Southwestern Style Living Room Design Ideas

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Inspired by the colors and themes of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and California, a southwestern living room merges vibrant Native American patterns with the subtle neutrals of the desert. Perfect for Modern, Pueblo, Ranch or Spanish style homes, this theme incorporates the relaxed feel of nature with the rugged flair of southwestern culture.


One of the most prominent themes in the southwestern style is the use of Native American art and influence. Taking its cue from the intricate patterns and lively colors of Native American blankets, art and pottery, this living room style should include at least several pieces of cultural art. Western culture has also heavily influenced the southwestern style. References to ranches, cowboys and the western lifestyle should be prominent in this living room, with color schemes, decorations and accessories reflecting the rugged way of life.


The color scheme for southwestern style living rooms should comprise of two categories - neutral and vibrant. Neutrals will represent the warm shades of the desert, while bright, colorful pieces will mimic the artwork of Native Americans, bright blue skies, and the oranges and yellows of a southwestern sunset.

  • For walls, ceilings and floors, stick to neutrals.
  • Think beige, brown, tan or white, resembling colors typically seen in a desert.
  • Lighter shades create the perfect backdrop for the second color scheme - bright blues, oranges and yellows.
  • For these colors, take inspiration from the sky and sun, as well as Native American artwork.
  • Often using rich turquoises and bright oranges, yellows and reds, Native American blankets, paintings and pottery are the perfect place to find inspiration for your color palette.
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Southwestern furniture is highly styled and exudes the characteristics of this rugged, natural theme. Wood pieces are usually made of a light colored wood, typically oak or pine. Couches, chairs, tables and armoires should reflect the rustic, western style through their color, shape and detailing. Many wooden furniture pieces in this style have intricate carvings of southwestern and Native American designs.

  • Frequently, the wood is painted white, then rubbed with sandpaper to create a weathered look, showing the color of the wood through patches of white.
  • Furniture is often large, sometimes bulky, and can be carved with western or Native American detailing and design.
  • Metal details on drawers, cabinets and chairs are usually rustic and worn. Iron and bronze are common metals to use in southwestern rooms.
  • Large chests are great for coffee tables, side tables or living room storage. Keep the chest's finish similar to other wood pieces in the room for an authentic southwestern look.


Accessories complete the look of a southwestern living room, and are a great way to add color and style. Using brightly colored accents against the neutral walls and floors instantly draws attention to the intricate detailing and brilliant shades. For the perfect southern look, try adding:

  • Bright turquoise throw pillows on couches and chairs.
  • Intricate Native American patterned throw blankets along the back or side of couches.
  • Rawhide lamp shades with leather string detailing.
  • Native American clay pottery.
  • Artwork or photos of southwestern landscapes.
  • Tan, white and rust colored candles in weathered tin or iron lanterns to create authentically styled mood lighting.
  • Cowboy hats, lassos and equestrian tack hung on the walls as artwork.

Southwestern style is heavily influenced by the beauty and colors of nature, creating a contrasting palette of soothing neutrals and vibrant blues, yellows and oranges. Use the designs of Native American culture to guide you as you decorate your living room in this relaxed and rugged theme. Small accessories likes patterned blankets, bright pillows and metal detailing will complete your look for the perfect southwestern living room.

Last Updated: February 27, 2012
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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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