If you do not want to purchase a new couch and your current one does not suit the new theme, make or buy a slipcover.
Accessories – Some accessories you can have around the room include plants in terracotta plant pots, woven baskets to hold magazines and papers, a small tabletop water fountain, art work on the walls, handmade wooden dolls collection, wrought iron decorative items, Mexican pottery, mission style bells. Look in flea markets and such places to find great deals.
Living room style
Flooring – Traditional flooring could be tile, stone or wood. Rugs are a big thing, earthy tones for something more generally southwestern, bold and vibrant for Mexican, or traditional and handmade wool for Native American.
Lighting – Ornamented tin or wrought iron lighting fixtures would look good. Think about having wall scones as well as overhead lighting perhaps in the form of a rustic chandelier. Lamps could be made from iron or tin too.