There are five color groups essential to the decor of the American Southwest: blue, red, gold, green and earth tones. Earth tones and bright accents colors combined with rugged textures and natural forms create a Southwestern look.
Shades of blue used in design may be deep azure to light turquoise. Reds in this palette are typically bold, warm shades. Gold ranges from sunflower yellow to aspen leaf gold. Green used in a Southwestern color scheme spans a warm-to-cool spectrum, from cactus to sage.
The earth tones are divided into three main color groups: ivory, brown, and terracotta. Ivory tints may be dark or light in hue; browns range from sandstone to tobacco; and terracotta shades may be dusty orange to deep rust.
Walls are generally painted in warm neutral colors such as ivory, pinkish beige and cream. Neutrals with pink undertones reflect the adobe used in Southwestern buildings; neutrals with yellow undertones create the effect of sunny rooms.
The style of the American Southwest is rugged and rustic, so handmade furniture and art objects should be in natural colors and rough textures with bright accents. Earth tones are predominant in Southwestern color schemes.
Brightly colored hand-painted ceramic accent tiles and scarlet chili pepper garlands add a splash of vivid color. Metallic accents of wrought iron, copper, brass, and verdigris add color and interest to furniture trim, door hardware, and lamp sconces. Hand-woven rugs in bright red and gold tones and handmade terracotta pottery pieces lend a Southwestern note to any room.