10 Ways to Give Your Home Southwestern Style

The Arizona desert setting of HGTV Smart Home 2017 inspired its desert modern look. But if your tastes tend more toward traditional, there’s still plenty to love about Southwestern style.

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February 15, 2017
By: Amanda Lecky

Photo By: Bill Stengel Photography

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Photo By: Robert Reck

Photo By: Kate Russell

Photo By: Wendy McEahern

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To give this luxurious master bath a sense of close connection its natural surroundings, designer Lori Carroll chose a mix of natural materials that mimic the colors just outside the windows. “In this large master bath the warm glow and luminous reflection of sunrises and sunsets outside became a divine guidance for the design, says Carroll.

Design by Lori Carroll, Lori Carroll Design; www.loricarroll.com 

Bright and Beautiful

“We aimed to create a lively powder room that's in harmony with the rest of the hacienda-style home,” says designer Chandler Prewitt. “I wanted to use an 18th-century bird bath as a sink, but it wasn't going to be easy to repurpose—so we had one made for us. I wanted everything to feel hand hewn, so we chose Tabarka tile for the wainscoting, wrought iron lights, and a mirror made from carved bone. Then, to add a touch of glam and drama, we painted the wall a bright turquoise blue.” 

Design by Chandler Prewitt, Chandler Prewitt Design; www.chandlerprewitt.com; Photography by Bill Stengel  

Not-So-Secret Ingredient

You don’t have to go overboard to create a strong Southwestern theme in your space—adding a single bold design element can do the job. Case in point: This simple bedroom designed by Kathy Rogers of Sogno Design Group. The room’s strong Southwest flavor relies entirely on the graphic coverlet. You can use this technique in any room by adding a distinctive pattern on pillows, a throw, or a rug and effectively transforming the entire style.

Design by Kathy Rogers, Sogno Design Group, www.sognodesigngroup.com; Photography by Langdon Clay

Custom Creation

To give the entry of her clients’ home a bold look—and a subtle nod to their past home in Austin, Texas—designer JC Riccoboni designed and fabricated a bench using Southwestern fabric and hairpin legs from Etsy.com. “The entry is a super-important part of a home because it’s where visitors get their first impression of their surroundings,” says Riccoboni. “This bench helps convey the warmth, enthusiasm, and welcoming sensibility of the homeowners.”

Design by JC Riccoboni, RICCO STYLE Interior Design, LLC,  www.riccostyle.com; Photography by Daniel Blue, www.danielbluephotography.com

Soothing and Serene

Sometimes, less really is more, as this warm and welcoming master suite designed by Lisa Samuel illustrates so beautifully. An all-cream color palette keeps the emphasis on the exposed wood beams and intricately carved furnishings and art pieces. Layers of soft texture and that ultra-thick mattress lend an undeniable air of luxury. The corner fireplace lends visual and physical spark.

Design by Lisa Samuel, Samuel Design Group; www.samueldesigngroup.com

Eclectic Mix

To create a personal, Southwestern vibe in an undistinguished space, Jemy Massie and Emily Ellis of Studio Revolution played up the exposed ceiling beams by applying planks of reclaimed wood in a herringbone pattern to the wall behind the bed. Animal art and leather upholstery reinforce the modern-ranch appeal, without looking too theme-y.

Design by Jemy Massie and Emily Ellis, Studio Revolution; www.studio-revolution.us; Photography by Thomas Kuoh

Light Touch

You don’t have to be Georgia O’Keefe to appreciate the quality of light in a desert landscape. In this contemporary space architect Jon Dick made the most of this natural gift, consciously capturing luminosity at every pass. “I find it more interesting when natural light enters a house in unexpected ways,” he says. “In this instance a slot skylight tight up against a wall adds drama and variety to the sunlight during the course of the day, from an intense directness to, at other times, a subtle glow. By way of using light as a form-defining element, the architecture responds to the evolving day as well as the seasons of the year, allowing the house to have a dialog with the cycles of nature.”

Design by Jon Dick, Archaeo Architects; www.archaeoarchitects.com; Photography by Robert Reck

Creating Definition

For a Southwestern home with an open layout, designer Lisa Samuel took care to create distinct living spaces despite the free-flowing floor plan. The architecture sets the tone: cased openings and exposed beams provide visual cues to transitions and boundaries between the rooms. Samuel’s choices of furnishings and décor complete the task. In the living area, a large patterned area rug grounds space and a sectional sofa provides the illusion of walls; in the dining room, a pair of pendant fixtures and a bold artwork signal a change in mood, formality, and function.

Design by Lisa Samuel, Samuel Design Group; www.samueldesigngroup.com

Building Character

Most designers will tell you that they allow the architectural style of a home to guide their design. But sometimes a space is so simple and stark it needs a character-overhaul to feel personal and inviting. Such was the case with this San Francisco home, where designers Jemy Massie and Emily Ellis worked to add the warmth and interest the space was missing, in somewhat unexpected ways. “An eclectic mix of leather, wood, concrete, Kilim textiles, bold graphics and color contradicts the postmodern architecture of the home. The result is a casual and comfortable retreat to enjoy bridge-to-bridge views of the San Francisco Bay,” say the designers.

Design by Jemy Massie and Emily Ellis, Studio Revolution; www.studio-revolution.us; Photography by Thomas Kuoh

Perfect Palette

Look at any picture of the Southwestern landscape and you’ll notice the color palette: the red rocks, golden sands, cerulean sky. Like a painter, designer Annie O’Carroll brushed this Santa Fe living room with those very colors, visually linking the space with its natural surroundings. “Relaxed and sophisticated with a nod to the Southwest is the feeling this Santa Fe living room evokes,” she says. “The living room and dining room are anchored with paintings by local artist Helene Pfeffer. Warm white plaster walls, a rich colored ceiling, and beams paired with white oak floors provide a neutral backdrop for this dramatic space."

Design by Annie O’Carroll, Annie O’Carroll Interior Design; www.annieocarroll.com; Photography by Wendy McEahern