Jul 7, 2023

Southwest Interior Design Ideas

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ative American decor has shaped European and American style homes ever since their influences traveled in the 17th century. Clothing, tools, pottery, plants, and colors all originated from Native American influences, and have shaped Southwestern home styles today.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. Base colors for a Southwestern-style home
  2. Handcrafted pottery, baskets, and blankets
  3. Outdoor Patio Design Ideas
  4. And more!

A Natural Base

A white base home is pictured with a plaid couch, fabric wall and floor accents and wicker baskets
Give your home a soft base with lots of natural accents to bring out the culture in your home.

Representative of the natural southwest, a tan or sandy base for walls and floors gives a southwestern inspired home a touch of the outdoors. To complement the light and airy base of tans and sandy browns, a white furniture base keeps the trend sound. 

Native American Fabric Design

Floor pillows and rugs are pictured with natural native american designs. 
Native American handcrafted fabrics and pottery were traded and sold for gifts, ceremonies, and practicality.

Traditional Native American designs on dolls, blankets, rugs, and pillows are a staple in a traditional southwestern home. This type of creation and decoration served as a purely economic exchange. Native Americans would buy, sell, or trade their goods or use them as a practical way of living– blankets for warmth and comfort, pottery for cooking and serving. 

Woven rugs are made from unprocessed wool yarn and take long hours to perfect. Fringe on blankets, pillows, or rugs are made by weaving horsehair and grasses with beads and feathers to achieve a natural added flare. Based on symmetry and harmony, the geometric designs of these rugs are unique, handcrafted, and add the perfect touch to a western home.

Handcrafted Pottery

stacked handmade and painted pottery is pictured
Keep the natural design of your home intact by incorporating handcrafted art in your living room or bedroom.

Used in ceremony, as functional storage, or for cooking, naturally handcrafted and painted pottery is still a traditional decoration to a southwestern-style home. Handcrafted from natural ground clay and grit, the pottery is spun, dried, and painted or glazed then fired. Much like other naturally handcrafted Native American pieces, no two pieces of pottery are the same. 

Deep oranges, warm yellows and sandy tans or browns are painted on the clay designs then fired at a high temperature in an oven or wood fire. The color, texture, and design all characterize a piece of traditional pottery, making it priceless in a Southwestern style home.

Saloon Doors

closed wooden saloon doors inside a wooden base.
Saloon doors add a traditional look to your home. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

Saloon doors were used in western parts of America, primarily in restaurants and bars for easy access to the dining area and the kitchen. A boom in the 1870s allowed for a natural breeze and a practical way for restaurant staff to move while carrying food.

Saloon doors were used by owners of establishments to entice people to enter but also allowed for some privacy like a regular door. Still used in modern homes, saloon doors took on a more elegant style with wainscoting and longer floor-length panels. A staple for a traditional look to a contemporary Southwestern-style home needs the notorious saloon door.

Woven Baskets

black and tan woven baskets
Native American influence in a traditional Southwestern home is crucial to its design.

In many traditional southwestern homes, woven baskets still serve as a ceremonial item and as functional uses in homes. They are still bought, used, and traded to keep the traditional consumer market alive.

Among the many types of woven baskets, some are used ceremoniously for a woman’s “coming of age” while others are used for religious purposes. These baskets are made from willow, yucca, cattails, horsehair and grasses and decorative tassels or fringe are made with beads and feathers. Given as gifts or awards, handcrafted baskets are still used as a traditional handmade culturally significant item.

Leather Furniture

A brown leather couch and a yellow pillow with wall accents and a lamp
Leather has a rich western history of use. Incorporate it in your new home as a conversation started or to bring culture indoors.

Used as a practical way to keep warm and provide insulation, Native Americans used sheepskin and leather for clothing, on houses, and as blankets. In some parts of the Arctic, polar bear and seal skin was used for its water-wicking characteristics and crafted boots.

Soft and accessible, deer skins were used as fabrics for clothing and sheets. Although greatly outgrown and mostly unneeded for a modern-style Southwestern home today, the look and texture of animal fur is soft, durable, and gives a beautiful addition to a traditional southwestern home, and faux leather is the perfect alternative. Faux leather furniture adds a touch of nature and history to a home, and is more accessible, easier to care for, and more humane than real leather.

Wrought Iron Accents

A wrought iron lion head door knocker
Wrought iron is unique, sophisticated, and durable.

Originally deriving from parts of China around the 113th century, iron was used to craft tools, cooking pans, and decor. Wrought iron or “worked iron” adopted a sophisticated design and was used in cathedrals, fences, and bridges.

Brought to the US in the 18th century, wrought iron was used mainly for kitchen hardware. Now used as decoration or for smaller practical home uses, wrought iron holds a strong past of functionality and large use. Characterized by strength, honor and power, wrought iron accents give a southwestern home a touch of the past. 

Outdoor Patio Ideas

A brightly colored outdoor patio with wooden chairs, stones, and native wall design
Rocks and succulents are a great addition around outdoor plants as well as Native American influenced tile and decorative throw pillows for a natural look.

The Southwestern regions of America are home to beautiful native plants that would make any indoor or outdoor space comfortable and natural. Yellow Columbine flowers are wonderful all-year-round plants perfect for an outdoor garden or patio. Able to withstand harsh temperatures and weather, these blooms attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are low-maintenance. Of course, the Bunny Ear Cactus is a must have for any western-style outdoor patio because it is easy to care for, beautiful, and year-round, producing small yellow flowers in the spring and summer.

Furniture with earthy tones, deep oranges and sandy browns are natural western colors that will work great with the rest of your decor. Even if you aren’t in the southwest, antlers and bones are sometimes left behind by visiting animals or ones who have found that your yard is their perfect eternal resting place. Hanging animal skulls or laying out antlers with candles on a table or cabinet is a great decoration for a Southwestern style home.

Wrapping Up the Southwestern Style

The characteristics of a traditional Southwestern-style home includes handmade decor, pottery, traditional Native American fabrics, and plants. Hopefully this has given you insight into designing your new home which you can achieve in any area of the world with the best attainable accents.

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