Home design trends are always evolving, with new fads emerging and older styles being revived.
One such style getting a recent revitalization is Southwestern design—in fact, the modern approach has become so popular that the 2023 HGTV Smart Home features it throughout.
With earth tones, wood accents, and geometric patterns, this style is rooted in the diverse heritage and stunning landscapes of the American Southwest, seamlessly blending traditional elements with contemporary sensibilities. It’s a great way to warm up your home and create cozy, comfortable rooms you can enjoy for years to come. To help you fully embrace this style, here are a few tips for incorporating it into your living spaces.
What is modern Southwestern design?
The Southwest is a region teeming with natural wonders, vibrant cultures, and a rich history. Its unique blend of American Indian, Hispanic, and western influences has given birth to a captivating design style that’s endured for decades. However, the modern interpretation takes a more minimalistic, subdued approach, focusing on crisp, white walls and exposed wood beams that allow more vibrant and warm-colored pieces of art, furniture, and decor to have their shining moments. While it still provides a deep connection to the heritage, culture, and nature of the region, it fuses traditional, contemporary, and even midcentury elements without getting too kitsch, creating a unique and visually stunning aesthetic.
Bringing the Southwest into your home
Embracing modern Southwestern design means balancing natural materials with the vibrancy of traditional cultural elements. When you take the time to carefully craft and curate each piece, you’ll be left with an oasis you can sit back and relax in.
This type of design embodies the region’s natural beauty, bringing in various warm, earthy neutrals that are reminiscent of its deserts. Adopting it requires making your dominant colors shades of terra-cotta, beige, light gray, and sage green, for instance. Benjamin Moore’s Southwest color palette is a great example of the terrestrial hues you could use as color inspiration for your living spaces. The colors you choose will lay the foundation for your design, which you can then build off of with your decor.
Once you have your warm neutrals, you can balance them with organic modern materials. Incorporate varying textures and tactile components, such as wood and leather elements and woven textiles, to help ground your design and create layers that bring more depth to the space. For example, a piece like this tan leather chair from Poly & Bark would work well against a clean, neutral backdrop. Together, these shades and textures create a sense of warmth and connection to nature that anyone can appreciate.
Pops of color and pattern
From geometric motifs to intricate rug designs, Indigenous-inspired patterns have long been a major part of Southwestern design. The modern approach continues to embrace these elements, bringing in the style’s traditional bright colors and eclectic, intricate patterns to complement an otherwise neutral base. As you’re designing a room, you’ll need to think strategically about where you want to add the more colorful, bold elements, like this patterned area rug from AllModernor this macramé wall tapestry, to create greater dimension and visual interest in the space.
As modern Southwestern design is a more pared-down version of the traditional style, it applies a minimalistic approach rather than using an overwhelming mix of bright geometric patterns and cow or cactus pictures on each wall. For instance, if you want to include a faux cowhide rug, like this one from AllModern, avoid pairing it with multiple animal or plant prints or cowboy hats on your walls. It’s about being intentional with your subtle nods to the Southwest. For this style, a little really goes a long way. And when done carefully, you can create a more modern, curated collection of decor that will withstand the test of time.