To celebrate summer, we’re taking inspiration from the all-American tradition of a cross-country road trip. We’ll be making our way across the USA and exploring some of our favorite cities and their signature design styles along the way. Buckle up and get ready for some major destination design inspo. Next up: The Southwestern style of Santa Fe, New Mexico!
Adobe homes. Rustic hues. Sumptuous natural materials. These elements combined are what we love about southwestern style. Santa Fe itself has long held irresistible allure for artists and design lovers looking to venture outside of the creative hubs of bigger metropolitan cities. Georgia O’Keeffe famously took up residence in Santa Fe many decades ago, and today her home and art studio are considered one of the country’s most beloved museums.
And when it comes to design, you’ll definitely recognize interiors that celebrate the region’s colorful rustic look that is popular across Instagram and Pinterest: rooms decorated in earthy desert hues, mid-century furnishings, pieces made with natural materials, and pops of tribal and navajo-inspired patterns.
Read on to see how you can bring the layered southwestern look to your own home.
Not to be confused with the modern farmhouse style of Sonoma, Santa Fe style is rooted in a sense of earthy comfort that is inspired by its history, desert surroundings, and Native American and Spanish design influences. We like to think of it as cozy, modern, and a little funky all at once. To conjure the look in your own home, here are the key foundational elements to keep in mind.
Work with a warm palette
Rather than crisp whites, light neutrals and blue tones, southwestern-style interiors are made up of a richly warm color palette that includes burnt oranges, rusty reds, deep browns, and shades of natural and earth tones. Collectively, the colors add up to a welcoming palette that recalls the arid desert landscape of the Southwest.
Lay out focus areas
Modern southwestern-style spaces are carefully laid out. Rooms often consist of smaller focused areas within a larger living space, such as cozy conversation spots and corners-turned-reading-nooks. To start, try strategically placing your rugs as a way to delineate different spaces and use greenery to create visual distinction between areas.
For instance, a cowhide layered on top of a traditional rug can have the effect of extending your seating area, while a tall cactus or fiddle-leaf ficus tree can inadvertently work as a room divider.
Southwestern-style interiors often incorporate a stylish mix of modern design, navajo patterns, and boho touches that result in their colorful and eclectic appeal. And the overall vibe is comfy and inviting but also packed with plenty luxurious textures. Here’s how to blend all these elements into your space
Pile on the patterns
Because these are the real pops of color, pattern, and texture in Santa Fe-style interiors, you’ll want to make sure you bring in pieces you absolutely love and can picture yourself living with. Where to begin? Navajo-inspired pillows, blankets in whimsical motifs, or a geometric kilim rug are all great foundations that you can pull colors from for accents throughout the room.
And you also can’t go wrong with a cowhide rug, which adds instant warmth. (If you can’t tell, we love the look of a hide layered on a bold patterned rug!) And when it comes to choosing art, opt for landscapes or even take an abstract route with graphic paintings and prints; just make sure they stay within the earthy desert color palette.
Think modern, not sleek
For your anchor pieces, opt for mid-century silhouettes and furniture with modern frameworks. Think chairs with tapered legs, streamlined woven leather armchairs, and even a metal bar cart. The clean-lined appeal of these pieces provides cool contrast to the bright colors and patterns of the accents. Just remember that you want to keep to rustic materials and even seek pieces that show a little patina. Weathered woods, aged leather, or a lightly faded rug are great places to start!
Keep it organic
Opt for natural materials as much as possible in your furnishings and accents. Then extend that ethos to your smaller furniture pieces. Designs with curvy silhouettes and organic shapes are nods to adobe architecture that can help emphasize the southwestern style.
Get your greenery on
Probably the most essential piece of the southwestern style puzzle, no room really says “Santa Fe” without plenty of cacti. So be sure to add plenty of plants that reference the region’s uniquely lush and arid landscape. A large potted cactus alongside mini cacti and other leafy plants add vibrant notes that are essential for rounding out the look.