What is Southwestern Style Interior Design?

Last Updated on June 13, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Southwestern style interior design is a unique blend of diverse influences and cultures, combining the vibrant colors and patterns of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican cultures to create a unique, yet stylish, aesthetic.

It is a reflection of the vibrant and varied cultures of the American Southwest, and can be used to create a unique and inviting atmosphere in any home.

What is Southwestern Style Interior Design?

Southwestern Style design

Southwestern style interior design is a decorative style that combines the traditional elements of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican cultures.

The style is characterized by bright, vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories.

The goal of Southwestern-style interior design is to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, as well as to evoke a sense of history and culture.

Origins and Influences of the Style

Southwestern-style interior design draws its inspiration from the rich and varied cultures of the American Southwest. Native American culture is a major influence in this style, with its traditional patterns, colors, and textures being prominent features in the design.

Mexican and Spanish influences are also evident in the style, with details such as wrought iron accents, hammered copper, and ornate tile providing an exotic touch.

The style also draws from the traditional colors and patterns of the American Southwest, such as terracotta, turquoise, and Navajo rugs, to create a unique and inviting atmosphere.

Characteristics of Southwestern Style Interior Design

elements Southwestern Style design

Earthy color palette

Southwestern style interior design typically utilizes a palette of earthy colors and natural tones such as terra cotta, beige, and desert hues.

This creates a warm and inviting atmosphere which is further enhanced by the intricate patterns and textures of the style.

The unique and vibrant colors of the style are often used to create vibrant and inviting focal points, such as a terracotta wall or a vibrant rug.

The use of traditional Native American patterns and textures also adds to the unique character of the style, and helps to create a truly unique and inviting atmosphere.

Use of natural materials

One of the defining characteristics of Southwestern style interior design is the use of natural materials. Wood, clay, stone, and leather are commonly used to create furniture and accessories that have a rustic and organic feel.

Wooden furniture pieces such as armoires and side tables are often painted in vibrant earthy colors to match the overall color scheme of the space.

Clay pottery, vases, and lamps can also be used to add a traditional touch to the design, while stone and leather can be used to create hand-crafted pieces with a unique and inviting appeal.

Incorporating these natural materials into the design creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, and helps to evoke a sense of history and culture.

Bold patterns and geometric designs

Southwestern style interior design often incorporates bold patterns and geometric designs that provide a sense of vibrancy and energy to the space.

These designs are typically inspired by traditional Native American textiles, pottery, and artwork.

The patterns often depict symbols of the culture and can include geometric shapes such as diamonds, zigzags, and triangles.

The vibrant colors of the patterns and designs typically match the overall color scheme of the space, while the intricate details can be used to create visual interest and movement.

The bold patterns and geometric designs of this style help to create an inviting and unique atmosphere.

Handcrafted and artisanal elements

In addition to incorporating natural materials and bold patterns, Southwestern style interior design celebrates the craftsmanship and beauty of handmade items.

Artisanal pieces like hand-carved wood furniture, hand-dyed fabrics, and hand-woven rugs can be used to add a sense of tradition and warmth to the space.

Hand-crafted accessories and artwork, such as pottery and jewelry, can be used to give the space a personal and unique feel.

The use of these handcrafted and artisanal elements will help bring a sense of charm and character to the design.

Emphasis on comfort and functionality

Southwestern style interior design not only focuses on creating visually pleasing aesthetics, but also on creating comfortable and functional living spaces.

Furniture pieces such as armchairs, sofas, and recliners are often upholstered with warm fabrics such as wool and leather to provide a cozy atmosphere.

In addition, these pieces are often designed to be comfortable and practical for everyday life.

Furthermore, the addition of small home accessories such as throws and pillows can add to the comfort and ambiance of the room.

Key Elements of Southwestern Style Interiors

southwestern style design home

Adobe and stucco walls

The use of adobe and stucco walls in Southwestern style interiors is a key element to create an atmosphere of rustic authenticity.

These types of construction materials have been used throughout the history of Southwestern architecture, lending a classic, timeless appearance to any room they adorn.

Adobe walls are made from sun-dried brick, a material that has been used in the region for thousands of years. The walls are incredibly strong and durable, and can be painted or sealed for a more modern look.

Stucco walls are made from a mix of lime, sand, and water, and are highly decorative, often featuring intricate patterns and designs.

Both stucco and adobe walls work well with other traditional Southwestern materials, such as wood, stone, and metal. They can also be used with more modern materials, such as glass and steel, to create a more contemporary look.

When used in combination with other elements of Southwestern style, adobe and stucco walls can create a truly unique, authentic atmosphere.

Exposed wood beams and vigas

Exposed wood beams and vigas are essential elements in creating a Southwestern style interior. Exposed wood beams, often made from cedar or pine, are used to support ceilings, while vigas are wooden logs that are used as roof beams.

These materials are a classic part of the architecture of the Southwestern region, and their use in an interior space can lend a rustic, traditional air.

Highlighting architectural features that reflect the region’s history and culture is a key element of Southwestern style interiors. This can be achieved by incorporating architectural elements such as carved doors, shutters, lintels, and corbels.

These types of elements show off the unique craftsmanship of the region, creating a truly unique atmosphere. The use of traditional Southwestern fabrics, such as Navajo rugs, can also help to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Including elements like these in a Southwestern style interior can help to create an atmosphere of timelessness and authenticity, and bring the outdoors in.

Combining these elements with adobe and stucco walls, as well as other traditional materials, can create a unique, inviting atmosphere that is truly reflective of the region’s culture and history.

Terracotta tile flooring

Terracotta tile flooring is a great way to bring a traditional, Southwestern look to a space. The earthy color palette of the Southwestern region is best suited to terracotta tiles, which come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and designs.

Terracotta tile flooring is known for its durability and long-lasting beauty, making it a great choice for any space.

Terracotta tile flooring can bring a unique, warm atmosphere to any interior. The color palette of the tiles, which range from deep reds to earthy oranges and browns, can bring a sense of warmth and coziness to any space.

The tiles also have a traditional, rustic feel, which is perfect for creating a Southwestern-style interior.

The use of terracotta tile flooring can also be combined with other elements to create a truly unique atmosphere. By pairing terracotta flooring with adobe and stucco walls, exposed wood beams, vigas, and traditional Southwest fabrics, it is possible to create a truly authentic, unique atmosphere.

Rustic and distressed furniture

Rustic and distressed furniture can be a great addition to a Southwestern-style interior. Natural wooden pieces, such as tables, chairs, and benches, as well as leather pieces with a weathered appearance, can help to create an inviting atmosphere that is truly reflective of the Southwest.

These pieces work well in combination with the terracotta tile flooring and adobe or stucco walls to create a truly unique atmosphere.

The use of rustic distressed furniture can also help to add texture and character to a room. Pieces with a weathered or distressed look help to bring a sense of age and authenticity to a space. The use of these pieces also helps to bring a sense of warmth and comfort to a space.

When choosing distressed furniture for a Southwest style interior, it is important to consider the color palette of the room. Natural pieces with earthy tones will help to maintain a consistent, cohesive look, while bolder pieces in brighter colors can add a unique, modern touch to the room.

Native American-inspired textiles

Native American-inspired textiles can be a great way to add a unique touch to a Southwestern style interior. Rugs, blankets, and pillows featuring traditional Native American patterns and motifs can help to bring an authentic, cultural element to a space.

These textiles can be used to bring color and texture to a room. Colorful rugs and blankets can be used to add warmth and comfort to a space, while pillows featuring bold patterns and designs can help to bring a unique, cultural element to a room.

When choosing these textiles, it is important to consider the overall color palette of the room. Traditional Native American textiles often feature bright colors and bold patterns, so it is important to consider how they will work with the other pieces in the room.

These pieces can also be used to add a modern touch to a space, so it is important to consider how they will work with more contemporary furniture and decor.

The use of Native American-inspired textiles can also help to create a unique, inviting atmosphere in a Southwestern style interior. These pieces can be used to create an atmosphere of comfort, warmth, and authenticity, that is truly reflective of the Southwestern style.

Tips for Incorporating Southwestern Style into Your Home

southwestern style design home 1

Start with a neutral base

Bring in traditional Southwestern textiles such as rugs, blankets, and cushions with patterns like geometric designs, diamonds, and stripes. Use leather, reclaimed wood, and wrought iron furniture pieces for a rustic, yet stylish look.

Natural materials such as stone, clay, and metal can serve as accents. Hang Navajo-style prints or artwork with desert scenes and desert life motifs on the walls.

For a more modern interpretation of Southwestern style, stick to the warm, earthy color palette but use more contemporary shapes and materials.

Incorporate modern Southwestern-inspired patterns and art into the décor. Utilize bold colors and geometric shapes, such as turquoise, red, and yellow paired with square and triangular shapes to create an interesting, yet unified look.

Mix and match patterns

To bring in even more Southwestern style, try incorporating different patterns by mixing and matching. Look for patterns inspired by Native American art and textiles like zig-zags, stripes, and diamond shapes.

Choose from bright colors, such as red, orange, and yellow, and combine them with neutrals such as tan and brown.

Try pairing geometric shapes with traditional motifs for a modern take on the traditional Southwest style. Consider adding texture with leather pieces, woven fabrics, and rustic metal accents.

Alternatively, bring in some color with Navajo-style prints or artwork. Choose pieces that feature desert scenes and motifs like cactus and animals. Consider adding traditional Navajo rugs and blankets to incorporate a warm, cozy feel.

For a more modern approach, look for art pieces that feature geometric shapes and bright colors in a modern style.

Add handcrafted and artisanal accents

Handcrafted pottery and baskets are an essential part of a Southwestern-inspired space. Look for traditional pieces that are made with natural materials like clay, wood, and grass.

Choose from bright, vibrant colors or more muted earth tones to create an inviting atmosphere. Look for handmade items from artisans in the area, or find pieces from renowned Native American artists.

In addition, look for artisanal accents such as hand-crafted jewelry, wall hangings, and textiles. These pieces can add texture and color to the space, and also serve as a reminder of the historical culture of the Southwestern region.

You can also incorporate other artisanal items throughout the space. Hang hand-crafted dreamcatchers for a unique and eye-catching touch. Place small potted plants or succulents in hand-made planters for a finishing touch.

Emphasize natural materials

Incorporate natural materials into the space for a rustic, yet modern touch. Look for furniture pieces made from wood, like a carved bench or an ornate armoire. Choose tables and chairs crafted from natural stone for a chic, yet textured look.

Add leather pieces to give the space a touch of luxury. Look for leather pillows, rugs, and ottomans that will add a cozy, inviting atmosphere. For a unique look, add clay sculptures or pottery throughout the space.

In addition to furniture and accessories, incorporate natural materials into the architectural elements of the space. Use stone tiles for the flooring, and wood or leather paneling for the walls. Accent the room with architectural details like metal grates or carved wood columns.

With these natural materials, you can create a modern Southwest style that is both stylish and inviting.

Create a cozy and inviting atmosphere

To create a cozy and inviting atmosphere, add textiles and soft furnishings to the space. Look for plush cushions, throws, and blankets with traditional patterns and colors. Choose vibrant colors such as red, orange, yellow, and turquoise for an energetic and inviting space.

Lighting is also key to creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Incorporate unique lighting fixtures such as wall sconces or chandeliers to provide a soft, ambient glow. Hang strings of fairy lights around the room or add dimmable bulbs for a cozy touch.

You can also add other elements such as candles, warm scented oils, and incense to make the space feel even more inviting.

Southwestern Style in Outdoor Spaces

Desert landscaping

Southwestern style in outdoor spaces can be achieved by incorporating elements of desert landscaping. This can include using native plants, such as cacti and succulents, to create a low-maintenance garden.

This style is perfect for dry climates with less rainfall, as it requires less water and care than a traditional garden. Cacti and succulents help to create a beautiful and unique outdoor space with their interesting shapes, textures, and colors.

When incorporating southwestern style into outdoor spaces, it’s important to design with the landscape and climate in mind.

This includes choosing the right plants for the space’s climate, as well as incorporating stones, boulders, and other hardscape materials to create a desert-like scene.

The addition of pots, containers, and other decorative elements can help to tie the space together and add visual interest. Additionally, adding outdoor lighting is a great way to extend the use of your outdoor living space into the evening hours.

Creating a southwestern-style outdoor space can make for a unique and visually appealing outdoor living space. With the right plants, materials, and design elements, it’s easy to create an outdoor space that will be beautiful, functional, and low-maintenance.

Outdoor living areas

When designing outdoor living areas with a southwestern style, it’s important to focus on comfort and relaxation. Incorporating comfortable furniture, such as patio chairs or loungers, can create a functional and inviting outdoor living space.

This can be supplemented with outdoor rugs, cushions, and other soft elements to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Additionally, incorporating outdoor decor pieces, such as planters, ceramic pots, and wind chimes, can help to add to the overall aesthetic.

In addition to furniture and decor pieces, outdoor lighting is an important element to consider when creating a comfortable atmosphere.

String lights, lanterns, and torches can all be used to create a warm, inviting space to relax and entertain. Additionally, incorporating fire pits, fireplaces, and outdoor kitchens can extend the use of your outdoor living space into the evening hours.

Hardscaping with natural materials

When it comes to creating a southwestern style outdoor living space, incorporating natural materials can help to complete the overall look.

Using stone, gravel, and adobe in walkways, walls, and other outdoor structures can add a rustic, earthy feel to any outdoor space.

For example, installing a gravel path leading from the entrance to the backyard can help to tie the space together. Additionally, creating an adobe wall or retaining wall will add to the texture and design of the outdoor space.

Another great way to incorporate natural materials into a southwestern style outdoor space is to use clay or terracotta pots and urns for planters.

This will help to create an authentic look and feel, while still being low-maintenance and easy to maintain. Additionally, incorporating natural stone elements, such as stepping stones, into the design can add to the southwestern feel.

Water features

Water features such as fountains and ponds can help to create a calming and refreshing atmosphere in a southwestern style outdoor space.

The sound of trickling water can help to drown out the noise from the surrounding desert climate and create a more inviting atmosphere for entertaining.

Additionally, the presence of water can create a cooler environment, providing a respite from the heat of the desert sun.

When installing a water feature, it is important to consider the size and type of feature that will best suit the size and style of your outdoor space. For larger spaces, a grand fountain or a pond with a cascading waterfall may be appropriate.

For smaller spaces, a smaller fountain or pond with a few fish can also create a soothing atmosphere. Additionally, incorporating natural elements, such as rocks and plants, into the design can help to create a more authentic southwestern style.

Decorative pieces such as ristras, ceramic pots, and wind chimes, can also help to add to the overall aesthetic. Ristras, for example, is a traditional southwestern decoration made from dried red chilies, that can be hung in the garden or around the pool to add a unique touch.

Ceramic pots, when used in a variety of sizes and colors, can help to create an eye-catching display. Lastly, wind chimes can be hung in the garden to create a pleasant and calming ambiance.


In conclusion, Southwestern style interior design is a popular trend that incorporates unique elements from the region’s history and culture.

By utilizing native materials like adobe, terracotta tiles, vibrant colors, and decorative pieces such as ristras and wind chimes, you can create warm and inviting spaces that reflect this unique style of the Southwest.

Additionally, incorporating water features into outdoor spaces can help to create a more authentic atmosphere.

Overall, Southwestern style interior design is an excellent way to bring a bit of the history and culture of the region into your home.


What is Southwestern style design?

Southwestern style design is a style of interior design that originated in the Southwestern United States, most notably in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. It draws from the rich cultural heritage of Native Americans, Mexicans, and Spanish peoples in the region and incorporates various elements such as bold colors, intricate geometric patterns, and natural materials.

How can I incorporate Southwestern style into my home?

There are many ways to incorporate Southwestern design into your home. You can add pops of color with accent pieces such as throw pillows, area rugs, and wall art. You could also add natural elements like wood and stone to your décor. And, of course, you can add some of the traditional geometric patterns associated with the style.

What colors are associated with Southwestern design?

The colors typically associated with Southwestern design are warm earth tones such as red, orange, yellow, and brown. However, pops of bright colors such as turquoise, purple, and green are typically incorporated as accents.

What materials are used in Southwestern design?

Natural materials are often used in Southwestern design. These can include wood, stone, leather, and wool. Additionally, pottery, textiles, and basketry are common elements of the style.