Modern Southwestern Decor: Tribal Chic

Modern southwestern style combines that leather-filled log cabin with the simplicity of a modern and stark cement loft. Tribal Chic, you say? What on earth is that? It’s a new buzzword (buzzphrase?) in the interior design industry and most agree it goes hand in hand with the new modern southwestern style gracing magazine covers.

Lots of macrame, but well-done macrame. Lots of natural fibre. Organic, handmade pieces. Native American designs. Lots of tribal influence, but nothing too crazy. More subdued Bohemian, earth tones, natural materials, synchronicity. Baskets, and lots of woven things. Wood, glass, straw – you get the picture.

So where do you get these items? Surprisingly (or not), they’re all available online. From places like Amazon, Wayfair, Joss & Main, and many more.


Modern Southwestern Decor: It starts with your rug

southwestern tribal rug

This inexpensive rug from Amazon has the perfect tones. There has always been strong crossover in indigenous design from the American southwest and Mexican tribal design – and that’s clear with this example.

Medallion southwestern decor

You could also add color to your rug – particularly if the rest of the room is neutral tones. This is a southwest native design – the Medallion rug. Also from Amazon. There are plenty of modern southwestern products at Amazon to help you create  yourstyle – and many other large online retailers as well.

Sedona Southwest Decor

I like this distressed southwestern rug – there’s something about it, don’t you think? From the Sedona Collection. Plus I love, love, that chair.


Rustic Modern Tribal chic

This Union Rustic Eberhard Southwestern rug is from Wayfair. This piece would pair well with a Pendelton blanket. It’s kind of interesting to think that a rustic rug works in “modern southwestern decor” — but it does. Just keep the rest of the stuff toned down (and make sure it has great design).

Faux Cowhide Modern Southwestern

Or, you could get a faux cowhide rug from the Canadian Log Home store.

Nothing Says Modern Southwestern like Cacti

Modern Cactus

From our friends at Joss & Main, a two-piece set of Saguaro cactus sculptures. Constructed of polystone, a round disc provides a stable base.

Modern Southwestern Cactus Vase

Large cactus vase from Amara. Available in various sizes, the vase is a practical way to add some modern southwest style to your home.


real cactus for southwestern decor

Or, use real cactus and modern Southwestern plant pots. These type of pots are easily found in stores like Target or online at almost any home decor source. Choose colors that match your style and your room’s palette.  Source

Cactus in pots

Or pots like these, in the same earth-tone (cardboard tone?) but with interesting and varied textures.This set of four pots, the Oslo Origami set, is made from a blend of recycled wood and bioplastic made from corn.

Modern Southwestern Cactus

Or this – once again from Amara. This oblong glass pot with an oak base is available in different shapes and they look wonderful when grouped together with the same family of indoor plants. The glass is hand-blown.

Modern Southwestern on the Wall

Your walls are your friend with modern southwestern design. There are so many things you can put on the wall from framed artwork to baskets to textiles and more. While most layouts are open plan these days (for a reason), you’ll always have a wall or two somewhere. Keep the colour neutral, I often prefer white but a very light neutral earth tone. And let the other pieces in the room, including hanging decorative items, do the southwestern work.

The backgrounds should all be plain (including furniture, for my money) – your decor is the style in this case. With one caveat: big, old wooden beams are always a fit with southwestern-style interior design. How could they not be? If you’re fortunate enough to land in a house with beams, you’ve got half your work done. Paint everything else white and there is your canvas.

Baskets are a thing

Baskets Tribal Chic Decor

Tribal baskets, strategically arranged on the wall, are a stunning way to turn woven items into art. Belvin Design

Tribal baskets

Go vertical with your baskets, like the first example, or horizontal like the example above. Choose baskets that compliment each other, and your room. Source

Southwest Decor

This is a stunning design but I’m not even going to tell you how much it adds up to. Individual baskets available through Kazi Goods

So is Macrame

Macrame is “a thing” too. There is old school hippie macrame, generally made with thick fibre and/or yarn. Today’s modern southwestern decor calls for a much more fluid essence and much more refined and elegant fibres.


Southwestern Macrame

From West Elm, this piece is handwoven and was inspired by Native American dreamcatchers.

Feather macrame

Feathers are a popular theme in this updated southwestern macrame style. Source

Southwestern Decor

We love the earth tone colors in this feather wall hanging.


Modern Macrame
Lots of tribal going on here. Source

Modern Southwestern Throw Pillows and Decorative Cushions

Make sure your couch and chair(s) are neutral colors, or even leather. Leather works extremely well with “southwestern”. It’s not rustic though, it’s got more modern than your basic rustic style. But you don’t want the furniture to be the focus. It should look comfortable, but it’s the canvas onto which your accessories will tell the story. Your furniture should be a showcase for the accessories and details that will complete your look. A few green plants spread around, and you’re almost there.


Southwest cushions

Again, we see modern southwestern and indigenous native American styles cross and intermingle with the Mexican Aztec designs. Not surprisingly, when you consider that they were here long before there were borders and shared many things, including some aspects of culture. From Shein in Mexico.

Modern Southwestern Pillow

This throw pillow is simplistic and clearly chic tribal, modern southwestern, all of them. It looks like a Pendelton design to me, but I haven’t been able to locate it there. Source

Southwestern decor

This one not only uses throw pillows or cushions – but also a blanket, another great modern southwestern decor technique. From Remodelaholic. Note the leather couch – it really suits the style.

Modern Southwestern Decor in Action

Modern Southwestern style is about combining tribal/native elements with modern, and preferably sustainable, design. And it’s all in the accessories, as you’ll see below. Keep your wall/floor/furniture color palettes simple and plain, neutral earth tones and white/cream is almost always the simplest and best idea. You want all the attention to be drawn to your pillows and wall coverings and rugs and blankets and table pieces. There is even an additional advantage – if you get tired of your modern southwestern look, you don’t have to repaint anything to change it. Out goes the old (accessories) and in come the new.

Modern Sothwestern Room

This style is dubbed Modern Nomadic – you’ll find all kinds of different phrases describing the same thing – an updated southwestern style. From Barker & Stonehouse (UK). Note the simplicity of the walls, the floors, the furniture. It’s all art, rugs and plants that create the modern southwestern feel.

Modern Southwestern

here’s a perfect example of how two throw cushions in modern southwestern design can really take the level up a notch in this vestibule. From SheKnows.

Modern Southwestern style

We really like the wall ladder in this room. You could hang a western blanket over it as well but it actually works very nicely next to the cactus art. Notice the subtle southwestern designs on the ceiling fan blades. Source

Modern Southwestern Living room

This is perhaps a little busier than some, but still fits the criteria for modern southwestern style. We love the oranges in the palette. Looks like it actually is somewhere in the west, too! Source

Written by Beverley Wood

Beverley Wood has lived on boats in Toronto and Vancouver and in an old hacienda in Mexico. She knows funky when she sees it. She's been writing since she was old enough to pick up a pen and has never shied away from the unusual or the whimsical. Her love of the unique (and sometimes bizarre) led her to Captivatist.