Building Your Dream Southwestern Home

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The United States is home to many different house designs, which have been pretty much influenced by socioeconomic factors and historical movements. But some home styles can be tied to the country’s diverse terrain and climates, and the Southwestern style is a perfect example.

Southwestern Home

As the name suggests, this house style is designed with the American Southwest in mind. It features layouts and materials that are suited to a hot and arid climate. And because desert climate could swing between extremes, from hot days to cold nights, Southwestern homes make use of elements that allow for passive heating and cooling.

This house style is also steeped in history, as it reflects both Native American and Colonial Spanish influences. So if you’re comparing home loan rates in Albuquerque and looking for a house style that embodies true desert living, pay attention to the following elements:

Rammed earth and adobe

The most striking characteristic of a Southwestern home is that it’s made purely or mostly with rammed earth or adobe bricks, which are essentially a dried mixture of clay, sand, and straw or grass, with the addition of moisture. The bricks or rammed earth can be either baked in the sun or a kiln. This material is not only rigid, but it also costs almost nothing as the raw materials are abundant in the desert, making it a sustainable choice. More importantly, it keeps the inside cool during hot days and warm at night. The thick material also absorbs sound, keeping the house quiet.

Brick tile roofs

When building desert homes, the material and design of your roof can be a game changer. There are certain roof materials that absorb heat, which means the house could feel like an oven during hot days. This is where brick tile roofs come in. In Southwestern homes, roofs are often made with the same rammed earth or clay tiles, which efficiently emit the heat back into the air, allowing your home to stay cool.

Small windows and a rounded exterior

It’s common to see adobe homes with rounded exteriors as an additional layer of clay mixture is often applied over the main wall layer. This is to provide more insulation and keep cracks from developing. Small windows are also a key element, and this is because smaller windows restrict heat from entering the home.

Exposed wooden components

A true Southwestern home puts natural materials center-stage, and in their rawest form, too. It’s common to see adobe homes with exposed wooden beams, pillows, window and door frames, and other wooden components. Typically, the wood used in an adobe home is sourced from nearby sources. But apart from being structural elements, the wooden beams also provide a nice complement to the dominating clay or stone features. You’d often see chunky and raw hardwood beams on the ceiling, creating that stark contrast to the muted palette of clay.

Breezy patios 

The Southwestern home also borrows from the Pueblo-style architecture with its breezy patios and open courtyards. These exterior additions allow cool breezes to enter the house and provide a space for people to sit, relax, or eat outside without getting baked by the sun. Patios often have roofs or overhangs to provide shade, and are enriched with plants and water features. It’s also common to see a fireplace or pit in the patio as it makes the space more comfortable and usable during freezing nights.

Elements from outside

When it comes to decorating a Southwestern home, the most distinctive features are elements from the outside. You’d often find big clay pots and vases, hardwood tables and cabinets, and elaborate ceramic tile floors. Walls are finished with lime plaster to retain that rugged look, while making the inside bright and clean. And for accessories, Native-American imagery, as in with quilts and rugs with bold prints, and Spanish furniture seem to blend easily. And if you want a show-stopping feature that’s quintessentially Southwestern, you’ll go for a big fireplace made from the same material and finish, as if it’s a built-in feature.

The Southwestern home style may be centuries-old, but it’s still a popular choice among desert inhabitants, thanks to its natural beauty and inherent practicality. It’s a testament to the fact that our ancestors were very deliberate with their building techniques, and that this knowledge is still relevant today, particularly in the context of energy efficiency. It’s true what they say that you only need to look into the past to find solutions for the future. So if you’re looking to build your dream Southwestern home, you’ve got plenty of inspiration and wisdom to draw from.