The New Southwest Style and Rustic Decor for the Modern Home

Who here remembers the Southwest style of the 80's and 90's?  Howling coyotes, Kokopelli, dusty rose and pale turquoise?  Yeah, we remember it well - ooooeee what a time!  For us the look above is what the New Southwest is all about now - read on to see how you too can get an interesting, layered, colorful home with a rich desert soul.
When we opened TDL back in 1991 those peach and mauve vibes were definitely still going strong.  Our original location was down in Old Town Scottsdale, and we were wedged in between lots of crazy kitschy stuff.  Finding our legs as a furniture store in Scottsdale meant leaning into the rustic side of things, rather than the whitewash and wild colors of pine furnishings that were common then. 
Linda found Indian and Moroccan dealers in LA and Santa Fe, and Tierra Del Lagarto started to become a destination for imported furniture in Arizona. 
Eventually that love of rustic, imported goods would spark our importing career; in 1995 we started bringing in container loads of furniture from around the world, and haven't let up since.   
The new version of Southwest design, to us, means rich earth tones, lots of rustic wood, the texture of handwoven fabrics and baskets, and indigenous crafts from around the world.  
It's amazing how much more traditional Southwestern decor, like Talavera pottery from central Mexico, blends in with rusty iron lanterns from India and Morocco, terracotta urns with Berber motifs, and shells and beads from Java and Mali.  We also think a few wild western moments, like these fringed leather poufs, made a great addition to any Southwestern home!  
Another thing we think is essential to a newly reimagined Southwestern decor is vintage architectural elements.  Antique doors, old carved panels, iron gates, and pieces of furniture that combine these elements bring an old world sensibility to Arizona homes.
Rich carpets and kilims from Morocco and Turkey work wonderfully in Southwestern homes.  From the Atlas Mountains in Morocco to the central steppes of Anatolia, the geometric motifs and vibrant natural dyes are perfect for homes out here in the desert. 
Some Moroccan carpets are actually made with the desert climate in mind, with a plush carpet pile on one side, and a perfectly finised flat weave kilim side on the reverse.  In summer the flat weave is simple and cooler under foot, in chilly desert winters, the carpet side is flipped over and makes your home a bit more cozy.
We have modernized Southwestern style by taking rustic wood and topping it with natural stone tops on a number of our pieces from Rajasthan.  Our popular kitchen islands have beautiful quartzite tops.  We also love to repurpose old rustic elements - like carved teak column toppers as candleholders - or vintage plaster molds as wall hangings, or decorative elements for bookshelves.
Bedding is a fun way to add color and texture to your Southwest home.  We love to combine simple handwoven linen and cotton bedding with piles of pillows from all over the world.  A few fun pillows made from old Turkish or Moroccan rugs combined with colorful runners and bedovers bring vibrant Scottsdale sunsets and Sedona's red rocks to life.  And instead of an old cow skull as Southwestern decor, why not bring a little more interest with a hand carved Sumatran water buffalo skull - sustainably harvested in Indonesia. 
Instead of the wilting colors of Southwest design 30 years ago, we lean into rich tones that compliment our desert - rust and indigo, terracotta and ochre - bring on the rich tones of deserts from around the world!  Think Spice Route across Central Asia and oases dotting the trek from the Sahara to North Africa...
Antique vessels in groupings indoors and out are another way to evoke an updated version of Southwestern design.  Old Mediterranean pots like these have history, patina, and rich desert coloring.
Layer in old doors, rich textiles, lamps made from architectural salvage, loads of plants, faux or real, and you have a beautiful reimagined version of Southwest decor without a howling coyote in sight!  Come on in and let us help you design your desert haven here in AZ! 


Hat’s off to the article on modern southwestern design vibe! Lovely way to move forward without the kitschy elements. Color melding into the desert and mountains of the Scottsdale/Phoenix environment allows the eye to travel. Many thanks.

Jane Johnson December 19, 2023

Fantastic ideas my kind of style!!

Cynthia Diaz October 10, 2023
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