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Southwestern Style Decorating

Guest Author - Donna Coogan

Southwestern decor, often referred to as Santa Fe style, gets its roots from Mexico and southwestern areas of the U.S. like New Mexico and Arizona. Southwestern style conjures up images of the desert, rough terrain and deeply saturated sunsets. It is a warm, relaxed and inviting style that mixes beautifully with other rustic decors.

Elements of Southwestern style:

Color: desert earth tones, gold, orange, red, violet, blue, turquoise and green

Southwestern style embraces the colors of earth and sky with abandon. Include desert earth tones in sand, terra cotta and gray; bold sunset colors of gold, orange, red and violet; the green of desert cactus; the blue of a desert sky; the turquoise like that found near southwestern copper mines.

Furniture: leather, wrought iron, mission, shaker, twig, rustic, rough-hewn wood; Spanish antiques

Southwestern style furniture is rugged, big and full of texture. Pieces could be a mix of leather and wood or be inlaid with wrought iron or silver. Choose an assortment of furniture types to give your room more interest.

Accents: colorful woven rugs, throws and pillows; Mexican or Native American pottery and baskets; Native American drums, rattles and flutes; dream catchers; hand painted tiles, Spanish crosses

When choosing accents for your Southwestern decor, youíll discover a vast variety of hand made Mexican or Native American crafts and artifacts. They are beautifully embellished with hand painted designs, turquoise, silver, beads or feathers. Motifs might include cactus, lizards, rattlesnakes, coyotes, chili peppers and wild horses.

Textiles: woven materials in solids, geometric patterns and serape stripes; rawhide or cowhide.

Fabrics provide texture and interest to Southwestern decor. Look for wonderful patterns in rich colors for your pillows, throws, curtains, upholstery and rugs.

Floors: knotty pine, stone or terra cotta tile

If you don't have typical Southwestern style floors, enhance what you have with an area rug in a Southwestern pattern. Then bring in elements of knotty pine, stone or terra cotta through furniture and accents.

Walls: adobe walls, log cabin walls, or walls painted in neutral colors of the desert

Donít despair if you donít have log cabin or adobe walls. You can easily achieve a Southwestern feel by painting your walls in neutral desert tones. These will provide the perfect backdrop to all the vibrant colors used in Southwestern decor.

Window Treatments: bare windows, matchstick blinds, panels in Southwestern designs

Window treatments will depend on how much impact you want them to have in the space. Choose from subtle neutral panels that blend into the wall color or embrace a bold design. You might also mix neutral panels with a vibrant topper. For a casual look, attach indoor shutters or hang wooden matchstick blinds.

Lighting: rustic or wrought iron lamps; rawhide or canvas lampshades with stenciled designs

Lighting needs to be appropriate to the space. Choose from table lamps and chandeliers that incorporate Southwestern elements.

Example Living Room in Southwestern Style:

To decorate your living room in a Southwestern style, consider the following example.
  • Paint the walls a neutral color like that of desert sand.
  • Choose a brown leather sofa and 2 accent chairs made of knotty pine with fabric seats.
  • If thereís room, add a rustic rocking chair.
  • Arrange these around the roomís focal point and anchor with an area rug
  • Enhance the seating with colorful pillows and throws in Native American patterns.
  • Place a mosaic table in sunset hues in front of the sofa.
  • Add a few missionary end tables and wrought iron lamps.
  • Display a favorite collection of Mexican or Native American artifacts as a secondary focal point.
  • Accent one wall with a serape wall hanging and another with a painting or photograph of a desert scene.
  • Include a touch of the outdoors, by adding assorted cactus in hand painted Mexican pots.





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Content copyright © 2014 by Donna Coogan. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Donna Coogan. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Michelle Ullman for details.

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