New Mexico Home Decor Style Guide

Tara Dickinson
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Several states make up what is traditionally called the “American Southwest”, with New Mexico being the anchor in the center of this area. The exceptionally dry warm climate of this terrain plus the historical Native cultural traditions are the elements that influence much of the decor style, from the architecture to the inner home sanctuaries. The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe, is known for a characteristic style all its own that has spread across the region and become quite popular.

  • The interior design is full of rich cultural aspects that are captured in a warm palette of earth colors and rustically elegant elements.
  • There is an overall feeling of the practical merged with a relaxed component of comfort all accomplished by using natural materials.
  • The famous artist Georgia O’Keeffe found her home in Santa Fe where her paintings captured the raw beauty of this desert land.
  • Home decor celebrates the region’s rustic look with rooms decorated in mid-century furnishings.
  • Using natural materials in furniture design is also quite popular.
  • And every room is set off with Navajo or other tribe-inspired art and crafts work that is saturated with the First People’s artistic patterns and design elements.

new mexicoNew Mexico Style History

The style of this region is a compilation of comfortable, stylish, and artsy which is all inspired by its history, the desert surroundings, and Native American and Spanish design influences. The first settlers of the Southwest region were populated by Native American tribes, particularly the Anasazi. Living out of adobe homes constructed from mud and stone bricks, their multi-story structures centered around a community-focused lifestyle.

  • The next sets of inhabitants included populations from Mexico and Spain.
  • The adobe homes endured to the present day due to their energy efficiency throughout all seasons.
  • Another enduring home characteristic is individual home courtyards which are usually found at the front entrance of a home.
  • These courtyards are overflowing with foliage and flowers and a gentle fountain feature.
  • Another feature the Anasazi gave the New Mexico style home is a sort of curved fireplace called a kiva.
  • These softly shaped kivas can be found in many Santa Fe home nooks.

New Mexico & Santa Fe: Architectural Foundations

You can’t begin a New Mexico interior design discussion without mentioning the overall architectural design of Southwestern-style buildings.

  • Homes are still built using the traditional materials of sun-dried clay bricks and mud mortar.
  • Modern homes are currently using more stucco and concrete to replicate the adobe look.
  • The interior walls often echo this stucco finish with 3D hand trowel textures.
  • Floors come from a historical tradition of packed earth. The modern version uses hard surface flooring such as tile, brick, and wood, with little use of carpeting.
  • Flat, rounded rooflines are supported by long wooden support beams called vigas.
  • These rustic beams protrude through the exterior adobe walls and also remain exposed on the interior.

New Mexico & Santa Fe: COLOR GUIDE

Visualize that earthy rainbow that takes place in the sky during a sunset, with the hues ranging from brick red to burnt orange, to muted yellow. Add in earth neutral bases and then pops of crisp white, turquoise, indigo blue, and silver and there you have your New Mexico color palette for home decor.

  • Southwestern interiors lean towards a rich and warm color palette.
  • The overall vibe created is an inviting one that calls for a refreshing respite from the arid desert climate. 

VIGNETTE FOCAL POINTS: New Mexico & Santa Fe Room Layout

Reading nooks, cozy corners, seats near a corner fireplace- these are all elements of a New Mexico home-style layout.

  • Smaller focal areas in a larger space break rooms up into comfortable areas to gather, relax, and rejuvenate.
  • Many homes also include hallways and recessed niches for displaying treasures.
  • The soft exterior curves get mirrored inside with these rounded corners and arched doorways.
  • Designate smaller focal areas by using area rugs to anchor a space.
  • Large pots of greenery are also another way to create a visual distinction between spots.

New Mexico & Santa Fe FURNITURE

The opposite of ornate. Clean-lined and straightforward is the style of New Mexico furnishings. A rustic finish on these pieces is preferred, giving a used over time and sun-bleached look and feel. Organic natural materials are always the first choice for this decor style. A bit of a curved silhouette also pays homage to the adobe architecture roots of the region and emphasizes the southwestern style.

  • Use of authentic vintage pieces for doors and gates adds just the right rustic element.
  • Furniture components are commonly made of pine with natural stain finishes and rustic wrought iron hardware.
  • Set a foundation with mid-century silhouettes and furniture with modern frameworks.
  • Chairs with tapered legs.
  • Streamlined woven leather armchairs.
  • Weathered woods
  • Aged leather.
  • A lightly faded rug.
  • A metal bar cart.

You’re going for a rough textured look that can be achieved using natural materials with little finishing such as suede, leather, serapes, and woven textiles.

New Mexico & Santa Fe ACCESSORIES

The handcrafted arts from Native American and Mexican sources are the first accents pieces to be included in a New Mexico-style home. Some ideas you can incorporate are:

  • Talavera ceramics.
  • Religious artifacts.
  • Colorful painted tiles.
  • Southwestern pottery.
  • Woven baskets.


  • Navajo-inspired pillows, blankets in whimsical motifs.
  • Geometric kilim rugs.
  • Cowhide rugs.
  • Landscapes or abstract art with graphic paintings and prints in earthy desert colors.


  • Employ the layering technique which adds an element of inviting ambiance.
  • Focus on color and texture: earthy browns with pops of brick red, turquoise, and green.
  • The use of terracotta tiles throughout the space will establish the perfect vibe and can be interspersed throughout the house just about anywhere.


Cacti and New Mexico home decor are like peanut butter and jelly, the two simply go hand in hand. 

  • It’s the icing on the decor cake with plenty of regional plants.
  • Potted large cactus, mini cacti, and other leafy plants round out the whole look.


When weather permits, much time is spent outside in the shade around New Mexico homes. Thus the same decor style continues with that indoor/outdoor living flow. Greeting guests with a colorful front entrance using the identical palette that was employed in the home will present a stunning look to your front porch, courtyard, or backyard dining areas.

  • Adding those weathered and rustic furniture pieces works nicely.
  • So do potted greenery and some patterned rugs.


New Mexico-style interiors incorporate a stylish mix of modern design, Navajo patterns, and eclectic colorful touches that result in a visually pleasing home decor style. It’s an interesting and stimulating look that also shares a depth of warmth and casual relaxation. The best tip is to surround yourself with nature, including natural fibers, different textural elements, and earth tones that incorporate terra cotta, cream, and tan.​​Southwestern looks mainly feature natural elements in everything from furniture to art to accessories that translate into works inspired by the surrounding natural beauty.



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