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Guide To Desert Home Decorating

Updated on May 5, 2013
Coyote figurines are a no-no.
Coyote figurines are a no-no. | Source

When thinking of desert home décor, does your mind conjure up images of coyote and cacti figurines frolicking in a sea of turquoise and mauve? If so, those outdated images might explain your aversion to desert style decorating. Luckily, things have changed a great deal and desert decorating no longer means tacky decorating.

Let’s say we leave those hideous 80s decorating trends in the past where they belong. Today’s take on desert decorating infuses homes with a modern blend of history, diversity and style—all while maintaining a balance with the surrounding environment.

Color Palette

I would best describe a desert color palette as warm and welcoming. Imagine the colors of a Navajo blanket, a sunset as it slips behind the mountains, a garden of flowering succulents or the shimmer of sand in the moonlight.

Use the desert landscape to guide your color choices. This cool color palette would inspire me!
Use the desert landscape to guide your color choices. This cool color palette would inspire me! | Source

The entire idea of desert decorating is to bring as much of the outdoors into your home as possible—in a subtle way, of course. Consider the earthy tones of adobe, terracotta and desert landscapes. Contrast the warmth with cool hints of sage green or ice blue.

Learn More About Desert Home Decorating

The Desert Home
The Desert Home

Tamara Hawkinson takes you on a pictoral journey through desert interior design. Use this book as your decorating inspiration.

Desert Style
Desert Style

Great ideas for living in harmony with the desert landscape.

The New Southwest Home: Innovative Ideas for Every Room
The New Southwest Home: Innovative Ideas for Every Room

Super idea book for decorating any room of the house!



Think of furniture for your desert home as a mix of casual, modern and rustic. If you use a combination of styles, your home will take on a relaxed feel. This way you can create your version of desert style without looking kitschy or themed.

A touch of leather is the perfect compliment to a desert home interior.
A touch of leather is the perfect compliment to a desert home interior. | Source

Every desert home needs a piece of leather furniture. Go large with a sectional or more understated with an occasional chair or two. You can dine at a rustic harvest table or enjoy a dinner for two at your vintage Saarinen tulip table. Shake things up by pairing modern chairs with rustic pieces and vice versa.

Keep bedroom furniture simple and low profile. As with other rooms in your home, you will not want to detract from or obscure the glorious views to the outside.


I know from first-hand experience that carpet has no business in a desert home! If your home has an urban vibe, sleek tile is definitely the way to go. I prefer using varying sizes of large-scale tiles placed in an offset pattern with thin grout lines. Tumbled travertine is the perfect material for this type of installation as it echoes the color of sand.

Tile or wood floors are your best bet for a desert home.
Tile or wood floors are your best bet for a desert home. | Source

Desert homes situated far from the madding crowd may be better suited to hardwood flooring. If you are really into becoming one with nature, consider natural products like über sustainable bamboo. Or better yet, check out wood floor tiles for the best of both worlds.

If you are looking for warmth underfoot, take advantage of local artisans. Nothing is more striking than a Mojave rug in the living room or bedroom. And don’t forget, tribal rugs can be great inspiration for your overall color palette, so you might want choose your rugs first.

Fabrics and Accessories

The use of fabrics and accessories make a desert house a home. Choose natural fabrics that are full of texture. Stick with nature-inspired accessories and add pops of color with native art pieces and textiles. Protect all of your furnishings from the sun by installing durable solar shades rather than curtains.

Native American pottery makes a colorful addition to a neutral desert room.
Native American pottery makes a colorful addition to a neutral desert room. | Source

Get Inspired!

A Fun and Retro Twist on Desert Home Decorating
One of the best ways to get decorating inspiration is to tour desert style homes. And one of the best places to do so is in Palm Springs, California. You can tour model homes to your heart's content in new developments throughout the Coachella Valley.
Or you can concentrate on classic mid-century modern desert homes in the epicenter of Palm Springs. Below are a few examples of desert modernism -- but these are just the tip of the iceberg. Click on the links below to find out about specific events and interior home tours. Better yet, rent a mid-century modern home for your vacation!

Check Out Desert Modernism in Palm Springs

show route and directions
A markerThe Kaufmann House -
West Chino Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA
get directions

The Kaufmann House was designed by Richard Neutra in 1946 and is a great example of mid-century modern desert design.

B markerWexler Steel Home -
290 East Simms Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA
get directions

Beautiful inside and out, this steel house will give you plenty of inspiration to decorate your desert home in the mid-century modern style.

C markerTwin Palms Estates -
1070 Apache Road, Palm Springs, CA 92264, USA
get directions

There are a number of homes in this subdivision that exemplify mid-century modern design. A real must-see!

D markerElivs' Honeymoon Hideaway -
1350 Ladera Circle, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA
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What a fun find! If you're a fan of vintage desert homes and Elvis, this is one you can't miss!

E markerThe Miller House -
2311 North Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA
get directions

Another Neutra house that is an homage to glass, steel and clean lines. The interior is as sleek as the exterior.

F markerThe Edris House -
1030 West Cielo Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA
get directions

This E. Stewart Williams home was constructed in 1954. With its stone facade and low profile, the Edris House seems to at one with the landscape.

© 2013 lindacee

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    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Living the desert this really interested me...I am thinking of painting the interior...and have been for a year. I have so much on my plate right now..but it is something I want to do. Love your suggestions and will pass them on.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      The colors co-ordinate with sand, I like it. Looks like a calming and peaceful palette.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      Even though I'm in Chicago which, in the summer, is humidity city*, I love the desert look. So peaceful. Great pictures!

      * Is there a humid decorating look? :)

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      Even tho I live in small town, central Texas -- and we certainly aren't in the desert area of Texas -- I always try to include a bit of "desert" in my decorating. It's usually a bit of pottery or rugs -- and it's amazing how one can include a touch of "desert" with many other styles of decorating. I totally enjoyed this Hub as I'm such a fan of the "desert look" of casual elegance. Best/Sis

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Carol, just make note of the colors that inspire you and revisit the painting project when you have the time. When I am thinking about redoing a room, I start by putting together an "inspiration" file to refer to when I'm ready. Thanks for reading and visiting with me today! :)

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Jackie, that's exactly the thing that draws me to this palette. It is so Zen! Thanks and take care. :)

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      Heidi, maybe a tropical room would suit your humidity better! ;)

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 4 years ago from Arizona

      You're right Angela, desert decorating does mix well with other styles! So happy you enjoyed this Hub. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday! :)

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

      This style is common in many homes in Phoenix and I've always enjoyed the casual but clean look of our friends' homes when we pay them a visit. Thank you for these great ideas!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 3 years ago from Arizona

      Vespa, I've seen homes out here decorated in many different styles, but am always drawn to those taking the surrounding environment into consideration. Glad you stopped in for a visit! :)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 20 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      We are right now in Arizona testing out retirement places and the desert is fascinating. While we saw deserts before, this is our first time to live in the Sonoran Desert. Your ideas would be lovely around here.

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 20 months ago from Arizona

      aesta1, I've had plenty of desert decorating experience. We've lived in Palm Springs (an extension of the Sonoran called the Colorado desert) and Las Vegas (Mojave desert). Definitely preferred Palm Springs. Thought about moving to Phoenix or Tucson, but I think we're done with deserts for a while. We just moved to North Central Arizona from Vegas. Good luck with your search in AZ!

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