If you’ve thought about decorating your home – or even just one room of your home – in Southwestern style, you might somewhat uncertain on how to go about doing it well. This is particularly hard for anyone who’s never been to the Southwestern part of the United States, and never seen true Southwest style decorating.
Like many decorating styles, the interpretation is often in the preferences of the designer. In some cases the decorating theme tends to lean more towards Spanish style, or Native American style too. Some people create southwestern style decorating themes with very bright, vibrant colors for instance, while others simply use accent pieces which have common southwestern items on them.
Cactus plants are a common element many use in their southwestern decorating themes. It’s fairly easy to stencil cactus shapes onto a wall for instance, or buy a lamp which has a cactus painted on the lampshade.
Wolves are another element often used: People will buy a decorating accessory such as a throw pillow, because it has a wolf howling at the moon and that image is equated with southwestern styles.
These are what I consider to be mainstream, or stereotypical decorating touches though.
I’ve lived in Arizona and New Mexico for about 20 years, and to me the definition of “Southwestern” decorating style is a bit different. First of all, the colors are more muted. They reflect the deep earth color tones found in this part of the country. There really is red rock in this area for instance, but it’s not a vibrant or bright color of red.
The cactus and other plant life also tend to be a muted, faded shade of green. You won’t often find bright deep green plant life in this part of the country.
Patterns are a big part of the design style too. Not specific shapes like the cactus and wolf mentioned earlier – but geometric types of patterns.
Rustic styled furniture and accent pieces mix into this decorating style well. Large wood furniture for instance, and wrought iron lamps will compliment your overall theme nicely. Try to go for a large, open spaces kind of look though… you can literally see for miles in the Southwest and this tends to be reflected in the decorating style too.
Bare wood floors are a nice touch if you have them, and scattering southwestern themed throw rugs into key places will round out the look. You can also use throw rugs in key places with wall to wall carpeting, but this works best with neutral colored carpeting. If you have a pretty sky blue color for instance, it might be difficult to find a southwestern style throw rug which compliments that color well.
Try draping a Spanish or Indian lap blanket over your couch or a chair as an accent, or even stretch it out and hang it on a wall for added color and interest. Speaking of wall decorations, there are some beautiful 3D artworks which depict Spanish adobe, or Indian Pueblos which can really enhance your overall decorating theme.
©2007, Kathy Burns-Millyard. Kathy is a professional published freelance writer and commercial stock photographer living in Southeast New Mexico USA. Visit ElectronicPerceptions.com to see some of her latest photography, and to read more of her excellent content too.
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