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?
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. We think it would feel right at home in a Waco living room or San Antonio designer’s portfolio!
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.
Minimal 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.
Modern 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.
Want to bring home the Modern Southwest look?