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modern southwest interior design

Style Spotlight: 4 Ways to Get the Modern Southwest Look

If you’ve been noticing—and loving—a lot of Southwestern design on your Instagram and Pinterest feeds lately, you’re not alone. In fact, Modern Southwest interior design is one of our favorite trendy styles of the moment!

Modern Southwest design features a mix of mid-century and rustic elements, combined in a way that recalls the desert Southwest. It’s a close cousin of modern rustic interior design and desert minimal design. The difference being that Modern Southwest puts more emphasis on desert and Southwestern motifs than modern rustic and is more eclectic than desert minimal design. In fact, this look is very rooted in the idea of being a literal world traveller, with a home that features collected objects from around the world.

In terms of color palettes, Modern Southwest features earthy palettes in saturated tones—like terracotta, brick reds, olive greens, and blues, as well as natural materials and heavy leathers (in more of a cognac that dark brown tone). You’ll also see a lot of deep, dark woods in this style. But it’s not all earthy, natural elements. There’s also this high-contrast element that brings in the modern side of this style. Many Modern Southwest rooms feature bright white walls and black accents in the furniture and decor.

Southwestern living is embodied in this warm and youthful, with rooms that feel inviting and lived-in. Global-inspired, geometric, and Southewestern patterns add a playful air to this style; you’ll see these patterns a lot in textiles and accent decor like vases and rugs. Shibori and ikat patterns are very big in Southwestern decorating, as are jute, Moroccan, kilim, souk, shag, and overdyed rugs. And, while these are popular motifs right now, this is a style that won’t feel tired or overdone in a few years.

Ready to explore some modern design ideas in the realm of Modern Southwestern design? We had our designers create four different takes on this style to show you the different ways that it can come to life. Which one is your favorite?

modern southwest interior designGiddy Up

This take on Modern Southwest really leans into Western-inspired design elements. This comes through in the decor—specifically the wall art, the hide stool, and the hide rug. Though the rug, with its gold flecking adds a playful and modern element to the space—as does the marble-top tulip table. This table, paired with the woven chair with their metal legs creates a lovely mix of modern and rustic in this dining nook. And the layers of textured pillows on the bench? It creates a very cozy and rustic feel.

The classic Southwestern color palette—full of terracottas, browns, black, white, and cream—is what keeps this look from falling flat or feeling too western. In fact, it makes for a very earthy, relaxing, and inviting palette.

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modern southwest interior designCool-Girl Vibes

This Modern Southwest living room has a very cool-girl vibe. Earthy tones throughout this living room give the space nuance and warmth, with the pale, dusty pinks reminding us of a desert sunset. And the natural, woven textures found in the textiles and accent chair add to the Southwest rustic vibe. While the base of this room is very Southwestern, some unexpected ultra-modern moments up the playful, cool factor.

When it comes to Southwest decoration, the wall art and literal cactus help set the vibe, as do the textiles. There’s some fun pattern play in the rugs, with the patterned jute rug layered under the kilim rug, and a hide rug under the accent chair. But then the modern elements come into play and give this room a really cool finish. The cascading modern pendant light adds a very unexpected and sculptural moment to this room. And you might not think to use a clear acrylic coffee table in a more rustic space, but it gives the room a very open and airy vibe—as do the sleek white walls. The cognac leather sofa ties together the whole look. It has a modern shape, but the color and finish of the leather lends itself to a Southwestern rustic vibe.

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modern southwest interior designMinimal But Eclectic

While this is a more minimal take on Modern Southwest, it still has the eclectic vibe that makes this style so fun. The bed is obviously the foundation of this space; it has very modern and minimal lines, but the spindles hint at rustic style. From there, the room gets a bit more rustic and eclectic, with the help of natural materials.

The woven rattan on the stools and the plush shag rug bring in that rustic element. But the stools themselves add an eclectic vibe, with their high-contrast black frames. The baskets on the wall also speak to the eclectic collector part of Modern Southwest design, with their global-inspired weaves. And the print on both the throw pillow and the rug add to the overall Southwestern vibe.

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 modern southwest interior designModern Santa Fe

The walls in this Modern Southwest living room aren’t a bright white like the other designs we’ve shared—which gives this room an almost Santa Fe-inspired design. But it’s definitely a bit more modern than your average Santa Fe look. Curved shapes are big in this design—from the curved console and mirror to the arms of the sofa and the ottoman. The use of soft, rounded edges and arches are very sculptural and are reminiscent of classic soutwestern architecture.

But, while the furniture in this space skews very modern, the accents lean more rustic and eclectic. The saturated earth tones used throughout—from rusts and browns to terracottas—are very desert-inspired. And a mix of natural materials like rattan, wicker, and unfinished woods add to that earthy, rustic vibe and really shine in this space. The leather sofa and the woven leather seat of the accent chair mix nicely with the other natural elements in this space, and their finish bring the modern shapes of these pieces more toward rustic style.

While we opted to go more neutral and subdued in this space, you can get really colorful and playful with Modern Southwest design. All you’d have to do is incorporate brighter accent pillows and add higher contrast elements throughout the space—like olive tones, blues, and black metal accents.

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southwest style

Destination Style: Bring Home Eclectic Santa Fe Style

southwest styleTo 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.

santa fe styleWelcoming Foundations

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.

southwest styleEclectic Appeal

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

southwest stylePile 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!

santa fe styleKeep 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.

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