October 30, 2012

Decorating Your Home Cowboy-Style

by Boise Matthews

I think one of the most difficult decorating chores is to come up with a style that looks great with dark paneled walls. Fortunately, the wild-west, yee-haw, ride-'em-cowboy look is ready made for rooms with paneled walls.

When you're ready to create your wild-west home, I think the most important ingredient is humor. You can mix western with southwestern, American Indian and even Victorian country styles, but the most important thing to remember is to use the things you truly love. Keep it interesting, beautiful, playful and fun, and you'll have a western home that combines down-home comfort with a museum-quality showcase.

Here are a few pointers to help design your wild-west home:

Think ranch (pronounced rainch), but don't stop there. Don't forget prospecting, for instance.

Have plenty of fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. Even if they aren't real cookers, they are great for atmosphere and romance.

Keep it rugged. Use knotty, gnarly branches and logs and rough planks rather than smooth, refined wood.

Use animals... real or mock. Personally, I don't like using animal parts in which the animal has to be killed, such as leather, but I don't mind having antlers that have been lost naturally or found skulls hanging around. I love mock animal skins, mock mounted longhorn skulls, and mock leather, and am especially fond of the tooled leather look.

Incorporate other natural materials such as stone, woven plant baskets, dried grasses, and wool and cotton textiles.

Stencils are great for walls and furniture. One of the best design looks is to incorporate "brand" symbols.

Black iron, silver and tin are the metals to use, although hammered copper can be lots of fun.

Have fun with colors, but nothing too sophisticated. Keep pretty close to basic earth colors, but those can include sunsets, lakes, and your favorite wildflower colors.

Cover your boring wooden frames with stamped leather. Use tree branches as curtain rods. Mix black, brown and red leathers, and use rugs on windows or for upholstery material.

Most importantly, be creative and have fun. That worn-down boot with a hole in the sole is for a dried grass and wildflower arrangement, that rusted barbed wire is for lining your mantle, that fringed leather jacket from the sixties is for a great pillow sham, and your grandfather's BB gun is for a really cool floor lamp.

Boise Matthews writes for Go-Southwest, a southwestern home decorating website, and other online publications. You may enjoy these additional resources on southwestern living: Southwestern Traditions Southwestern Styles in Home Decor