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Style Secret: Vibrant Colors
Shrinking violets, look elsewhere — there's nothing shy about the Southwestern palette. Rich hues such as salmon, terra-cotta, brick red, turquoise and squash gold come straight from the desert sky and landscape. Pepper a mostly neutral room with saturated accent tones, or go bold and drench the entire space in color.
But remember ... Too many strong shades in a single room will fight one another. Limit your color scheme to two or three dominant selections to keep things under control. Dusty red and turquoise in the kitchen above radiate warmth and cheer against a mellow ochre backdrop.
Style Secret: Sturdy Furnishings
Southwestern furnishings have solid (even chunky) profiles and a rugged sensibility. Mix and match pieces crafted from craggy wood, patinated iron and tin, and woven branches and grasses. Painted furniture suits this style as well, especially when it bears sanded edges or a distressed texture. For upholstered furnishings, choose natural, durable materials such as leather, cotton and burlap.
But remember ... Too many heavy elements can make a room feel leaden. Balance thick-bodied furniture with spindlier pieces to lighten the visual weight. Try a skinny cocktail table or two, a slim chair or a spare shelving unit.
Style Secret: Rustic Wood
Natural wood anchors Southwestern design, from traditional wooden ceilings, beams and columns to furniture and decorative accents. Hand-scraped or distressed finishes and a weathered patina suggest the rugged origins of the Southwestern aesthetic.
But remember ... Wood tones should be warm and resonant. Very pale woods such as maple, or too many dark specimens such as walnut, feel wrong for this style. Mixing painted and natural wood finishes is fine, but keep paint colors strong — too much white or cream will read more as cottage than Southwestern.
Style Secret: Earthen Pottery
Pottery in rich terra-cotta and earth tones is just right for the Southwestern sensibility. Mingle matte and glazed finishes with solid colors and painted designs for variety and interest.
But remember ... Choose pottery with a hand-thrown feel and an assortment of different shapes and sizes. A grouping of mass-manufactured terra-cotta planters won't have the same impact as pieces that bear the mark of the sculptor's hand.