How To Create A Southwestern Style Dining Room Design

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A design known for its warmth and relaxing attitude, the southwestern style is a perfect dining room choice for anyone who enjoys intricate patterns, subtle accents and tranquil color schemes. Found most frequently in Pueblo and Spanish style homes, this style takes inspiration from the culture and colors of the American southwest and Native American artwork. 

Colors

The beauty of a southwestern style room is the simplicity of the color scheme, and the ability to draw inspiration directly from nature. Two main concepts direct the colors of the southwestern style - the desert and Native American culture.

  • Use neutral shades for the table, wall and floor color.
  • Tans, browns and whites are usually best. They should resemble colors you would see in the desert.
  • For chair cushions, artwork and table accessories, use vibrant colors.
  • Bright blues, oranges, yellows and reds are perfect for tying in the ancient Native American color schemes found in artwork, pottery and rugs.
  • Neutral shades on larger surfaces like the walls, table and floors provide the perfect backdrop for brightly colored accessories to pop, without appearing overwhelming.
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Furniture

Dining room furniture for a southwestern style is uniquely detailed and often intricately carved. This room theme's ability to be highly decorated without appearing stuffy, overdone or overwhelming is part of its allure, and is certainly appreciated in the complex design of many southwestern dining furniture pieces. When purchasing furniture for this room, consider the follow design standards:

  • Large wooden tables, often carved with Native American and southwestern cultural designs. Tables typically have wide, bulky legs, and should appear sturdy rather than delicate.
  • Chairs are also usually made of thick pieces of carved wood, displaying designs or pictures of Native American symbols.
  • Side tables, buffet tables and shelving for drinks, plates or any other dining accessories also carved with similar designs and patterns.
  • Furniture made of lighter colored woods.
  • Wood left either unfinished or roughly brushed with white or teal paint to create an antique, weather worn look unique to the southwestern style.
  • Carved accents on tables and chairs may be painted with teal, blue, white, orange, red or yellow colors to give extra emphasis to their design, and mirror Native American artwork.

Art

Artwork is a key ingredient in this style of room, and anyone decorating their dining area in the southwestern theme should take full advantage of the range of artwork available to display. Try several of these possibilities to liven up your dining room:

  • Photographs of landscape in southwestern states.
  • Framed Native American drawings or designs.
  • Native American pottery displayed on side tables, shelves or designated display cases.
  • Intricately patterned southwestern tapestries hung on the walls.
  • Iron wall decorations like horseshoes, spurs or other southwestern icons.
  • Antlers, cowboy hats and similar décor hung on the walls.

Accessories

Finishing off your southwestern dining room with the perfect accessories is the final step in decorating for this theme. Accessories are the best way to add style and function to any room, enhancing the theme while providing necessary utilities like storage, light and seating. Try including these accessories in your southwestern dining area:

  • An iron chandelier centered above the table with rugged, worn finishing. Use light bulbs shaped like candles, or actual candles to complete the rough, antique feel.
  • Sconces along two to four of the walls to add more light, as well as further the rugged ironwork detailing throughout the room.
  • A lamp anywhere more light is needed. Select lamps made of rustic iron with neutral colored shades.
  • Large area rugs in classic Native American designs and colors. Patterns are often intricate and unique, giving your dining room an incredibly personalized touch.
  • Placemats, dishes, candleholders, napkin rings and anything else that reflects the colors and styles of the southwestern theme. Even the tiniest details can make a difference.

When designing a southwestern themed dining room, inspiration isn't hard to find. Reflect the warm neutrals of the desert in larger surfaces like the floor, walls and table. Next, use brightly colored, intricately patterned accessories and decorations to pop against the neutrals and display the beauty of traditional Native American designs. A few simple steps with some appropriately styled décor and you've created the perfect southwestern dining room.

Last Updated: August 31, 2011
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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