Red chili peppers offer hot decorating accents in a Southwestern style kitchen.

Southwestern Style Kitchen Decor

by Mary Cockrill

Bring a touch of the Southwest into your kitchen by decorating it in authentic Southwestern style. From dry, dusty deserts dotted with prickly cactus covered in colorful blooms to earthy red mesas against a turquoise blue sky, Southwestern style incorporates bold colors and natural elements into its dramatic style. Your kids will love the exciting bright colors and rich earthy textures in your Southwest-inspired kitchen.

1. Walls and Ceilings

Original Southwestern kitchens were constructed with adobe brick walls created from natural clay. Give your kitchen walls a similar look by covering them with an orange-toned paint. Add an aged, textured appearance by using a trowel to apply plaster to the walls before you paint them. If you prefer a more neutral wall color for displaying bold Southwestern accessories, cover the walls in dusty beige, soft yellow or creamy ivory paint. Install wooden beams on the ceiling for authentic rustic appeal, or cover the ceiling entirely with reclaimed wooden planks to intensify the natural organic feel.

2. Windows and Lighting

Dress your kitchen windows with coverings similar to those used in original Southwestern homes. Wooden shutters often adorned bare windows to provide protection against the sun and hostile enemies. Install interior wooden shutters in a happy Southwestern hue -- turquoise blue, grassy green, sunflower yellow -- to perk up your kitchen with bold-colored window treatments that are also practical. Suspend a rustic wrought-iron chandelier over your kitchen table and hang Kokopelli lanterns from iron chains over a breakfast peninsula or kitchen island.

3. Furniture and Cabinets

Furnish a cozy kitchen nook with a wooden table painted in Taos blue -- a mixture of sky blue with a touch of violet -- which the early Spaniards believed would ward off evil spirits. Surround the table with colorful Mexican cantina chairs to boost the Southwestern appeal. Cover your kitchen bar stools in a worn leather upholstery for additional rustic flavor. Apply a Southwestern-inspired paint color to your kitchen cabinets. Choose a hue that provides striking contrast against the existing wall color. For example, select rusty red paint in a distressed finish for cabinets affixed to sunflower yellow walls. Exchange existing cabinet hardware for hammered wrought-iron replacements.

4. Floors and Accessories

A tumbled brick or wide-plank hardwood floor suggests traditional Southwestern design. Opt for laminate flooring to get the look of real brick or wood without the escalated price tag. Place a large woven Navajo rug underneath your kitchen dining set and lay a matching runner on the floor below your sink. Install a colorful tile backsplash on the wall behind your stove. Get your kids involved in the kitchen design by letting them paint white ceramic tiles in brightly colored Southwestern motifs, such as a cactus, the sun and geometric shapes, to create a customized backsplash. Hang a tied bunch of red chili peppers flanked by Southwest-inspired prints on a bare kitchen wall. Situate decorative bottles of traditional hot sauce on open wall shelves and adorn the space between the top of your kitchen cabinets and the ceiling with woven baskets, brilliant-colored pottery and Mexican sombreros.

Photo Credits

  • Karl Weatherly/Photodisc/Getty Images