Creating the Sultry Style of Southwest Décor

Southwestern style has been popular for decades, but recently, a more toned down and accessible version of Southwestern decorating has been showing up in homes all over the country. The objective of the nouveau southwestern style is to urbanize the cozy aesthetic, making it fit into any type of home. Read on for a few easy ways you can get your home rocking the modern southwestern style!



A Toned-Down Palette

When we think of the colors of the Southwest, bold aqua tones, reds, and yellows tend to pop into our minds. While these are beautiful colors to work with, they can be tricky to decorate around. If you do choose to go bold with room color, be sure that your furniture’s color complements the room. This is easy to accomplish if you decide to go with aged white pieces.



If you want a little more versatility with your southwestern style, try painting your walls using the more modern, toned-down, earth-inspired palette. For me, the colors in this category that are easiest to decorate around are very light buttercup, toned-down brick, jasper green, and surprisingly, white. Southwestern patterns and décor truly pop against light or very toned-down colors. 


The Aging Process

Going lighter with wall color will give you all kinds of freedom when it comes to selecting the right furniture to embody that sultry, sweet, southwestern style. The look of bold pieces against a muted backdrop will really drive that aesthetic home.



What will truly authenticate the piece is aging it with sandpaper. This is a process that can also be used on doors, shutters, or mailboxes. My favorite way to achieve a bold look is to obtain a piece of unfinished wooden furniture and dump an extremely saturated color over it. It does not matter if the paint covers the piece fully or not. After the paint dries, I go to town sanding it down, leaving enough of the bold color to truly stand out. 


Keep it Lit

Pendant lights are a great way to show off southwestern style, particularly if you are trying to mix a bit of bohemian in with your décor. These hanging, oftentimes uniquely shaped not-quite-chandeliers are an artful way to bring the nature-inspired style to your home. Since there are many made of blown glass, it is easy to find beautifully colored lighting that will cast the glow of a New Mexico sunset in your living room. 



Let the Décor Have the Floor

The culture of the Southwest is evident in the beautiful jugs, figurines, and artwork of the area.  The modern spin on Southwest art has seen a huge uptick in rustic, unframed paintings that can easily be moved from room to room. These rich pieces are reminiscent of the old Southwest, but have the added bonus of portability. The same principle applies to folk dolls, printed rugs, and jugs. The pieces themselves are so attention-grabbing that they belong front and center in any southwestern style home, but keep in mind that too big of a piece can overtake the room and limit your design capabilities.  



The southwestern aesthetic has taken a modern twist, which lets it fit right in with any style of home! The cozy desert feel is accessible and a great direction to go in if you love versatility. What are some of your favorite design techniques?  Check out our virtual rooms to see what kind of aesthetic you like best! Use our interior design tools and become your own interior decorator!           



Images used with permission, courtesy of Kathleen Wolak,, and

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