How to Make Your Home Look and Feel Like a Desert Retreat
Living and vacationing in the Southwest of America can be SO inspiring that many of us yearn to recreate that “vacation” feel in our own homes and want to know how to make our homes feel more luxurious. Some of us want to make our own space look and feel like these places we’ve traveled whether it be feeling like you’re living at the beach, looking out over a mountain filled view or even a desert landscape. Personally I love a modern desert interior where you can get both that arid mountain look and the colors and textures of the high desert. For me, when it comes to getting away from it all, the sun-drenched desert landscape and the enormity of the layered jagged mountains adorned with exotic plants and flowers that exist in complete stillness and peace, is my favorite escape haven.
What I really like about the desert look is that it is the perfect bridge between more feminine bohemian styles, mid-century modern and jungle decor. I like the effortless, lived-in environment that desert inspired homes radiate and below I’m going to be talking through how you might take inspiration to do so in your own homes.
At JAC, as interior designers in Palm Springs, we take our inspiration from some of the main southwest desert locales like Death Valley up near the Nevada and California border, and all throughout the Mojave desert in iconic places like Palm springs and Joshua Tree. There are definitely some palm springs decorating styles that run through a desert look that you can incorporate into your own home, and color is probably at the top of the list. Many desert homes are painted predominately white, probably due to the large open spaces and windows. On the whole though, a neutral color palette of nudes, beige, off-white, cream, coffee, terra cotta, and caramel can be made interesting and exciting through the use of texture, levels of colors and arrangement. These colors wholly reflect the desert floor and ecosystem outside in addition to the pinks you see in a sunset and the blossoms of desert flowers.
The use of wood in a desert inspired design scheme is also top at the list. Wood is perhaps the strongest design aspect of the desert decor trend. Be it entire wooden rooms seen in cladded cabins or incorporating various types of wood in one space such as fixtures and fittings like cupboards and built in shelves, mid-century furniture and reclaimed flooring. Because wood has a natural texture and color unique to each type, it brings a warmth to any desert style. Wood elements can only add to that laid back desert decor style you’re trying to emulate in your own “vacation” home.
Texture is also very high on the list of necessary design elements in any desert design scheme and can be thrown into the mix in so many different ways. From sheepskin and cowhide rugs and throws to super nubby and chunky luxe fabrics on throw pillows, the texture factor can almost never be too much. Introducing handwoven wall art crafted from yarns and wool or embroidered tapestry is another good option to create texture. We also love the look of vintage woven plates and baskets all hung artfully on the wall to create a boho desert vibe. And don’t forget about those classic Pendleton blankets draped over your sofa back to bring an earthy and classic southwest flavor. And of course we love an antler or two and they certainly don’t have to be real, now there are many ideas to choose from out there to replicate the “animal head” look that is PETA approved from woven straw buffalo heads to paper maiche antlers we love.
Next up is Palm Springs style furniture. Wicker, bamboo, rattan, driftwood and birch ply are common furniture choices within desert homes. They work well together as they are usually quite light in color and tone. In terms of upholstery, we like to keep the sofas and side chairs in neutrals, much like the walls. We do prefer linens and basket weave fabrics that have a texture to them to add even more to the mix. Lighting is also a super important part of the mix and we love basket lighting or lighting displayed as a statement in any room. Various shapes and sizes grouped together and arranged at different levels can look really striking and provide for mood lighting on the walls or the ceiling.
Let’s not forget about the importance of ceramics and earthenware which of course are made from the earth itself (mud) and really are a big part of any design style. Add some desert detail with handmade pottery such as vases, votives and pots in various shapes and textures. Look out for large bulb-bottom ceramics or large urns that look great displayed on the floor next to huge house plants. Another nice idea is to source pottery that is inspired by the landscape. Additionally handmade ceramic tiles in the colors seen in the desert are also a great way to make your kitchen, bathroom or fireplace look like you’re vacationing in the Mojave Desert.
Last but not least are plants! We love bringing the outside in with plants that are perfect for creating a desert inspired room. Dry-heat, vibrant green plants such as various cacti, snake (mother-in-laws tongue), donkey tails and air plants look great grouped together or displayed singularly as one large statement feature plant. We love classic terra cotta pots combined with beautiful succulents to really drive home any desert style inside or out. Green is the new black!