Conceptually, Southwestern design is inspired by the historical adobe walls, terracotta tiles, Indigenous textiles, and other elements that were characteristic of the Pueblo, Mexican, and Spanish Colonial traditions. Three distinct cultures that all shared the same hot, dry climate of the Sonoran Desert region. Modernism came into the picture in the early 20th century as artists and designers, such as Georgia O’Keefe and architect Mary Colter, moved into the area and embraced the aesthetic from new perspectives. Today’s interiors feature white, tan, and other light colors, with traditional terracotta and other warm tones adding warmth. As you will notice in our curated gallery, even if some of the building materials may have changed, the spirit of the traditional Southwest lives on in the latest contemporary designs.
1. Hand-Painted Patina Walls Evoke ‘Old Mexico’
The living room, created by Santa Fe, NM, designer Jennifer Ashton, features a Southwestern kiva fireplace surrounded by a seating nook and beige tufted sofas. A leather-upholstered coffee table could double as a bench as well. The hand-painted, sepia-toned patina walls evoke a nostalgic “Old Mexico” sentiment, while the commissioned wall art, from artist Christopher Martin’s “Disc Series,” combines both traditional and modern elements in its design. The space also includes a Southwestern geometric-patterned area rug over terracotta tile flooring and a rustic wooden ceiling with exposed beams and skylights.
2. Great Room Combines Traditional and Modern Elements
Massive great room features two seating areas with a coffee table, an ottoman, and a wood-burning fireplace. Three contemporary spherical chandeliers are suspended from a ceiling that is divided into exposed wood beam and stucco sections. The wood portion looks like a modern interpretation of the traditional latillas and vigas wood ceilings characteristic of Pueblo and Spanish Colonial adobe architecture. The floor is divided as well, with both carpeted and stone sections splitting the room. Glass doors, clerestory windows, and recessed lighting illuminate the space, while several pieces of modern art add splashes of color.
3. Contemporary Design Pays Homage to Spanish Missions
A majority of contemporary Southwestern living room designs favor lighter, more neutral color palettes, but this space goes old school with its use of darker stains, including a terracotta-colored concrete floor. The space also features a split latilla (branch) and exposed viga (beam) wooden ceiling, brick walls fitted with wooden-framed glass windows, and an interior archway leading to a hallway. A kiva fireplace chimney has also been stained a traditional light baked-orange color, while Indigenous gourd pottery is exhibited on a coffee table with a large Navajo-style ceremonial drum.
4. Black-Paneled Accent Wall Provides Focal Point
Albuquerque, NM, living room features a sofa and chairs with wooden coffee table facing a fireplace inset into a black-paneled accent wall. The space also includes a shed ceiling with exposed beams, a large area rug on hardwood flooring, and glass doors and windows leading out to a backyard patio.
6. Rustic Space Decorated in an Array of Warm Earth Tones
Rustic living room, decorated in an array of warm earth tones and dark wood, features a beehive fireplace facing a pair of armchairs with a wooden side table between them. A circular tray ceiling includes wooden exposed beams with large doors leading to an outside patio.
7. Copper Fireplace Chimney Commands Attention at River Ranch
After the Second World War, artist Georgia O’Keefe acquired two New Mexico properties, her Abiquiu home and the Ghost Ranch, where antlers, bones, and skulls were prominently featured on walls and window sills with other items she had found scavenging in her treasured desert environment. The antler chandelier, suspended from the wood-plank vaulted ceiling in the living room of Jose Corral Architects’ River Ranch, is a conceptual nod to O’Keefe’s towering influence on Southwestern design. Stucco, cedar, steel, glass, and limestone are all used in the building materials, with the copper fireplace chimney commanding all the attention in this sophisticated space.
8. Contemporary Space Designed with Wood, Brick and Stone
Massive living room features stone brick pillars, a ceiling with exposed wood beams, and a panoramic window overlooking extraordinary mountain views. The space also includes a leather sectional with chairs and a coffee table set on an area rug over marble flooring.
9. Seamless Transition Between Indoor and Outdoor Spaces
Scottsdale, Arizona’s Drewett Works specializes in the seamless transition between indoor and outdoor spaces, and this living room is no exception with its massive use of glass throughout. Light wood planks are incorporated as a major accent material in the ceiling and the walls, with ceramic tile flooring continuing through to a backyard patio. Large sofas and chairs sit on an area rug and face a wall featuring a linear fireplace and flat-screen TV.
10. Pueblo Ceremonial Drum Serves as Focal Point
12. Kiva Fireplace Accented with Exposed Wood Beams
Living room features a kiva fireplace accented with rustic round wood beams attached to a white stucco ceiling. A leather sofa with chairs and side tables sits on area rugs over diamond-patterned ceramic flooring. The room is lit from multiple sources, including table lamps, candles, recessed lighting, and large glass windows.
14. Santa Fe Home Brings Back the Wingback as an Accent Chair
Living room in a Santa Fe, NM, home features a brown, tufted sofa that faces a wooden coffee table and blue wingback chairs. The space also includes wall cabinetry, ceramic tile flooring, a kiva fireplace in one corner, and a wood plank ceiling with exposed beams painted white. It has a sitting area with two wingback chairs and an ottoman next to the fireplace beneath a glass window. The room is illuminated by large windows, a floor lamp, and a pendant light fixture.
15. Hand-Crafted Wooden Shutters Keep Out Heat from the Midday Sun
Living room features a textured concrete fireplace positioned between rustic windows with hand-crafted wooden shutters for maximum protection from the sun. A curved sectional with a metal coffee table faces gray cuddle chairs and a modular side table. The space also includes a large area rug over concrete flooring and recessed lighting.
16. Window-Seat Nook Clad in Stone Bricks
18. Décor Features Hand-Hewn Wood Beams and Textured Stucco
Living room features dark wood plank shed ceiling with exposed hand-hewn vigas wood beams, and textured stucco walls. A plush cream-colored sofa set, made up of two chairs and a wooden coffee table, sits on an area rug facing a fireplace. The fireplace mantel, made of the same timber as the ceiling beams, runs the length of the wall.
19. French Doors Open Up Living Room on Both Sides
Box-like living room features stucco walls, a wooden plank ceiling with exposed beams, dark hardwood flooring, and French doors on both sides of the space. A white sofa accented with a red blanket faces two chairs and a fireplace with its chimney leading up to a single skylight. Ceiling-mounted lights and a table lamp illuminate the room, which includes a large antique wood cabinet in one corner. The walls are left bare with no artwork, giving the room a timeless, minimalist vibe.
20. Outdoor Space Takes Full Advantage of Surroundings
Concrete, metal, and glass provide a counterbalance to the organic forms in this outdoor living area featuring a supersized wooden ceiling, seating areas and a custom swimming pool with fireplace wall feature.
21. Partial Wall Looks Through into Dining Room
Living room features skirted sofas facing each other with a rustic wooden coffee table in the middle. The stucco walls include a fireplace with bench seating under a window and another wall with a partial opening into the dining room. A wood-plank shed ceiling has exposed beams and recessed lighting.
22. Exposed Timber Beams Bolstered with Metal Strapping
Southwestern-style living room features a modern fireplace on a wall with a linear fireplace and abstract paintings. Cream sectionals accented with blue-patterned pillows are arranged around a large coffee table on a blue area rug set over hardwood flooring. The space also includes a contemporary chandelier suspended from the 16-foot-high ceiling with exposed laminated timber beams supported with metal strapping. A wall with sliding glass doors and transom windows opens out to an expansive landscape.
23. Rustic Candlestick Chandelier Suspended from Ceiling
Living room illuminated by recessed lighting and a rustic candlestick chandelier hanging from a ceiling with exposed wood beams. An L-shaped sectional with an arm chair and wooden coffee table sit on an area rug.
Related: Southwestern Style Dining Room Ideas | Southwestern Foyer Ideas | Southwestern Kitchen Ideas