Southwestern style gets its name from the Southwestern region of the United States, which definitively includes Arizona and New Mexico as well as some of the surrounding states. Because Native Americans, the Spanish Empire, and Mexico dominated the Southwest in succession, the region has a rich cultural heritage that melds all these influences together. Aspects of available materials and the surrounding desert landscape from those earlier periods also inform the design choices of the Southwestern style. If you want to implement the distinct, rustic elements associated with this region in your home, follow these Southwestern style interior design tips.
Choose the Right Color Palette
Prior to getting any items for your home, think about the color palette you’ll use to create your desired appearance. Warm hues such as red, orange, and yellow dominate Southwestern style. Even the neutral tones that make up its foundation, such as tans and browns, lean towards warmth, representing the colors of the earth in the region. Cool accent colors provide a nice contrast and reflect the bright blue of the sky and the green of the sparse vegetation dotting the scenery. The colors of the style all work so cooperatively because they’re drawn from the natural setting.
Pay Attention to Wood
The wood that composes Southwestern-style furniture was originally taken from nearby plateaus and mountains. When you’re choosing wood furniture, flooring, and other aspects of the home, go for species such as oak, birch, pine, hickory, and cherry. These bring a richness and weight to your rooms that you just can’t replicate with plastic or faux-wood objects. Your home will also have a greater sense of authenticity with these woods. A detail that can further the effect is sturdiness. Many of the wood elements that are part of Southwestern dwellings are broad and sturdy rather than slim and dainty.
Include Wrought Iron
A lot of the inspiration behind Southwestern style is rooted in earlier times, before the U.S. annexed the territory, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that wrought iron plays an important role in its design. The malleability and toughness of the alloy means it can be molded and hammered into all kinds of shapes for lighting fixtures, rails, chairs, and tables, to name a few of its applications. It also possesses a grainy quality due to the slag fibers mixed into it, which lend it a homier character when compared to sleek, modern metals and alloys such as steel. This is perfectly in line with the organic themes of the style overall.
Add Architectural Details
When it comes to Southwestern design, the architecture of the house is what can really make or break the atmosphere. Consider the walls, for example. In Southwestern homes, these were traditionally made of stucco or adobe. In a typical home today, you’d be hard-pressed to find such materials dominating the structure. However, you can emulate the textured surfaces of these materials with certain paints, techniques, or wallpapers.
Another hallmark of the style is the use of large, visible wooden ceiling beams. These impressive joists do more than support the top of the building—they enhance the coziness for inhabitants and guests alike. You can choose to go full-blown and cover your ceiling with them or simply blend them into a more typical flat ceiling.
One place in the architecture where Spanish and Mexican details are very recognizable is the floor. These cultures brought terracotta tiles to the Southwest, and soon these tiles became a fundamental part of many homes. Terracotta tile floors can move a room from ordinary to unmistakably Southwestern. The fact that the tiles are mostly brown—sometimes leaning toward orange—only adds to how well they work with other Southwestern elements.
Purchase Tough, Beautiful Furniture
When it comes to furniture pieces, you should think about the patterns they incorporate and the feeling they give. Because its frontier status impacted the Southwest as it changed hands between countries, a lot of the fabrication of furniture was tough. Some pieces were mostly plain, while others featured more complex carvings and forms. Most furniture was durable and long-lasting, and in addition to wood and metal, leather was popular in upholstery. Closets were seldom included in the construction of homes, so sizeable drawers and cabinets were often present in rooms. Use this information when you’re deciding on what furniture to obtain for your home. The pieces you purchase shouldn’t be too finicky when it comes to maintenance, but they should still be attractively crafted.
Use Relevant Decorations
To put the finishing touches on your interior design, use decorations that follow the same themes of the other points. You should emphasize nature and Native American iconography. Some examples include earthenware, small figures or sculptures, desert plants, patterned throw pillows, and blankets with traditional Native American motifs. You can cushion the hard floor with rugs made of animal skin or that features designs similar to those of the pillows and blankets. Just be sure that you don’t overwhelm any one room with too many patterns, and try to vary pieces so that they don’t visually dissolve into one another completely and destroy the depth.
As you can see, Southwestern style boasts an abundance of potential for any homeowner wishing to turn their abode into one of rugged charm. At the time of this style’s development in previous centuries, what was available nearby and what was practical for living primarily decided many of its aspects. Due to this background, the Southwestern style stresses the organic over the artificial. This might have been due to necessity at the time, but today, we can appreciate how the style reflects the land. Moreover, we can find value in the cultural heritage that shaped the style, gaining a glimpse into history and the goings-on of the people who inhabited the American Southwest long ago. If you want to get started in decorating you home in this way, a good place to start is with Boutique Rugs. We have a collection of Southwestern-style rugs that can either form the basis of your décor or slot in nicely with your existing pieces. Contact us today.