Stretching from Texas to California, the Southwestern United States is easily one of the most beautiful areas of the country. With its culture deeply rooted in Spanish, Mexican, and Native American traditions, it’s no wonder that the Southwestern aesthetic is full of life and vibrancy.
What better place to bring that energy and life than in your kitchen? If you’re dreaming of wide-open desert skies, red rock formations, cacti, and coyotes, then check out these ideas to turn your kitchen into a color-filled desert oasis.
- Embrace Warm Brown Tones
- Brighten Up Your Kitchen with Painted Furniture
- Incorporate Hand-Crafted Items
- Decorate with Skulls – Animal Skulls, That Is
- Grow Cacti and Other Desert Plants
- Dress Up Your Houseplants with Folk-Art Pots
- Hang a Southwest Patterned Blanket
- Hang Peppers for Added Spice
- Create an Accent Wall with Ceramic Art
- Go All-Natural with Wooden Furniture
- Use Woven Baskets for Storage
- Hang a Cowboy Hat
12 Inspiring Images for a Southwestern Kitchen
1. Embrace Warm Brown Tones
When designing a Southwestern kitchen, the first thing to consider is colors and textures and what they communicate. What elements can you introduce to create a desert atmosphere? This example shows how you can use a variety of textures (wood, wicker, leather, tile) in similar warm brown tones to bring the desert inside and incorporate it into your space.
2. Brighten Up your Kitchen with Painted Furniture
If you’re taking inspiration from southwest cultures, don’t be afraid to add a pop of color by painting some or all of your furniture. Kitchen tables and chairs in a variety of bright colors bring a bit of energy into your kitchen while recalling Mexican-inspired style. It may seem counterintuitive, but brightly colored furniture fits better in bright rooms, so consider painting your walls a cheery blue, yellow or white.
3. Incorporate Hand-Crafted Items
Southwestern style is all about handcrafted, functional items and the beautiful folk art of Native American, Mexican and Spanish cultures. Hand-woven baskets are as functional as they are beautiful, and they make a great item to add to your Southwestern-inspired kitchen. You can store dry goods on the countertop or hand them on the wall as a piece of art.
4. Decorate with Skulls – Animal Skulls, That Is
A staple motif of Southwestern design is a cow or bull skull. Hanging a cow skull up in a focal point of your room immediately conjures up images of the old west and cowboys on cattle drives. Not to worry, if you’re against using animal products like skulls in your decor, you don’t have to find an authentic skull to get the look – try decorating with a fake skull made of wood, plastic, or metal.
5. Grow Cacti and Other Desert Plants
If you don’t live in a desert environment but would still like to create a Southwestern atmosphere in your home, one of the easiest ways to do that is with cacti. Try growing a collection of different shapes, colors, and blooms. You can choose tiny cacti to sit in your windowsill or large ones that grace your dining-room table – just be careful to keep any little ones safe from pricking themselves!
6. Dress Up Your Houseplants with Folk-Art Pots
Plants are a great way to spice up any room, but the pots those plants live in deserve just as much love. I adore these examples of colorful pottery featuring Mexican folk-art designs because their charming colors and handmade design are sure to add warmth and a touch of love to any kitchen. You can try and make them yourself, or look to find pottery painted by local artisans in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico.
7. Hang a Southwest Patterned Blanket
Woven blankets made by Mexican or Native American craftspeople are works of art in themselves, and the perfect accent to any room but especially a Southwestern-themed kitchen. If you have a woven blanket with an Aztec or Navajo motif, for example, consider hanging it on your wall for a pop of color; you can’t go wrong hanging it near your kitchen table or leaning against a ladder near the door.
8. Hang Peppers for Added Spice
For a unique element that gives your home a more rustic and homely atmosphere, try hanging dried peppers from your ceiling (peppers native to Southwest American are best, like chiles). Not only do they make an excellent accent and add a pop of color higher up in your kitchen, but they’re functional and can be used to cook as well.
9. Create an Accent Wall with Ceramic Art
If you’re imagining your kitchen having a bright and vibrant flair with lots of colors, try looking for art by Southwestern artists like in this example. The wall hangings come in a variety of beautiful colors and shapes that are sure to bring a smile to anyone. Consider grouping them along a wall to create a focal point of interest in the room.
10. Go All-Natural with Wooden Furniture
Try incorporating wooden furniture in a variety of colors and tones to create a rustic and mismatched look. You can pull the pieces together through soft furnishings and accents. I love this example of a Mexican restaurant that utilizes the wood tones in its furniture; the effect is a simple, earthy, and inviting design that oozes character.
11. Use Woven Baskets for Storage
If you’re looking for accents for your kitchen or even extra storage solutions, don’t look over woven and wicker baskets. They can hold practically anything while keeping your scheme pulled together. These baskets in a pale tan are neutral enough to blend into the background, while the variety of sizes and shapes helps keep interested. I would recommend keeping some small baskets out on the counter for fruits and storing larger items in a corner where they can be easily accessed in a beautiful container.
12. Hang a Cowboy Hat
There’s nothing more emblematic of the American Southwest than a cowboy hat. It’s the perfect piece of decor in any room where you want to showcase a western or country style, but even more so in the southwest where a cowboy hat has a history attached to it. Hang a cowboy hat on the wall next to the entry of your kitchen and give your home a welcoming and casual feel.