Making the Southwest Look Work

Credit: Tuck Flauntleroy

Like living in a sun-swept canyon.

If ever there were a style of decor that takes especially good taste to pull off, it’s the Southwestern look. When you do it right, you can create a bright, sunny home full of reminders of the untamed wilds and beautiful southern landscapes. When you do it wrong, you have a house full of dead stuff. Needless to say, this is not an aesthetic to be approached halfheartedly. If you’ve got that ol’ southern grit in you, though, here’s a few concepts to stick by.

Stay Balanced

There are a lot of pleasant colors in the Southwestern palette, but you don’t want to try and use them all at once. Keep your base natural, and then add accessories like blankets, artwork, decorations, etc. Stick with natural, earthy colors, with an occasional splash or red, orange, or black.

Go Natural

Natural, homemade furniture always looks nicest (if you can afford it). Authentic Navajo rugs, warm lighting, and natural colors will get you the aesthetic you’re looking for. Animal fur stuff is nice in moderation as well, though that might be a department you want to go synthetic on, since fur isn’t really as fashionable (or ethical) anymore.

Credit: Aaron Leitz

Keep it Simple

A faux cow skull here, a colorful blanket there, and maybe some plants are all you really need. If you start covering your home in wall-to-wall western chotchkies, you’re going to stop living in a house and start living in a kitschy restaurant. Not that I dislike kitschy restaurants, but they’re not for living in.

Be Meaningful

If you want to go for the Southwestern look, you want it to be authentic. A major part of the aesthetic is bringing the feel of western plain at sunset into your home, so decorate with that image in mind. Don’t go overboard with cowboy stuff, or else people will think you’re just a spaghetti western nut.