It's a myth that the Southwest interior design style is largely made up of cow skulls and wagon wheels, with a few Indian blankets thrown in for color. While these elements can certainly be used in Southwest decorating schemes, the style is as diverse as the cultures that influence it and as distinct as the landscapes from which its inspiration for color and texture are drawn.
The color schemes for Southwest interior decorating range from the pinkish browns of the desert sands to the brilliant oranges and reds of a mountain sunset. Use rich hues that are found in nature for your color palette; avoid jewel tones or more "urban" colors such as pure whites or wooly grays.
Use desert colors such as sage or rose for your walls if your textiles are richly colored. If your textiles are more subdued, use cocoa brown or ochre for your wall color. Creating a contrast between your paint color and your textiles will allow your accessories to blend more easily.
Wrought iron is used for such elements as lamp bases, table legs and chandeliers. Don't overuse this element; the black tone of wrought iron can easily overtake a room. A wrought iron chandelier paired with an antique pine table, however, is representative of the Southwest aesthetic.
Saltillo tile works well in Southwest design. It's orange clay color complements the pottery characteristically found in the Southwest. Use pottery in your accessorizing; bring in a wide range of sizes and styles. For example, two or three small painted pots on a shelf create a nice grouping and a large clay pot set on the floor complements that grouping.
Add little touches to the space, such as a pair of antique cowboy boots set by the entryway or a clay figure of a coyote on an end table. One of the advantages of the Southwest design style is you can use an abundance of accessories. A small bit of clutter adds to the charm and comfort of this decor.